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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


I think the reason for the names is more that going through the list of authors, unless I've missed someone I don't think a single Chinese person worked on FS 1.

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Xiahou Dun
Jul 16, 2009
BUTTS





It's probably that, yes.

To be fair, I'm the whitest white dude to ever be white*, I just did this magical trick called learning.

*I play the mandolin for gently caress's sake, which in addition to being white as hell, one of the Chinese names for it is literally "foreign/barbarian pipa/lute".

Ixjuvin
Aug 8, 2009

if smug was a motorcycle, it just jumped over a fucking canyon

Nap Ghost

wiegieman posted:

Some day I want to see a big list of the weird sounding names that Chinese developers came up with for their fantasy Europe game.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements






Tag yourself I'm Jeromy Gride

Kaza42
Oct 3, 2013

Blood and Souls and all that


Dibs on Bobson Dugnutt

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Halloween Jack posted:

It's a particularly bad idea when you consider that action movies--especially dystopian ones--often end with a singular heroic act that improbably brings down The System.

Tank Girl blows up the generator, Nada blows up the satellite dish, Arnold shows the Running Man audience the real footage, Arnold destroys Cyberdyne and heroically commits suicide, Matt Damon hacks Elysium and heroically commits suicide...I could go on.

That could even have been the Dragons' whole thing and why the rest of the war is scared of them and keeps trying to kill them. They're the people who ignore the odds, don't bother building up a power base, and do the 'stupid' heroic thing. It usually doesn't work. Then sometimes they decapitate an entire faction. You never know with those nuts.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





I can't help but feel that the zone control minigame is significantly worse for TTRPG play than, well, basically any other way of doing things. If the game is about playing action heroes, the action heroes shouldn't have to worry about buying a bunch of real estate and slowly capturing ground, they should be having actual story-shaped adventures replete with monkey cyborgs and ancient sorcerers. Maybe your average Ascended goon is stuck rounding up power sites to control the paradigm, but that's a boring kind of game and the players shouldn't have to do that to make Critical Shifts happen.

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



Joe Slowboat posted:

I can't help but feel that the zone control minigame is significantly worse for TTRPG play than, well, basically any other way of doing things. If the game is about playing action heroes, the action heroes shouldn't have to worry about buying a bunch of real estate and slowly capturing ground, they should be having actual story-shaped adventures replete with monkey cyborgs and ancient sorcerers. Maybe your average Ascended goon is stuck rounding up power sites to control the paradigm, but that's a boring kind of game and the players shouldn't have to do that to make Critical Shifts happen.

It was based on a pretty cool CCG that was about building up control of Feng Shui sites, which is why I guess they thought they had to keep the zone control in.

Hostile V
May 30, 2013

Solving all of life's problems through enhanced casting of Occam's Razor. Reward yourself with an imaginary chalice.



Yeah that legit explains a lot and can easily be solved by backporting Stolze's Company rules from REIGN into the game to represent the defenses of you creating a scrappy bunch of ragtag friends protecting these sites.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Angrymog posted:

It was based on a pretty cool CCG that was about building up control of Feng Shui sites, which is why I guess they thought they had to keep the zone control in.

It was even designed by the same people.

Lynx Winters
May 1, 2003

Borderlawns: The Treehouse of Pandora

I gotta disagree with the idea that having a territory control system in an action movie style game is bad. It can work perfectly fine, and I'd be all about some Blades in the Dark faction building stuff to actually illustrate how you're supposed to build up and become a real threat as the PCs. The problem is that in both editions of the game, there's no actual mechanics for it outside of how to attune and how to get bonus XP for ruining someone else's power spots. Instead it's all just sort of implied stuff about weakening a power structure but there's nothing concrete to back it up. I know it's because they wanted to make things simple and keep bookkeeping to a minimum, but the way it ends up working out is pretty much just GM May I while you try to feel out how many sites your can own before the GM thinks it's too many and sends the SWAT teams while you're out.

Humbug Scoolbus
Apr 25, 2008

The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not tread. Shame, Despair, Solitude! These had been her teachers, stern and wild ones, and they had made her strong, but taught her much amiss.


Clapping Larry

Dawgstar posted:

A friend's Jammer was named McKilla Gorilla.

