When we last left off, we had finished selecting our thus far nameless character’s skills, sifu and school, following the instructions in the book. This generated a bunch of statistics which looked like this.
Leg Strikes – 3
Grapple – 2
Throw – 1
Arm Strikes – 1
Hardiness – 3
Parry – 2
Evade – 1
Stealth – 1
Resolve – 1
And I just read that we can raise one defence of our choice by 1 at level 1, so we raise Hardiness by 1.
Hardiness – 3 (value is 3 + 3 base + 1 level up)
Meditation – 3
Survival (Wilderness) – 1
Talent (Snake Charming) – 1
Ritual – 1
Detect – 2
Persuade – 2
Speed – 2
Muscle – 2
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
We are going to briefly depart from the character creation process to discuss the core rules described in chapter two, which covers most of the rules for combat and some that you would see in the Campaign or Adventuring section of the DMG. Notably wilderness travel and encounters are handled elsewhere.
As previously mentioned, all rolls involve a roll of nd10s against a set difficulty (a Target Number) between 1 and 10, with the highest result being counted against it. If the highest result is equal or higher then the TN, success. If it is a 10, Total success, meaning some sort of extraordinary result. Rolls are generally based on the number of skills, with conditional modifiers being added or subtracted based on the difficulty of the attempted feat. So far so good. Props to WHoOG for reducing the number of dice rolls by setting thresholds for things like Jumping distance or Max. Press meaning that if you attempt anything within the range of your skill you automatically succeed, only when you attempt to go higher is a roll required. The sidebar against unneccessary rolling is a godsend in the era of 5e. The normal soft limit for the maximum number of dice that can be rolled is 6d10, while the soft limit for the lowest bonus is 0d10 (the lowest of two d10s). Options for even lower possibilities are added if the GM desires realism.
Combat will be instantly familiar to anyone this side of the D20 system, and is divided into a Move Action and a Skill action, which may be converted into two move actions for those seeking to cross a great amount of distance in one round. Bonuses to one’s static defences may be achieved by sacrificing the Skill (+1 to Evade and Parry) or even both actions (+2). Messy concepts like free actions, reactions or attacks of opportunity are fortunately left absent. Turn order is determined by a Speed check once. You end up with something that is robust if a little strange.
I can see some assymmetries already. In most cases, the Evade and Parry skill are less valuable for evading damage then the Hardiness skill, which not only protects against all forms of wounding but pulls double duty as a resistance against poison, disease and most forms of injury. A second feature is the ability to increase one’s movement speed fairly simply, a feature whose purpose will become apparent soon. There is no such thing as an attack of opportunity, meaning combat, unless taking place in confined quarters, will be highly mobile, something in keeping with the source material.
Combat is also generally less volatile then low level B/X or AD&D. This is caused by the truncated nature of damage. You hit someone by rolling higher then his Parry or Evade score (his skill + 3) using your relevant Skill rank x number of dice. You then determine damage by rolling higher then his Hardiness skill + 3 using either Muscle, a set amount (for a weapon) or something else (weird kung fu?). If you beat the hardiness, the opponent takes a wound. If you roll a 10, he takes two wounds. The minimum number of hit points is your Qi Rank (level) x 2 + 1, so everyone has 3 wounds. Most low level characters can survive 2 hits, and dropping a character in one hit is not possible in most normal circumstances. 0th level NPCs have 1 hit. There is a generous 0 hits = incapacitated option, with the rest meaning the character starts dying quickly. Healing takes place at 1 wound/Qi level/day, but given the low wound amounts, this is not as punishing as in old school games. Combined with a healing skill, this means fairly quick recovery and less need for a dedicated healing specialist (until poison and disease are introduced that is!).
The exception to the truncated damage is attacking from Suprise (!), or using certain Kung Fu techniques (which are like Ogre Gate’s magic system more or less), which uses a concept called Open Damage Rolls. With Open Damage, every roll that beats the Hardiness score inflicts 1 wound, meaning overkill is a lot more likely.
