[Review] Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate (Core Rules) Pt. I; Trad Game

[Core Rulebook]
Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate (2016)

Brendan Davis, William Butler and Dan Orcutt



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Know ye wanderer, that before the time of the Great Storygamer Migration, the Retroclone Wars and the rising of the OSRmen, there was a time when Great Beasts wandered the earth. Each one large enough to encompass in its bulk many OSR Games, these behemoths could only be brought into being by the momentous efforts of multiple sorcerers, and each one was a singular creature, with a distinct vision and system of resolution. So heavy with character options and spells were these archaic monsters, that in the end there were not enough players to sustain all of them, and so they warred among themselves until THE D20 IMPACT finished off all but a handful. It was the age of the TRAD GAME. Today they are rare and more precious then gold.

Know ye that the dreaded Bedrock Brendan, publisher of the Accursed Arrows of Indra manuscript among many others things, has reached out unto the Prince of Nothing, and asked him to review his mighty works. 492 pages long, its table of contents alone stretching out to 16 pages, a majestic dragoon from an earlier age. Is my reviewer prowess up to this momentous ordeal? I was incarcerated for 3 months after my review of Imperial Matchmaker [1]. Am I still as energetic and quick as I once was?

Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate is an RPG in the traditional post-AD&D style, a complicated behemoth of races, skills, equipment and abilities, set in the mystical land of Qi Xien, a fantastical analogue to the China of Journey to the West and Wuxia films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero and House of the Flying Daggers. The subject matter choice is excellent: Rather then trying to compete with a thousand other generic fantasy settings (although he does have another game called Sertorius), Brendan dives into a niche subject with absolute abandon, and strives to create a game of interest to the coinnaiseur. Has he succeeded? We will find out over the course of the review.

I cannot express how grateful I am that Davis tackles his inspirational material immediately into the preface so as to render the work somewhat comprehensible to an outsider. Alongside a lengthy list of Wuxia tv shows, films and even a rare few authors, who do not appear to have been translated into English, Davis explains the historical parallel of Song era China, giving a prospective GM enough tools to expand and extrapolate upon the exotic setting described in the book.

A brief overview of the setting in question (there is a superabundance of setting material given later on). The characters are heroic renegades, practitioners of supernatural martial arts hailing from the last rebellious province in a vast empire ruled by a malign despot. The heroic founders of the Martial Arts traditions sacrificed themselves to bind the demonic sorcerer Yao Feng into the Golden Palace. Their disciples guard the world from his return. After a brief period of peace under the Righteous Emperor, his son, the Glorious Emperor, rules with an iron fist, and through sorcery creates his own army of practioners. Only the province of Hai’an remains safe from his depredations…for now.

The basic resolution system appears to be some sort of unholy offspring of the Storyteller system, or more likely Exalted, provoking wary mistrust. Checks take the form of D10 dice pools, rolled against a target number. The highest number that is equal or above the Target number counts as a success, with a natural 10 counting as a more spectacular Total success. This is married to a class-less Skill Rank system determining the number of dice to be rolled, a point-buy XP system and an ersatz level system known as Qi. Character creation is quite involved, consisting of 13 steps, some of which we will cover during this part of the review.

As always, I find it easiest to just dive into character creation and explain the concepts along the way. The book actually begins with something that is, and really should be, optional: Races. In my opinion this section could even have been covered somewhere in the appendix. While it is quite strong and illustrates Davis’s creative range, it feels a bit removed from the world of martial arts practitioners that we have just been introduced to.

The races proper are quite well done. The worst outcome would have been some sort of point-eared, slanty-eyed elves, bald dwarves etc. but all the races are conceptually unique, coming across as very high fantasy [2]. A race of decrepit island-dwelling Goat men with unicorn-like horns that infallibly detect a lie, a race of four-armed cannibalistic giants that are reminiscent of Tharks if anything, the plateau-dwelling Ouyan who are possessed of a third eye that detects emotions and the Kithri, a six-souled race of men that frequently serves as the ruling caste for the peoples of the south. The abilities are all distinct and the presence of any of these races will radically impact any single adventuring party, but at the same time, each race is extremely specialized, the penalties to ability scores meaning rendering them suitable for only particular roles. Descriptions are half a page or less, avoiding encyclopedic detail.

Sample of the writing

By the standards of Qi Xien, the Juren are barbarians. They eat humanoids, worship fire and are constantly warring among themselves. The Juren have a tradition of ripping apart a four-limbed creature (preferably a humanoid) on their wedding night as
a sacrifice. Then they attempt to divine the future of the couple by reading the blood. If the reading is unlucky the couple are advised to remain vigilant and watch out for hardships.

