The Laws and
the World

The supplemental guide for the way the world of the Death God works. Click on a title to expand or collapse additional information.

Overview

The only official college for Death Gods (or Shinigami) training, The Institution for Training in the Arts of Death (ITAD or The Institute) is a ground brimming with people from all over training to become the world's next Gods of Death.

SHINIGAMI: A God of Death, as called by the Japanese. The current (but not only) popular term amongst tenants of the ITAD.

Divine Laws of Death Gods

Also the rules governing the Institute.

  1. Death Gods may not kill each other. That charge lies only with God Himself.*
  2. Death Gods may not take a mortal before his or her time.*
  3. Death Gods may not intervene in a mortal's life.
  4. Death Gods may not tell normal people they are Death Gods.
  5. Do not accept any human who sees the Institute.

* This will result in the Death God's termination.

There is also the implied rule, "Those who become Shinigami may never return." This is not a rule so much as it is a fact.

About the Institute

The grand Institute stands on a massive mountainous ground isolated from the world.

The ITAD is large in mass and resembles a cathedral in design, constructed of semi-smooth stone, its build more modernized in certain areas on the inside for convenience. It hosts a myriad of its own resources, including an athenaeum, sanatorium, auditorium, refectory, training grounds, pools, and two grand gardens (one Japanese-style, one hanging). Some Shinigami, Shikigami, Spiritual races, and a rare few humans bound to the area have set up resources around the school for entertainment, like a resort at the base of the mountain and a kart-race and putt-putt. There're food stands and more nearer to the campus, and casual training centers for tae kwon do and the like.

The Institute has five tall floors. Dormitories are usually two-three people per room, and co-ed. They're physically located in a special added-on section of the grounds, while professor rooms reside on the fourth floor of the main building. Classes are typically on the first and second floor, with other accomodations on the first. Student rooms come equipped with: shower, small refridgerator, one-three beds, and some larger ones have miniature kitchens, like apartments.

There are eight grand steps before the Institute, and students are initiated by the Steps Ceremony, in which they symbolically move up a step. The First Step is taken on the first day, watched by all senior. At year's end, all levels address the steps and move up. Seniors are dismissed into the world with the Sending Ceremony, in which there is usually flight (even of wingless Shinigami) and tossing of robes to reveal their transformed bodies.

The Bureau of Rings: The smaller ministry kept at the Institute, consisting entirely of Shikigami, with only a few smaller factions spread out to Posts. These Shikigami recruit Shinigami, among other things (such as performing busywork and clean-up). They also manage the Shinigami libraries. They are called the Bureau of Rings because, in the past, each Shikigami would give a ring (one that specifically enables it to be able to move at immortal speeds) to the person considering joining. Today they still wear the rings but do not give them out for simplicity's sake.

This Bureau is headed by a great Crane Spirit and consists mostly of smaller birds and flying things, but not entirely. They keep constant watch on humans whose lives are bleak through "looking-books" and are cautiously assigned humans to approach.

Posts: Subsets of the Institute, Posts are found throughout the world as aids to Shinigamikind. These Posts are usually run by earnest Ronadas who have gleaned a good knowledge of the Gods of Death.

The Institute's System

It is a private seven-year institute with an average of 200 students and intensive programs offered from the very first.

The years for a student are named so:

  • Year 1: Freshman
  • Year 2: Fledgling
  • Year 3: Sophomore
  • Year 4: Initiate
  • Year 5: Junior
  • Year 6: Senior
  • Year 7: Aether

During this time, a student may Major in one Shinigami skill and Minor in another. With seven tiers of learning going on at once, one might find the Institute confusing at times. The higher-tier students actually spend more time in the field than they do at the campus, however, leaving the teachers to focus on fledglings.

Each student is admitted after a personal meeting with the Principal, Lord Ryougami, and given their supplies. When a student reaches their seventh year, they may append their name with "-gami" (great) or rename themselves with the -gami suffix. Once a student has graduated his or her seventh year, he is re-presented with a Divine Weapon of their very own, marked with their own sigil and tailored to their skill.