Kung Fu will be treated in the following part, but a short primer follows here. You still roll to hit using the specified skill, a succesfull hit means the Technique connects. Techniques may be used without cost, but can be used Cathartically for a greater effect. Using the skill in this fashion means the character gains a number of Imbalance points equal to their Imbalance Rating if they succeed, and their rating +2 if they fail. You can safely take about 12+your Qi in points, and meditation removes them at a rate of 1/rank/hour, but boy oh boy if you cross the limit you are possessed by a Qi animal Spirit from the D10 table and you will need some sort of exorcism or other spirit purging technique before you can recover your imbalance. A high Meditation skill allows you to regain temporary control so you can find help. The longer the spirit possesses you, the more drawbacks ensue. Interesting concept, very debilitating if pushed too far. Your Imbalance rating is determined at the start of the game, and depends on how much you specialize in the different techniques.
There are 4 disciplines of Kung Fu. Waijia, Qinggong, Neigong and Dianxue, translating roughly into External, Lightness, Internal and Pressure Point Kung fu. You get to divide 4 points across them on a 1 for 1 basis. 1 point in each is likely to give access to a broad range of techniques, 3 or 4 in one means you get access to the most powerful techniques, but you also gain Imbalance points very rapidly. An interesting trade-off. Let’s put a point in each and make a generalist.
Waijia – 1
Qinggoing – 1
Neigong – 1
Dianxue – 1
The rest of combat covers most of the modifiers and actions you would see in most other Tradgames or something like the 1e DMG. So Cover, lying Prone, Charging, Disarming (which is actually fairly easy in this game), taking Aim and Mounted Combat are all covered, all of them adding or subtracting 1-2 d10s to the relevant combat rule. Most of it adds up, although the lack of a Set Spear Against Charge maneuver or any sort of bonus against horsemen means there are really very little drawbacks to fighting on horseback (although apparently they are less suited for using Kung Fu techniques, accumulating 1 extra point of Imbalance with each Cathartic use). Even Ability, Qi and Skill drain makes an appearance. Hell there’s a truncated Reach system (differentiating between No Reach, Long Reach and Standard Reach), with superior reach granting a bonus of +1d10 and inferior reach a penalty of -1d10 in the first round of combat only. Long Reach would normally always win, but uniquely, long reach weapons get a -1d10 penalty in the second round thereafter (and No Reach weapons get an extra +1d10). Normally this would mean stacking up on Speed ranks and Spears and kiting your foe like there is no tomorrow but you cannot move after you attack while also taking advantage of your reach, meaning my disgusting plan is somewhat thwarted. It would still be very irritating for the opponent if a combatant with a high speed and Long reach would dart in, deliver the blow, then dart away the next round before the penalty can properly kick in but this probably works as intended.
Weapons and Armor tie into this. A lot of concepts have remained virtually unchanged since 1980 so you will readily find range increments, reach weaponry and damage types. As written it does appear as though most weaponry is strictly better then no weaponry, which might do away with the atmosphere of the game, though one imagines that perhaps our heroes will have to go into Imperial territory where they would not be allowed to bear arms, or perhaps some techniques require both hands free. Weaponry is a delightfully asiatic mixture of butterfly swords, metallic whips, fans, flying guillotines, Guandaos, three sections staves, hooks swords, firepoles, crossbows, meteor hammers and the fearsomely named Thunderbolt Ball in case you want to roleplay as a giant fat man throwing what are essentially bamboo boulders filled with explosives. Some weapons like whips utilize Speed instead of Muscle for damage, there’s the occasional muscle requirement or accuracy bonus/penalties. A casual glance at the starting gp puts nearly all weapons (excluding catapults) immediately within a new character’s grasp.
Armor is another matter, being extremely expensive and putting a penalty on speed and reducing damage done by WEAPONS only, meaning you might very well get some use out of those fists as soon as the cord and plaque wearing halbeard wielding motherfuckers start showing up. Specific armor works against specific damage types, which is also an interesting trade-off. Shields provide a simple bonus to either Parry or Evade but otherwise have little drawbacks, beyond the restriction of a hand. Probably an explicit note on how many hands are neccessary to wield a weapon would have been good for some of the edge cases, but you’ll have to manage.