We ignore the optional races and go for a human Martial artist. We now have to pick Two Primary Skill groups, in which we will receive 12 points. We will receive 6 skill points in the other 4 groups. There is a so-called Scholar Option that allows us to invest 24 points in the Knowledge group and 6 in all others but fuck that, we are here to punch things and do martial arts. We pick the Skill Groups: Combat and Defence.

Each of these skill groups consists of six or more separate skills. The cost of increasing a skill increases linearly. It takes only 1 point to raise a skill to level 1 but it takes 3 points to raise it from level 2 to the maximum of level 3.

Combat is one of the broadest disciplines, and covers everything from kicks, grapples and throws to various forms of ranged and melee weaponry. Since we want to make a Kung Fu guy, we put 6 points in Leg Strikes, raising it to 3, 3 points in Grapple, raising it to 2, and 1 each in Throw, Arm strikes and Simple Ranged. Kicks are less accurate but have more reach and do more damage then Arm strikes. It is possible that taking points in both will screw us over down the line, but that is something we’ll have to take for granted. Unarmed combat does damage based on our Muscle attribute while weapons deal damage based on the weapon in question. Grapple seems to have the most potential so far, immobilizing the opponent, limiting his attack options, and requiring the opponent succeed at an opposed test to escape. Prolonged grapples have a chance of triggering a Total Success, which allows the Grappler to disarm, throw or wound or even Immobilize the foe completely. Throws are a weird extra class of melee attacks that are checked against the Evade Skill, rather then the Parry skill which applies to all other melee attacks.

Leg Strikes – 3
Grapple – 2
Throw – 1
Arm Strikes – 1

Defense is vital in Wandering Heroes of Ogre’s Gate. Unlike many other skill groups, the Defence skills are passive. They are used to establish the target number against which an attacker must roll. The combat system is reminiscent of something like Warhammer. The attack roll must overcome either the Parry Value or the Evade Value depending on the attack type, and subsequent damage rolls are made against your Hardiness value. If the Hardiness value is overcome, you take a Wound. If it is overcome with Total success, you take two wounds. Also included in this group are the Stealth, Wits and Resolve skills, which defend against detection, deception and self-control/magic. Oh yes kids, we have a fucking social combat system.

Base value tends to be set at 3 + the number of skill ranks. We have all of twelve. Lets go for a principled 6 points in Hardiness, since we will be using that regardless of the attack form, 3 points in Parry so we are insulated against melee attacks, and divide the remainder across Evade (ranged), Stealth and Resolve. The target number of these defences tends to be 3 + number of skill ranks. Estimating hit chances in this game might be a bit tricky when compared to the simple D20 + bonus against a target number, but we shall have to make due.

Hardiness – 3
Parry – 2
Evade – 1
Stealth – 1
Resolve – 1

No Wits 😦

Already working up a sweat and this is only step 2. So four more skill groups with separate categories. Specialist – A weirdo collection of Medicine, Divination, Meditation, various Talents and specialized trades, Survival skills and Ritualistic magic. Most of these are Open, meaning they only apply to a specific useage. Some of these seem very open-ended. Divination is so vague as to be almost entirely up to GM fiat. Medicine on the other hand is a highly advanced skill, allowing for everything from the diagnosis of disease to the treatment of wounds to more esoteric applications like assessing someone’s Qi. Like most Trad Games, it is vital at least one person takes medicine. However, we have only 6 points, and it is best combined with the Trade (poisoner). We’ll skip both of them and put 3 points in Meditation instead, which is used to restore Chi imbalance (covered later) fight off possession and alchemical rituals. The remaining 3 points are divided between Survival (Cities), Talent (Snake Charming) and we take one point in Ritual. The specific ritual will be selected later.

Meditation – 3
Survival (Wilderness) – 1
Talent (Snake Charming) – 1
Ritual – 1

A point of critique, some of these talents like the crafting skills are, with the exception of Alchemy, so open-ended that arbitrating them requires a great deal of GM’s discretion. That is not a disaster as the focus of the game is acrobatic martial arts but still.

