The Many Students of Master Luo Chen

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Bret

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The Many Students of Master Luo Chen
« on: June 25, 2010, 09:07:07 AM »
Master Luo Chen is dead, and his school is burning. You don't know how many of the other students escaped with you, but you saw so many you recognized, dead, on your flight out. There's just a handful of you, watching the smoke and cinders fly in the distance.

After the shock of your Master's death, of your home being set aflame, of your friends and rivals being cut down in front of you, comes the shock of seeing the banner of Luo Chen's greatest student flying over the soldiers who mill about the ruins - the banner of the Emperor.

Now you must decide what comes next. Do you start new lives? Do you seek out Master Luo Chen's senior students to perhaps warn them or continue your studies under them? All you have are the clothes you are wearing, and the lessons that Luo Chen left you with while you studied under him.

They will be enough.

Attributes

Wisdom - Use in a challenge to outwit someone, to provoke an emotional response, or to avoid harm, to see through someone's motives or lies, or to teach someone knowledge.

Strength - Use in a challenge to defeat someone in combat, to intimidate and awe a crowd, to teach someone how to defend themselves.

Elegance - To distract someone with your beauty, to manipulate someone, to attract someone's attention, to impress someone with your dance or artistic performance, to politic or manipulate bureaucracy, or to teach someone manners.

Strategy - Use to plan a large scale attack or defense, to set traps, to engineer devices, to perform sorcery, or to teach someone the arts of war.

Dao - Communicate with ancestors, to reach out to nature spirits, to know the story of a mystical creature, to be in the right place at the right time, or to teach someone about the spiritual.

Mark experience when you roll a highlighted stat, or when fail an instructional contest.

Creating a Student

Choose a name:

Surname: Bao, Cheng, Deng, Gao, Hsia, Kwong, Liang, Mao, Pan, Shen, Tan, Wang, Xu, Zheng

Given name: An, Chao, Jiang, Le, Ming, Ning, Park, Qiao, Rong, Shan, Tai, Wei, Xi-wang, Yi min, Zhi

Look:

Man, woman, or ambiguous

Peasant wear, robes, martial arts uniform, military wear, noble wear.

Kind face, weathered face, tired face, pretty face, lively face, rugged face, sharp face, plump face.

Quick eyes, hard eyes, caring eyes, bright eyes, laughing eyes, clear eyes, calculating eyes, frosty eyes.

Short body, tall body, stocky body, skinny body, muscular body.



Notes on things I haven't written up yet: I'm thinking that what the students are like determine who Master Luo Chen was. Are they all studying kung fu? Then he was the greatest martial artist in the world. Are they studying strategy and politics? Then he was the previous emperor's right hand - advisor and general. Etc. This also effects what the emperor is like as he will be pretty much an evil version of Luo Chen and his greatest student.

Characters will start with very basic moves and then be able to study their way up trees. I originally meant for this to be a kung fu hack but as it's spooling out in my brain it could be about warfare, courtly intrigue, or spiritual journeys to talk to the gods themselves

Experience will be gained through flashbacks with Luo Chen, and finding new teachers who you have missed rolls against. Like say you fight bandits and miss your kung fu roll to fight them. Turns out one of them is one of Master Luo Chen's old students and beats your ass!
« Last Edit: June 25, 2010, 09:08:41 AM by Bret »
Tupacalypse World

Re: The Many Students of Master Luo Chen
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2010, 07:58:11 AM »
Notes on things I haven't written up yet: I'm thinking that what the students are like determine who Master Luo Chen was. Are they all studying kung fu? Then he was the greatest martial artist in the world. Are they studying strategy and politics? Then he was the previous emperor's right hand - advisor and general. Etc. This also effects what the emperor is like as he will be pretty much an evil version of Luo Chen and his greatest student.

This is the coolest part of your write up for me. I was just reading along going "okay,  yeah, kung fu, cool" and then this part made me go "whoah, sweet! It can be awesome kung fu or awesome other stuff!"

If I may be so bold as to recommend a couple of works that might help as inspiration: How I Killed your Master is a webcomic about a young son of a renowned martial arts expert who is being hunted by his father's chief rival, who has murdered his father (maybe a former student?) and is learning from his father's companions. Told in flashback after the son has killed the father's rival and is confronted by the rival's students.

Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart is a delightful fairy tale set in a "China that never was, but should have been" starring Li Kao, a brilliant sage with a slight flaw in his character, and Number 10 Ox, a kind and gentle giant who sets out to save the children of his village from a mysterious curse.

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Bret

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Re: The Many Students of Master Luo Chen
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2010, 03:24:09 PM »
I will definitely check those out!

Yeah, I started off like, "I want to use Apocalypse World for kung fu games!" and then I was like, "I want to use Apocalypse World for Dynasty Warriors games!" and then I was like, "I want to use Apocalypse World for Romance of the Three Kingdoms games!" and that last one is what I'm stuck on now. Hoping to work on this a little more this week.
Tupacalypse World

Re: The Many Students of Master Luo Chen
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2010, 08:14:48 PM »
That opening text is straight fire. Definitely into hearing more about this.