During lecture classes and other appropriate classes, one is required to wear the official uniform; any other time, students can wear whatever they would like.

Types of Shinigami

Death Gods have been categorized by the cultures in which they were first identified. In that way, there are different names for them: "Grim Reapers", "Shinigami", "Valkyries", "Mithra", and so on. Many Spirits have existed who ushered Souls to Purgatory but not as official Death Gods: Anubis, Charon, Epona, Azrael. (Lords of Death such as Yama tend to work in with people Purgatory, whose system has varied over the years. Fun fact!) They were not the same as today's Death Gods. Almost all of the different psychopomps who exist prior to the ITAD's founding -- that is, humans who became Death Gods, rather than Spirits -- have the potential to develop distinct skills that aid them in claiming Souls and thus are different than, but sometimes still mistaken for, the ancient historical types.

"Shinigami" became a popular term around the ITAD because of its lack of true historical definition -- Japan did not know of a definitive Death God -- and its trendy sound. A mindset persevered that "Shinigami can be anything, do anything."

Part of the reason the original Shinigami assistants of Shi failed is because they did not know their strengths. One's Shinigami type -- or, their battle style -- is usually best manifested in certain gemstones' response to their bodies, and gemstone training is brought about in Discovery 101.

Shinigami may choose one of these types as their Major, and also select a Minor if desired.

  • Clash Type

    "to engage in a physical conflict or contest, as in a game or a battle... to strike with a resounding or violent collision"

    The most common (and, untrained, the weakest) kind of Shinigami, Clash Shinigami slay people and Souls by use of a weapon. Most Shinigami Shi originally oversaw were this type. These are the only type that are given smaller Divine Instruments in-training, and unlike the original Shinigami, they have the aid of enchantments to ease the removal of the Soul. These types are usually large and develop many horns. Their usual aura color is orange.
  • Murmur Type

    "a low, continuous sound, as of a brook, the wind, or trees..."

    Once more common, this type coaxed the Soul out with special words (or spells). It is far more challenging than it sounds, and they often must be equipped with bodily skill to handle a Soul that has been coaxed surreptitiously from a body, or to handle an Daemons. This skill is often a pair with Clash, and also can be of great aid to Sound with the ability to unweave curses. These types change the least physically in their transition to Shinigami. Their common aura color is violet.
  • Heart Type

    "the firmness of will or the callousness required to carry out an unpleasant task or responsibility"

    Despite their name, they are a very dangerous and painfully-met Shinigami type, able to cause humans to die with the onset of sudden vicious maladies. Theirs is a skill difficult to master. Many use the aids of special poisons invented within the Institute and historically, as sometimes their powers have no effects on Daemons and other Spiritual beings. These types are sometimes small and have tiny horns but long tails. Their aura color is pink.
  • Claw Type

    "a sharp, usually curved, nail on the foot of an animal, as on a cat, dog, or bird"

    A favored and very strong type, the Claw-type specializes in using harnessed animal spirits to do his/her bidding. They are agile of body and tend to make friends easily. They are also the closest to mages, since their animal spirits sometimes have slightly elemental properties (example: most canines are neutral; a snow leopard is water; a komodo dragon is fire). Summoning a captured animal spirit takes some of the summoner's spirit to maintain and thus limits what can be summoned at once. Still, this type has the potential to be the strongest of all types. This type changes the most physically in transition, with the development of scales or fur (or both) and the half or complete look of an animal.
  • Ero Type

    eros: "creative, often sexual yearning, love, or desire"

    Sometimes called "Succubi" or "Incubi" by humans (although true Succubi/Incubi are Daemons), these Shinigami, somewhat popular in the Institute, cause people to die in their sleep by sleeping with them. (It is not certain whether or not it is the sex itself which kills them, or a change in bodily state as they lie.) Many Shinigami enjoy this role, as it is also physically possible to heal each other through various acts of sexuality -- even those as light as kissing. These types are typically slender and very physically attractive. Many grow long hair. Their usual aura color is purple.
  • State Type

    "the condition of a physical system with regard to phase, form, composition, or structure... a particular condition of mind or feeling"