I had Mighty Carl Young. Tactical Psychoanalyst and heavy weapons specialist.

Selachian
Oct 9, 2012



Kaza42 posted:

Dibs on Bobson Dugnutt

Dammit, I wanted that. Okay, Dwigt Rortugal then.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




hyphz posted:

Wasn’t Blood of the Valiant actually a third party supplement at some point? I’m sure I had a version that wasn’t published by Atlas.

And that background means Potemkin pulled effectively a U-turn in 2nd Edition..
Feng Shui as a whole was briefly published by somebody else before moving to Atlas. Blood of the Valiant was one of the supplements from then. I think there weren't many, maybe just that and an adventure or two.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Dawgstar posted:

Tangentially, I wonder what happened to Braddock(?)'s Brigade, the biggest merc company in CJ Carella's Rifts Mercenaries book. They were all stoked to fight for Tolkeen during the invasion and CJ overwrote Braddock to the extent Kevin overwrites Holmes (although Braddock is at least not a genocidal Nazi even if "Honorable" and "Clever" and "Daring" and whatever) but of course CJ betrayed Kevin as Coffin has by this point I believe so they won't be mentioned.

Larsen's Brigade shows up in Rifts Aftermath helping the refugees, but why none of the mercenary companies show up during the event itself is a head-scratcher. You'd think, at least, this would be Armageddon Unlimited's bread and butter, given their role as chaos-fomenting edgelords, but nope.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Lynx Winters posted:

I gotta disagree with the idea that having a territory control system in an action movie style game is bad. It can work perfectly fine, and I'd be all about some Blades in the Dark faction building stuff to actually illustrate how you're supposed to build up and become a real threat as the PCs. The problem is that in both editions of the game, there's no actual mechanics for it outside of how to attune and how to get bonus XP for ruining someone else's power spots. Instead it's all just sort of implied stuff about weakening a power structure but there's nothing concrete to back it up. I know it's because they wanted to make things simple and keep bookkeeping to a minimum, but the way it ends up working out is pretty much just GM May I while you try to feel out how many sites your can own before the GM thinks it's too many and sends the SWAT teams while you're out.

The particular 90s Action Movie style, though, seems sort of antithetical to this. I'm not saying you can't do it, I'm saying a game where slow scenes are supposed to get broken up by a kill squad of cyborg apes from the Bad Future is not a game where faction-building and territory should be primary PC concerns, generically.

Let the scenes that matter be the big boss fights and stuff, not the mortgage negotiations.

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Angrymog posted:

It was based on a pretty cool CCG that was about building up control of Feng Shui sites, which is why I guess they thought they had to keep the zone control in.

Shadowfist is my favorite CCG. It might be the best multi-player CCG, but honestly Jyhad also exists so that's arguable.

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




Angrymog posted:

It was based on a pretty cool CCG that was about building up control of Feng Shui sites, which is why I guess they thought they had to keep the zone control in.

Yea, but in that the only attackers were the other player’s named characters. A dose of “only certain people can attune to sites” or “even the big groups don’t want everyone knowing about this stuff so they limit numbers around sites” would have helped rather than saying “as soon as you take enough sites the entire police force and army erase you”.

And it does remind me that the very first edition just said “Shadowfist role playing” as the theme on the cover.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


wiegieman posted:

Some day I want to see a big list of the weird sounding names that Chinese developers came up with for their fantasy Europe game.


EthanSteele
Nov 18, 2007

I can hear you



It's rad cos she's Melinda DeCameron, which is written the same as deka melon (mega melon) in Japanese and the translators just gave up.

Tendales
Mar 9, 2012


EthanSteele posted:

It's rad cos she's Melinda DeCameron, which is written the same as deka melon (mega melon) in Japanese and the translators just gave up.


Yep. In Japanese it was just a juvenile pun, and then the translators took one look, shrugged, and said 'welp, Megamelons it is then.'

Translation is a beautiful art

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




Selachian posted:

Dammit, I wanted that. Okay, Dwigt Rortugal then.