TRADE
Trade is an open Skill, meaning that each time you take it you must specify which Trade Sub-Skill you want. Each Trade Sub-Skill is based around a particular medium. Characters use Trade to make or design things. Trade Skills can also be used to disarm traps of the correct medium.
Trade can be used to build (or create), design, repair or to modify existing structures or objects. Repairing/building a simple object or device takes 1d10 days. On a Normal Success, you repair/build the object in question. On a Total Success, you do so at a much faster rate (hours instead of days).

To modify an object or device, or rig it for Failure, takes 1d10 hours. On a Normal Success, you adjust the object accordingly. On a Total Success, you do so at a much faster rate (1d10 minutes).

It doesn’t go into raw materials cost or whatever so this is a little barebones.

Are we done yet? Whew. Mental Skills. Fortunately our would-be martial artist is not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed so we only have to distribute 6 points. Mental skills envelop all sorts of social mechanics which I am finding rather unpalatable after my stint in the OSR, but here goes. I will contemptuously avoid taking the Reasoning skill which ‘is your ability to think logically and analyze pieces of information.’ I think I can already do that. The Empathy skill shall be ignored for the opposite reason. Detect is by far the least egregious of the skills, meaning we shall allocate 3 points to it. A second 3 shall be going to one of Deception, Persuade and Command. My problem with these social skills is that unlike combat mechanics, when and where a particular social skill can be utilized is nowhere nearly as clearly delineated. Deception, Persuade and Command (which in this case pulls double duty as Intimidation), these end up being used interchangeably by clever players. This is not a problem that is particular to Wandering Heroes either, something like Dark Heresy the RPG has the same thing. It doesn’t really make much sense to take more then one of these. Anyway, 3 points in Persuade.


Detect – 2
Persuade – 2


Almost there. Physical skills are an odd group as some skills are core attributes that will end up affecting every single combat like Speed or every melee damage roll (except Throw) like Muscle, but then you also have skills that cover situations that, while certainly not unthinkable in a game about Martial Arts heroes, are a bit more peripheral. Athletics is a good combined jumping/climbing skill, Endurance is so open it may as well be vestigial (I am assuming there will be a section later on enabling you to estimate the difficulty of any given task), Swim is something we might take up as a leisure activity once we have mastered all of Kung Fu and so we are left with the extremely useful Speed, which governs not only movement per round but also initiative, and the aforementioned Muscle. 3 Points each. Ride and Sail are both open skills with some rudimentary chase rules which serve in a pinch, but they tend to fall into the same ghetto as Drive in Dark Heresy. How often are you going to end up rolling Drive: Wagon?

Speed – 2
Muscle – 2

Knowledge Skills. Knowledge skills always seemed a bit dubious to me. Conceptually it makes sense to create a system to randomize the amount of obscure in-universe information that is available to the player characters that cannot be inferred by the players (usually because it is the result of something magical or some fake event), but practically speaking I wonder if it is not simpler to just give your players a basic overview and the answers to common sense questions and handle everything else via NPC Scholars and Sages. To be fair, Bredan does tackle this in his description of knowledge skills, and prevents the exponential multiplication of dice rolls by automatically granting PCs access to all knowledge of their level or below, requiring a roll for any knowledge that is one level above the PC’s level. Unlike every other skill, knowledge runs from 0 (untrained) to 6 (Celestial Authority), although at the play levels of Wandering Heroes, only level 4 (Rank 3 with an Expertise in a particular area) is possible. All knowledge skills are open skills, so even your specializations have specializations. The type of specialization ranges from sensible (Creatures (Demons)) to highly obscure (Classics (the 26 Strategems of Jiang Laozi)). I appreciate the nods to medieval era [3] chinese classical literature like Szun Tsu, the I, Ching or the Book of Lord Shang but when the hell are you going to get some use out of these, unless the GM is willing to bite the bullet and read these books. Which, arguably, if you are going this hard into a niche, he might damn well do.

To this is added a decadent 3 tiered language skill system for different grades of mastery which interacts with a seperate Read Script ability. Someone has read their dragon magazine articles because the different languages of Qi Xien do not each have their own seperate alphabets but many of them end up using the same. I can see something like this being working if you lean a bit harder into the emulation part of the RPG hobby but for me I must confess it is a bit much. In a rare confluence of utility and historical authenticity, languages tend to be confined to regions instead of obscure fantasy creatures so we can envision they would be gradually picked up as the characters journey across the Empire although this is another one of those cases where a more Linear or Cinematic style of game, which is nowhere near uncommon with these types of games, means that once you are going to go to a certain area, the GM will either extort one of the PCs into taking the damned skill already or alternatively must provide an interpreter.

