Feng Shui 2

Yeah, in the campaign I ran, there were clear tiers of suck. For the first half, it was the people stuck with 13Martial Arts/13 Guns instead of a 15 in one or the other that didn't get to have any fun- hit less often, did less damage when they hit, took more damage when they got hit, couldn't risk doing stunts or multiple attacks. 

Then partway through a sorcerer joined who got to fight as well as the dedicated warriors plus make up spells out of combat that made every skill in the game obsolete, and he was the only one having any fun.   When you have a 15AV like the best of the fighters AND you get to take over enemy's minds, divine where the big bad guy is, turn yourself invisible and so on, everybody else is a supporting character.  Feng Shui has always had this "sophisticated players don't need good game mechanics, so here's some bad ones" vibe to me, but it has such an amazingly amazing setting that I really hope they turn it around!

I suspect the armor rules in 1st edition had a mistake with some of the armors after looking at the Nexus RPG that Feng Shui draws its mechanics from.

In Nexus only some armors will give a penalty to Reflexes. A hard vest, chain mail, and plate, only give a -1 to SPD & a -1 to MOV.

Light vests and Leather vests give no penalties.

Depending on the area being covered will add other penalties.

A Body suit, which in Feng Shui is a shell, gives a 1 to REF and a -1 to Mov in addition to the penalty for that type of armor has in a vest form. Example a chain mail body suit gives a - to REF, a -1 to SPD, and a -2 to Mov.

Feng Shui dropped the resistance ratings armor has in Nexus and just chose to give a Toughness bonus to make combat faster.

Also, most Buro GMCs have armor on but get no benefit or penalty for waring it it seems. (The stats of don't indicate armor, but the pictures and text often do). Some of the Buro armor also has numerous special features that the rules don't take into account. If you have the old Shadowfist Players Guide it has a whole page that shows detailed concept sketches of the various Buro armors and points out features they have.

Another thing to consider is that in more newer action films we see heroes where armor of some type much more, so that may be another reason things got changed in 2nd edition.

The sophisticated players don't need good game mechanics was a trend that started in the 90s and unfortunately has gotten worse I've found in most current . RPGs.

I am a little more curious about the tiers of suck The Swede mentioned. What were they aside from what you mentioned? And, how did you handle them?

I was aware of several of the character build strategies and things to watch out for thanks to the old Jade Agenda site which helped.

The group I ran games with all had martial arts and gun based characters and they tended to buy new shticks when they got experience points. The players didn't bother to abuse the game system and take advantage of problems with it unlike I've seen them do in other game systems.

I was the 'tiers of suck' guy.

My players didn't try to abuse the system, they didn't know enough about the system to do so, they just picked the characters they wanted to play.

The first tier of suck was the Spy with a 13/13 AV in guns and martial arts, and the Ascended animal with a 13 MA who put his points into more schticks and skills.

The spy quickly discovered that in 90% of fights there was no difference between guns or martial arts, so there was no point in using one vs. the other. Also, the difference in damage between shooting someone and punching them was almost nil.

The Ascended Animal quickly realized that almost all his cool powers required an attack roll to use, and the people with higher attack rolls got cool abilities too.

So these two characters spent every fight attacking one target at a time for meh damage and getting knocked out a lot: they did less damage, took more damage, and couldn;t do stunts as often as the 15-16 AV people. Plus the higher AV people could take a penalty to reduce the shot cost of their actions, so the low AV people had to wait longer for their opportunity to miss with one crappy attack.

It's worth noting that my group are all experienced role-players of a variety of systems, and none of us were used to mechanics punishing a character for being versatile. Usually it's the other way around. But AV just lets you do so much that to raise that single number is the most versatile thing you can do.

The second tier of suck were the dedicated gun/MA people with 15/16 AV's. They got to do awesome things with stunts, hit more often and harder, and basically couldn't die. Their schticks seemed to be just a good as what the spy and animal got, and they actually had a decent chance to hit with them. These people didn't know they sucked until later in the campaign when the Sorcerer joined.

The Third tier of suck was the sorcerer.
The Sorcerer had the same 15/16 AV as the dedicated fighters, and could do everything they could do with it- hit hard, often, be evasive, take less damage, hit multiple targets and do cool stunts. Plus, they get to use this number to do magic, which is better than any other characters out of combat abilities.

The sorcerer could pass an easy roll to locate any object or NPC, heal people, and my personal favorite was mind controlling people and monsters. In order to mind control a monster for an entire fight, they needed to roll their AV vs. the monster's Will. Did you know that no creature in the creature book, even the godlike powerful ones, has a Will higher than 8?

The reason why being the sorcerer sucked (but not as much as the other two once he joined) is that in order to keep my storyline intact and the game worth playing, I had to constantly make up spot rules and bizarre judgments to limit his abilities. They were arbitrary, he knew it, and it was very frustrating for him to have everything he tried to do be subject to my need to keep certain plot elements a surprise or to allow characters other than him to do things. It was frustrating to me because the rules seemed to actively encourage this sort of relationship between the GM and sorcerers.


