|Faction:||Independent, Disparate Alliance (M20)|
As one of the oldest magical Crafts, the Kopa Loei, also called kahunas, have been under attack by the Technocracy for over 200 years, and were nearly destroyed. Scattered across the Polynesian islands, this Craft is most prevalent in the Hawai'ian archipelago. They keep the ancient Polynesian shamanistic magical arts alive by continuing to practice as their ancestors did. Despite a variety of pressures, the Kopa Loei refuse to adapt to the changing paradigm; the elders of the Craft insist that doing so would betray all they have worked for. Formerly members of priestly and royal castes, the original Kopa Loei came from the elitist of the elite — Awakened nobles who used their magic not only for the benefit of their people and their lands, but to maintain their social positions as well. A system of religious law, kapu, ensured that the abundant natural resources of the islands would continue to flourish, and that the Kopa Loei would remain the dominant force in local government.
The Technocracy overthrew these mystics, after thousands of years of Kopa Loei dominance. Native government is a thing of the past; the social order of the islanders has been largely destroyed, and Western ideas have been substituted wherever possible. Relegated to working covertly within native communities, the Kopa Loei are a pale remnant of the might they once commanded.
Kopa Loei magic (ho'omana) is focused through the invocation of natural powers. Deities are considered to be parts of nature, therefore prayer is a valid approach. Fire and wind are also considered natural powers, and can be addressed directly without personification. The concept of direction lies at the root of ho'omana. Forces, spirits, mana — all have natural channels. Rerouting those channels in ways that do not conflict with natural forms the core of all Kopa Loei magic. The mage calls out to the power that he wants to direct, using a symbol of this power (a focus). Magic is performed in a time-honored fashion. Innovations are examined for conflicts with kapu and appropriateness for the goals of the Craft. Tradition and precedent are vital; maintaining a link with the past is half the power of the mage. The other half comes from acting in accordance with the right and natural way. Kapu and other customs determine what is right, so the natural way should be obvious. If any act goes against the basic essence of a thing, then the act is unnatural — hence, the Craft's hatred of the Technocracy. Magic is meant to maintain, restore, and enforce the relationship between land and the beings living on it, between hunter and hunted, between people and the gods.
Although the Craft as a whole operates as a loose confederation, its members observe a fairly strict hierarchy when it comes to specializations. Each type must abide by a set of Kapu and respect the roles and rights of the other "ranks." This is not to say that everyone plays by the rules — kahuna are notorious for pursuing their own agendas, and can be quite evil by many peoples' standards, especially if they deal with Entropy or the dead. By the standards of Western outsiders, the religious awe surrounding the ali'i can be mystifying. In the not-so-distant past, a person could be slain for simply letting his shadow call across an ali'i's own, and many priest-chieftains imposed kapu across whole islands that no Westerner would accept — no one but the ali'i could wear shoes, for example, or eat the meat of birds. These prohibitions, however, protected the sanctity of the ali'i, and often cut both ways for him. This link to the land and its people made an ali'i's health and behavior vitally important in a culture so dependent on the goodwill of nature and the gods. This tie, and the restrictions that went with it, became the reason so many ali'i were targeted by the Europeans (especially Order of Reason agents) during the conquest and purge of the islands. These days, very few ali'i remain.
This Craft's Awakened membership comprises between 15 to 30 individuals, many of whom reside in the Hawai'ian islands. Several more live in Micronesia, the Philippines and Samoa. The majority of the active Kopa Loei (another 200 members or so) specialize in hedge magic rather the Arts of the Spheres. Like most Crafts, they make no distinction between the two forms, but simply accept that some people have more talent than others.
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