    One of the most powerful kinds of Shinigami, State Shinigami (sometimes referred to as State-Change) cause unnatural body-changing alchemy in their victims. Their powers are used rarely so as not to disturb the common human world, but had wider-spread usage in the days of Shi. State-Changers have been known to turn their victims' blood to acid or liquid lead in accordance to some loose moral holding that the person violated. They have also possessed gazes that turned people into stone or salt, and have breathed sulfur to cause people's insides to shrivel and dry. They can alter the state of nonliving things as well. These types have the quickest reaction time. They also resemble Heart-types in appearance. Their common aura color is green.
  • Sound Type

    "free from injury, damage, defect, disease... having no defect as to truth, justice, wisdom, or reason... free from moral defect or weakness; upright, honest, or good"

    Sometimes nicknamed "Gods of Life," hese Shinigami are not killers but rather healers and purifiers. They are sometimes mistakenly called "Angels" when seen by humans. They remove infirmities from the bodies of otherwise helpless people and Purify cursed or Wandering Souls. They successfully Send Souls off to Purgatory when other types are unable to and hence are often assistants. Their apperances differ little from humans, like Murmur types, but sometimes they grow small horns and vestigial wings. When Valkyries, they can appear as swans or ravens. Their usual aura color is white.

Some people do not have natural Shinigami type leanings and must do the chosen job with extra effort. Others have more than one, or all, of them, and thus are the most balanced out but also the hardest to refine, even if they focus on just one type.

Becoming a Shinigami

Those who choose to become Shinigami become immortal (unless killed, constituting a complete destruction of the head), but also are bound to Shinigami laws.

Students typically change appearance over the course of their training at the Institute. Depending on their type, they can appear more ethereal, more animal-like, or even change into their own desired self-image. It is all reflective of how intensely they train. However, there are a few basic changes that normally manifest themselves in all students:

  • Freshmen: A change of hair color; stronger nails, hair, and teeth
  • Fledglings: Noticeably improved body health (if training well)
  • Sophomores: Small head horns, elongated canines
  • Initiates: Additional horns, tails (sometimes)
  • Juniors: Wings (small), of bird type (usually) and summoned by will; fur and scales possibly
  • Seniors: Larger wings, markings (if any)
  • Aethers: Eyes shift colors and glow in darkness

Many say that as a fully-realized Shinigami they are nothing like their former selves; however, at best, they have come to be themselves at their fullest.

In some, these traits may not develop much, or at all, or may develop vestigially; again, it depends on their type.

Shinigami are known to develop more acute senses, including taste (and some are known to become gluttonous) and sensuality. Similarly, those who had crippling or chronic illnesses or conditions tend to notice them fade away within the firts half-year of Shinigami training.

It's noted that Shinigami may never enter Heaven, since their services are on earth and they will never die. They have given up such priveleges.
Also, Shinigami lose their Guardian Angel upon agreeing to become Shinigami and may not ever recover one, even if extreme circumstances lead them to again become a part of the human world.

A Shinigami's Job

There are certain responsibilies to be taken on by Shinigami.

Souls

A dying human, or a human killed, must have his or her Soul taken and placed properly in Purgatory, lest it roam the earth eternally in torment as a ghost or transform into a monster. This is the Shinigami's main task. To do this, a Shinigami presses the Sigil of his/her Divine Weapon through the core of the Soul. This is called Sending. Usually the Soul lingers about the dead body for three days, floating on the Spirit plane and invisible to humans, and if by then their person is not resolved or a Shinigami has not seen them, they will remain attached to the earth until a Shinigami catches them. At this point, they can turn into several different kinds of Souls.

Lost Soul
This is most Souls after they've separated from their body. They do not know what to do, often follow their friends or family or go to places they once visited, rarely thinking to travel outside their society circle.

Wandering Soul
This type causes havoc or destruction without being aware of it, having lost sapience and cognition over time. It has no desires, no aims; it knows only confusion and loneliness. This type is not Sent to Purgatory if a Sound Shinigami cannot calm it and restore it to its original self. (This process is called Restoration or Purification, similar to removing curses, and can sometimes result in reverting the Soul to an infantile mind.)

