Monday, October 23, 2017

DISPOSABLE DISCIPLES SESSION 66: IT CAME FROM ZHE VALLEY

This is a log for my ongoing Disposable Disciples of Bone Kingdom campaign. You can see the previous session log HERE.  

Player Characters: 

Shen Chun/Crazed Raksha
Little Bai
Yang Shen
Ong Lao
Min (Feiyan)

Disciples of the Sect: 

Red Eagle (Little Bai)
Dim-Witted Chen (Shen Chun)
Xiaomei 


Sects Alliances: 

GOLDEN WAY ALLIANCE 

An alliance of orthodox sects lead by Shen Chun (Zhao Kang-Green Cat Kang) and his wife Da Mei Mei. They wield the wind saber of Sunan and the Phoenix Crown of Bao. Their alliance includes Temple of the Jade Mercies, remnants of Relentless Corpse Sect, Purple Cavern Sect, Nature Loving Monk Sect, Dehua Sect, Golden Dragon Sect and connections with the House of Paper Shadows. 

THE SOUTH WIND SOCIETY 
Rivals to the Golden Way, they have been absorbing sects in the south and in Hai'an. They are led by Cunning Dragon and have absorbed: Tree Dwelling Nuns, Perfect Heaven Lineage, Southern River Sect, Sun Mai Sect, Glorious Death Cult, Crescent Moon Sect, and a small group lead by Silent Dagger. 


Rulers:
Zhen Dao Empire: Emperor Zhao
Hai'an: Queen Ai Nu
Li Fan: King Yuan


Last session, the party contained the spirit of Shen Guan at the abandoned Crocodile Sect headquarters. Along the way they met a flower-giving man named Yang Shen. He came originally from Canyon Sect, an exterminated group that once held sway in The Valley. He joined the party hoping to reclaim The Valley from the current master. However news had reached him that things had changed for the worse in the region. 
Art by Jackie Musto
for upcoming
House of Paper Shadows
adventure


No one had heard from Zhe Valley in two months. Messengers were sent, emissaries from powerful sects, but any who ventured there, either never came back or returned as a head in a box. Occasionally there was a note that simply said "Hua Yin". People came to believe a woman named Hua Yin had taken over Zhe Valley and closed it off to the world. 

Yang Shen, Min and Ong went south while Shen Chun took care of things at the sect headquarters. Along the way they stopped at Zun City, and Yang Shen met with the head of Zun City Protection Agency to arrange for 75 men to wait for him at Dee. Chief Zhu accepted an offer of 10,000 spades for the deal. 

They then went further south to The Valley. Upon their approach they passed through a region where they encountered a sack of silken web suspended from a tree. Ong attacked it with his chain and it burst to the ground, releasing ten hand-sized spiders that crawled at them aggressively. Min used her Hot Winds technique to destroy them. 

Eventually they encountered a man dressed the scholarly robes of a She Valley senior. He was flanked by five other men. He told them "you are not welcome here, leave at once."

"Who are you?" Yang Shen asked. 

"I am Hua Min," he said then pointed at his disciples, "We are all Hua Yin."

"So that is how this going to be," said Yang Shen, then leapt forward to attack. As the party encircled the group, Yang Shen lashed out with Sword Whipping Strike, felling the disciples and cutting the flesh of the scholar. The scholar then opened his mouth wide and a cluster of spiders poured out to attack the party. One of the spiders bit Ong in the stomach and began burrowing deep in his body. They managed to bring the scholar down and destroy the remaining spiders, then Yang Shen cut out the spider that was burrowing into Ong. 

Inspecting the men, they saw they all had spiders in their skulls, which appeared to have devoured their brains. 

Moving through the cobweb-covered hills they came to Ti Fan. Cutting a path through the webs, Ong and Min witnessed something crawling around the hill, trying to stalk the party. It was the size of a city block, with the body of a spider and the upper body of a great ogress. This was Hua Yin. 

"You should not be here," said Hua Yin. 

"Don't be a fool, let's talk this through, we can work out an arrangement. Clearly you have things under control here, we can work with you."

"You can serve me," said Hua Yin.

"No, we will negotiate an alliance but we will not be your servants," said Yang Shen. 

