Tuesday, January 16, 2024


Art by Jackie Musto 
This is part of my Wuxia Sandbox series. You can see the previous post HERE. These are all primarily written with Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate and Righteous Blood, Ruthless Blades in mind but can be applied to most wuxia RPG campaign where sandbox is the focus. This series discusses a wide variety of methods and procedures I use. These should be regarded as tools, not as required steps in building a sandbox. I may use all, some or none for any given campaign. Every time I run a campaign, I take a slightly different approach based on what the needs of the current campaign are. 

The purpose of this blog series isn't to set up proscriptive procedures. It is simply to give people a better idea how I run my wuxia sandbox campaigns. 

My view on wuxia in RPGs is every GM has their own take on the genre, their own sensibilities about how to best bring it to the gaming table. This is true of any genre, but with wuxia it seems especially the case. Please do not take my advice as definitive in any way. Watch and read wuxia for yourself and form your own conclusions. What works for one GM, will completely miss the point for another. 


In the previous post I talked about establishing the state of the martial world, with a backstory and list of characters to reflect what is going on when the players enter the campaign. I also included some elements from that which tied to directly to the party, but much of it was simply related to an ongoing scenario they may never connect with. 

I fleshed out the scenario a little more by thinking about groups connected to the party. This led me to giving the players their own entry for their immediate allies and an entry for Yu Qing Manor, an obvious trade rival. The parties entry is The Heavenly Fragrance. This is made up mostly of people from the 87 Killers, but their relationship to the PCs is very different from their relationship to Lady 87. For example they were both raised by Guan Shisu who is Lady 87's son and the Magistrate of Gan District. Putting all this into the list just gives me a better sense of the player character's social geography. These are mostly NPCs and groups with existing entries, but the purpose of this list is to organize them for the campaign at a glance. This is how the revised list looks: 


Dancing Corpse Wan mei 


Fan Batu

Oriole Orphans 


The Sandstone Nun


Lady Plum Blossom 

Senior Disciples (3)

Junior Disciples (10)



Yao Tu-An

Junior Disciples 5


Bao Long

Little Guan Hua 

Guan Nuan

Guan Shisu 


Lin Ragua 


Yu Qing 

Wei Xiaoping 

Since I didn't really know what the players were going to do the first session, I prepped a single tier of my campaign shake-up table. The reason I only did one tier, was it gave me a shorter list of possibilities (which was more manageable without having any activity in the campaign yet) but it also left room for me to add things informed by their actions. After the session I made the next two tiers. I filled up every slot in the three tiers of the tables. And my aim going forward is to replace the weakest entries with things related to recent events in the campaign itself. This, in combination with Grudge Tables works quite well. 

This was my first Shake-Up Table for the campaign (note because it is only a single table, a result of 10 would be a re-roll: 


Roll 1d10         Result

1                      Campaign NPC goes up in level (roll NPC randomly)

2                      A new NPC becomes involved in the situation 

3                      Fan Batu learns of Li Lin’s death and goes on a rampage in a random location

4                      Players have a fated encounter with one of the Factions, roll on Scenario Faction Table 

5                      Fan Batu sends his men to rob the players bath beans 

6                      Dancing Corpse learns that Bao Long is the son of Fan Batu 

7                      Spies from a rival sent to the players’ workshop 

8                      Rival attacks the players interests or tries to rob them 

9                      A random campaign NPC tries to recruit the players in their efforts 

10                    Roll on CAMPAIGN SHAKE-UP TABLE II

We had our first session, in which the players went to open up a shop Wu Zhen. I rolled on the above table and the result was 6: Dancing Corpse Learns that Bao Long is the son of Fan Batu. So I thought how Dancing Corpse would respond to this information. I decided that she would probably try to lure Bao Long and capture him so she could force him to give her information about Fan Batu or be used as bait. I rolled to see if she could find them, and then had her send them a message lying about someone in their organization planning to betray them and suggesting a late night meeting outside town. 

They ended up having a meeting with Dancing Corpse Wan Mei in some wheat fields and Lin Ragua, the local sheriff was killed in the ensuing conflict. The players were abducted by Dancing Corpse but soon became her disciples after hearing her story and sympathizing with her plight (the events are described in more detail in the session log linked above). 

