Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Art of Wuxia - The Trigram Chronicles

When we neared the end of our Space Opera campaign, I realised that I will need a 'filler' campaign for the months of February to May, when I hope to start my Blood Sword campaign. I had earlier planned on running a "The Last Kingdom" campaign using "The Hero's Journey" rules, but I didn't think it was a good idea to run a fantasy campaign right before the another. I asked my players for ideas, and one of them suggested a wuxia campaign.

Now we are all but one of us East Asian in ethnicity, yet despite that we have never played any "oriental" campaign. And the wuxia genre is not an unfamiliar one to us: I must have watched more than a thousand hours of Shaw Brothers kung fu movies and Hong Kong TV series based on the works of Louis Cha, and even read a few wuxia novels back in my childhood. Anyway, everyone liked the idea of playing something different, and so I started planning for campaign.

There are no lack of kung fu RPGs on the market. I spent several days googling and looking at various forums, and in the end I decided that Art of Wuxia was the set of rules that seemed to fit what I have in mind the best. Its full rules and default setting are still a lot more fantastical than the setting I have in mind, but it was easy to just omit all the magic and monsters and keep the rest of the rules. Perhaps I will do a more detailed rules review in the future.

For the theme of the campaign, the player suggested it to be about fighting government tyranny. What came to my mind then was the queue edict issued by the Qing government in the early years of their conquest of China - this was an order issued not for any practical reason, but solely to demand a demonstration of submission, on pain of death; tens of thousands of Han Chinese were slaughtered for disobeying the order, ironically at the hands of Han Chinese soldiers under the command of Han Chinese generals who defected to the Qing. This premise also gave me a villain for the campaign, as well as a reason for the PCs to get together: they will all be novice martial artists who have lost family and loved ones to the order, and their goal is to take revenge on the general who led the massacres, who I have decided will look like Donnie Yen in Once Upon in China II.

Over the course of the campaign, we hope to cover the usual genre tropes, with the heroes meeting and fighting mooks and villains with "evil kung fu", learning new kung fu as they level up, and eventually avenging the deaths of their families.

The Qing Conquest of China was of course a drawn out and complicated affair, and for the purpose of our campaign I will utilise artistic license and not be sticking to history, so I hope the more learned readers will forgive me.

The Party

Li Hui - Physician. An orphaned Muslim girl, Li Hui was taken in by Cripple Li, a former army physician. Cripple Li had initially taught his student only the healing arts, but after her master's death, Li began to learn kung fu.

Luo Yun - A foundling raised by farmers, Luo Yun was recruited by the White Lotus Cult and learned kung fu. When the Qing government began to suppress the cult, Luo Yun returned home to lie low but found his entire village slaughtered by Qing soldiers under the command of General Yen.

Soong Wu Qing - Soong's family ran a famous armed escort company, but when his father refused to work for General Yen, his entire family was killed in retaliation. Soong was away in Shaolin Temple studying kung fu, but left upon learning his family fate to seek revenge.

Wang Ah Hu - Wang served as a soldier under an officer in Yen's army when he was still serving the Ming emperor. Rightly concerned that the officer and his men would not take kindly to his decision to defect to the Qing, Yen ordered the unit into an ambush laid by the Qing. Wang lost his sight in the ensuing battle, and became a beggar, but driven by his thirst for revenge, he had learned to overcome his disability.

Wu Wen Xiong - Born a sickly child to a rich family, Wu was not favoured by his father. His mother, formerly of the Sword Sisters Sect, secretly taught him kung fu to make him stronger. Wu's family were arrested and executed after General Yen accused his father of sedition over a poem the elder Wu had written, and their property seized. Wu managed to escape, and had sworn vengeance since.

Zhang Ziyi - Formerly an assassin in the service of the Ming, Zhang was ordered to assassinate one of her relatives who had earned the displeasure of General Yen. Zhang refused the mission and fled, but when she reached her home village she found that her family had been murdered on order of General Yen.

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