A few areas that are not really given much attention are flanking, fighting multiple combatants, two-weapon fighting (although there is a hook sword that must be wielded in pairs), firing into melee, high ground and so on, although the GM is provided with a flexible d10 modifier table to cover situations ranging from Perfect to Terrible for stuff like high ground or severe wind conditions.
The overal seems robust enough for your basic fantasy wuxia skirmish game. I’m curious how, and if, it handles Encumbrance.
It’s, well, its a real RPG. That means that unlike something like Cairn it covers a broad gamut of situations and hazards that are likely to come up during play. I am talking about basic things like Falling Damage, Drowning, Suffocation, the effect of different levels of Illumination. What happens if I want to hit an inanimate object. You get the idea that Brendan actually plays his own game (and going by his blog, he absolutely does), so even if he misses 5%, his takes on the 95% are enough for you to fill in any gaps that might occur.
It is a little strange, and perhaps a little telling, that noncombat skill checks merit all of half a page. This probably has more to do with the fact that these types of rolls are highly context dependent and covered under the Skills section, and unlike combat, which must attempt balance if it is to preserve genre emulation, skill checks outside of combat are under less of a restriction, and enumerating all the different modifiers that can apply to such a broad range of skills is madness.
Reputation shows up, more or less the first dirty storygamer mechanic. The idea is that you have a reputation to both your enemies and your friends and this reputation changes during the game depending on the player’s actions. The idea behind it is that it is not meant as a gotcha, merely as a means of codifying the way the character is received. Interestingly enough, anyone using Poison is simply known as the rather ominous ‘Poisoner’ to both sides. We haven’t picked a Reputation yet so we pick
Brave – Ferocious
There’s a section on Learning and handling Kung Fu techniques that I probably would have put under the Chapter for Kung Fu for clarity sake but whatever, let’s do it. Learning new Kung Fu techniques means seeking out teachers (yes!), consulting a manual or even training yourself. While a master means a technique can be mastered in a matter of hours or days, doing what amounts to Martial Arts research takes years, adding a real incentive to seek out and learn under masters. There are of course Secret Techniques that masters will do almost anything to keep secret, as well as so called Lost Techniques that must be discovered through adventuring. Techniques cost a fixed amount of XP to master. This XP cannot be spent on other skills but still counts to the total for the purposes of levelling up. There’s generous rules for trading in obsolete techniques as you gain in Qi and gain access to greater abilities and there are even options to allow players to learn techniques without paying XP for it if it would be hideously unwieldy to do so, or even to just give characters a number of techniques each Qi rank for a more arcadey feel.
I am trying to find a suitable place to discuss the fact you can get into Dragon Ball Z type Ki Duels where both parties blast eachother with energy and there is a seperate resolution system for this which deserves some sort of award, probably one with cat-ears, futanari and other weeb things but well done for going the extra mile.
I guess I should go over Levels as well. Qi rank is tied to hit points and each level gained means a defence can be upgraded (hint, this defence should be Hardiness). XP is considerably less granular then the Gold Standard (in more then one way!), meaning you get XP for Defeating a Foe of your Qi level, Growing your Reputation (?) and Performing a Great Deed. The second two are essentially discretionary, but like most of these Trad-games, you get XP for following the plot and going along. You get about 1-3 XP per session. I do like it that the game offers the option of bonus XP for either exceptional effort (again discretionary) or the discovery of Hidden Martial Arts tomes, giving people some incentive to push extra hard. It does not replace the gold standard for XP, which is the uh…gold standard. These systems select tend to select for obedience in a way that the more libertarian xp for gold certainly does not.