Bobson was taken before that: https://thedragonfriends.fandom.com/wiki/Bobson_Dugnutt

But someone actually posted the full list from the game, too: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KOP4mNAX5R0N_dODE6j2gHTK2oTXCIrhAQ0dEniaYFw/edit#gid=0 , which includes Royce Elicea, Robby Smoth, Bryan Narphy, Blas Rauser, Bobby Papp, Gaetan Bamphous, Steven Czerpaws, Esa Medved and Ted Balloon.

echopapa
Jun 2, 2005

El Presidente smiles upon this thread.

Gonna steal some of this Buro fluff and use it to characterize the Corporate Sector Authority in my next Edge of the Empire game.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




hyphz posted:

Bobson was taken before that: https://thedragonfriends.fandom.com/wiki/Bobson_Dugnutt

But someone actually posted the full list from the game, too: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KOP4mNAX5R0N_dODE6j2gHTK2oTXCIrhAQ0dEniaYFw/edit#gid=0 , which includes Royce Elicea, Robby Smoth, Bryan Narphy, Blas Rauser, Bobby Papp, Gaetan Bamphous, Steven Czerpaws, Esa Medved and Ted Balloon.
i'm Guy Stoperson

Mr. Prokosch
Feb 14, 2012

Behold My Magnificence!


hyphz posted:

Yea, but in that the only attackers were the other player’s named characters. A dose of “only certain people can attune to sites” or “even the big groups don’t want everyone knowing about this stuff so they limit numbers around sites” would have helped rather than saying “as soon as you take enough sites the entire police force and army erase you”.

And it does remind me that the very first edition just said “Shadowfist role playing” as the theme on the cover.

Couldn't you fix it by just saying "as soon as you take enough sites the police force and army protect them for you because they're loyal to you now and always have been, as far as they know." Reality is supposed to warp in your favor when you have a site right? So you beat up the goons and have an action movie boss fight. When you win, the goons change from black masks to blue headbands.

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!




Coalition Wars 6: Final Siege, Part 3- "But this is no earthy seductress, but a tiger ready to strike and tear fools to ribbons."


Not to scale

The Tolkeen Army

Yep, six books in, and they're about to lose, let's introduce: The Tolkeen Army! Congrats for finally giving us some detail before they all get their heads incinerated. We get average classes and levels for the grunts and a painfully specific breakdown of troops. But, generally speaking...


Grimm and Umbra

  • Tolkeen's Eastern Army is led by Warlord Thadeus Grimm, the designer of the fortifications used in Mizereen and the Barrens. He's opposed by General Drogue, who goes on an all-out attack and fails so badlyhe's relieved of command by General Holmes and escorted to oversee logistics. But he defies this, taking part of the siege and going MIA with a unit. In case you're wondering if this is left as a mystery: it won't be. The PCs don't get to kill Drogue. gently caress's sake, Palladium.
    • Warlord Thadeus Grimm is one of the few Tolkeen generals of note, an escaped Bio-Borg mercenary from Atlantis. He's supposed to be the greatest military mind they have, and will essentially see Tolkeen's defeat as soon as the defense system goes down. He'll propose an exodus and be rebuffed by Tolkeen's leadership, and after that will hold the Eastern Defensive Wall until it breaks and then leave Tolkeen, never to return. He has an electricity-creating symbiote (an Electrone, to be precise) that powers Techno-Wizard devices attached to his body.
  • Tolkeen's Northern Army is led by Warlord Umbra, whi will generally be known for his failure in being overrun by general Holmes.
    • Warlord Umbra is a Noli Bushman Psi-Slayer from the Magic Zone who, after being overrun by Holmes, will swear to fight to his death... but, in truth, will likely flee in order to try to assassinate the Coalition generals responsible at a later date.
  • Tolkeen's Western Army is the smallest, and led by Warlord Firesol. It'll try to support the other armies at its own expense, and will break easily once the Coalition can finally turn its attention to it.
    • Warlord Firesol, predicably, is a human Fire Warlock. Ironically, he's a cool and careful kind of guy, and essentially is Grimm's ex-student. He's a generally good guy who was opposed to the use of demons and the like, but was loyal to a fault. When the lines break, he'll evacuate what citizens he can with his remaining troops and make a mostly clean escape while the Coalition is still heavily engaged. He might join the resistance against the Coalition later, or alternately help the Cyber-Knights against the demons of Calgary.
  • Tolkeen's Southern Army is one of the best-reinforced and will be the last to fall. Once the North and East armies fall, though, the South will be overwhelmed.
    • Warlord Stygian is a Mystic Knight with a big skull mask that hides her gender, and is deeply ruthless. Though she will fight nearly to the end, apparently she's resourceful and will likely survive to seek out mercenary work away from Tolkeen. "Moreover, she uses her every skill and resource, including her feminine wiles." Her Affinity is 7, her Beauty is 9, and she has no Seduction skill, so good luck with that, Stygian. (Which would be kind of refreshing if the text didn't insist on emphasizing her use of manipulative sexytimes behind a completely obscuring set of armor and mask.)
  • The Tolkeen Air Corps Command and the Engineering Corps are boxes being checked and are exactly what you'd expect. No leaders are associated with them, so just envision really impressive generals with question marks for faces.
  • Warlord Scard is the head general and he and his eeevilness will be detailed later.



