Saturday, February 24, 2018

WUXIA INSPIRATION: ESCAPE FROM HELL

For those who don't know the background, I recently started making a game inspired by the stories of Pu Songling's Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio. It encompasses a little more than that, but for now, that is enough of a description. The setting is simply called World of Songling, and it is a little unusual. I play the world a few different ways. In some cases it is simply a dreamworld, in others it is its own special place. Today, I want to talk about one of the more recent approaches I've been using.

I've been playing around with the afterlife in my Strange Tales adventures. Specifically I've been treating it as Chinese Hell, or Diyu. One of the big reasons for this is because I want to fit Strange Tales into my regular gaming schedule and needed to give it a place where it made sense. This works great because whenever a character dies, it can be an opportunity for a slight change of pace as a kind of weekend-in-hell. 

For example, say a group of characters are fighting a bunch of wicked masters at a temple, and one of them is killed by a poisoned blade during the battle. The dead PC, wakes up in a misty town with strange geography, and human devouring paper lanterns haunting the sky. He finds himself trapped in this world, a shifting landscape that turns out to be the entrance into hell (Diyu). Within this world, he must find some means of escape over the course of several adventures. It could be a simple crawl from the 10 courts of Diyu, or he may simply hop from location to location, villages, temples, manor houses that all resemble real places. The idea is to provide a conceit for a monster-of-the-week. The other players can make new characters who are also recently arrived dead, or perhaps more interestingly, they storm into hell to rescue their fallen friend. 

Again, these are ideas I am still trying out in various forms in playtests. But increasingly this approach of Strange Tales as an escape from hell, is clicking more and more for me. It also frees me up to continue running regular campaigns of Ogre Gate, while occasionally venturing into the World of Songling (which is the ideal place for it to have in my overall campaign schedule). 

Another way I've been using it, is as a test before rebirth. This gets a bit thorny and complex but here the idea is if you have a total party kill, you break out Strange Tales and run 10 adventures for them in the afterlife. Their behavior and performance in these adventures would result in higher or lower rebirth (meaning after those ten sessions I resume Ogre Gate and the players who pleased the Hell Kings get more resources, status, etc; while those who displeased would be born with flaws (importantly this also means more character points at character creation, so it isn't all bad). I still have to work out some of the details here. Ideally it should be simple, so I may just give each character a '+' or '-' for each adventure in terms of how they conduct themselves. Then look at the total amount when it is all done and make a decisions about it. But I am also thinking of making more procedural (however I am striving for Strange Tales to be much simpler than Ogre Gate, so I am more inclined towards the former). 

I should have more to say on this in the coming weeks. Also, while this really isn't a wuxia topic so much as an account of the strange topic, for categorization purposes, I'm filing all these thoughts under 'wuxia inspiration' to connect it to my blog entries on Ogre Gate. 

Here are some of my thoughts on the topic that lead up to this blog entry: 



A CHINESE GHOST STORY AND RETURN OF CONDOR HEROES

Every Friday we talk about wuxia movies. The past month or so we've also done a discussion of Return of Condor Heroes as Kenny and I work our way through five chapters at a time. 

Today's movie is A Chinese Ghost Story, an atmospheric and action-packed adaptation of a classic Pu Songling tale directed by Ching Sui-tung, starring Leslie Cheung, Joey Wong and Wu Ma. 


You can also hear me and Kenny talk about Return of Condor Heroes chapters 31-35. Return of Condor Heroes is a widely loved story by Jin Yong and part of a trilogy that includes Legend of Condor Heroes and Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre. ROCH follows the adventures of Yang Guo and Xiaolongnu a heroic couple beset by tragedy and at odds with the norms of the martial world. We just have one more episode to go on ROCH so this is a good time to catch up on our previous discussions. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

LEGENDS OF OGRE GATE CHAPTER 79: BLINK OF THE DRAGON AND RAGE HOLOCAUST

At Wuxia World, you can follow the story of Sunan and Bao in the Legends of Ogre Gate series by Deathblade. The latest chapter is available HERE. If you want to start from the beginning, check out the INDEXI've been posting support to go with the Legend of Ogre Gate story. Here is the latest entry. 


BLINK OF THE DRAGON
Skill: Meditation against Attack 
Type: Counter 
Qi: 8

You close your eyes and vanish, causing the attack to miss. 

Make a Meditation Roll against the attack roll. You reappear wherever you wish the following round. 

