[Review] Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate Pt. IV; Finishing Touches

Last time we covered the intricate world of martial arts in WhoOG. At the end of it we had created the following character.

Race: Human


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

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

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

Detect – 2
Persuade – 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

Speed – 2
Muscle – 2

Sect: Dehua
Sifu: Master Pain?

Brave – Ferocious

Waijia – 1
Qinggoing – 1
Neigong – 1
Dianxue – 1

Kung fu techniques: Iron Foot Stance, Clutch of the Hawk, Kick of the Golden Elephant, Kick of the Swan, Breath of the Lotus Petal, Four Point Touch.

Our ordeal is long, but the end is in sight. We have passed through (in a somewhat assymetrical order because of the constraints of the review), 8 steps. Step 9 allots us one Combat Technique.

Combat Techniques are analogous to feats, providing a static advantage or removing a disadvantage when employing specified methods of attack. Most interesting are the techniques that allow you to perform reasonably well despite being blinded, one-armed or Drunk. Feats like mounted archery, the ability to press an opponent with weaponry, or the Iron Fist technique allowing you to deal full damage are fairly typical. This section is small, humble and limited. We select Outside Fighter, giving us an extra +1d10 to our damage roll if we moved our full movement before attacking, which should combine well with our point in Qinggong and the lack of attacks for opportunity. We can buy later techniques at the exorbitant rate of 12 XP.

What Tradgame would be complete without a Gurps style FLAWS system? At the cost of a debilitating flaw we can accumulate extra skill points. We are restricted to two flaws, although we can always take the Fated flaw. Min-maxers may squeel with glee, some flaws give up to 2 skill points, indeed, characters opting to play a Blind swordmaster type of character might attempt to take advantage of the two free skill points, compensate with the Blind Swordsman technique, and eliminate any penalty with the Qi rank 4 Adaptation of the Maimed ability, which removes all penalties of the disability. After character creation two skill points would set one back 20 XP, while a Level 4 Kung Fu technique would cost only 12 XP. The only drawback is that the Combat Technique at character creation is the equivalent of 12 XP later, so following this path would entail a loss of 4 XP. The min-maxer deflates and is driven back into his den. What is the min-maxer to do instead?

There are numerous physical defects, from starting with one-arm to having Blocked Acu-points, causing a variety of physical drawbacks like laziness, deafness, ungainlyness etc. etc.. There are, however, the somewhat codified, but altogether more vague roleplaying/social mechanics related flaws, that we could be tempted to attempt to abuse. Taking Enemy places a fully fleshed out NPC character that hates us at the top of the Grudge encounter table (we will find out what this means soon!). Fated is a special condition that merits its own chapter later in the book. Since it gives two skill points and can be acquired in addition to any other flaws you will not begrudge an old powergamer from snatching that one up. Social flaws seem light but generally fuck with your autonomy by forcing Resolve checks if certain situations come up, so they are likely to cause much more trouble then they are worth. What are we to think of the flaw Secret, where a terrible secret must be hidden else doom befall the character, or Secretely Evil, where the GM puts an infiltrator into the ranks of the party that is only revealed at a later date! Brandon exercises over a decade’s worth of Tradgame lore and very few opportunities are missed. We could take something like White Hair, possibly incurring the wrath of superstitious villagers. We could go for 4 points, but we really only want 3 extra skill points so we can raise our starting speed to 3. We take Enemy and Fated.

It is now time to record our Qi level (1) and Max Wounds: 3. After this we have to flesh out our character. We take as homeland the Chezou River Valley, we take the name of Zhonggong Feng, and we select a Martial arts nickname! Iron Dragon will suffice, but consider such sample titles as Iron-fan Auntie, Divine Phoenix, Murdering Priest, Lord Thunder etc. etc. We are also supposed to include details about our family (siblings, parents etc. etc.) and a social occupation. We can select any of four classes we want, but if we want to actually qualify for that profession we will have to pass the Imperial Exams. More on that later 😛 We select: scholar-official as our social class.

Our last step involves the buying of equipment. We are alloted a generous 2000 spade coins to cover any expenses we might have.

Equipment list is nice and sprawling, a tradgame feature. The approximate value of currency is properly established with a series of sample wages for soldiers, scholars, farmhands etc. There is considerable variety in the type of currency used throughout the empire because of course there is, added more for versimilitude then for any type of game consideration. The basic unit of currency is the spade. Strings of cash are literally strings of 1000 bronze spades. The empire also mints silver ingots (1000 spades) and gold ingots (10.000 spades) called Taels. Currency is divided in Imperials (10 spades), Spades (1 handful of grain) and Liang (1/100 of a spade). A list of prices for gemstones is also appreciated. You CAN use all of this.

Our choice of skill precludes our use of the rather liberal weapon choices that we have covered in part II. There are no cheese options, even Caltrops require a light melee skill to place properly. I note the existence of the legendary and almost mythical Flying Guillotine, which is very hard to use, but that can kill an opponent with a single hit if they do not remove the device (Muscle TN 6), but then move on. We also skip the Iron Hat, which can be used to deal damage based on Reason (!) but which risks injuring the user. Just going over the techniques and items all sorts of antagonists and NPCs pop up in the brain. Weapons are strictly better in terms of damage and even accuracy but they are less flexible when it comes to kung fu techniques. We purchase only Iron Claws, improving our arm strike damage to Muscle for 10 coins.

Armor, unlike weaponry, is very expensive, and often provides a speed penalty. Fortunately for us, Leather Lamellar is only 500 coins, provides a -1d10 damage protection from Blunt weapons only, and imposes no speed penalty. A bargain.

There is an extensive vehicle section covering everything from oxes to imperial war junks, complete with overland movement speed in miles/day, meaning that if you wanted to hex crawl, probably you could? We hold off on buying any form of transportation for now, though 1000 coins could get us an Ox or Camel.

There are rules for getting drunk! Getting shit faced provides +1 to Hardiness and Resolve, but the corresponding skill penalty of -1d10 to -3d10 makes it generally not worth the hassle.

One last point for emphasis. Very elaborate equipment list. Trade goods are covered, services (everything from an inn to an escort of soldiers to accusing someone before a formal judge) this is all covered. There is much less in the way of adventuring gear for wilderness exploration (rope and backpack are absent, but torches, ink stones, lanterns and the like are not), which makes some sense since WhooG takes place in a hostile civilization. Price for a top fighting cricket (5000 gp) and highest price for a brick of Tea (180.000) noted. There does not seem to be much in the way of rules for encumberance.

With 1490 coins remaining, we purchase a Gugu Hat (400), Ornate Belt (150), Silk trousers (160), Silk Tunic (200), Seven Star Shawl (500) and a pair of shoes (45). We begin play with 35 coins remaining. The lack of containers like sacks or backpacks is a little puzzling.

With our character Zhonggong Feng now more or less fleshed out, our next section will delve into the use of Rites and Rituals (there is a backup magic system) and starting delving into the campaign setting proper. See you in Part V.


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