Th term Scarlet Screen originates in the Fourth Age, but it was already practiced among the Wan Xian. Many Wan Xian had taken lovers and similar associates from the mortal population, but were forced to keep these liasons secret, lest their enemies learned of them.
Scarlet Screens have a strong place in the society of the Hungry Dead, and every jina is expected to keep at least one. Mortals act as enforcers, treasurers, business connections and occaisonally even reminders of the life they have lost. In addition, Scarlet Screens act as a reminder to the mortal masses who rules the night. The Mandarin Anuman Chah classified four types of Scarlet Screens that have been consistent through the ages.
- Family: The most important Scarlet Screen. Dharmas like the Song of the Shadow even have the imperative to safeguard the family. In addition, a Kuei-jin's mortal family is often among their most loyal supporters.
- Soldiers: Soldiers are the most visible Scarlet Screen, often employed in the form of criminal gangs or people who supply the Kuei-jin with weapons and similar goods. They are classified according to three types: The "Triumphant Hares" (usagigumi), which are valued for numbers only; the "Dog gangs" (inugumi), which are more loyal and sometimes even have contact with the supernatural and the "Dragon troops" (ryogumi), which are trained exactly for the purpose of combating high threats to their Kuei-jin master.
- Spies: Spies are divided into two groups - regular spies and merchants. The regular spies are used for intelligence gathering, while merchants take care of the Kuei-jin's financial needs.
- Artisans: Again, the last screen consists of two groups - regular artisans and peasants. Artisans work to increase their master's influence in the city through civil means (contrasting the deeds of the soldiers), while the peasants are responsible for keeping the Kuei-jin safe. In the Fifth Age, local political groups have become classified as "peasants" as well.
The relationship between a Kuei-jin and his Scarlet Screens can be one of mutual benefit or of oppression and terror. Some Kuei-jin entice mortals with stories about how they are spiritual protectors. Other families have been raised for generations in the thrall of an especially old Kuei-jin and know nothing else. Others do it for payment, protection from enemies, and similar more wordly reasons.
Because Kuei-jin are unable to actually enforce loyalty like the Kindred of the west (who, besides Disciplines like Dominate and Presence, which are much more straightforward for controlling mortals than Obligation, also have the addictiveness of their blood to ensure loyalty), Scarlet Screens have to be much more carefully monitored and controlled. Most Kuei-jin take the effort to make sure that every member of the their Screens feels their nightly presence in some way, lest they betray them.
- , p.75-81