Nung Chiang (pronounced: /nʌŋ tʃiɑːŋ/ nung chee-ang), called the Teacher of the Plow or the Master of the Red Earth, was one of the Nine Immortals who served the Celestial Emperor in the Celestial Empire, the dominant religion of Kara-Tur, particularly Shou Lung. He was a god of agriculture and fertility. As one of the Nine Immortals, Nung Chiang also held an important place in the Faith of the Nine Travelers.
According to the legendary history of Kara-Tur, shortly after the beginning of the world and humankind, the Celestial Emperor sent his great emissaries among the people, with each to teach one aspect of the True Path of Enlightenment. Nung Chiang was one of these emissaries.
In the legend, nine tired travelers stopped at a poor remote inn in the dead of winter, and the innkeeper lamented he had no more food to spare. So, despite their tiredness, four went to hunt for game, four went to forage, and the last cooked a meal for the travelers, the innkeeper, and his family. Afterward, they preserved the remainder of the food to see the folk through the rest of winter. Overjoyed, the innkeeper made a gift, and a revelation—he was no mortal but the last of the old gods of the land, and he gave the land to the nine to rule. Afterward, these Nine Travelers became the Nine Great Sovereigns, and they ruled Shou Lung for thirty cycles of years. They became the first emperors of Shou Lung, and were recorded in legend as the "Nine Immortals".
Finally, the Nine Great Sovereigns, dressed as ordinary travelers, returned to the site of the inn, but found only a simple peasant's hut. The peasant, Nung Fu, welcomed them in and fed them freely, though it was the depths of winter and he had little to spare. Afterward, these Nine Travelers offered a gift in exchange for this hospitality, and presented Nung Fu with the Emblems of Authority. They took him to their courts, investing him as emperor of Shou Lung. This marked the start of the Third Age of Shou Lung, the beginning of the calendar in Shou Year 0 (−1250 DR).
The Nine Great Sovereigns were then the Nine Travelers once more. The tales disagree as to what became of them after that. According to some, they simply faded away. To others, they went with the gods into the heavens. More told that the Nine Travelers still wandered Shou Lung to ensure that rulers respected the memory of Nung Fu, and that innkeepers took good care of their guests.
In −2113 DR, in order to protect the beautiful nature of the Shao Mountains, Nung Chiang threatened the construction of a highway and caused the volcano of Mount Tengkorak to erupt, destroying the city of Tempat Larang, a colony of Anok-Imaskar.[note 1]
Afterward, he always watched over the ruined city, which was full of dark spirits. In 1358 DR, he noticed first Governor Kawabi and later General Goyat Nagumo trying to use the power of Tempat Larang's stone spirits. So Nung Chiang manipulated and helped an adventuring party to stop the menace. As a back-up plan, he was ready to activate Mount Tengkorak again, despite the fact his fellow Immortals would severely punish him for intervening in mortal business.
As one of the Nine Immortals, Nung Chiang had two forms: one was as a vast dragon, the other was a man, always dressed as a farmer and wearing worn sandals and carrying a long pole loaded with goods for market.
In the Emperor's name, the Nine Immortals administered and directed all the Lesser Immortals of the Celestial Empire. In particular, Nung Chiang commanded the Rice Spirits, who had the duties of causing rice to grow, animals to have their young, and women to bear babies, and decided if a family should have children.
Nung Chiang was venerated by almost all peasants, especially farmers, of Shou Lung at all the rural shrines of the country. They prayed to him in order to have good harvests and fair weather.
Nung Chiang was the patron of the White Tiger Monastery.
Nung Chiang also had a refuge in the material plane in the Shao Mountains at the Sumitra Tower on the road that split the Kumandang Valley. There, he was harassed by the requests of local inhabitants who asked for his help for all kinds of misfortunes.
- The Grand History of the Realms page 33 says Kujawa died in combat with "the celestial dragon T'ien Lung". However, a "t'ien lung" is a generic type of oriental dragon with a name meaning "celestial dragon"; this name may be in error. Ronin Challenge tells that Nung Chiang opposed the empire's expansion into Tempat Larang, even triggering the Mount Tengkorak eruption. Furthermore, Nung Chiang manifests as a t'ien lung in the module, and is mentioned to also appear as a spirit dragon. Page 67 presents a story by Awagi Nukichi retelling the fall of Emperor Tan Chin (there called Joon Tsao Choo) at Kuo Meilan to an unnamed "spirit dragon" and appends a disaster striking Tempat Larang (presumably the volcano in the same book) a few years afterward. However, Grand History later retconned this, inventing the much-earlier Anok-Imaskar, placing the settlement and destruction of Tempat Larang within its time, Kujawa's death 170 years later, and Tan Chin's empire centuries after that, with Tan Chin defeated by Chih Shih as normal. Thus, in-universe, Awagi's story appears to be a mistaken conflation of the falls of both empires and it's not clear what it might say about Kujawa and Anok-Imaskar, and who killed Kujawa. While it is possible that Nung Chiang is T'ien Lung, no source confirms that Nung Chiang killed any emperor. Page 33 of The Grand History of the Realms also notes that Chan Cheng was the first of the Nine Immortals, suggesting Nung Chiang wasn't an Immortal previously.
- Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), pp. 24–25. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- Curtis Smith and Rick Swan (1990). Ronin Challenge. (TSR, Inc), p. 68. ISBN 0-88038-749-1.
- Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 28. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 31. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- Jeff Grubb (1987). Ochimo: The Spirit Warrior. (TSR, Inc), p. 2. ISBN 0-88038-393-3.
- Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 37. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- Curtis Smith and Rick Swan (1990). Ronin Challenge. (TSR, Inc), pp. 77–78. ISBN 0-88038-749-1.
- Brian R. James, Ed Greenwood (September 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. Edited by Kim Mohan, Penny Williams. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 33. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- Curtis Smith and Rick Swan (1990). Ronin Challenge. (TSR, Inc), pp. 82–83. ISBN 0-88038-749-1.
- Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 42. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
- Gary Gygax, David Cook, and François Marcela-Froideval (1985). Oriental Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 107. ISBN 0-8803-8099-3.
- Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 165. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
The Nine Immortals
Ai Ch'ing • Chan Cheng • Ch'en Hsiang • Chih Shih • Fa Kuan • Hsing Yong • Kwan Ying • Nung Chiang • Shu Chia
The Lesser Immortals
Jade Ladies • Ladies of Compassion • Lords of Karma • Mad Monkey • Moon Women • Rice Spirits • Spirit Warriors
The Sages • Ancestors • Spirits