Daemon
Imp, Devil. These Souls are destructive to human character and sometimes to physical property. They, through great effort, gather the energy to affect the physical word and have caused many problems throughout the history of humankind. These are sometimes born of already-malicious and unfortunate human Souls and must be completely destroyed from existence, although they can be stunned and purified (notably the cursed kinds that also do not understand their own destruction). Some Daemons are completely natural, a product of the world itself (albeit a destructive product). A few Daemon tribes hold peace pacts with the Shinigami.

There are several different classes of Daemons (each of which is indicated as "enhanced" by adding a plus [+] next to the title):

  • Daimon class: The highest class, nearly on-par with the likes of Satan.
  • Devil class: Uncommon and reasonably powerful.
  • Oni class: A very common, smaller yet destructive type. Has many subclasses, including Succubi, Incubi, Sirens, etc.
  • Imp class: A very common, weak class.
  • Beast class: The weakest and most common.

The act of defeating a Daemon is called Banishment. It is done the same was as Sending: press the weapon's sigil through the Daemons's core or its own sigil. Sometimes Banishing a powerful Daemons, such as a Devil, can generate a Demon Fang.

Daemons are sometimes known to be unstable, subtly shifting shapes as they move. This is due to their impure and sometimes incomplete nature. It can be a weakness, but often they use this form-changing to their advantage.

Plant Soul
The Souls of living plants, including fruits and vegetables (roots), can also be seen. Shinigami revere them and often leave them idle, for the Souls of plants are reincarnated. They can be of help in restoring life energy. Shinigami will go through some lengths to make sure their conflicts do not interfere with wildlife or flora.

Animal Spirit
Conventional lower animals do not have Souls in the way humans do, but they possess spirits that are released into the Spirit Plane - energies that can be harnessed and used to certain Shinigami's advantage.

Natural Spirit
Apparitions, Poltergeists, Wraiths, Bakemono. Natural Spirits are non-destructive spirits that exist in the world. They have never been "alive" or were never "born" in the physical world. Examples of these are Dragons, or the four mighty Spirits of Japanese legend belonging to the East, West, North, and South. They have no obligation to help the Shinigami but may if they are appeased. If their trust is gained, you may achieve Synthesis with one.

SYNTHESIS: the joining of two Souls, with the ability of the more powerful Soul to control the abilities of the other. Very hard to achieve, this can technically be done with Daemons as well as Spirits. This is not the same as Possession.

THE PRECISE MOMENT: One of Shinigami's major duties is to take people's souls when their life ends or within the first three days of their death, to save them the trouble of having to hunt down the soul. It's easiest at the moment a person is dying. With the ability to see souls in the form of a Life Counter, Shinigami can see the seconds count down to the moment a life ends. The moment it's easiest to strike is right after 000:00:00:00:00:01.

SOUL SENSE: Otherwise known as the "Sixth Sense". Shinigami actively using the Soul Sense can see the Souls of living people and other Shinigami. They can also see the cores/weak spots (sigils) of deceased Souls and Daemons, as well as auras, and a living being's Soul Counter.

SOUL COUNTER: Also called the "Life Counter", it appears over the heart of a living being when a Shinigami uses the Soul Sense. It counts down the being's remaining days, in order of Years, Months, Days, Minutes, Seconds, and Milliseconds. Spirits, Daemons, and other supernatural or deceased beings do not have Soul Counters. Certain types of immortal beings have them as well, despite being unable to die.
Soul Counters' remaining time is determined by natural causes. Sudden changes of fate, circumstance, and so on will alter it, but there is no way to tell ahead of time. Once circumstances have passed, if possible, the Soul Counter will return to the being's natural remaining time.

CURSES: Sometimes a human curse or a curse of the gods can linger on a Soul after it's passed from the body. Other times a Wandering Soul can come in contact with a cursed object and become cursed itself. Curses can incite wrath, dolefulness, blind madness, and more, things that utterly prevent a Soul's being able to pass into Purgatory. These curses can also affect Shinigami.

