Monday, October 16, 2017

HEROES SHED NO TEARS AND MARTIAL SECTS

I am working on a number of things coming out for Ogre Gate, but something nudged me to write about campaign upkeep. This Friday we are going to talk about Heroes Shed No Tears, the 1980 Shaw Brothers film on the podcast. I've been re-reading the translation of Heroes Shed No Tears novel at Wuxia World (HERE) and it got me thinking about mapping the martial world in campaigns. 

The novel is excellent and I highly recommend it to Gamemasters running wuxia campaigns. Written by Gu Long, it is an excellent example of how to populate a campaign setting with martial heroes and clans. In particular it illustrates how an escort company, something very common in the genre, can function in a gameable way. The movie is one of my favorite films, and I also encourage people to check it out. It is directed by Chor Yuen, and just one among many movies he made that were inspired by Gu Long's works.

In any setting you have the world and the locations, and those need to be mapped. But the martial world is more like an abstract set of relationships, allegiances and individuals who populate that setting. Again, you'll need individual entries on the sects and characters, but you also need a general overview of how it all fits together. The sketch to the right is a small example of that. 

In Heroes Shed No Tears we learn that one of the primary characters, Sima Chaoqun formed a powerful escort agency by assembling 39 of the greatest heroes and bandits from Heshuo to North East China. This took him two years to achieve and with the help of his righthand man, Zhuo Donglai, there only real rival was the head of Lion Clan: Zhu Meng. . The events of the book are about a final confrontation between these two great powers. But there are other heroes and villains in the mix as well. The main character of the book is Little Gao, who enters the martial world at the behest of his master and finds himself embroiled in the conflict. There is also a mysterious assassin who carries a special box said to be the deadliest weapon in the world. Zhu Meng, leader of Lion Clan, is in love with a graceful dancer named Die Wu and helped by a loyal man named Cleats. There are many other characters of importance in the book and this is a story where you really only have to worry about two organizations (a lot of wuxia has far more than this). 

So mapping out these relationships but also keeping track of heroes in general can be important. Imagine running a campaign for example around the rise of a character like Sima Chaoqun. In order to do that, the most important thing is to know who the 39 heroes are. 

The map I used on the right is one quick way of getting a visual of the martial landscape. I usually pair it with a table containing the characters, with their Qi rank, signature techniques, desires and goals, etc. Sometimes you can fit this on the martial world map as well. On mine, I just fit in the Qi ranks, as those were the important thing to know for what was going on in the campaign. 

But these maps need constant updating. The one to the right maps out the sects after a major incident involving some time traveling chariots. And there is a second page containing more sects and heroes. Generally I try to place the sects on the page in a place that matches where they reside in the world. 

If you want to learn more about Heroes Shed No Tears, I strongly recommend Deathblade's translation at Wuxia World. I also suggest watching the movie if you can (as far as I know it isn't on prime or anything). We will cover it on the podcast this friday, so if you have seen it, definitely join us for the discussion, or to learn more about it. There will be spoilers though. 




Sunday, October 15, 2017

THE RETURN OF LONG DISTANCE VILLAINY

I did a post here a few years ago on a GMing technique I sometimes use called Long Distance Villainy (you can find the original post HERE). It was a retread of an article I had written years before online (but the original site went away so I decided to post the idea once again). I came across this today, and thought it was interesting. Not sure if they were inspired by the blog post or just coing at the idea independently but it is a cool way to make this a regular thing (one of the limitations that I always faced with it, was it had to be a once-in-a-while technique because you need to recruit your long-distance villain). But there is a reddit thread dedicated to the idea HERE. I think it is worth checking out. 


Friday, October 13, 2017

SHAW BROTHERS FRIDAY

Today we discussed the Angry Guest (currently available on prime HERE). This sequel to Duel of Fist stars Ti Lung and David Chiang. It is directed by Chang Cheh with action direction by Lau Kar-Leung and Tong Kai. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

SHAW BROTHERS FRIDAY

We've been busy at the podcast talking about classic Shaw Brothers Movies. This week, two movies starring Ti Lung, plus one of the truly early New Wuxia Pan films, the Twin Swords

I should note that The Twin Swords is the second part in a trilogy of films that begins with Temple of the Red Lotus. I do recommend seeing Temple of the Red Lotus first if you can. But if you can't, this review may prove helpful giving you the plot prior to Twin Swords. 

These are all available on Amazon Prime and well worth watching: 





Friday, September 29, 2017

OGRE GATE INN AND THE STRANGE LAND OF LI FAN RELEASED

I just wanted to let everyone know that we have released Ogre Gate Inn and the Strange Land of Li Fan in PDF (the print edition will also be coming out soon as well). This setting supplement describes Li Fan and includes a three-chapter adventure set at the Ogre Gate Inn. You can find the PDF here: OGRE GATE INN PDF

OGRE GATE INN AND THE STRANGE LAND OF LI FAN 

Explore a world of wuxia and the supernatural…

In the strange borderlands of the empire you will find Li Fan, an ancient kingdom of ghosts, lost techniques, and magic. Here, nobles may rule, but powerful Kung Fu masters truly reign supreme.