The book is written for characters of Qi rank 1-6 and while it goes into levels 7-24 which govern Profound Masters and Immortals respectively and does provide a handful of techniques and material for these brackets, it makes it clear that these characters are beyond most of the scope of the book and will be covered in a future supplement. Ah las, Wandering Heroes also falls prey to the Epic Level Curse (which has felled the likes of Dark Heresy by making its epic level handbook very stupid and borderline unuseable), in this case by having the Future supplement never be released. As a consolation, a lot of the material is on the author’s website, so if there is sufficient enthusiasm, perhaps a fan remix can be assembled. A brief discussion of Karma ensues, which is supposedly very important at these mythical levels and will hopefully be explained in the GMs section.
What else? There’s throwaway cart and ship combat rules which strike a balance between being simple (since you are unlikely to use them very often) yet robust enough so that they do not amount to handwaving. The mass combat rules also fall under this category. Its something that the author does not neccessarily expect you to use but in case you want it it is there, and a balance is struck between strength of numbers and a whole host of other factors like training, equipment, morale and more nebulous things like the Mandate of Heaven. As written, the role of attrition in warfare means that the Strength Score of both parties decreases by 1 each time they fight. This ensures that even well equipped, trained and inspired armies can be ground down by numerically large forces.
Fuck, I might as well test this out, this is going to be one of these.
Say we take a random battle from The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Er…The Battle of Guandu, where major character Cao Cao crushes his rival Warlord Yuan Shao despite having only 20.000 men against 100.000. Using the table in Wandering Heroes, we assign Cao Cao a strength of 6 and Shao a (maximum) strength of 10. Both sides are begin with a Combat Rating of 2d10. Each bonus to one side will be applied as a penalty to
The actual battle had Cao Cao take up an entrenched position alongside the Yellow River. In addition, he used a feint to convince Yuan Shao he was going to attack his camp, causing the warlord to split his forces while Cao Cao rapidly repositioned to break the siege.
Yuan Shao’s Force is 3+ increments larger then Cao Cao, giving him +4d10 to his CR and Cao Cao a -4d10 penalty. However, Cao Cao has a fortress, a tactical advantage (+1d10/-1d10). Yuan Shao’s own advisor has been imprisoned for suggesting he break off the attack on charges of demoralizing the army, adding an additional (+1d10/-1d10). In addition, Cao Cao is a main character in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Yuan Shao is a minor character, so we shall assume Cao Cao is favored by Heaven while Yuan Shao is not (+2d10/-2d10). This would restore the balance to the original 2d10. We roll 2d10 each and compare highest. Yuan Shao has a 3, Cao Cao scores a 9. This means Yuan Shao’s army strength is reduced by 1. In addition, both sides reduce their strength by 1 because of attrition. Yuan Shao’s army strength is now 8, meaning he has taken 50.000 casualties (including desertion, surrender etc. etc.). Cao Cao’s army is now 5, putting him at about 10.000 casualties. Both sides decide to continue the battle.
We assume another battle takes place later, this time with Cao Cao maneuvering a cavalry force around Yaun Shao’s main forces to disrupt his supply lines and burn his Grain carts. The modifiers remain similar, so 2d10 each. Yuan Shao rolls a 5, Cao Cao rolls a 10! This time Yuan Shao’s army strength is reduced by 2, and in addition, Cao Cao does not take any attrition this turn. Now faced with about equal numbers (Strength 5), Yuan Shao decides to flee.
When fleeing, the fleeing side sacrifices all modifiers to their combat rating, excluding those of divine origin. This means both positive and negative modifiers. Unfortunately, the Will of Heaven is against Yuan Shao, reducing his 2d10 to 0d10 (lowest of 2d10). They roll, Yuan Shao gets a 10! and Cao Cao gets a 9. Yuan Shao escapes. Had he not won, he would have taken an additional casualty.
