Fantasy Feng Shui


I’m been kicking around looking for a system to change over my current campaign to. I needed something quick and stylish, with enough ‘crunch’ to keep me happy. My players generally prefer ‘rule lite’ games, or at least want the mechanics to not get in the way of the story (specifically in combat). So I dusted off my old FS rulebook (and my even older copy of Nexus: Infinite Cities) and gave her a look. Checking out some Feng Shui websites (notably Sea of Chaos and T3), I’ve liberally yoinked some of their suggestions and these are the house rules I’ve come up with. Please give me feedback and see if I am making any horrible mistakes.

The Campaign setting: a fantasy setting with fairly high magic, though in most cases magic is fairly strictly controlled by social forces (guild, priesthood, and the laws of the land). The core struggle in the setting is more ‘Law vs Chaos’ than ‘Good vs Evil’, and there are few definite ‘black hats’ (other than undead and the occasional unintelligent monster). People fight for their Gods, their politics, their race, or simply their way of life, and both paths are arguably valid (and both lead to inhuman activities when taken to the extreme, from warped flesh to the inability to change). I realize this somewhat breaks FS more standard high octane feel, but I’m primarily interested in the rules for their ease of play and speedy resolution, rather than trying for hong kong action (though I love cinematic fights, and the idea of three Muskateer style duals is exactly what I’m going for).

First, the power level. While the characters in the existing campaign are powerful, I didn’t feel they were quite FS powerful. So, at first I considered using the combat system from Nexus rather than FS.
However, I felt that too much adaptation from FS earlier ancestor might bog down what I was going for (the FS system is much more streamlined) so I’ve dumped that approach, but rather than having starting AVs be in the 14-16 range I’m leaving them mostly at 12-13. This will create a more ‘believable’ base line and secondary abilities that target Attributes rather than Skill AVs will actually be risky in some cases.

Ah, but what about mooks?

Mooks will come in several different varieties, many of these mechanics yoinked from different FS websites. For the truly mookish, they will have AVs of 6 or 7 so that normal mechanics apply. When I want them to be slightly tougher (say inhuman or undead ‘mooks’), I’m going to try simply giving them 5 Wound Points and allow them to take damage as normal. Thug Boss level Mooks might even have 10 or 15 LP, reserving the full LP for the truly important characters. I realize this will involve more book keeping, but frankly, I’m used to running Hero, so it shouldn’t be too bad comparatively. 

PC Wound points will be 25+Toughness. I’m not sure about Impairment.
Since the PCs are already created in another system, I’m simply converting them. So I’m not really worried about Archtypes. I am using the Sea of Chaos xp system rather than the standard… I think xp value should be a constant, rather than allowing the minmaxing of some skills its cheaper to increase the attribute, then the AV, etc, etc). Since I’ve ditched Archetypes, I’ve ditched the idea of ‘unique’ Schticks. The schticks that are in the Archetypes are folding into their respective category (so, for example, the Archer’s unique schtick is now simply an Archery Weapon Schtick). However, I don’t think anyone will be able to buy the Old Master’s schtick… its just too gross. :wink:

I’m using Personal Schticks from T3 to further express special elements about characters. These cost 8+x xp.

I’m using the idea of Weapon Schticks from Golden Comeback (and many, many websites). I think I’ll allow them to work with Fu Powers that are connected to weapons, as many of the martial styles in my setting are weapon based. I’m a bit concerned that this might be unbalanced, but I don’t think so. I am using the expanded skill list from Sea of Chaos, which means Martial Arts and Weaponry are now two distinct skills however.

Magic… ah, now this is a sticky widget. I have always felt that there is not enough magic in FS. I also felt that the Magician’s on/off power nature made them seem like they had little to aspire to in campaign play. To this end, I’m stealing Sea of Chaos’ idea of 3 levels of Schtick, so you may have to buy a power multiple times. Also, I have two distinct kinds of Arcane magic-Wizardry (the dusty book learning) and Sorcery (which is innate to one’s blood line). In my setting, Wizards practice spells while Sorcerers tend to have a wider ability to control a force or ideal. Wizards can simply learn a spell to apply to a specific problem, however, while a fire sorcerer can never make ice, no matter what. To represent the distinctions, I’m doing it thus:

Sorcerers pick a ‘source’ or ‘parentage’ that determines the nature of their bloodline power (this is often elemental, but could be draconic, spirit, ‘the Green’ aka Life Force, Demonic, etc). They then buy the standard schticks in FS (though again they are tiered in levels of power, so you might have to buy Healing 3 times to do everything that Healing can do)at a cost of 16+x. When you want to do an effect, like in standard FS, you use your skill and your schticks dictate what you can do. However, you can never cast a spell outside of your theme. So, a Fire Elemental Sorcerer could have Movement at 3, he could lift or manipulate fire, might be able to fly himself with blasts of flame or riding thermals, but he could never create a telekinetic effect, even though that is part of Movement. It doesn’t fit his ‘style’. Sorcerers can improvise spells as per normal.

Wizards have schools of wizardry. These are also broken into 3 levels, so a character might have Wizardy-Grey 1, Wizardry-Earth-2, etc. Each Wizardry schtick costs 8+x, and buying a schtick grants you a single spell of that School and Tier. All additional specific effects (like Blasts) cost 3xp a piece. So, the character listed above would have spent 30 xp on the 3 schticks, and he might have Detect chi(magic) as his Grey Magic effect, Rock Blast and Move Earth as his two spells from Earth. If he also wanted Earthquake wave at level 1 or 2, it would be two different spells. As would Blessing or Corruption if he wanted them, etc, etc. Wizards cannot improvise.

There will also be divine magic (haven't written that yet) which will be a bit like sorcery, but I'll have to create schticks that deal with the Influences of the Gods (War, Healing, Nature, et al).

Hopefully the end result will be: Wizards become dabblers who can respond well to a variety of situations but cannot improvise, while Sorcerers have full mastery over a small field of power.

Races are prebuilt templates that are added to the base character. Racial abilities are like Creature Schticks, but form their own pool of schticks, so a mutated elf doesn’t end up paying more for new CS than a mutated human would.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve got so far. Please let me know what you think, especially if you see something that might be a horrible mistake. Oh, xp earned… I’ll probably have to do something about that as the idea of Feng Shui sites doesn’t particularly fit my setting (well, their commonality doesn’t… there are places of power which can have a similar effect, but they are quite rare). I’ll probably either just give more xp in a session (6 as base?) or use the Sea of Chaos idea in that ‘inspired’ Quests act like being Attuned (and with all the Religious struggles and similar themes, that does feel like a good fit).


Are you going to make your own archetypes? I ask because the existing ones are woefully ill-balanced. More than 1-2 points of AV variance in a group means there's real problems throwing appropriate challenges at the whole group. And those with schticks are better than those without, in general.