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Basic Information

A tulpa is a creature given substance from its creator's thoughts by an exercise of will. The idea derives mostly from Tibetan Buddhism and is cited most explicitly in the works of the French mystic Alexandra David-Neel. Essentially, since Buddhism holds that the material world is an illusion created by the mind it should be possible for a sufficiently lucid mind to insert anything it chooses into that illusion and grant it subjective reality. Allegedly a fully "realised" being such as a bhodisvat should be able to generate a wide range of tulpas of greatly advanced kinds. Alexandra David-Neel claimed to have created a "Friar Tuck" style monk as an experiment once she had been instructed in the nature and creation of tulpas by her Tibetan mentor. Similar thoughtforms also appear from time to time in the Western Occult tradition, sometimes appearing during the seances of powerful mediums, but opinion varies on whether these are distinct entities (like tulpas) or merely phantasms.

The problem with tulpas would seem to be the law of unintended consequences. A tulpa is, by definition, a creature in its own right and not necessarily under the control of its creator - as long as the person creating it is a fallible human, without the transcendent wisdom of the truly enlightened the tulpa is likely to have its own personality flaws. Apparently, David-Neel's monk became contrary and malicious and started popping up uninvited - and took considerable mental effort to un-imagine. Given that tulpas are often capable of speech and said to be at least partially material in some cases, a rogue tulpa could potentially be a significant menace.

It would seem sensible for these creatures to be of the same basic order as the mythago or egregore - except that a tulpa is consciously created by a specific person, as opposed to being made unconsciously by the imaginations of a multitude of people.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Possibly a very useful skill for PCs - although the lack of control would reduce the utility.
  • Making tulpas unconsciously would be even more impressive - a powerful but insane (or hallucinating) mystic might turn out all sorts of things, whilst someone merely unaware of their power might only generate them when faced with a specific mental conflict, and might produce tulpas of themself, allowing them to take both options.
  • Might be the ideal thing to hunt down a mythago.
  • Losing control of a tulpa could also be fun.
  • Construction of a deliberately deadly tulpa should also be interesting - it's the sort of thing that mainstream buddhism would probably not countenance, but one of the more aggressive forms, let alone something like the way of the Emerald Lama might well teach it.
    • Might even be a source of particularly cinematic ninjas.
  • The Nazis were famously interested in Tibetan Mysticism and the Excercise of the "Will to Power" … Tulpas might have interested them and some kind of "Aryan Superman" tulpa even more so. Definitely the sort of thing that would interest Sonderkommando Thule.
  • Could be an interesting esoteric cure for multiple personality disorder - manifesting each extra personality as a tulpa and letting it sod off about its own business.
  • Also interesting might be a tulpa of a deceased relative created as a substitute by a grieving mystic.
  • Or using a tulpa as a decoy or body double.
  • This could also be something to do with the idea of the doppelgaenger.
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