Firesol and Stygian

Sure would have been nice to know about these characters before, so that PCs could get missions or relationships with them so that their post-war fates detailed here actually mattered. "I'm Warlord Umbra! I've come to take your life!" "Sorry, I don't- you only showed up at the end, sorry, I don't know who you ar- gurk!"

Next: The backpacks of war.

Alien Rope Burn fucked around with this message at 03:43 on Jun 14, 2019

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


So, without any actual stats for the Tolkeen army, how were you supposed to run them in adventures before this point?

Terrible Opinions
Oct 17, 2013





wiegieman posted:

Some day I want to see a big list of the weird sounding names that Chinese developers came up with for their fantasy Europe game.
Can they top the actual names of the top lacrosse players?

Angrymog
Jan 29, 2012

Really Madcats



hyphz posted:


And it does remind me that the very first edition just said “Shadowfist role playing” as the theme on the cover.

I have that edition. IIRC it's by the same company that did Nexus: the infinite city, which has the same basic system. Cool setting, poo poo system iirc.

The Lone Badger
Sep 24, 2007



Terrible Opinions posted:

Can they top the actual names of the top lacrosse players?


Dallas Creamer is my porn name.

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


Snorb posted:

That Invisible Sun layout is atrocious, and reading the background information on it makes my head hurt. (Plus, I want to keep calling it Invisible Suns.)

Emperor of the Invisible Suns

Alien Rope Burn
Dec 4, 2004

I wanna be a saikyo HERO!


Night10194 posted:

So, without any actual stats for the Tolkeen army, how were you supposed to run them in adventures before this point?

Well, we don't get stats here either, just... literal numeric breakdowns of their forces.

Unless they have statblocks like the Daemonix or Juggernauts, you just have to stat them up as if you were building player characters. Palladium player characters.

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




Terrible Opinions posted:

Can they top the actual names of the top lacrosse players?


Probably not, but that's like asking someone to box with Ali in his prime.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Feng Shui 1e

Perfect Master, Mediocre Boyfriend

The Guiding Hand are a secret society of Shaolin monks in the 1850s juncture who are deeply upset by the whole 'Britain responded to China outlawing opium by making war on it and forcing it to buy drugs' thing. Which, fair. That is a super lovely thing to do and one of my (many) go-tos about the hosed up stuff Empires just get up to in the course of swinging their dicks around the world stage.

The Guiding Hand are actually one of my inspirations for how I ran 2056 when I was running, because they do a thing where the majority of the Hand are really pretty good guys. The issue comes with Quan Lo, the actual overall leader of the Hand. He is kind of a nutbar. See, the Hand originally got its start in an association of Shaolin monastaries and masters who wanted to do something about the opium epidemic in China in the early 19th century. They were originally called the Golden Candle Society, trying to influence the Imperial court to take decisive action against the drug trade; even when they were able to get the court to take a stand against the stuff, nothing seemed to actually stop the import of the drug. Over time, they began to discover something called the Jade Wheel society behind a lot of the political pressure leading on the drug trade. An enemy with seemingly infinite wealth and influence, who always seemed to get lucky whenever they needed it.

If you guessed it was the Tranimals of the Ascended and their Eastern branch, you guessed right.