RAGE HOLOCAUST
Skill: Meditation TN 6; Arm Strike against Evade
Type: Normal
Qi: 8

Your eyes burn with a maroon Qi energy as you unleash streams of Qi that form into a single column against your foe. 

Make a Meditation TN 6 roll. On a Success, roll Arm Strike against the Evade of a single Target. On a Success you release five beams of energy from each hand which merge together and do 16 Automatic Wounds (no damage roll). 


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

LEGENDS OF OGRE GATE CHAPTER 78: EYES OF THE PHOENIX MAP

At Wuxia World, you can follow the story of Sunan and Bao in the Legends of Ogre Gate series by Deathblade. The latest chapter is available HERE. If you want to start from the beginning, check out the INDEXI've been posting support to go with the Legend of Ogre Gate story. Here is the latest entry. 

EYES OF THE PHOENIX MAP
These maps were rumored to be used by the scouts and spies of Sunan and Bao. These maps show the easter half of Qi Xien and are quite accurate. It is believed all were destroyed but one, except for one. The only remaining map was swallowed by a scout before she was burned to death by the Demon Emperor. She died, but the map survived and acquired a bit of her spirit. Anyone using such a map, gains a +1d10 to any Survival Roll used to travel from place to place. The map can also gently communicate with the user, giving them good or bad feelings as they move in different directions. 

LEGEND OF CONDOR HEROES I: A HERO BORN (REVIEW)

Legend of the Condor Heroes 1 A Hero Born Book Review
Note: This review first appeared on Drama Panda (HERE). Also you may be interested in listening to the discussion on Deathblade's Channel where he offers a critique of some of the translation's decisions (particularly the way names were translated). You can listen to Deathblade's thoughts HERE

Legend of the Condor Heroes is a wuxia classic by Jin Jong about two sworn brothers who take very different paths in the aftermath of a family tragedy. It is also a story of love and adventure. This is a review of an official translation of the first book in the series, A Hero Born. It is translated by Anna Holmwood and published by MacLehose Press. 

Set in the Song Dynasty during the period of the Great Jin, a Hero Born follows the life of Guo Jing, a descendent of Guo Sheng (a character from the Water Margin). Before birth, his father, Guo Xiaotian, is killed by soldiers sent by a corrupt Song official and his mother finds refuge on the Mongolian Steppe, where Jing is trained by the Seven Freaks of Jiangnan and raised in the court of Genghis Khan (when he is still Temujin). His father's sworn brother, Yang Tiexie, disappears in the attack, and his son, Yang Kang, is raised elsewhere (which I won't get into here to avoid spoilers). 

Monday, February 19, 2018

DISPOSABLE DISCIPLES SESSION 81

This is the 81st session of Disposable Disciples. In this session, the players attempt to perform charitable deeds, deal with an overly righteous family member, try to take the Five Ghost Hand Manual, and obtain a branch of the Epoch Tree from the belly of a giant toad in the swamps of Emo Cheng. 

LEGENDS OF OGRE GATE CHAPTER 77: THE SKULL OF RUAN THE FLAMINGO

At Wuxia World, you can follow the story of Sunan and Bao in the Legends of Ogre Gate series by Deathblade. The latest chapter is available HERE. If you want to start from the beginning, check out the INDEXI've been posting support to go with the Legend of Ogre Gate story. Here is the latest entry. 

THE SKULL OF RUAN THE FLAMINGO
According to legend, when people die they appear before the Eight Magistrates for judgment, to determine how they will be reborn and if they should be punished before rebirth. The truth is most people, even good ones, must suffer some form of penalty. They say that Ruan the Flamingo had many great talents and he forged numerous powerful artifacts. But, some also say, he was a tremendous liar and when he appeared before the Eight Magistrates, this landed him in a good deal of trouble. One of the magistrates took great exception to this and decided to make an example of him. He was sentenced to be roasted for several thousand years over a great flame. This eventually reduced his body to bones, and ultimately a charred skull. Before the skull could be consumed in the flames, a servant of the Ghostly Emperor grabbed the skull and took it to the world of man, where it is believed to remain to this day. 

This skull has no magical ability that it can impart to its user, but it can speak, and has Ruan the Flamingo's memories of his past and his punishment. Memories of his punishment are more immediate and so he tends to encourage everyone to live by the Dehuan virtues, lest they suffer his fate. He can also tell people about the time of Sunan and Bao. But more than that, he is a master craftsmen and can advise anyone trying to create powerful objects.