It seems a bit…vestigial? Ornamental perhaps? for the purpose I expect to use this character for. Anyway, we want a broad education for this one. We automatically get Language (Fei) 3 ranks. The rest is divided among 6 knowledge skills for a well rounded education in the local area likely to yield the highest returns in the early game.

Language (Fei) – 3
History (Era of the Glorious Emperor) – 1
Creatures (Spirits) – 1
Places/Cultures (Hai’an) – 1
Martial Discipline (Waijing) – 1
Institutions (Imperial Bureacracy) – 1
Read Script (Feishu) – 1

After this is done, we can now select our Sect and Sifu although this is optional and your character can be trained by a lone master. These martial arts sects represent a force outside of the control of the empire, and can be divided further into Orthodox and unorthodox sects, with the unorthodox representing schools that are willing to resort to unconventional techniques and strategems in their approach to martial arts and have a correspondingly poor reputation as a result. These schools determine the Kung Fu techniques (which in this game will likely take the place of spells) the character is likely to be able to master.

The schools are interesting. Each is tied into the elaborate history of Qi Xien and can trace back its origins to the original Masters Sunan and Bao who imprisoned the Demon Emperor, is described in terms of numbers of initiates, masters and disciples, with a philosophy resulting from those events and a list of allies or enemies. Say, the Golden Dragon school hates the Purple Island sect because it was started by one of its exiled masters (who was kicked out for having carnal relations with a fellow master). Orthodox sects tend to have strong views of the use of poison, sorcery or forbidden techniques. Each has an elaborate list of techniques at their disposal. This immediately fleshes out the setting and elevates it above the simple dichotomy of Martial arts vs the Empire.
There’s Kung fu nuns seeking to reclaim the Wind Saber of Sunan and killing Jade Fox the Witch of Zhaoze Zhao. There’s sect rivalries over techniques and philosophy. There’s beggar monks, esoteric confucianist crusader monks, ex-military terrorist monks, the descendants of an ancient lineage of priest-kings now turned religious assassins to bare-chested criminal scum. It is very good, and the unfamiliarity with the source material renders the whole very fresh.

Ehh…we shall take the ultra-orthodox Dehua Sect, and assume that our Sifu will be some Senior disciple of The Five Masters who lead it.

Next up in this series, Reputation, Martial Disciplines, Kung Fu techniques oh my!


[1] Now granted, this was for stabbing a homeless man, this had nothing to do with the review
[2] The source is mentioned as The Guideways Through Mountains and Seas, a Han-dynasty era historical tome
[3] Or whatever name is used to indicate literature from the thousands of years of pre-modern chinese history

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19 thoughts on “[Review] Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate (Core Rules) Pt. I; Trad Game

  1. Thanks!
    Small edit – the explanation of point allocation needs a fix (the sentence just before you dive into Combat skills) “… but it takes 3 points to raise it to level 3” – should be “..takes 6 points to raise…”
    Lazy reader 😉 – can the footnotes be a link with a link back, so I won’t need to scroll so much to read them?

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      1. I can now do linkbacks, the only problem is that because of the fucking banners it doesn’t quite scroll directly to it, only to the bottom of the page. I’ll add the rest later. Good on you for pestering me until I bothered to figure it out.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Alright, that works. It’s probably possible to use a second coordinate to enable back and forth flipping without too much trouble, although there might be a javascript command that allows you to do it in one go. I’ll experiment.

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  2. Ah, yes. The “trad” game. I was just down at Ye Old Gaming Shoppe this afternoon and was astounded at how many new RPGs were lining the shelves that I’d never heard of…many in the style of (what I’d call) “the trad RPG.”

    “…in the end there were not enough players to sustain all of them, and so they warred among themselves…”

    So true, so true. Who is it that plays these behemoths? So many books…so many pages. So many listed play-testers.

    This one sounds very much like the old school White Wolf. Exalted, sure, but they had a wrestling game, too. Kayfabe? No, that was an indie. Oh, yeah: Street Fighter the RPG. That one actually had pretty solid reviews. Same sort of clunky chargen but added a bunch of martial art maneuvers to fill out the combat…not that they weren’t already doing some of that with second gen WoD RPGs.

    Thing is, those games worked fine…the multi-layered combat rolls (attack, defend, soak, damage effect…all accounting for maneuver and special abilities) all became ‘quick enough’ with a bit o practice. But, then, why the need for all the other stuff? The fifteen step chargen. The layered backstory fiction write-ups. Tons of skills (“drive carriage”…yeah, that’s a perfect example of more minutia than necessary) each with the potential for specialization.

