As we put the finishing touches on the Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate rulebook, I've reworked the GM section a bit. I'm trying to find the right way to explain our decision to not include tropes and genre overview in the rulebook, but it keeps feeling too negative, like we are contrasting ourselves against other approaches. This isn't our aim, I'm actually trying to contrast against approaches we've used in previous books for other genres.
I suppose I should start by explaining that one thing that really appeals to me in wuxia is the sincerity of it. Whether it is a moving moment between a father and his children or a romantic situation, the tone is one of commitment and sincerity, not ironic (in the sense of holding the emotions at arms length and making fun of the character's sincerity). Don't get me wrong, hypocrisy exists in wuxia and is a big part of the genre, so not all of the characters are sincere. What I mean is the audience is expected to engage the material sincerely.
Something I've observed in previous books we've done where we listed off common tropes or tried to give a point by point break down of the genre, is it always seems like it encourages an ironic handling of the material. Even when you are writing it, the temptation is to hold it at arms length, deride it and take enjoyment in it at the same time. I also feel like, if we list off a bunch of tropes it doesn't really help people that much. I mean you either know them already, in which case I'm not sure it isn't a waste of word count for us to tell you about them in the first place, or you don't know them and are going to try to blindly deploy them based on my one paragraph description in the book. I'm sure some folks find them helpful, I just have never really personally found them helpful in my own gaming.
With that in mind, we are taking a show don't tell approach to genre for the most part. We will certainly discuss key genre elements as they pertain to GMing and we will have setting material that addresses things like the Xia Code, but we won't give a step by step breakdown of the genre or include a listing of tropes. Instead we will try to demonstrate the genre through the setting material, discussion of GMing techniques and by providing a strong viewing list. I realize including tropes is sort of the standard, we've done it in games like Crime Network and Servants of Gaius. Based on those experiences though, I really would prefer using the word space for setting entry material or more Kung Fu Techniques (and we are at the point where we are making tough choices due to word count).