Quan Lo was a Neo-Confucian scholar and Shaolin Master who did everything he could to take over the Golden Candle Society, wanting to turn it into a more militant organization and coming up with a theory that geomancy was behind the constant success of their enemies. He also wanted to use the Golden Candles (now called the Guiding Hand) to enforce Neo-Confucianism as set down by Chu Hsi (who is real, but I have no idea if his philosophy is presented accurately because I don't know China well) and modified by Quan Lo, driving out any and all Buddhists from the leadership of the society. He starts normally enough, from the idea that people have a fundamentally good nature and that distractions and obstacles to that nature must be removed so they can express that virtue and live by benevolence and righteousness. At first, when the Guiding Hand discovered that the Jade Wheel were transformed animals in 1842, they figured they'd found the source of the problem: The people guiding the corruption of China and aiding the foreigners in humiliating their country and flooding it with drugs weren't people and so lacked the inherently good nature of humans to begin with.

Then, well...Quan Lo, spurred by discovering Feng Shui was a real thing that provided immense power, invented a whole lot of crazy once the time portals opened up and he saw the other eras. He was outraged by 1996 and 2056, thinking them lands that lacked any order or Confucian principles. But he was even more enraged to discover evil wizard eunuchs controlling China in 69 AD. He came up with the idea that there must have been a perfect timeline once, that Feng Shui was a doctrine set down by Sage Kings to guide the world to perfect governance, and that all this time travel nonsense existed because the Enemy Within, the filthy eunuchs, had corrupted the flow of Chi by using it for dark sorcery and split the universe into warring time periods. He...he had no actual evidence for any of this, but that didn't stop the Perfect Master from inventing an entire mythology of a fictional golden age. The Hand intend to take 69 AD and force China to be exactly what Quan Lo imagines the Chinese past should be: a perfectly ordered society with no disobedience, no person ever questioning their station, and rudeness or disobedience severely punished. If the perfidious enemy within who corrupted the golden past could be removed, the world could go back to a golden age where the superior Chinese ruled over all of creation and everyone on the planet obeyed proper ancient culture as Quan Lo imagined it to be in the 19th century.

When I read all this, I couldn't help but notice: Quan Lo is a fascist, isn't he? Ethnic/racial superiority, an imagined and elaborate golden age that must be returned to by violence and purging, a world of total hierarchy, and an obsession with corrupting influences that ruin the purity and superiority of those who rightfully should guide the entire world. He's a fascist trying to co-opt a resistance movement against a legitimately oppressive evil so he can use it to take over all of time and make it behave how he always imagined it was 'supposed' to.

He's generally pretty good at indoctrination, making people go through steps of enlightenment to make certain they're ideologically pure and already having purged the upper levels of his faction of ideological enemies, but he also faces a couple issues. One, he, himself, is actually kind of lovely at kung fu for a kung fu faction's faction leader. A starting Old Master can potentially kick his rear end one on one; he's the weakest faction leader in the game. Two, because of this, he has a lot of extremely badass people on his side who are much more generally idealistic and heroic than he is, and less obsessed with total purity and control, who he can't simply purge from the ranks both because he needs them and because they could kick him in the dick. Many Guiding Hand are good and honest people who are trying to fight the British and the carving up of China. Blood of the Valiant is full of 'And wouldn't it be great for the Dragons if this honest and heroic kung-fu protagonist was convinced to turn on Quan Lo and you ended up in a game where you join forces with the good parts of the Hand to fight the colonialists without Quan Lo's nutjob plans?' He also just doesn't have an army; he tried to take sites by sending badass kung-fu monks to kick everyone out of them and attune to them, only to find Ascended sponsored British and Chinese soldiers coming down on them like a ton of bricks.

