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TSOY Wushu

Started by xjermx, October 15, 2006, 01:59:44 PM

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I dont know why this did not occur to me earlier, or why I didn't grasp the idea sooner.. but it dawned on me suddenly that my destiny involved running a Wushu themed TSOY game, drawing on movies like Hero, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Fearless, Once Upon A Time in China, etc.

I was thinking about skills like Wudan Martial Arts (Vigor), Shaolin Martial Arts (Vigor), and a Wushu skill or ability.

I welcome suggestions from anyone who's run something like this, or has clever ideas about it - but here's a question for anyone that wants to give it a shot.

I want to replicate some of the Wuxia elements - running up walls, dancing through treetops, running across water, etc.  I could certainly just let players free-form this, but I'd love to have some kind of stat associated with it.  I'd been thinking about a skill called Wushu, based on Instinct perhaps, but wonder if I want to 'hack' the system and make Wushu a a Pool that can be spent from.


Selene Tan

Well, how you implement Wushu depends on how you want to include Wushu in the game.

If Wushu is a skill, then some people might take it, some people might not. It will be one tool of many for resolving conflicts.

If Wushu is a pool, then it becomes a vital part of the setting. All characters important enough to have stats have access to it.

If Wushu is a secret (or set of secrets), that sets it up as something only some people know, to be used in specific or special circumstances.
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I've similarly been rocked by TSOY's awesomeness in terms of wuxia action. The thread which really bowled me over completely was on the Actual Play forum:

It's worth poring over that thread if you're looking for inspiration and some ideas about how other people implemented similar game feel, but the thing that probably hits your question about high-flying martial arts best is this, which was posted by Thor Olavsrud:

Quote"Each character had his martial art as a Fighting skill. No different than any other Fighting skill really. They were free to take the name of the martial art and imagine it any way they wanted. I also gave each of them a number of Secrets based on their martial art. Everyone got the Secret of the Flying Leap for free (and it also covered stuff like running on water or on Willow branches). I didn't make them spend Pool points on this Secret UNLESS they wanted to go somewhere farther and faster than someone else. Then it was a bidding war."

I don't want to stifle your own ideas on how to solve a similar problem, but I personally loved that solution. In at least one TSOY game I played (in an alternate urban setting), the martial artist character had the Secret of Flying Leap, and it was tremendously satisfying for the sort of wirework feel we were looking for.

From my own personal TSOY tinkering with a wuxia-themed setting, I've been more pleased with creating new lists of Secrets (rather than new entire pools) to represent martial artist techniques, and what not. This aligns with Selene's option #3, above, and it allows for some interesting flavor, if there are Secrets which rely more heavily off of Reason or Vigor, encouraging characters towards different styles and the Secrets representing them.

Depending on how rare you want those techniques to be, you might want Secrets or Abilities which serve as "gateway Secrets" allowing you to gain access to the others, similar to how the Secret of the Walozi functions for Qek in the main TSOY book. For example, in the setting I designed, part of the fun was getting initiated into various fighting orders, secret socieities, and cults, or finding appropriate mentors, teachers, style manuals, and the like just so you COULD get access to new funky techniques, as I loved that "quest for knowledge"/ "pursuit of lost techniques" theme. Again, it's mostly about what sort of stylistic conceits you want for the game world you'd design. Consider that something like sect affiliation could easily stand in for what Cultural or Species Secrets often do in TSOY, none of which precludes having Cultures or Species Secrets, either, depending on your world. I'm a real sucker for that "last descendant of the ancient Black Lotus Society, hidden from their rivals in the Thousand Crane Cult who burned their temple to the ground and killed their ascended masters" thing, so it was flavor I had fun with.

A lot of wuxia work is rife with sorcery, as well, and the Three Corner Magic system adapts quite nicely to the work of onmyoji, or yin-yang masters, or Taoist alchemists, or whatever other types of sorcerers you might want. Stir in some evil court eunuchs for some classic "Feng Shui" action, as well, and you can't go wrong in my book.

In terms of using the TSOY species as they exist, you can ditch 'em to have a strictly human game (which has a classic feel true to the literature and films), or import them in any number of lovely ways for a high fantasy vibe. Goblins make delightful oni or similar ogre- or goblin-like creatures, with almost no changes required. Ratkin can work well in an Asian-themed setting (see their role in the Legend of the Five Rings game, for instance), particularly if you want a "glory days of the empire have passed, and a corrupt emperor on the throne is a harbinger of a wicked age, rife with monsters, demons, ghosts, witchcraft, and bandits" feel. Elves could easily be reworked as Taoist Immortals, such as sword-saints or other beings who exist beyond death due to alchemical discoveries, magical happenstance, curses, blessings, good deeds, or simply the power that comes through perfecting a technique (such as swordplay, or tending gardens) for one's entire life. When one has accidentally drank the Jade Elixir, or been granted a bite of the Peaches of Immortality, one becomes an "elf", living life over and over in the Middle Kingdom.

