Tag Archives: feng shui

Feng Shui 2 Kickstarter Live!

Feng Shui, by Robin Laws, one of the coolest games in RPG history.  Well, it’s coming back, and you can get in on the Kickstarter!  Which is like 300% funded after being live for an hour.  Give up on collecting boots from goblins and be a real action movie hero, Chow Yun Fat style (or someone else for you kids nowadays).

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Geek Related – The Site

I got a question in a post comment recently asking if the stuff on this Geek Related site was also me – it is, it’s my old Mindspring site from before I started the blog.  There’s some stuff you may find of interest there:

The Official Death To Jar Jar Binks Website – ah, youth.  Not really RPG related but the day after Phantom Menace came out I slapped the site together. It got featured on Salon and ZDTV among other media outlets. For the last like ten years I still get emails from people demanding “Don’t you have anything better to do with your time?!?” like I’ve even touched the site in a decade.

The Way, The Truth, and the Dice – I was publisher for the e-zine of the Christian Gamers Guild for a couple years. There’s some good stuff in these mags (especially the realistic combat and friction rules); sadly it all fell apart due to infighting (they eventually put out a fourth issue some 5 years later with content we’d gathered, but nothing since then).

Scooby Doo Cthulhu – Almost as popular as the Jar Jar page, this is the Scooby crew statted for traditional (BRP) Call of Cthulhu.  Used in about a billion con games. “Julianus” did them, I just hosted them. I especially liked using them with the various “Blood Brothers” CoC adventures.

The Monk – I redid the monk class for AD&D 2e based on a more supernatural, free-wheeling style as I was watching a lot of HK movies and playing Feng Shui.  They totally stole my approach for Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords and then D&D 4e. I made up custom monastic orders for Greyhawk too, partially based on on some of Erik Mona’s Oerth Journal work (“Baklunish Delights”).

Horror in Roleplaying – probably one of the most lasting of my game essays, I did a lot of horror gaming back in the day and wrote extensively on how to do it. Nothing from the entire storygame movement has caused me to think any of it should be changed.

Classless Skills and Powers – I really enjoyed AD&D Second Edition and when the Skills & Powers supplements came out I wanted to like them – they let you do more of a custom character generation – but they were deeply, profoundly flawed.  I figured I’d fully GURPS them up and turn D&D classless.  This worked great, we ran several campaigns with these rules (sometimes mixing in non-S&P characters for those who didn’t want to go to the trouble). 3e ended up solving a lot of this in a simpler way so I left this behind when I upgraded, but for 2e OSR fans it could be useful!

Children of the Seed – Feng Shui is one of the best RPGs ever.  And it was powered high enough I thought it would make an even better anime game than a HK action game.  I was a fan of the anime series Blue Seed and so I wrote characters and a con-ready adventure to that end!

The Yeomanry page is down forever, sadly, and Bruce’s session summary page died with Onramp and he’s being a slack about getting it going again.

The great thing about all of these is that I had a lot of spare time back in the day and took all this real seriously – so this has all been playtested in campaigns and/or many con games, there’s bunches of sample characters and whatnot… About as complete as you could hope house rules and whatnot to be.

So poke around and let me know what you find interesting!

Alternity to Feng Shui Conversion

Here’s a little something I started working on in the year 2000 (!) and just found and decided to finish off.  It’s a conversion of Alternity to the Feng Shui system.  Feng Shui is the RPG of action movie roleplaying and has a nice fast system, one that it’s easy to teach people at the beginning of a convention game, for example.  Alternity’s system has its charms but it’s heavy crunch and requires time investment to learn. Anyway, it’s a simple stat + skill vs difficulty system, with a positive and negative d6 roll applied (stat + skill + d6 – d6) – fast and reasonably normalized, and you intuitively know you can hit a difficulty equal to your stat+skill on average.

I’d like to hear comments on the conversion and how it could be made better.  Here it is for your reading pleasure!

