Blowing Up The Galaxy /or/ A Night At The Peking Space Opera

(I originally posted this on G+, but thought someone here might be interested in this mild extension of Feng Shui)

Since watching the introductory cinematic for the Star Wars MMO, I've been pondering running a space opera using Wushu. There was really no particular... anything else... to it, just wuxia in space. I know it's not terribly original. Basically jam Firefly together with Big Trouble In Little China ...which basically ends up being Bulldogs, but with wuxia elements, and as amusing as the premise is, I'd like to do a bit more than Pony Express in space.

For a bit I was thinking to just do a series of disjointed adventures that didn't necessarily rely on what was going on with the rest of the universe - maybe throw in some continuity here and there, but mostly a wuxia space opera anthology with more Chinese elements than you'd normally find.

Some notions:

  • Something big and epic, without being a Star Wars pastiche
  • Not completely removed from Earth, so my players and I can occasionally drop in song lyrics or other references without it being completely out of place (however, the Earth might not be the grooviest place to live right now, akin to Cowboy Bebop)
  • Thematic elements reflecting Chinese culture, folklore, and history
  • Some sort of built in conflict

It's that last thing. Using the space-pony-express idea is a decent shorthand, and provides a justification for a story's formula: get the thing, move the thing from here to there, get paid - presumably something along the way complicates the situation. But I want something a bit grander. Fighting off the yoke of imperial tyranny is always good, but it's a bit... Star Wars. And might even want an emperor that is benevolent (or at least tries to be, with greedy advisers and scheming eunuchs in his court).

Long distance space travel would make use of going through a parallel "spirit world/universe" to go around the speed of light. That spirit world might be the source of chi in our own universe, as well as the home to things resembling dragons and other creatures similar to those of folklore. Kinda like Feng Shui's Netherworld.

Feng Shui, with a built in, reality altering conflict.

Now, I had already come up with game mechanical benefits for attuning to site's with strong feng shui, so why not move the entire Secret War into space? The factions might even help suggest characters to players not particularly inspired by Wushu's exceedingly open-ended character creation.

I could simply have the Secret War not be secret, and scattered across planets instead of eras. I didn't really have an interest in the time-travel elements, but it's there if we want it. Make it a new juncture, a hundred or so years after the Buro, and cut off from the Netherworld - somewhere during that time was a global cataclysm, destroying large swaths of earthbound society (but fortunately, we'd been colonizing other planets for some time). Whatever happened may have destroyed those doors to the Netherworld (there may be some less obvious cause-and-effect to play with - maybe some Netherworld problem is what caused the cataclysm?), and exposed the mystics, mutants, psychics, spirits, and cyborgs, if not the Secret War itself. Effectively, this cuts off the other junctures, without completely removing the possibility of using a gate.

I think I'd prefer to focus on the "current" juncture, with its more open conflict of weirdos in space kicking each other and generally being badass, but it helps to lay the Secret War as a bit of backstory, with this juncture being a sort of coda for it.

There's a handful of other elements floating around my head in a kinda fuzzy way (including a slightly different history of robotics, with its roots at around 1000 BC, by the hands of the artisan Yan Shi).

Thoughts or interest?