Tuckerization is the practice of incorporating one's friends into an existing work as either a favor or as a friendly jest. Sometimes, only their names are used and sometimes their characteristics are used to flesh out a character.
|Source: Dungeons and Dragons Monster|
Manual, Gary Gygax, 1977.
In my work in progress, Incident At a Japanese Inn, the third part of The Shrine War, the Tsuta Ryokan that serves as my Japanese Guest House, is operated by a rakshasha, a mythological creature from India that in my story comes in the shape of an anthropomorphic hookah-smoking tiger.
He is based on my friend, Dave Hill, whose Internet persona from the first day I met him years ago was a scuba-diving tiger. And after a little bit of research, I discovered Dave's name in Japanese is Oka Debiddo. I hope he enjoys his little inclusion into my fanciful tale as, in my humble opinion, I think Dave would make a wonderful proprietor.
Needless to say, all rights are reserved on the segment that follows and it is to be considered a rough draft. The final entry may be dramatically changed:
Christopher stared at Oka Debiddo with growing trepidation.
The tiger smiled behind the counter, sprawled on his stool. The creature then put the stem of the hookah to his lips and set it bubbling as he inhaled a deep breath. Smiling, the smoke trickled out from between his jaws and ascended to join the existing haze at the ceiling.
“You are not yōkai, sir,” Christopher asked, his voice faintly quavering. “May I ask your origin?”
The tiger lazily leaned forward, his face uncomfortably close to Christopher. “No, I am not yōkai. I am rakshasha, from India.”
“I regret I am not familiar with your kind,” Christopher said, hoping his courtesy would pacify any ire caused by his curiosity. “India is a far cry from Japan.”
Oka sat back on his stool and took another languorous puff from his hookah. “I was found many years ago when a cub by a Buddhist monk named Vasubandhu. As I was living proof of the reality of his worldview, he took me in and raised me almost as if I was his natural son. And we toured through India, Tibet, China, and Korea spreading the wisdom of Gautama Buddha. We eventually ended up in Nippon."
“And when was that?”
The tiger puffed thoughtfully on his pipe allowing more smoke to wreath his striped face. “I have not thought of that for awhile. When you are immortal, one loses oneself in the current of time.” He drummed his claws on the counter. “I think it would have been at least one thousand, six hundred years ago. And when my adopted father passed I became the proprietor of the Tsuta Ryokan.”
Christopher felt relief at the creature’s expressed amiable feelings toward its human master and allowed himself to relax. “So,” Christopher asked, “as an immortal, do you ever miss your father?”
The rakshasha shook his head and patted his stomach while grinning voraciously. “I assure you, I carry Vasubandhu with me wherever I go.”