My RPG DNA, Part 2: The Early Memphis Years

Last time, I talked about my early gaming experiences in junior high/high school in Texas in the ’80s.  Star Frontiers, Red Box D&D, and AD&D, almost always DM, with some diceless, PvP, and single player action mixed in there.  College, nothing except about two nights of a Basic game (oh, and one visit to OwlCon, where I played in an extremely amusing Paranoia game – one of the other players was such a twerp that when the Computer asked us all who the traitor was, the entire rest of the table pointed at him without hesitation).

Part 2: The (Early) Memphis Years

After college, I moved to Memphis, Tennessee for a job with FedEx corporate IT.  At first, I didn’t know anyone at all (let alone gamers) and Memphis wasn’t exactly a happening gaming mecca.  In fact, it took me a little while to get used to Memphis in general – I came from the Houston area where there were all kinds of people, but in Memphis at the time there were pretty much two kinds, black and white, and to my horror there were seriously billboards up saying things like “say no to racial violence.”  I remember wanting a specific classical CD (this was the era of huge music stores, before Amazon, you whippersnappers) so I opened up the Yellow Pages and found the biggest ad for a music store, a Sound Warehouse.  I called them up, and I knew whatever clerk I got wouldn’t be able to tell me if they had what I wanted (Karl Orff’s De Temporum Fine Comedia, for the record; I was in a production of Carmina Burana in college and was looking for more stuff by the guy) so I just asked “Hey, do you have a separate classical music room?”  Many of the big music stores of the time had a separate little classical room where the whatever they were playing in the main store didn’t penetrate.  The clerk on the phone paused a moment, and finally said, “You’re not from here, are you?”  So suffice to say, “geek stuff”, along with most things associated with “book learnin’,” were in short supply.

Anyway, through work I met some geeks, and after about a year someone heard about this new card game, Magic: The Gathering.  We all got into it about Fallen Empires time and started to play and amass cards.  (I just found my big ol’ boxes of cards in my garage, actually, if anyone’s buying!)  Then, a British contractor we were hanging out with (“Mind if I kip on your floor?”  “Uh…  Will that leave a stain?”) decided he wanted to run some Runequest for us.  We all readily assented;  the Indian contractors kept making us play cricket and it was a welcome change. In true UK fashion the games were short and brutal.  But that planted the seed.  A little while later, while we were all playing Magic, I got fed up and said, “We’re spending enough time and money on this we might as well be doing REAL roleplaying and not this card game crap!  Who’s with me?” And they were.

Back Into Gaming

I had made a network of IT friends through work and a network of medical student friends through my roommate, a med student I had known from Rice.  A quick canvas revealed that a lot of these folks had either gamed before or were up for it.  Big Mike, Kevin, and Tim came from one side of the family and Robert, Suzanne, and Little Mike came from the other side.  They were the mainstays, but there were other visitors (Jason, Joy, “sweating out the mushrooms” guy…)  And we were off to the races.  I was still mostly the DM.  We played Second Edition AD&D, and we found it cool.  More coherent than the brilliant but fragmented “Here’s some harlots!” approach of AD&D 1e, and with more meat to it than Basic, we played the heck out of some 2e (although 1e adventures were often drafted into service with little or no conversion, since the 2e adventures kinda sucked).

We all played Second Edition for a while, mostly at my Midtown apartment, and it was good.  But the best was yet to come.  Memphis was getting better – I got more used to it, and it’s definitely a place that is much better if you know the scene, but also it was growing and becoming more diverse and advanced.  And also, I made a great new friend, Hal!  Hal knew Robert and had just moved to town; he needed a roommate and Robert, my previous roommate, married Suzanne, so we moved in together and fell in geek love.  We got into anime, Hong Kong movies, roleplaying, et cetera in spades.  We went to Gen Cons, Tenncons, and MidSouthCons.  Spending so much free time doing that stuff, we really began to branch out, and one of the first things we did was to escape the “D&D Ghetto.”