    Are we modeling real people? Are we modeling “well-rounded” super people?

    Regardless: what is the game supposed to be about? Is all of the crunch truly In Aid Of the game play?

    Perhaps it is. But if this is really a wuxia-style fantasy RPG featuring slashing swordsmen and kung fu masters…um, do characters get killed? Readily? Should we maybe have a swifter means of generating new characters so that we aren’t hesitating to off the Mad Monk when he blunders into an ambush in sloppy fashion.

    Ah, well. Just pointing out my reservations regarding “trad” games. It applies to this genre of RPGs in general, not WHoOG specifically.

    I agree that the subject matter choice of the setting appears excellent. Certainly, amongst English-speaking gamers there’s a dearth of decent game material set in the fantasy East…and much of what’s there is poorly done. However, lest one feels that a 500 page book is necessary to experience swashbuckling adventure in the non-Western setting, I’d point out the works of Dennis Laffey as a not-too shabby entry point:

    https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/232335/Chanbara

    (fantasy Japan based on a B/X chassis)

    However, his “Flying Swordsmen RPG” is (perhaps) even more in the spirit of Wandering Heroes as it is based specifically on Chinese history, folklore, and the wuxia genre. At 112 pages (including Appendices) it’s a swell little game for the B/X-style gamer, and being FREE…well, that’s a bargain price for a fully illustrated RPG. Available at his web site:

    https://lordgwydion.blogspot.com/p/flying-swordsmen-rpg.html

    Just offering an alternative.

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    1. Offering links to other games when the review has not yet concluded is a bit disrespectful to the author perhaps, but ego te absolvo and all that, it is not malicious and I know it comes from a good place.

      Davis has extensive play reports of multiple campaigns on his blog, but yes as a format it was always going to be very unstable. The time investment required to absorb these texts is considerable, the material focused. It seems made for diehards.

      Street Fighter was discontinued or the Capcom license was revoked on request of Capcom was it not?

      The problem with a lot of these games is the XP system imho. By adopting a much broader framework then (you are adventurers), paradoxically the possibilities seem to diminish. Everything becomes much vaguer, what do we do, how do we distinguish good play from bad play etc. etc. It becomes more cinematic, more of an experience to be savoured, rather then a game to be mastered.

      The game does have the usual robust death’s door rules, so you do not explode into a gory pile of bones once your hit points drop below 0 in B/X fashion.

      The trad games are all different but somehow they are also very similar. I say this as a fan, player and GM of the Dark Heresy RPG.

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      1. Apologies for the disrespect (posting links, etc.).

        The XP system is, indeed, the worst bit of the trad styling…well, other than (perhaps) the overlong character generation which emphasizes focus on pre-game story creation rather than play itself. THAT emphasis is the downfall and ruin of most attempts at long-term gaming…it also bodes-not-well for cooperative game play with more than 2-3 (or 1!) players.

        But, yeah…XP systems that award “good roleplaying,” or “humor,” or “learning something,” or “general participation.” This is the trophy given out to each and every small child at the end of a sport season along with a juice box.

        I’ve run a LOT of trad games in the past: the gamut of World of Darkness, Cyberpunk 2020, ElfQuest, Ars Magica, Immortal, Deadlands, etc. My Shelves are stuffed full of them: giant hardcovers like Ellis: Kingdom in Turmoil, Polaris (two volume hardcover!), Hollow Earth Expedition, and Abney Park’s Airship Pirates…the list is far longer; I am a degenerate collector of RPGs. They are delightful, if (generally) unsatisfying and inevitably discardable. Chock full of ideas, crafted with care and artistry, dazzling displays of creativity and perseverance…and, yet, mostly unsuitable for play.

        Which is NOT to say WHoOG isn’t worth reviewing. There are many ways in which it might prove useful for the prospective customer: as a sourcebook, as an idea generator, a source of adaptable mechanics, another set of design specs to study, or simply entertaining reading material. And, sure, there might even be some folks who say “Man o man, I really want to PLAY this game! It is EXACTLY what my game table has been itching for!” But…realistically…the number of individuals for whom it will hold the latter amount of appeal is probably, mm, small. REALISTICALLY (I say with zero numbers to back my claim) my guess is that MOST interested readers would find such a game interesting only insomuch as it could be used as a side lark, a palate cleanser, a nice little 1-2 session relief from the usual toil in monster-infested dungeons.