Re: The Many Students of Master Luo Chen
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2010, 02:24:44 PM »
hah, this is really awesome.  I was actually thinking of some sort of AW hack that would use the 5 fundamentals from the art of war as the basic stats (Dao, Heaven, Earth, Command, Discipline) that would be about epic warfare of one type or another.  It might be a good fit for you here, they are pretty close to what you have described anyway and are pretty thematically appropriate.

*grin* Sorry, unlooked for advice I know, I just can't help my geekin' out sometimes.
My real name is Timo

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Bret

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Re: The Many Students of Master Luo Chen
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2010, 02:45:44 PM »
Yeah, those are great. Thanks! I'll rewrite the stats accordingly. I just need some free time to do more hackery and come up with basic moves.
Tupacalypse World

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Bret

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Re: The Many Students of Master Luo Chen
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2010, 10:51:25 PM »
So as it turns out I don't know how to map the Art of War fundamentals onto these attributes! So for now I'll stick with what I got.

Basic Move ideas:

Outwit - Roll +wisdom to outsmart someone. On a 10+ you are one step ahead of your opponent and describe how. On a 7-9 you accomplish your goal but they are aware of your trickery.
Provoke - Roll +wisdom to provoke someone to act out of anger. On a 10+ they do so in a manner of your choosing. On  a 7-9 choose 1: they do what you wish, you are not at risk from their anger. In either case, the MC determines how you are at risk or how the NPC acts out in their anger.  If used on a PC, they may act as you determined, angrily, or take a -1 forward on a 10+. On a 7-9 choose 1.

Kung Fu - Roll +strength to do kung fu battle with an opponent. On a 10+ they are defeated and at your mercy, and you may do appropriate harm to them. On a 7-9 their kung fu is strong. You are victorious and they have been defeated... for now. You both take appropriate harm.
Awe - Roll +strength to awe and impress someone. On a 10+ they will not act against you for an appropriate amount of time. On a 7-9 they back down, but next session they will come back in force. PCs on a 10+ get a -1 forward to act against you for an appropriate amount of time on a 10+, or one roll on a 7-9.

Manipulate - Roll +elegance to get someone to do something for you. On a 10+ they do as you wish or bring you something you want. On a 7-9 they will do as you wish, but you must give them something they want first. Against PCs, on a 10+ they get experience for doing as you wish, or take a -1 forward.
Bureaucrat - Roll +elegance to work with someone in the imperial bureaucracy. On a 10+ they will act in their office in your favor in a manner you choose. On a 7-9 they will act for you but you have drawn the suspicion of one of their superiors or underlings.

Study Opponent - Roll +strategy to examine a foe. On a 10+ hold 3. On a 7-9 hold 1. You may spend 1 for 1 to ask the following:
- What does my opponent value the most?
- What does my opponent fear the most?
- In what way is my opponent stronger than me?
- In what way is my opponent weaker than me?
- Who does my opponent trust the most?
- Who does my opponent trust the least?
Make Plan - Roll +strategy to make a plan of action. Detail your plan, and on a 10+ you and all joining you on this plan take a +1 as long as you work towards completing it. On a 7-9 you get a +1 on actions towards completing your plan, but there is an unforeseen flaw in your plan. When the MC springs it on you, you lose your +1.

Contact Ancestor - Roll +dao to ask your ancestors a question. On a 10+ they answer it the best they are able, though their site is dim. On a 7-9, they answer but you have disappointed them in some way since you last spoke. Best make it right.
Contact Spirit - Roll +dao to gain the aid of a spirit or demon for a task. On a 10+ they assist you. On a 7-9 they will do as you ask, but they are fickle creatures and you have gained their attention. The MC should add them to your Threats.

These are just the starting moves and are intended to only have one character as an opponent. Characters can advance into larger scale moves or more specialized ones that I haven't come up with yet.

Other ideas:
I think maybe kung fu styles will simultaneously be weapons and access to new moves.
Students rolling against each other can do so as instruction if they have a higher modifier than the other PC and give the other XP.
The bureaucracy will be detailed to assist with play.
One GM move will be to introduce a senior student of Luo Chen on a miss.
Fronts and Threats need to be redesigned a bit. One Front will always be The Emperor.
Tupacalypse World

Re: The Many Students of Master Luo Chen
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2010, 01:38:09 PM »
I like these moves! Bureaucrat and Contact Ancestor are probably my favorites.

My only comment is that even though the 'Kung Fu' move is cool, it seems to be collapsing a lot of juicy potential into one move for a game that is seemingly quite focused on Kung Fu (if not actually 'about' Kung Fu).

Your concept of Kung Fu styles being combination character type moves and weapons tags gets me all hot and bothered.