"You are not my equals, I have ruled the valley since the world was created, who are you to issue demands of me?"

"I see there is no reasoning with you then," said Yang Shen. 

Ong Lao leapt and used stabbed Hua Yin through the eye with his blade. Green slime flowed from the wound. Yang Shen leapt onto her back and began stabbing viciously. Min used her stride ability to appear outside the the immediate area so she could get a wide range for her hot winds. 

Spiders begin to flow from the surrounding webs and converge on Ong and Yang Shen. Hua Yin reached back and delivered a devastating bite on Yang Shen, ripping out huge chucks of flesh. 

The battle went on for some time. Hua Yin's size and power was unlike anything they had encountered. When Yang Shen attempted to attack her by striking meridians and disrupting Qi flow, he felt only absence. There was no Qi. She had no meridians. But her power was immense. 

They coordinated their attacks, with Ong drawing her attention and evading her attempts to bite. With a final strike from a blaze of Blade of the Dancing Fox technique brought her down in a great heap. 

This is where the session ended. 



Saturday, October 21, 2017

DISCIPLES OF SHAOLIN AND OTHER SHAW BROTHERS NEWS

I have an article up at Shaw Brothers Universe talking about Disciples of Shaolin for Alexander Fu Sheng's birthday yesterday. You can see the article HERE

I also have a halloween article up from earlier in the month HERE. 

On the topic of Shaw Brothers, they've released ten more movies on prime this month. Some interesting options this time around. Here is the list of releases with links.  

I should in disclosure that while I don't get paid for any of these contributions (I just like to support Shaw Brothers stuff), I think contributors are occasionally eligible for prizes. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

SHAW BROTHERS FRIDAY: HEROES SHED NO TEARS PODCAST

Tonight we had Deathblade on to talk with us about Heroes Shed No Tears. Deathblade translated the book at Wuxia World, so we discussed the movie and some of the differences in the book. I adore this movie and have been looking forward to the discussion for some time. 

WUXIA: PASSION AND DEBATE

One of my goals when I set out to make Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate was to approach wuxia as a fan and make it approachable in play. I didn't want it to be about who knows more about wuxia, because I think that creates an atmosphere where people avoid the genre, viewing it as this thing they have to master just to enjoy. But I do like seeing passionate discussion around what wuxia is, what movies and books it includes, as long as that discussion isn't just a proxy for being the smartest guy in the room. This can extend to games as well: which RPG is best suited to the wuxia genre for example. I saw a discussion like this recently, it seemed intense, but for the most part I was glad to see so many people so invested in the topic. However when it comes to comparing games versus one another, I just hope people understand this isn't a winner takes all situation. Every game has its fans, and that is good. I love having fans of the Ogre Gate system, and I appreciate people spending their hard earned money on our stuff because I don't think anyone owes us a sale. But I hate to see that love used to attack other games. And I also realize, Ogre Gate is just one way to do wuxia. Every way involves making decisions that leave out or minimize other parts of the genre. There are a lot of great wuxia RPGs available. Too many to name at times. But all of the ones that existed prior to Ogre Gate, had a positive influence in its development. When I made Ogre Gate, I wanted to do wuxia my way. Not the correct way. Not the only way. But simply my way. I had been drawing on these other games for years to cobble together stuff for campaigns. Qin, Flying SwordsmenThe Golden Scroll of Justice, Outlaws of the Water MarginLegend of the Five Rings, Oriental AdventuresTianxia, Weapons of the GodsLegends of the Wulin are all amazing games. Games like Feng Shui and Hong Kong Action Theatre! are also a good fit for wuxia campaigns. There are more than I've listed of course. It goes on and on. There are also games I am looking forward to coming out like Art of Wuxia (discussed at the Exploding Dice Blog), Khitai for 7th Sea, as well as Kevin Crawford's Mind Dynasty RPG. I am a fan, not a competitor with any of them. Their presence gives me plenty of reason to produce the best stuff I can, but beyond that I see the genre as so niche that I believe a sale for any of them is beneficial to all. I realize Ogre Gate is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things. We are a niche, within a niche of the hobby. It is a lot better for the genre as a whole when the different fans can come together even if they disagree on the details. I at least hope my fans will realize just because another game approaches in a different way, that doesn't mean it is doing wuxia wrong. You can arrive in a very different place depending on what wuxia resonates with you. Gu Long and Jin Yong tell very different stories. King Hu is different from Chang Cheh, and they are both apart from Tsui Hark or Ronny Yu. There are a million ways to do wuxia, and the list of games to draw on is expanding relentlessly. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