POSSESSION: As Shinigami come into contact with many Daemons, it is easy to become possessed by one, or even several at once, on the Spirit Plane (and even the Physical Plane at times, such as near the Solstices). However, through a practice called "Light Bending", a Shinigami's Soul can also leave their own body and possess any Soulless body, sometimes even by forcing the Soul from the body by "Soul Swapping". While the techniques to swap Souls and possess bodies are still known by elder Shinigami, they are no longer taught at the Institute. Because of the danger to both bodies during and after the swap (leaving a Shinigami's body empty, or subject to a wild and unfamiliar Soul), it is now a forbidden practice.

The Death of a Shinigami

Should the Shinigami break rules of the Institute, she or he will be punished severely. However, if she or he breaks the Laws directly defying God and His Counsel, then his or her Soul will be destroyed from conscious existence. It's said that a Shinigami's essence will enter into the Spirit plane's aura if destroyed this way.

Additional actions that may result in severe punishment:

  • Possessing another body. Double punishment if the body still has its own Soul.
  • Attempting necromancy, the act of resurrecting a dead person.

If the Shinigami is killed, the Soul will be released and sent into Purgatory like a regular Soul, but without the memory of being a Shinigami and all such experiences.

The only thing that can kill a Shinigami is complete destruction of the head -- or, more specifically, the brain. Destroying other parts of the Shinigami or suffering things that would kill a mortal may impair him/her slightly or cause him/her to be completely nonfunctional, but the Shinigami will not die from the loss of parts, drowning, suffocating, asphyxiation, poisoning, or anything similar. Even if the brain is injured, it can regenerate itself so long as it is not destroyed. If parts are lost, they can be regenerated through a long and sometimes painful period where the Shinigami may be incapacitated.

As an example, if a Shinigami's entire body is destroyed but the head is still intact, it can be put into hibernation as the body regenerates itself. It is often a complicated process, but the body will return as the mind recalls it.

Shinigami are still very succeptible to curses, some of which may cripple the brain.

Planes

There are two realms of existence in the world.

(1) The Physical Plane, host to all known by the human world. This is, sadly, the plane that those without any kind of spiritual insight are confined to. On this plane (somehow considered to be the "main" one of this world), all the workings of nature go in order, but it often influenced in big ways by the other plane.

(2) The Spirit Plane, on which the Institute and all spiritual existence is hidden. It perfectly overlies the physical plane and is, in ways, less occupied, but throughout hosts some communes of souls. Souls that aren't sent, animal spirits (including those of myth that have influenced the Physical plane, as well as lesser "gods"), and Ronadas have staked themselves throughout. Though it is possible for humans (such as Lord Isu) to dwell in their own bodies on the Spirit plane (such makes it easier for people to become Shinigami), it is extremely rare for them to be allowed to freely--even those perfectly aware of and in tune with its existence.

Shinigami can switch between planes by staring into their eye's reflection in any body of water for more than three seconds. This is the Water Switch.

There is also a third realm independant of any plane on any world (most worlds possess these two planes with their own beings and Souls). That is:

PURGATORY: The waiting place of all Souls for the Final Judgment. Has several divisions: the Eternal Pit (for punishment of particularly cruel humans, far on the other side of the River), the Waiting Room, and the Spa (an extensive and tall nine-tiered tower). All living beings, including Shinigami, are barred from entering. It's largely managed by Lords of Death and strange flying creatures called Umbri.

UMBRI: These mostly take care of Souls in Purgatory, keeping the afterlife pleasureable and in order. They're also responsible for negotiating with Angels about reincarnating a Soul, although this can also be done amongst important Shinigami.

HEAVEN: An off-limits realm reserved only for God and the Angels, which can be accessed by no mortal being (exception: 2).

ANGELS: The servants of God. They take on many forms, most wildly divergent from "winged human shape".

NOTE: There is no Hell - it has yet to be created.

Want to know even more?
Visit the Bureau of Rings and read additional information as disclosed by our Shikigami brethren!

Umbra Hibiku Yu Oni ITAD