-shadowcourt (aka josh)


I like the idea of Secrets as signature moves, or maybe as the distinguishing specialties of particular styles, but giving everybody permission to do Wire-Fu is important also IMO. 

I'd love to see some Fu-specific Keys, also. 
I believe in peace and science.


Quote from: Danny_K on October 17, 2006, 01:55:38 PM
I'd love to see some Fu-specific Keys, also. 

Key of Style Superiority:  You are dedicated to a particular style of martial arts, and believe it to be superior to any other style.   Gain 1 XP every time you defeat an opponent using a different style of martial arts.  Gain 3 XP every time you defeat an opponent with a different style of martial arts after you PUBLICLY put the reputation of your style on the line; "Tiger-style is for children, and cannot stand against the power of...Monkey-style!".  Buyoff: Reject your previous style, never to be used again.
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I played Iron-Shirt Shang in that game, and it worked really damn well. That was the day that Thor set me on the path of Indie goodness.
Winning gives birth to hostility.
Losing, one lies down in pain.
The calmed lie down with ease,
having set winning & losing aside.

- Samyutta Nikaya III, 14

Thor Olavsrud

Wow. Thanks for the kind words guys. You made me dig up the old characters!

Here are some of the Secrets I created. They were for the first edition of the game, and I haven't checked to make sure they're all compatible with the current version, but they mostly look ok. I was pretty quick and dirty when I made these. Some of them may be unbalancing.

Secret of Lightfoot Kung Fu: You can make amazing leaps and even run across water or on tree branches. In opposed tests, spend as many points from Vigor pool as you like. I gave this to everyone for free.

Secret of Monkey Steals the Fruit: You can disarm an opponent without changing Intentions with a successful Eight-Armed Monkey Boxing test during Bringing Down the Pain. Cost: 1 Vigor.

Secret of Monkey Dances with Eight Maidens: You always have a bonus die when using Eight-Armed Monkey Boxing for defense.

Secret of Gate Guardian Iron Body Stance: In physical combat, subtract 1 Success Level from a successful attack against yourself.

Secret of the Vigor Fist: You can strike with extreme might. Spend as many dice of Vigor as you like to increase the damage of a blow in combat.

Secret of the Dragon Rends the Mountain: You can strike with extreme might. After a successful blow in combat, spend as many points of Vigor as you like to increase the damage.

Secret of the Upright Dragon Fist: When using Upright Dragon Fist, you may spend as many points out of the Vigor pool as you like to give bonus dice to the ability.

Secret of Crane Dancing on Clouds: Bao Li's body is so well trained that she can use Resplendent Crane almost without thought. If attacked, you can use Resplendent Crane in Bringing Down the Pain for any action without changing from your true intention.

Secret of Crane Awes the Carp: You always have a bonus die when you attempt to perform immobilizing holds with Resplendent Crane.

Secret of Eagle's Claw Pressure Seal: Your character can damage targets' attributes, removing points, instead of doing physical damage. Cost: 1 Vigor.

Secret of Emerald Needle: Your character can spend his pools to give other characters bonus dice or power their Secrets. Only one point can be spent for bonus dice per action unless the receiving character has a Secret that allows more.

Secret of Feather Overbalances the Universe: You may spend as many points of Vigor as you like to gain bonus dice when using Altered Universe

Secret of Touch Reroutes the Universe: You can damage target's attributes, removing points instead of doing physical damage. Cost: 1 Vigor.

Secret of Universe Revolves on the Unseen Point: When your character is using Altered Universe to defend himself, you can take successes from your defense and the attacker's successes and add them as bonus dice to your next Altered Universe attack, using the full motion of the attacker to power your move. Cost: 1 Instinct.

Secret of Thunder Reaves the Sky: You can strike with extreme might. Spend as many points of Vigor as you like to increase the damage of a successful blow in combat.

Secret of Sun Crowns the Mountain: You may spend as many points of Vigor as you like to gain bonus dice when using Taishen Sword Style.

Secret of Water Breaks the Earth: The weight of your weapon can be used to destroy other weapons in combat. With a successful attack, your Success Level (not including damage bonuses) is removed from the damage bonuses of weapons. If reduced to 0, the item is destroyed. Cost: 2 Vigor.

Secret of Cold Poison Needles: Among your weapons of choice are your Cold Poison Needles. You always have a bonus die when using your Aim ability with your Cold Poison Needles. Cost: None.

Secret of Serpent Strikes the Heel: You can damage targets' attributes, removing points, instead of doing physical damage, when you use your Cold Poison Needles. Cost: 1 Vigor.

Secret of Duster Sweeps the Floor: When using Poison Fairy Style, you may spend as many points as you like out of the Vigor pool to give bonus dice to the ability.

John Harper

Thor: Thank you. Bless you.
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