The Hand also does one of the few interesting time tricks: They train and convert people in 1850, then go to 1996 and see which of their descendants still ascribe to Hand philosophy and will willingly help them while being natives of 1996. One of those natives is Ho Shen, who poses as a humble restaurant owner in 1996 New York. He and Quan Lo do not get along; when monks from the 1850s started showing up and telling Shen that he had to ignore the US and go focus only on China (after explaining to him how time travel works, first), and that he should only care about the Chinese, Shen told them to stuff it. Everywhere in the world suffered under the Ascended, and everywhere in the world needed the philosophy of Confucius. This led to a falling out that saw Grandmaster Shen 'promoted' to General of 1996 and told never to speak to Quan Lo again, and he's decided that suits him fine; he'll liberate America and put a Neo-Confucian in the white house to show those stodgy bastards that he can save the world without them. One of his best friends is a hardcore black liberation activist and Vietnam vet that likes his philosophy and took to kung fu like mad, and who helps with his plans to train underprivileged people in fu powered martial arts to take low level sites and drive the Ascended's instruments of oppression (from corrupt cops to violent gangs and mobsters) out of their communities. Which is a pretty cool hook. Kung Fu Revolution in America could always be fun for a campaign.

The big trick with the Hand is that Quan Lo's crazy is kept hidden from outsiders. The monks do their best to look like good allies for the Dragons, because one of Quan Lo's general principles is that lying to people is fine as long as you remember the truth in your heart and don't enjoy doing it. In fact, Quan Lo is pretty down with a lot of evil stuff as long as you 'don't mean it'. The Hand are unique in that their book actually contains multiple possibilities for what happens if they Critical Shift the world and how PCs can keep adventuring if that comes up. In one of them, Quan Lo accidentally causes the Fist of the North Star to happen when millennia of all of humanity learning magic kung fu leads to stuff like 'I boop your nose and your head explodes' being common and the world degenerates into warband-dojos centered around superpowered martial artists. His head gets a'sploded, too, because he is NOT a superpowered martial arts god. In another, he manages to ensure all of humanity stays in a highly structured and rigid society exactly as he imagined it should, with anyone trying to step out of place getting beaten down harshly. In another, Ho Shen wins instead, and 2056 loses its Arcanowave tech and replaces it with smooth, iPad like 'technolochi' as the Confucian States of America develop kung-fu based SDI systems and survive a nuclear war. The Ascended worm their way back in, corporatizing and fixing the state exams. Without magic being constant to revert them, they can continue to work their wiles on 2056 and continue to ruin everything; they're actually delighted by this shift.

Also, in every case, because of a weird fluff thing where the Netherworld's juncture modifier has to balance to 0 with the sum of the Junctures' sorcery mods? By purging all magic from the 'main' timelines, they turn the Netherworld into a place where Sorcerers are at +8 AV. On everything. The same Netherworld that already has 4 banished God Kings (and Queens) in it. Who are Sorcerers. This might be a problem.

I really appreciate their book actually giving the stakes of 'what happens if they win'. Other books could've done with that; these are only suggestions, too. The Hand aren't hard to make into good guys, after all. Focus on fighting the Colonialists, eject the weird old man with his imagined ideas of a golden past of perfection, and actually save the world with benevolence and mighty kung fu.

I do really enjoy that Quan Lo can gently caress up so hard that he causes Fist of the North Star. That's a powerful move, and could make for a pretty hilarious campaign twist where you suddenly find you have to recruit Kenshiro and put the world back together by punching the past until things make sense again. And rather than it being 'oh, the Chinese guys want to be stagnant and hierarchical' or whatever, it's...just Quan Lo. That's just his thing. He's a crazy old man. Most of the Hand just want to protect their country in a really hosed up period of its history.

I call him the Mediocre Boyfriend because one of the other setting NPCs in one of the books is his ex and calls him as much. It fits his character to a T that he's also a bitter weirdo about women (he is also a bitter weirdo about women; Buro prefers to use female agents against the Hand because it drives them off the wall).

Next Time: YOU DARE FACE THE WRATH OF GAO ZHANG!?

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





One of the Hand's top guys is Wong Fei-hung, who is a nice example of how Dragons can maybe recruit the Hand's best and brightest away. While a talented martial artist Wong is also a physician and very interested in Western medical techniques which makes Quan Lo frown gravely about. He's probably one of the ideal Hand members to flip and as a bonus you can reenact your favorite bits from Once Upon a Time in China.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Wong Fei-hung can, in fact, kick the rear end of almost anyone in the game with his MA 21. He'd even put up a decent fight against Draco and he'd probably dumpster Dessy or Potemkin.

Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


Feng Shui 1e

Best for Last, Says Gao Zhang

The Eaters of the Lotus are a cadre of evil palace eunuchs with powerful dark magic who rule over China in 69 AD, corrupting the Han Dynasty and setting it on the path to suffer the rule of Dong Zhuo and the collapse of the Han. They are also here to be the villains in fantasy/wuxia stories, and occasionally to come forward in time and be comic relief villains. You know how most groups I've been like 'here's ways you could make them the protagonists'? Yeah. No. That ain't the Lotus's deal. If you're playing as the Lotus, you know what you're in for: You're here to be ridiculous, hammy evil wizards living the high life and passing off the blame when everything explodes. You want to be David Lo Pan, as seen in cinematic masterpiece Big Trouble in Little China? This is how you play David Lo Pan. As you've probably guessed, Big Trouble in Little China has quite a bit of influence on Feng Shui. I'm sure you're surprised.

Like many factions, the Lotus are highly defined by their extremely powerful leader. GAO ZHANG is everything the Lotus are, but more. He's a corrupt eunuch minister who discovered dark sorcery when he captured three powerful wizard-bandits, forcing them to teach him how to summon demons and cast spells in return for their lives. When he proved to be way, way better at it than those losers, he had them liquidated and reformed the palace eunuchs into the Eaters of the Lotus, taking over the government completely and using demons and monsters and Imperial armies to bully the people of China into paying for his luxurious lifestyle through his puppet Emperor. If you can name an evil wizard plot, Gao Zhang has tried it. He is incredibly powerful at sorcery, treachery, and sorcerous treachery. He is also paranoid beyond belief, a massive showoff, and eager to have evil-offs with any and all other major villains in the setting. He will never admit how much he enjoys those! It's simply joy at crushing his enemies and showing off his incredible prowess, it isn't that he loves being a showy supervillain with minions and catchphrases and a massive special effects budget!

Well, one day, Zhang and his henchmen are chilling in the Imperial palace, enjoying the fruits of their massive villainy, when they get a report that some weird poo poo is going down in the villages of China. Someone is attacking their demonic enforcers. Someone weird. Someone who doesn't look Chinese. Someone who seems to have demons of their own. He takes some guys and goes to investigate, and finds it's Buro. Buro is there, ganking his demons to make supersoldiers out of. Weird people in plastic armor with strange magic and stranger weapons. This being a challenge to Gao Zhang and his boys, they take to the Netherworld after the weird interlopers, and discover the time-stream. There's an entire future out there, and horrifyingly, it says that a fat warlord kills all the palace eunuchs and takes over in like a century or so! That poo poo will not stand! Gao Zhang and the Lotus swear they're going to take over the future and prevent their good racket in the past from coming to an end, entering the Secret War.

The main problem is none of them know a drat thing about the future. This leads to the funny bit where the Lotus send ancient wizards into 1996 to poke around and try to figure out the modern world. They do this primarily by going to the movies. The Lotus love movies, but they hate action films; there's more than enough kung fu and gunplay in a Lotus Sorcerer's daily life, thank you. They like high concept character dramas and tearjearkers, instead. More than one Lotus agent has been seduced away from their mission by the temptations of the modern world, or even worse, the future. We had one Lotus Sorcerer who just went native and opened a pizza parlor because he loved experimenting with weird pizza and using emotion potions to make people love it. The Buro has managed to convince several sorcerers to join them by surgically returning their testicles (with listening devices quietly implanted within their new pair). The Lotus will betray the poo poo out of Gao Zhang the moment they think it's safe to do it and it will get them something they want. They're adorable little treason machines.

Like the Dragons, the Lotus really aren't complicated. They're here to play to type, to get a lot of fun out of the time travel mechanics, and to run up a huge bill on the SFX budget. They're there in case you feel like playing a supervillain and their cadre, complete with enforcers, modern mercenaries, mind controlled gangsters, and summoned demons; a Lotus Party is going to be colorful. If you want to play as them, play up the comedic, charismatic nature of their hammy villainy. Make them cartoony. Have fun with it!