I looked at the problems you mentioned in detail and noted this.

The same basic problem with Sorcery crops up with several other schictks that have you roll a skill vs. an attribute.

The old Jade Agenda website had a House Rules section that went into detail about that problem and gave 2 ways to handle it.

The fixes that the Jade Agenda recommended were:

[i]Skills 40- Genes 0

You may have noticed that Attributes are almost no defense against schticks that call for rolling the appropriate skill vs. certain attribute. This is because skill are calculated adding a (usually large) bonus to one of the Attributes and, in a game where differences of 3 or more points between skills are a large advantage, you may have easily differences of up to 10 points between skills and their opposing Attributes, making Difficulty checks close to automatic. This is particularly abusive in some Sorcery and Chi shticks (Influence, Talon of the Crane and Warning, to name a few). We suggest two possible options for this:

1) Double Attributes when they are the Difficulty of an skill check, or they must be rolled against a skill AV or Action Result.

2) Add a flat +7 to those Attribute Difficulties or AVs. The Enchantment effect of Influence is a special case; add a +3 instead

Apply these options only for named characters.[/i]

(Note: The Jade Agenda websites is no longer online, but it did have a zip you could download o it of all the pages on it for offline viewing that I downloaded when it was online. Send me a PM if you need the old site. Also, the Jade Agenda had several pages dedicated to analyzing the pros and cons of various character types which helps with things to be aware of with certain character types.)

Without applying any sort of fix the schtick becomes very problematic, like you mentioned.

Remember too that expected ad repeated use of a schtick does give an AV penalty.

Also, since the fix mentions named characters the sample monsters in the core Feng Shui rule book are considered to be named characters according to an old FS mailing list post Robin made. So you can have unnamed monsters that work like named characters and unnamed monsters that work like unnamed characters from the posts Robin and Jose made. Most of the monsters in the old FS adventures are considered to be unnamed ones.

I looked at some of the GMCs in some of the expansion books and noted the Will of some.
Name (Wil) (Soucebook)
Desdemona Deathangel (Wil: 5) (BFS)
Desdemona Deathangel (Wil: 3) (SNF)
Note: Her stats are slightly different in the 2 different books.
Jueding Shelun (Ghost) (Wil: 5) (BFS)
Big Brother Tsien (Wil: 6) (BFS)
Skin and Darkness Ravagers (Wil: 2) (EN)
Skin and Darkness Zealots (Wil: 6) (EN)
Tanbi Guaiwu (Wil: 2) (BFS)
Note: The demon, Tanbi Guaiau) stats are much higher & beyond game mechanics in 69AD & the Netherworld.
Still very bad considering that a player with summoning could contact control of a Godzilla like creature easily.

The only a few GMCs appear to have high Wil scores in FS. Homo Omega in BFS has a 15.

I dug out my copy of Nexus and noticed Nexus has the same problem to.

Nexus has spells like D&D, psychic abilities, etc. and the AVs of characters won't be as high as Feng Shui ones. But even with AVs a bit lower it still exists as most GMCs are only going to have an attribute of 5 in most cases to resist a mind control spell, power, etc.

One thing that is different in Nexus is that you use your sorcery skill to activate the power at a certain difficulty and a 2nd roll to resist the power which isn't based on the Sorcery skill but on the power level of the spell is made. Most spells will be in a 5 to 10 range power level wise.

I'm suspecting that all the FS Sorcery schticks were built using Nexus but that Robin and the other designers forgot about that.

I've got no clue if an "official" fix was ever offered for Nexus since no archive exists of the old Nexus mailing list.

I did a quick search of the old Feng Shui archives and couldn't find any fix in them.

FS2 never bothered to fix this issue in a satisfactory way and it an old well known problem with Feng Shui system as the Jade Agenda

So a FS2 Sorcerer has Sorcery at 14 to start with and could gets a schtick that works again Will early on in a campaign.
Even FS2 has a GMC Will Table but the difficulty is too low for most GMC. Most enemies are going to be a 7 or a 5 baseline difficulty going by the Will table on pg. 267 of the FS2 Draft.

FS2 also makes the sorcery shticks more prone to abuse and some others as it doesn't give as much information about how they work and what they can do compared to 1st edition descriptions of the same ones.
The only thing that was done was to say that you could use some schticks against Boss & Uber-boss characters.

The between guns and martial arts are virtually no difference I've only seen when you aren't using the various scticks available. I found the rules tended to favor martial arts users over gun ones until Golden Comeback got released.

The big advantage a gun has is range. Gun using character need to engage enemies at distance so they can't get close

Gun characters were not popular choices till the latter books got released and some rules got clarified on the old mailing list.