What the fuck else? There’s a pretty decent Cricket fighting mini-game I will not get into. The last noteworthy section is the one on poisons, antidotes and diseases. The poisons proper are particularly inventive, with anything from the normal Cyanide to the rare Purple Spirit Venom, which blocks someone’s Qi, and can only be cured by an antidote of the exact same balance of 32 different ingredients that the original poisoner used. Poison in this game is not quite Save or die, but its effects are sufficiently debilitating that once characters are affected, they become disabled in a matter of minutes or hours, and if they do not receive treatment, will die, depending on the speed of the venom. There’s an optional Gangrene disease that I suggest not using, but there’s a nice mixture between the mundane (Heat and Dampness of the Lung) and the fantastical (the terrifying Ice of the Heart, which kills in Seconds). There’s antidotes, pills, longevity treatments, medicines that enable demons to take human shape, rare mushrooms that stave off the effects of toxins, the whole shebang. Occasionally, a skill rating is given for finding the ingredients, but each ingredient is given a gold piece value later in the equipment section, giving some indication as to their availability (some poisons go for as much as 10.000 gp per dose!).
So there you motherfucking have it. The guts and elements of the game. Join me next time as we attempt, SOMEHOW to get through character creation.
12 thoughts on “[Review] Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate (Core Rules) Pt. II; Core Rules”
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This seems like a rather strange hybrid (unless I’m misinterpreting the definition of “trad game”) as it seems to be including a lot of older system mechanics (or “derived-from-older-system” mechanics…like D20) into its…um…traditional “trad” design sensibilities.
So…it uses trad advancement / development alongside levels? That can be a, mm, difficult design choice. In trad games (again, assuming I’m using the term correctly), reward systems are generally geared towards keeping players “on theme.” You don’t ‘role play’ well? No XP cookie. Don’t solve the plot points? Same. XP earned is then pumped into various skills and powers to increase PC effectiveness in piecemeal fashion, allowing maximum (albeit often slow) customization over time.
But then to have a MEASURE of XP spent (Qi level, in this case)…yeah, I’ve seen this before, though I’m kind of hurting to remember where. Well, Top Secret (1E). Villains & Vigilantes. Maybe 1E Gamma World. But definitely the original TS, where XP was used to increase PC traits AND also measured level…though level had little effect other then determining how much $$ you earned for missions (I don’t even remember TS modules having level ranges).
For good reason (here comes the problem!): when character development is customizable, “level” provides no accurate assessment of a character’s effectiveness. I can gauge, for example, the relative power of a 5th level fighter or wizard compared to a 10th level one…far harder to determine character effectiveness if a player decides to pump XP into making a particularly strange or sub-(non-) optimized character…as OFTEN happens in trad games.
Why “often?” Because “trad” games appeal to (and tend to reward) individuals devoted to a particular theme and/or genre. I can make a character for Vampire the Masquerade that is optimized for combat, but that goes against the grain of play…the “why” of the reason we are playing this angsty “gothic-punk” RPG. You don’t get VtM adventures written for a coterie of 7th level anarchists or 3rd level Mallavians (or whatever), because there’s no way of knowing how a PC of X-number of experience is going to spend those points. Maybe they’ve been maxing out combat skills…or maybe they’ve been pumping every point into “ice sculpting” and “architecture” to design their own Fortress of Solitude far away from the Camarilla’s prying eyes (or whatever).
With all this detail on king fu, weapons, combat maneuvers, etc. I assume WHoOG is some sort of heroic fighty RPG, but the wuxia genre has more archetypal characters than just fighting men (and women)…what happens with the player who wants to take a more subtle approach, or who wants to role-play for humor, romance, or conniving-sneakiness? A robust system of skills and a detailed world including politics/intrigue would seem to support those non-fighting styles of play…but do the systems support them? Perhaps…not well. If “level” measured importance to the story and affected PC “spotlight time” (a little antithetical to egalitarian RP sensibilities in today’s hobby), that might be cool…if potentially dick-play inducing. But just as a measure of PC development (I.e. “points banked”? Mm…possibly problematic.
Anyway. That’s the immediate thought popping into my head at the moment.
Oh…AND link to author’s web site? So we can take in some of his post-Qi-level-6 thoughts and ideas?