This gave me enough material to start expanding the Campaign Shake-up tables. Again these are still preliminary and subject to revision (as your campaign goes on, you will get a better sense of how to refine such tables). This is what I ended up with: 


Roll 1d10         Result

1                      Someone takes the manual from Dancing Corpse Wan Mei (roll randomly from campaign NPCS)

2                      A new NPC becomes involved 

3                      Fan Batu learns Bao Long is his real son 

4                      Random NPC battles with Dancing Corpse Wan Mei (roll for outcome) 

5                      Dancing Corpse 

6                      A great master joins the pursuit of the manual 

7                      Dancing Corpse Wan Mei seeks an alliance with a random powerful NPC 

8                      A random sect or NPC switches sides in the growing conflict 

9                      New sect conflict in the local martial world, roll randomly 

10                    Roll on Table III



Roll 1d10         Result

1                      A rival bath bean manufacturer with backing and martial experts arises in a neighboring district

2                      A rival bath bean manufacturer with powerful sect backing emerges in Mai Cun 

3                      Lin Ragua’s brother, Lin Yang, demands justice from Guan Shisu over his brother’s death 

4                      New sect alliance in the local martial world, roll randomly

5                      Enemies of Dancing Corpse Wan Mei learn that the players are her students  

6                      Bandits begin attacking the player’s shipments 

7                      Fan Batu Learns that Dancing Corpse is seeking revenge and he learns that her students are the children of Guan Shisu 

8                      A random but suitable personality in the martial world or existing NPC in the scenario (50% chance of one) wants the Five Ghost Hand Manual and befriends the PCs in order to manipulate them towards this goal

9                      Yu Qing decides hires someone to sabotage the Heavenly Fragrance 

10                    Lady 87 learns exactly how much money the players are making 

Some of these have a more specific and active style but others are intentionally more about NPCs, what they learn, etc. Having entries like this, lets me act more through the characters themselves. I like having to think about how an NPC handles information and what they try to do about it. Try is a key word here. Anything NPCs do, may not always succeed, just like PCs. They can try to ambush the party, but they might not find them, the players might learn their plans or notice them, etc. I use a variety of methods for figuring this stuff out. If I have time I will cover those methods in a later post, though I have blogged about many already. 

This all goes back to the living adventure concept where NPCs are living breathing characters. In the case of Dancing Corpse Wan Mei it was easy for me to intuit her actions. For other characters it may be harder. And because I am running this in what I call Condor Heroes Mode, I try to connect results directly to the party in some way (and if it is purely background events, then they at least hear news about it). 

One result on the above table worth noting, that is connected to the above points, is result 4: Players have a fated encounter with one of the Factions, roll on Scenario Faction Table. This is something that happens a lot in Condor Heroes and other wuxia. Happenstance encounters with greater significance for the overall story. In the context of a game, I use fate as an explanation. If the game were more narrative in nature, I might lean more on plot. But the aim in my campaigns is sandbox and drama so fate fits pretty well. 

The Scenario Faction Table is simply a table of the factions from the list above. Here is the one for this campaign: 


Roll 1d10         Result

1                      Oriole Village

2-3                   Hen-Shi Sect

4-5                   Purple Cavern Sect

6-7                   Twin Fisted Eagle Sect 

8-9                   Yu Qing Manor 

10                    Fan Batu and his Men


Scenario Faction Table Fated encounters are not typical encounters. These often happen at a moment when the players are doing something else or attending to an important matter. And they are usually more social than combat focused, though they can easily lead to fighting. These are coincidental and a product of fate. I insert them when it feels most appropriate during the session. For example if I roll on the table and get Purple Cavern Sect and that session the party sneaks into South Wind Manor to eavesdrop on the Four Uglies, they may bump into or see Lady Plum Blossom who is visiting them to ask the whereabouts of the Five Ghost Hand Manual. It is possible they overhear her forming a plan against Dancing Corpse Wan Mei. Or perhaps they go to visit their father, Guan Shisu, and Lady Plum Blossom is visiting, but takes an interest in the PCs.  

Another way to connect things to the party is rumors. And I will discuss that next post. 

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