        But is a 500 page tome really suitable for a side game? Fuck, let’s just play Yahtzee.

        RE Streetfighter

        No idea. Only ever played the video game back in the days of arcades (man, I’m old) and never played the actual RPG, though I believe some of it was cannibalized for WW’s Aberrant line (super-WWE or something).

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      2. Very much endorse posting links to other titles. I made Ogre Gate because I was a wuxia fan, had been running many different campaigns using a variety of systems and systems strewn together from different parts, and always wanted more options to draw on, more games to mine for ideas. At the time, pickings were pretty lean, and even it was also harder to find things that were out there (whereas now you can find things at the stroke of the keyboard). So when I published Ogre Gate, I made a point of mentioning other games and other writers. I think with wuxia each GM and Player will have a very specific idea of what they want in a campaign so connecting people to the game that fits their style is a plus. There are a lot of great options. Flying Swordsman is a great game, and very good for the style of play you seem to be after. I think Art of Wuxia is also an excellent choice. One of the games that inspired me early on was the original Hong Kong Action Theatre! But there are lots of good wuxia options out there and the list is growing.

        In terms of long campaigns. I can say Ogre Gate was designed with long campaigns in mind. All of the playtests (except for the initial ones and the ones focused on testing specific mechanics) were part of long, ongoing campaigns. My Bone Breaker campaign went for many years (I think we have an 80+ session log on the blog that still doesn’t cover everything that happened), for example. While character creation is deep, and takes time, the expectation I had was players would make characters just starting out. Some players put more into backstory but I was always more focused on what happens once play starts (some exceptions here are I think establishing who the players family are is important in a wuxia campaign, and what ties they might have to any masters or sects). The sample adventure in the book, has a little bit of a path structure, in order to demonstrate features of play and get players accustomed to particular mechanics (though at heart it is an investigation), but a standard Ogre Gate campaign emphasizes the “Wandering Heroes” aspect of the title, and usually begins with me dropping them in an area, where they are unknowns seeking to make their name in the martial world. From there it can go anywhere, and the combination of having places to explore, techniques to learn, and feuding sects and martial heroes really keeps things going in a very natural way for the long hall.

        But it is very much a game for people who like building characters and assembling different Kung Fu techniques together. So if you want something more OSR mechanically, it isn’t a great choice. It has some OSR elements in its DNA, particularly in the sandbox approach, but mechanically it is a pretty robust system.

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  3. Hats off to anyone who sits down with the aim of writing an RPG. I’ve no idea where I’d find the time to do so. Even my 19yo skiver self would have found it difficult to find the time as time writing was not time playing.

    My appetite for the new is probably about 150 pages, so this is three times that. A re-written Bushido might top 250 pages, but that would be my limit.

    For wuxia I’ll dip into JB’s recommendation.

    I stress that I’m not trying to be disrespectful here, but understanding your market is key. Otherwise it is an art project, which is valid, but limited appeal.

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  4. With regard to Social Skills, a big epiphany for me was considering them as a tool for the GM and players to use rather than as a straightjacket. For one, they can provide mechanical reinforcement of a character’s personality. As a player you typically wants to use your highest-ranked skills as often as possible, so specializing in a particular social skill prompts you to roleplay a character with a default approach to social situations. Did you make a character with a good Command skill but with zero points in Persuade? Your character is probably used to getting his way, and his default mode of communication is to scowl and bark orders. Lots of points in Persuade? Your character is the group’s voice of reason who tries to settle things with logic and sound arguments. Its one thing to say that this is the case, but the reinforcement of social skills means that the player is mechanically incentivized to have his character act the part.

    Another neat trick is to consider which social skills might be more or less effective in a given situation. A group of grizzled soldiers might respond more favorably to attempts to Command them with concise orders and military slang than attempts to Persuade.

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      1. Those people are weak and foolish, and do not remember the glory days of the Internet, when all content worth reading was white on a black background.

        More seriously, I think the dark background was much easier on the eyes than other options. Perhaps a larger font or a different font colour might be a solution.

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  5. Character creation in this game definitely has a bit of a steep curve to it. I highly recommend the Bedrock App (it is up on our website) for anyone who wants to make characters faster. It has a character generator, but you can also build them there from scratch, edit, and level them. The app includes a library of all the Kung Fu techniques in every book, so it reduces look up during play. Strange Tales of Songling has a much simpler character creation, but the game itself is also more simple (I think I timed character creation not to go past ten to fifteen minutes in playtests if I recall).

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