Some transformed animals aren't very good when it comes to combat and need to adapt very different tactics when they play. The exact type of animal also dictates other things to take into account. The old Jade Agenda site did a good look at the ones in the Core book and back for Seconds and pointed out which ones have problems and tips for playing differ ones

Also, some of the archetypes in the core rule book have errors on them so be aware of them.

The Thief is supposed to have 1 gun schtick.
The Private Investigator is supposed to have 1 gun schtick.
And, the Magic Cop is supposed to have Martial Arts.

Thanks for this info, because for me char creation and development is very important Feng Shui 2 is no longer of any interest to me.

I am afraid that the playdraft was huge disappointment to me. I can only hope that they did not turned FS2 into a Call of Duty style "pick 10" system without any consideration for the "role playing" part in RPG, but I fear the worst.

And I truly hope that I am wrong this time.



If you're playing Feng Shui for the roleplaying part, then it's the wrong game for you.

I play it for the fast paced action feeling with cliches and stereotypes from action movies, and focus on player narration, often by putting up creative challenges for how they can attack.

This is not correct.

FS of course can be played like a gore slaughterhouse party, but combining the premises of the secret war, the war itself, the different characters, factions and the background you can play it as a "normal" RPG as well. And its very sad to see that Robin took away the classic RP part in the "Hong Kong Action Movie roleplaying game". Having less options is never a good thing if the previous incarnation of the game offered you more viable playstyles.


You can dress up every game the same way and play it with the same playstyle as any other roleplaying game that you normally play, but I don't really see the point, in that case, to ever play any new games. Play D&D with the Feng Shui world, or any other game that focuses more on the RPing part.

My point still stands: if you want to RP, then don't play FS.

Do you have a character creation in FS1? Yes.
Do you have classic character development? Yes.
Do you have a defined world with history setting a certain tone and style? Yes.
Do you have a lot of interesting NPCs, where the more important ones were fleshed out? Yes.
Do you have the possibility for social interaction or non-combat adventures or scenes? Yes
Do you have non combat skills and usage for them? Yes.
Do the official NPCs, descriptions and adventures offer something besides "Roll initiative, you are under attack"? Yes.

Swede, this is not a dress up game. FS1 is a normal and classically written Old-School-RPG with some nifty assumptions and changes to accomondate a more faster and more furious playstyle (which is the very reason why we love FS in the first place). But still a classic RPG. And I do not like that they take exactly this part of FS1 away or reduce it a minimum.


Well, you can complain all you want, but unless you realize that all roleplaying games aren't played in the same way, then I can't do or say anything to make you change your mind.

Perhaps Feng Shui never was the game you wanted; it just was what you thought it was. And why am I so certain that I'm right? Well, I'm not, apart from the fact that the game has now thrown away all the 90s thinking of what a roleplaying game should look like and dares to take steps towards what it was intended to do in the first place; of what it wanted to do if you read between the rows in the first book.

And how I always played the game hasn't been affected a bit in the 2nd ED. In fact, lots of things I had to ignore are now gone, and things I already did are supported.

But I perfectly understand that - which is the very reason why I would miss it if multiple playing styles are no longer supported. You on the other hand seems to insist that FS can only be played in your style and interpretation.


Yep, and if I want to play in any other way, I would play other roleplaying games. Which was my point from the beginning.

Thats wonderful for you. So you wouldnt mind if FS supports both playstysles? Your and mine?


The focus of the game would suffer if it tried to appeal to a bigger audience. Make a game for ONE target group, instead of trying to include all. (This is why I think D&D4 is much better than 3 and 5, because of its tight focus.) It's 101 in game design, and I am an educated game designer.

FS1 suffered from this lack of focus but it was a child of its time.

And I got several playstyles; it's just that I play Feng Shui with one of them.

I do not agree, it did not suffer in FS1 for being able to be used by both target groups. Could you go way overbeard in fast and furious kung fu? Yes. Could you add storytelling, drama, roleplaying? Yes. So why take it away?


I love strawberry cake. I love hot dogs. I wouldn't mix them together.

I love Pictionary. I love chess. I wouldn't mix them together.

Feng Shui 2 retains all of the roleplaying and melodrama of the original, and shifts focus away from fiddly bits to easily understood core HK action movie tropes that will evolve and change through play. It is a very daring thing to throw out all customization, but notice this: the one thing that you DO get to come up with is your Melodramatic Hook, and the GM is encouraged to call for Melodrama Checks if you're not playing along with that. Everything else comes as an archetype, pre-built to suit any of 36 different movie trope characters, but through your choice of Melodramatic Hook and choices made during the game, the character is revealed just as it is in the movies.

FS2 is strongly in the realm of genre-emulation games, and everything about it has now been turned toward that. It is not a generic traditional action RPG, and I think it's stronger as a result, because it does well what many other action-oriented RPGs don't, without sacrificing any of the narrative.