HEROES SHED NO TEARS AND MARTIAL SECTS

I am working on a number of things coming out for Ogre Gate, but something nudged me to write about campaign upkeep. This Friday we are going to talk about Heroes Shed No Tears, the 1980 Shaw Brothers film on the podcast. I've been re-reading the translation of Heroes Shed No Tears novel at Wuxia World (HERE) and it got me thinking about mapping the martial world in campaigns. 

The novel is excellent and I highly recommend it to Gamemasters running wuxia campaigns. Written by Gu Long, it is an excellent example of how to populate a campaign setting with martial heroes and clans. In particular it illustrates how an escort company, something very common in the genre, can function in a gameable way. The movie is one of my favorite films, and I also encourage people to check it out. It is directed by Chor Yuen, and just one among many movies he made that were inspired by Gu Long's works.

In any setting you have the world and the locations, and those need to be mapped. But the martial world is more like an abstract set of relationships, allegiances and individuals who populate that setting. Again, you'll need individual entries on the sects and characters, but you also need a general overview of how it all fits together. The sketch to the right is a small example of that. 

In Heroes Shed No Tears we learn that one of the primary characters, Sima Chaoqun formed a powerful escort agency by assembling 39 of the greatest heroes and bandits from Heshuo to North East China. This took him two years to achieve and with the help of his righthand man, Zhuo Donglai, there only real rival was the head of Lion Clan: Zhu Meng. . The events of the book are about a final confrontation between these two great powers. But there are other heroes and villains in the mix as well. The main character of the book is Little Gao, who enters the martial world at the behest of his master and finds himself embroiled in the conflict. There is also a mysterious assassin who carries a special box said to be the deadliest weapon in the world. Zhu Meng, leader of Lion Clan, is in love with a graceful dancer named Die Wu and helped by a loyal man named Cleats. There are many other characters of importance in the book and this is a story where you really only have to worry about two organizations (a lot of wuxia has far more than this). 

So mapping out these relationships but also keeping track of heroes in general can be important. Imagine running a campaign for example around the rise of a character like Sima Chaoqun. In order to do that, the most important thing is to know who the 39 heroes are. 

The map I used on the right is one quick way of getting a visual of the martial landscape. I usually pair it with a table containing the characters, with their Qi rank, signature techniques, desires and goals, etc. Sometimes you can fit this on the martial world map as well. On mine, I just fit in the Qi ranks, as those were the important thing to know for what was going on in the campaign. 

But these maps need constant updating. The one to the right maps out the sects after a major incident involving some time traveling chariots. And there is a second page containing more sects and heroes. Generally I try to place the sects on the page in a place that matches where they reside in the world. 

If you want to learn more about Heroes Shed No Tears, I strongly recommend Deathblade's translation at Wuxia World. I also suggest watching the movie if you can (as far as I know it isn't on prime or anything). We will cover it on the podcast this friday, so if you have seen it, definitely join us for the discussion, or to learn more about it. There will be spoilers though. 




Sunday, October 15, 2017

THE RETURN OF LONG DISTANCE VILLAINY

I did a post here a few years ago on a GMing technique I sometimes use called Long Distance Villainy (you can find the original post HERE). It was a retread of an article I had written years before online (but the original site went away so I decided to post the idea once again). I came across this today, and thought it was interesting. Not sure if they were inspired by the blog post or just coing at the idea independently but it is a cool way to make this a regular thing (one of the limitations that I always faced with it, was it had to be a once-in-a-while technique because you need to recruit your long-distance villain). But there is a reddit thread dedicated to the idea HERE. I think it is worth checking out. 


Friday, October 13, 2017

SHAW BROTHERS FRIDAY

Today we discussed the Angry Guest (currently available on prime HERE). This sequel to Duel of Fist stars Ti Lung and David Chiang. It is directed by Chang Cheh with action direction by Lau Kar-Leung and Tong Kai.