It’s an odd duck alright, and downright anachronistic, but why go into the OSR if you aren’t fond of Odd ducks.
Yeah, 320 XP is the cap for level 6, so at 1-3 XP per session not including bonus XP, that’s quite a bit of crawling you have to do.
Qi level would in this case be a suboptimal gauge of a character’s effectiveness, but don’t forget things like Hit Points and Defences increase at a fixed rate. I’m curious how Qi level interacts with Kung Fu techniques, if at all.
The sick injunction against character optimization must have happened somewhere around the White Wolf Epoch and it still amazes that this ever got off the ground at all. Instead of making a robust game where a variety of approaches are needed to ensure a party is well-rounded enough to handle all the challenges, the GM is tasked with gas-lighting the players into curbing their own advancement, berating them if they choose survivability over flavor, and utilizing guilt and some sort of arbitrary standard to ensure players never fully interact with the game component of the game.
The Skill system thus far seems fairly robust and extensive. Scholars, spies, assassins and doctors, all are possible.
You can of course google it you silly man.
Haha. Did I not mention how lazy I am right at the moment? Saving all my energy for holiday cheer.
First and foremost, you misspell Anarch and Malkavian but then don’t misspell Camarilla? STAY ON THEME, JB!
On level not being equivalent to power: what about fighters who suck? (Low Strength, bad HP rolls, subpar equipment) Or wizards with sub-optimal spell choices? (Magic Aura, False Trap, Feign Death, nice and themeful) I assume in a kung-fu game it does make sense to have martial arts be the basic assumption, tho with exceptions galore.
I actually *did* spell both anarch and Malkavian correctly, but the damn auto-correct on my phone (whose computer brain hopes to one day supplant my own) changed ’em. Did the same with Camarilla, but I caught THAT one. What can I say? Humans are fallible…but, then, so are machines and anyone who says otherwise is a damn fool. ‘Smart’ phone my ass.
In D&D, certain degrees of effectiveness are hard-wired into level. A character of a certain class-level will always have a particular chance to hit and a particular saving throw, for example. A cleric of 9th level will always turn undead at a certain rate; a spell caster will have a certain range of spells available.
While it is certainly possible to have a 5th level fighter or 15th or ANY level with minimal hit points, over time characters tend to revert to (high) averages. Why? Because their character dies otherwise. A 1st level ranger with no CON bonus that rolls two hit points is unlikely to make it to 2nd level…and this can be factored in to adventure design. Likewise, the 5th level magic-user that insists on taking “useless” spells (or by some terrible stroke of misfortune finding themselves unable to learn spells other than non-standard dweomers)…the player will either find a way to use their spells in a practical fashion, or they will die and no one will want to bring the character back to life!
[I have seen 1st level MUs in B/X whose only spell was ventriloquism put it to good and practical use; same with AD&D PCs saddled with spells like jump and message via (DMG-specified) random selection. My own MU character has advanced to 5th level despite failing repeatedly to learn magic missile via bad die rolls…sleep doesn’t help against undead after all. Anyone who chooses to play a magic-user SHOULD have their work cut out for them, in my opinion…it is on point to have the risk-reward factor ramped up for would-be Sorcerer Supremes]
Magic items are the greatest source of variation in D&D, with excessive possession of such allowing PCs to punch far above their weight class (probably the MAIN reason for Gygax’s admonitions against “Monty Haul-ism”). However, in D&D it is an abundantly easy matter (and not uncommon practice) to insert additional magic-items (when needed) into games where PCs have somehow acquired a disadvantage for their level: a potion of healing, an extra +1 weapon, a scroll with that spell of flying or water breathing or whatever. And UNlike with trad games, doing so doesn’t disrupt the “theme” of D&D in the slightest…unless you’re playing D&D in a fashion other than the way it was designed. Such items…limited in use and temporary are easily consumed and non-game wrecking.