The Ogre Gate Inn and the Strange Land of Li Fan is a sourcebook for Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate. It describes the lands of Li Fan, including key areas like Bone Kingdom and the tomb of the Demon Emperor. In addition to locations and politics the book also includes a three-chapter adventure set at the infamous Ogre Gate Inn, new monsters, new Kung Fu Techniques and a complete selection of martial heroes and villains.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

DISPOSABLE DISCIPLES SESSIONS 64-65: THE GHOST AND THE SWORD

This is a log for my ongoing Disposable Disciples of Bone Kingdom campaign. You can see the previous session log HERE.  Note that I began recording sessions, so this has allowed me to do more detailed session logs.

Player Characters: 

Shen Chun/Crazed Raksha
Little Bai
Lu Jing 
Ong Lao
Min (Feiyan)

Disciples of the Sect: 

Red Eagle (Little Bai)
Dim-Witted Chen (Shen Chun)
Xiaomei 


Sects Alliances: 

GOLDEN WAY ALLIANCE 

An alliance of orthodox sects lead by Shen Chun (Zhao Kang-Green Cat Kang) and his wife Da Mei Mei. They wield the wind saber of Sunan and the Phoenix Crown of Bao. Their alliance includes Temple of the Jade Mercies, remnants of Relentless Corpse Sect, Purple Cavern Sect, Nature Loving Monk Sect, Dehua Sect, Golden Dragon Sect and connections with the House of Paper Shadows. 

THE SOUTH WIND SOCIETY 
Rivals to the Golden Way, they have been absorbing sects in the south and in Hai'an. They are led by Cunning Dragon and have absorbed: Tree Dwelling Nuns, Perfect Heaven Lineage, Southern River Sect, Sun Mai Sect, Glorious Death Cult, Crescent Moon Sect, and a small group lead by Silent Dagger. 


Rulers:
Zhen Dao Empire: Emperor Zhao
Hai'an: Queen Ai Nu
Li Fan: King Yuan

Lu Jing used his rituals to find a nearby fox spirit living in a homestead. He made an offer to the fox, asking him to serve him at the Golden Way headquarters. The Fox said he could accept if his entire family could move into the new residence as well. Lu Jing had concerns so he said it was okay provided the structure was built outside the sect. He smoothed over the details with the Fox, realizing it was draining his life by talking to him. Angered, he made clear such tricks would be unacceptable if they were to work together. 

Shen Chun and the party then received word that the Invincible Ritual Masters were active at their former Crocodile Sect headquarters manipulating the ghost of Shen Guan. 

When Shen Chun and his allies first came to Stone Palace Sect and killed the sect leader, he became lovers with Shen Guan (the previous sect leader's bodyguard). The rest of the party did not trust her, so he agreed to murder her in her sleep, whispering "In the next life" as he did so. Soon she rose up as a ghost and began to wreak havoc when he and his men  established themselves at Crocodile Sect Headquarters. They had a priest seal her inside a chamber with a sword after she had killed several men. 

Over a year later, the Golden Way had returned to Li Fan. But a distressing message reached them that the Invincible Ritual Masters were performing magic at their old headquarters, likely trying to release the spirit of the ghost. 

They travelled swiftly. But in the night Shen Chun was possessed by Guan's spirit and had to be pinned down and tied to a tree. Min kept watch over him and woke up in the night as the tree limbs tried to rip apart his flesh. She untied Shen Chun and ran with him, but the tree pursued. As it bore down on them, they both woke up and found themselves still tied to the tree. 

They pressed on and along the way met a strange man who offered them black chrysanthemums and paintings. He was interested in procuring corpse venom from the sect, but this was met with refusal. Instead he offered his services and went south to Crocodile Sect with them. 

When they arrived, they found three of Ritual Masters chanting. They attacked, killing two and taking one as a hostage. 

Shen Chun then approached the seal. Only he could remove the sword. So he did so. 

The door burst into a thousand fragments and rained on them. Min prepared one of her spirit orbs. Shen Guan leapt from the opening, and struck at Shen Chun's legs with her sword (her leg-taking strike was widely feared in life). Luckily, he and his allies escaped her blade strikes and wounded her enough that Min could suck her into the spirit orb. 

This is where the session ended. 

Monday, September 25, 2017

RED WHITE AND WHO: THE STORY OF DOCTOR WHO IN AMERICA

On the podcast we talked with Nick Seidler and Robert Warnock about Red White and Who: The Story of Doctor Who in America. You can learn more about the book HERE