We are officially working on a new game that is a variation of Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate. This will be more horror and bizarre tales than wuxia (there will still be room for the wandering sword but the focus is on ghosts and spirited beasts). Obviously this is directly inspired by all the Strange Tales from the Chinese Studio entries I've been doing, so the name of the game is tentatively Strange Tales of Songling.
Here are just some basic principles and design ideas as we go forward:
1) Higher Lethality: Strange Tales of Songling will take a more lethal approach than Ogre Gate. A ghost can often kill you quite easily in one strike. Characters are more fragile, they die more often and there are fewer guarantees of making it to the end.
2) Simplicity: This is going to be a lot simpler than Ogre Gate. I think this is important with the higher lethality (because we want a very fast character creation so players can quickly get back into play). I also felt like going back to something simpler and smaller. Our games have been getting progressively higher in page count (with Ogre Gate clocking in at 492 pages or so). The final book for this will be under 100 pages and the rules chapters will be very short (for the core rules chapter I am aiming for 1-2 pages).
3) Monster of the Week: This is a monster of the week game in terms of adventure structure. The focus will be things like monster hunts, haunted temples, etc. My Ogre Gate games tend to be more open sandbox, and that works great, but for this, I wanted to do something more like monster of the week.
4) Emphasis on adventure material: The Ogre Gate core book included a large amount of setting material (and there is more setting material for Ogre Gate to come). My focus on making material for Strange Tales of Songling will be the adventure. Even the cosmology of my setting is built around adventure locations.
5) Timeless setting: The setting is largely up to the GM. I provide an example of what I do with the game and how I make a Songling-like world, but if you want to set it in China during five different dynasties, you can do so. There is no emphasis on a particular time or place. You could run it in Ogre Gate's Qi Xien, your own world, etc. I am going to be very light on setting stuff here. The focus will be the adventures and the sources of inspiration. In fact, if I do get into the nitty gritty describing historical and cultural details, those would be shifted to the appendix (so the main book remains light).
6) Compatibility: This game is compatible to a degree with Ogre Gate, but it is like a basic version of the game. There are fewer defenses and some of the skills have been streamlined. Characters have fewer Max Wounds, and the abilities they have access to are considerably lower powered than Ogre Gate martial heroes. A way to think of it is, the characters in this game, even though they have levels of their own, are pre-Martial Hero Characters. Some have cool abilities and powers, but they don't measure up to a Qi rank 1 character from Ogre Gate. They can, if you choose to continue them past the levels in Strange Tales, become a regular Ogre Gate character with some adjustment. I think Strange Tales would be a good introduction to the Ogre Gate system. The simpler approach and faster character creation, means people can be introduced to the core concepts fairly easily. There are key differences though because the scale of power is lower and the number of defenses are fewer.
We've been play testing this over the last couple of weeks. I actually shifted one of my Saturday games to Strange Tales (and my Tuesday game is doing a group of Strange Tales adventures). I will keep you updated as more information becomes available.