[yes, even those +1 weapons. Give them a dagger that is later discovered to have an “ancient curse” or just a satchel of +1 arrows which will be expended on that gargoyle. Even in a “low-magic” world, such things can be ‘skinned and explained to match the setting]
Trad games, like VtM or (presumably) WHoOG do not enjoy this same robustness of system when it comes to gauging/measuring characters because character development is so varied and versatile…by design, mind you! And that’s not a “bad” thing, it’s just different…which is why I find it a little uncomfortable to saddle such a game with any system of objective measure (level, rank, etc.). Generally speaking, trad games are about something OTHER THAN overcoming challenges and becoming a more powerful adventurer.
Hi Jonathon. This is Brendan (one of the designers). The way to gauge character effectiveness is to consider things like a person’s highest damage output Kung Fu technique, what counters they have, and also weigh their Qi rank (Qi rank matters for some thing but this is a game where a lower level character with good techniques can often beat a higher level one with bad ones). It is isn’t terribly worried about balance issues in that respect. I wanted the game to be surprising and for there to sometimes be a paper, rock scissor element to it. So you might think a party will have an easy time with a given foe, but it doesn’t turn out that way (or vice versa).
The way I generally run it is what I call a drama & sandbox, which is essentially a sandbox with more a little focus on some of the dramatic elements you see in wuxia. So they tend to be campaigns where you drop the players into the world, let them do what they want, form what connections and bonds they do, and see how they rise in the martial world. The adventures tend to be a combination of exploration, romance, dealing with power groups and politics of the sects, etc. A campaign will often feel a lot like a 50 episode wuxia drama series, but no set-pieces, it is more about keeping things character driven (which I think the somewhat episodic and character focused nature of those shows makes very doable in a game). How a campaign plays out often comes down to who the players form friendships with, develop grudges with and what kung fu they are able to learn.
I would describe it as somewhat traditional with a mixture of ideas I incorporated over the years to get wuxia campaigns that lasted. One big concept I draw on is the ‘living adventure/living NPC’ mentioned in the Feast of Goblyns module for 2E Ravenloft (I think the official term used was wandering major encounter), which is all basic advice for treating NPCs living living characters in the game. I also draw on ideas like Clash Bowley’s situational adventures and sandbox elements I have picked up from other GMs and people like Rob Conley of Bat in the Attic. So it is accurate to say it is a mixture or strange hybrid. One thing I do avoid though is 90s storytelling approaches to play. Much of my GM style was developed in response to that and in response to the EL based and path-based adventures from the 3E era of D&D (I started gaming in 1986, cut my teeth on 90s RPGs as a GM and played a ton of 3E when that came out). I always wanted approaches where player character choices mattered, and where the GM honored the freedom of exploring a world and its characters (without having a particular destination in mind or a set of encounters planned).
With the system one thing we were trying to do (especially Bill who unfortunately passed as we were developing this game) was avoid bucket of dice issues and fiddly dice pool success counting or mini-games.
Hope this helps give a window in the thought process behind the game.
A note that this is currently PWYW on DTRPG, which means the interested reader can follow along with your review if so-inclined.
Or just go look up the sadly-unexplored-here cricket fighting rules. I am confident they are the best cricket-fighting rules currently on the market.
I was going to remark on it so I might as well do it here.
My initial supposition that Hardiness would be the dominant defence that should be prioritized beyond all others is probably inaccurate. This has to do with the amount of dice that are going to be involved. The Parry or Evade Skill can expect to meet at most 3d10 and more probably 2 or 1. Having a parry of 7 is a reasonably effective defence against 1 and even two dice. The Hardiness roll might face a similar amount of dice, based on the muscle skill, in response to unarmed combat, but what clinches it is the weapon damage, which is often Muscle based but adds multiple dice, placing the number at 3d10-6d10 for some of the larger two handed weapons. Even a hardiness of 10 might be insufficient protection. Armor reduces part of the weapon damage but introduces speed penalties, among other things.
I’m curious about the efficacy of focusing exclusively on Hardiness versus dividing your points between, say, Parry and Hardiness and the protective value against anything from simple but heavily armed bandits to a martial arts master.