It isn't that I don't love them; they're fantastic fun. There's just less to say about them because they're intentionally simple. Their sourcebook spends a lot more time on cool demons to fight, new Creature Schticks, magic treasures, and how to do a fantasy/wuxia campaign than it does on trying to give the Lotus deep motivations or anything. They're here to give you a great reason to fight a hammy evil wizard, whether you're playing a 69 AD wuxia hero or you're Jack Burton and you just want your goddamn truck back. They're in it for themselves. Their motives are 'more money and power for the Lotus', without bothering to even pretend to justify themselves like the Ascended. Much like the Dragons were fairly blank because you're meant to fill in your own Dragons, the Lotus are simple because they're there to provide memorable, weird NPCs and big gribbly demons to flying kick in the face.

Which gets at one of the strong ideas in Feng Shui's advice on writing NPCs: Make them simple at first. Hang a strong idea and some memorable quirks on the character when they first appear. You don't know how long the PCs are actually going to interact with this person; they might smoke them in their first appearance, or decide they hate them and don't care about them even when you wanted them to be buddies, or they might just turn out to be a non-starter as a villain once they're on the stage. If you made up dozens of pages of backstory and plot-hooks for the person, not only will you have wasted your time, you'll be tempted to try to force them into the story anyway even though they didn't land. But if you start out with a few things that don't take a shitload of exposition to make them stand out, you can gauge if you want to go deeper or have them recur by the players' reactions. And even if they get toasted, if they did something really cool or funny or memorable before it happened? Players will still think that crazy sorcerer was a good part of the adventure. The Lotus are the faction equivalent of this; you can add a bunch of detail to the Lotus if you want to make them more prominent villains and your players are really digging fighting eunuch sorcerers and ancient devils. But they're off-the-shelf supervillains, ready made to ham it up even if they turn out to be bit players, and I can appreciate that.

In fact, this approach is a big reason Feng Shui's big setting NPCs actually got used a lot in my games when I was running it; you get the core of their characters most of the time. But the rest is left malleable, for you and your players to fill in. The whole setting is like this: A bunch of strong core ideas and hooks, with enough detail to feel filled in and get you started, but malleable enough to play around with and make it your own. My Buro is almost certainly different from Greg Stolze's Buro, but because Greg Stolze and a lot of the writers on Feng Shui are very good RPG setting writers they made their Buro (and other factions) with the seeds to inspire mine, and those of everyone else who plays their game. It's why FS's setting rarely feels stifling, despite how much is going on in it. And that's a legitimate achievement in writing a setting, to put this much in it and not have it feel like it's even hard to use; it's written to inspire you to write. It also helps that the tone and writing in the books is just fun to read and the material tends to be memorable. That sense of being unapologetic that I mentioned earlier is a big help; Feng Shui isn't ashamed of being a setting where a cyborg monkey kicks the poo poo out of wizard while a Sharktopus wrestles his pet demon. And it doesn't want you to be ashamed of having fun with that, either. You're not wasting your time with dumb power fantasy or something, you're having fun mashing ideas together and coming up with characters.

And the Lotus slot great into all of that.

Next Time: Wrapping the Shoot

Night10194 fucked around with this message at 16:55 on Jun 14, 2019

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017





Night10194 posted:

Wong Fei-hung can, in fact, kick the rear end of almost anyone in the game with his MA 21. He'd even put up a decent fight against Draco and he'd probably dumpster Dessy or Potemkin.

While using his umbrella!

wiegieman
Apr 22, 2010

Royalty is a continuous cutting motion




There are, of course, a wide variety of virtuous Taoist mountain hermit wizards to recruit from 69 ad to help you fight the other wizards.

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Night10194
Feb 13, 2012

We'll start,
like many good things,
with a bear.


wiegieman posted:

There are, of course, a wide variety of virtuous Taoist mountain hermit wizards to recruit from 69 ad to help you fight the other wizards.

Also heroic soldiers and officials who hate the Lotus. Or wandering masters who are secretly from 1850 but who are quietly teaching the peasantry to defend themselves and searching for brave and virtuous souls to battle evil. Or even virtuous bandits who were secretly heroes before they were driven away by the corrupt government (though their Archetype is a shittier version of Dr. Igor Tarantula, MD). Or the people who will later become the Ascended, but before they sold out. 69 AD Tranimals are often OG Tranimals who first managed to turn themselves human. They love humans. They want to help them.

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