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Bret

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Re: The Many Students of Master Luo Chen
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2010, 01:58:43 PM »
Hm yeah. I gotta think hard about how I want Kung Fu to work. I think the expanded moves/styles will let you do weird things and maybe do things like defeat big groups of people and whatnot, and of course defeating the Emperor in Kung Fu requires unlocking it in the Ungiven Future. But should you start already knowing a style or just having the basics that Master Luo Chen taught you? I think that's going to be the case.
Tupacalypse World

Re: The Many Students of Master Luo Chen
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2010, 02:50:22 PM »
Okay, this is some off-the-top-of-my-head wackiness, but here are some thoughts:

* You said you don't want the game to *necessarily* be just about Kung Fu, like Luo Chen could have been a master cartographer, or whatever, so. . .
* You could make a basic 'kung fu' move for each basic stat. If you're doing playbooks/types/whatever, this might or might not equal one per playbook
* This way, people that focused on different aspects of his teachings could be wise or elegant or strong Kung Fu fighters
* This immediately brings to my mind the non-opposed roll nature of AW. I'm trying to think how two characters of differing styles would fight each other, other than alternating rolls and doing harm to each other from mixed successes
* Ideally, each different 'style' would do different stuff (maybe accomplished by tags? maybe the choices for success provide different 'weapons' to choose from and/or additions, kind of like the new warcasting rules, err, somewhere? Dungeon World?)
* So, an example of what the hell I'm talking about:

When you use the Crane technique of Luo Chen (close, kung fu, 1-harm) , roll+elegant
On a 10+ choose 3, on a 7-9, choose 1. On a miss, choose none and your opponent can make a move of their choice
* Count as +1 armor until your next move
* Your harm is AP until your next move
* Add +far until your next move

Then maybe advances could include further choices, new tags (like, advanced crane style might *always* be AP) and so forth. It's a bit clunky right now, but is this at all interesting to you?

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Bret

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Re: The Many Students of Master Luo Chen
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2010, 12:08:29 PM »
At the moment I'm thinking playbooks are unnecessary. Everyone's playing a student, and their niche will be determined by the moves they take. Also, unlike AW, if everyone wants to be a martial artist that's fine. Though I may make it so that there can only be one master of each style, so if I advance to a certain point on Crane Style no one else can take the master-level moves. Take Drunken Monkey or something.

Two characters fighting each other should be rare. Rarer than in AW even I'm thinking. The characters are basically allies. But yeah if they do fight it gets adjudicated in a pretty freeform way, but who wins would be the result of a single roll and you also have the ability to hinder them. Maybe whoever is the senior student is the one who rolls first.

I haven't thought really hard yet about how I want to do styles, but I think what you're talking about might be simpler (better?) than what I had in mind, which was have a tags and damage attached to a kung fu style, and then also have advanced moves you can buy like:

You can use your Snake Style to paralyze an opponent. Roll +strength. On a 10+ your foe is conscious and aware, but unable to move and at your mercy. One a 7-9 the battle is hard-fought and your foe defends himself. Take harm as established, but he is conscious and aware but paralyzed as above.

That sort of thing.

Like, I want it to feel like you're really growing and developing your skills and getting lots of cool goodies.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2010, 12:11:07 PM by Bret »
Tupacalypse World

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Orion

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Re: The Many Students of Master Luo Chen
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2010, 01:38:04 PM »
So, if you aren't going to support Player on player combat especially thoroughly, it would seem that you want to avoid "fiddly" kung fu rules.  Looking at the Crane Style example, choosing between 1 damage and ap, for instance, is a lot more effort than I think a fight with NPCs usually merits.  Unless you're introducing more powerful armor, the AP option is only relevant when they have armor-2, and honestly with +1harm you can probably take a guy out in one shot anyway. 

I'd start by thinking of scenes where Wuxia heroes fight and ask myself "what was accomplished here?"  Then I'd ask myself which are the fiction and which need to be moves

--an army/gang is defeated by a martial artist
--an artist wins a fight without taking harm
--a patron or crowd in impressed by the artist's virtuosity
--a master agrees to train a student, or acknowledges that the student's training is done
--something exotic happens to the artist's victims. 

Off the top of my head, I think "a master agrees to take you" could be part of the fiction, or treated as a special manipulate roll.  Add a new tag, "Connoisseur:Stat".  A character with Connoisseur: Strategy can be manipulated with+strategy, one with Connoisseur:Wisdom with +wisdom and so on. 

Taking out armies calls for something like NTBFW, Avoiding harm needs its own move, and impressing the audience could be based on Skinner moves and/or on Moonlighting (try to find a patron to support you with "gigs" like acrobatics or calligraphy)

Finally, I would avoid going crazy with special attacks.  It seems to me that, broadly speaking, there are two types of special kung fu attacks.  One leaves people alive but incapacitated in some way (like the paralyzing nerve strikes, or breaking the opponent's chi), the other gives them some progressive problem that can be used to manipulate them (they are poisoned, or you now control their life force or whatever.

I'd simply make a basic rule that PCs can always inflict nonlethal harm, allow them to specify types of harm with seize/go aggro ("I want him be unable to fight/I want to break his leg), and introduce a new move that allows the PC to "suspend" harm they would otherwise inflict. 

These are just my thoughts looking over what's here so far...

Re: The Many Students of Master Luo Chen
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2010, 01:11:00 PM »
I love the idea that the different styles are like weapons (e.g. Crane is hand, 1-harm ap, mantis is close, 1-harm). Spend advances to learn new styles and special style-related moves. Yeah.

Jeff's moves sound cool too. I dunno man, it's all good! ALL GOOD!
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