Out of the D&D Ghetto

Second Edition was getting long in the tooth and the stuff coming out for it was increasingly bizarre.  And it’s not like I hadn’t played other games before, but of course D&D was always the common denominator that you could find people to play.  But with two of us, we went nuts, and luckily there was a whole wave of stuff coming out at the same time.  Fading Suns, Feng Shui, Alternity, Call of Cthulhu (5e), and dozens more.  We hit Half Price Books, game auctions, etc. and my bookcase swelled with different games in every genre.  I was positively indiscriminate.  It was great, being exposed to all kinds of different games, modes of play, etc.  Somehow I didn’t ever get into the other “big” second string games like GURPS, Palladium, or World of Darkness (well, a little; I have a playtester credit in Wraith: The Great War in the strength of playing it at a Tenncon), which was probably best because it meant we moved from game to game a lot.

But the best was yet to come.  So we had a bunch of gamers, a lot of games (and a lot of spare money and free time).  All the raw materials were together, and the spark was lit.  Next time, Night Below, the FORGE, and Living Greyhawk, Freeport, and 3e!

Asian Monsters

And no, I don’t mean Yao Ming.  I was listening to a good podcast interview of Robin Laws in the newest Pelgrane PressSee Page XX” e-zine, and he talked a lot about one of my favorite RPGs of all time, Feng Shui. (FS is currently owned by Atlas Games, but they have no further releases planned for it.)

Well, though Feng Shui was targeted as a Hong Kong action RPG, it was always at the high end of the HK power scale.  Hong Kong Action Theatre! from Guardians of Order (R.I.P.) hit the mid/low end well.  But because of the high power level, I used Feng Shui for anime action frequently.  It was great for it.   I wrote up a mini-campaign based on the anime Blue Seed that is available for free online to this day.  And I happen to love the monster-fighting type of anime.  Wicked City, Demon City Shinjuku (yes I had that game too), all that.  I tended towards Ghostbusters-meets-anime kinds of plots and was always on the make for Asian monsters.  I cribbed from Oriental Adventures, Kindred of the East, I even considered buying a Sailor Moon RPG monster book. But those were always few and far between, and attempts to read up on Asian mythology and mosnters in my local libraries were often light on the stuff you really need to know to fully stat something up.

Then today, Fark linked an MSNBC article about a new book detailing various monsters from Japanese folklore, also known as “yokai.” Yokai Attack!  The Japanese Monster Survival Guide is on sale now! From the reviews it sounds perfect as a reference guide for an RPG.  Check it out!  I’m getting it myself as soon as I can…

Glimpse of the Abyss Review

My review of Glimpse of the Abyss, a monster book for Feng Shui (and the last planned book in the line) is up at RPG.net.  Read and enjoy!  Also, I hear that the Hero Games “Asian Bestiary” series has good Asian-themed monsters to use in a pinch!  I’m a sucker for fighting against demons, monsters, etc. in my Feng Shui games.  In fact, if you want a freebie, I wrote up an entire Feng Shui convention scenario based on the anime Blue Seed that has some monster-kickin’ fun!  Don’t say I never gave ya nothin’.

Feng Shui Dies of Old Age

While I’m griping about things dying, I may as well lament the passing of one of my favorite RPGs of all time – Feng Shui. Atlas Games just put out the last planned supplement for it, Glimpse of the Abyss. It’s a monster book; I’ll probably submit a review of it to RPG.net soon.

Alas. The end was a long time coming, its run lasted more than a decade – Feng Shui is one of the coolest RPGs ever, by skilled game designer Robin Laws. It popularized the concept of “mook” opponents (generic bad guys who are easy to beat and less mechanically complicated than full villains) and advanced the notion of limited player authorship – in other words, don’t ask “is there a nearby pizza cutter I can pick up?” in a fight in a pizza parlor. Instead, say “I pick up a nearby pizza cutter and rake it across the gangbanger’s face!”

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