Fengshui Gaming Day Questions

In about a month I'm going to run a gaming day for the group. We do them every so often a different game each time. It's best to consider them like on-shots but we play for two four hour slots so they get to be deeper, more involved, etc.

The format is as follows:-

  • Two four hour sessions
  • I'll have four plays with new archetypes
  • No one, including me has played the game before (though I may have players who get rules very fast)

I'm going to use this thread to ask questions so expertise here can help me out (as you already have with hand outs)

How much material do I need?

I have no idea how fast the game plays and I do often fallen into the trap of having too much in mind resulting in things taking longer than I think (which in a defined 4+4 hour time slot is a pain).

Does anyone have any feel factors for how the game plays out in time? I know there is variables you can't know like 'time spent role-playing' and whatever else but people tend to get a cadence for things like number of fights, etc. What absorbs time, what doesn't, etc.

Any advice for what you'd normally put in say a 4 hour slot and then I can just duplicate it!

Honestly, it's hard to say abstractly how much you should prepare for a 4-hour session, because it depends so much on the players in your group.

However, I often run 3- to 4-hour sessions of improv Feng Shui 2 games, and I tend to expect that in that time I'll want 2 big set pieces, one for the beginning and one for the climax. If you follow the adventure structure Robin Laws describes in the FS2 book, you can work it pretty well into a single session if you limit the Bridge, or if you make the Opening more simple and have a bigger bridge.

So when I'm improv GMing a game, I'll expect to have a big fight scene to start the session. I'll set the scene for the players, "You've spent some time beating people up on the streets and you've learned that the triad boss who left the Killer for dead and who framed the Maverick Cop is making a mysterious sale at the Hong Kong docks. You've staked out the area and you see the triad boss's men in position. A black luxury sedan pulls up and a tall, white-haired Chinese man with pale skin gets out. Some low-rent thugs with glassy eyes take an ancient wooden box out of the trunk. What do you want to do?"

Then, they might watch the sale go down or they might dive in and start shooting. They'll find out that the triad boss isn't there but the white-haired guy was a Chinese eunuch with magical powers, who uses those powers to escape the fight.

This fight and setup (and rules explanation, etc) could take the first hour.

Then a bridge could happen where they research the box and try to find out what it is and what the triad boss wants with it. This can be as complex or as simple as you want. If you want to move straight to the climax, they can learn that the box contains an ancient Chinese artifact of extraordinary power and the eunuch is selling it to the triad boss in exchange for control over a powerful feng shui site. Again, if you want to cut to the climax, they can learn the location of the feng shui site and just go there.

Or you could have a longer bridge where they sneak around in the triad boss's business or track down the eunuch, chase or get chased by the bad guys. This Bridge could be the second hour.

Then you can have the big climax, at the powerful feng shui site, where the triad boss either has the magical artifact and uses it to become a Sorcerer himself (or to become a Supernatural Creature, maybe the eunuch betrayed him!) and the players can fight the triad boss, boatloads of triad mooks, the eunuch Sorcerer, and lizard men or zombies raised by the Sorcerer himself.

That could be your final 2 hours, if you want to make the fight really huge and epic.

I find FS2 easy to improv GM because NPC stats are easy to create, and I tend to have sheets with a bunch of different types. They're really only a handful of numbers each, and there's a small range so it's easy to just make up an enemy and determine if it's a Featured Foe or a Boss and go from there.

Thanks for that, it's very useful. It tells me I may well have been over populating stuff, which is a tendency I have I just had no marker. I think I'll use this as a base with may be a floater fight or something in case we seem to be burning through stuff - which probably won't be the case as it's new to everyone.

Thanks a lot. Second question in coming!

Question two: What are the impacts of including different enemy types?

All 4 characters are essentially starting archetypes.

The base rules I've took from the guidelines in the book are:-

4 featured foes and 12 mooks is the standard template
An Uber-boss should not be used as an actual combatant!

What's interesting about this is the Boss type is not meant to work on his own!

Do people tend to denote 'Boss' as the type that should appear at the end of the scenario - or just a different type to alter the mix. As an example, a highly iconic and visual character in fight 1 could be a boss as long as the featured foes are reduced?

How have people found it playing out.....

A Boss is different than an Uber-Boss. Until your characters get some advancements under their belts, an Uber-Boss would probably be someone to avoid rather than fight.

I tend to think of a Boss character like you described, as the enemy at the end of the adventure. For us, an 'adventure' was typically 3 or 4 sessions focused on one specific storyline. A traitor monk has stolen a powerful kung fu manual from the Guiding Hand, and the heroes need to get it back. They might travel to 2 or 3 places and have numerous fights before they learn the location of the traitor monk and face him in combat. He's the Boss.

I might occasionally designate a super-tough enemy as a Boss, because I want them to be like a Big Bruiser who can take a lot of hits. But generally I reserve it for the actual boss.

If your characters have Talents which refer to a Boss, you can definitely keep that in mind. If they get a bonus against Bosses and Uber-Bosses, definitely throw a Boss at them so they can take advantage of that talent!

Thanks for the info, very helpful.

I'm still quite nervous about the +3 AV value on the boss, it could essentially mean +2/+3 swerve being needed to hit him, but I assume it play out.

Looking at the three pre-generated characters I have the following:-

Old Master: 16/15
Martial Artist: 15/15
Killer: 15/14
Big Bruiser: 12/12

Those are their attack and defence values, I've chosen the archetypes purely for the story. I'm concerned that the Big Bruiser is at least -2 on the other characters in both cases? Isn't he going to get hit a lot?

Looking at the table on page 200 since the average her defense stat is 14 I should even be increase the enemies attack AV +2 making it slightly hopeless for the Big Bruiser as attacking featured foes will be at 13-16!

Or I'm missing something in how it plays out.

I'm assuming it has something to do with that toughness value? Which may mean he gets hit a lot, but not actually damaged much?

Yeah, the Big Bruiser is going to get hit a lot. That's what he's there for!

But a 12 Toughness is HUGE. He also has a much higher wound threshold than other characters--he starts making Up Checks at 50 Wound Points instead of 35. This is also huge! You'll have chances to describe how badass the Big Bruiser is by saying "The snake person winds up and swings its enormous tail at you, and lands a blow which would send any normal person flying across the room--and you just stand there, and barely feel it!"

In any Feng Shui 2 game, but especially in a one-shot or a standalone game, the heroes should be prepared to sacrifice themselves against a Boss. That's the nature of the heroic bloodshed style embodied by FS2. In my own campaign, we treated it less like a John Woo movie and more like a season of Arrow or The Flash, where the threat of death was much much lower. But in a one-shot, all bets are off!

Even if all the heroes die, you can give them a last chance to trigger a bomb or destroy a magical urn or get off one last shotgun blast which could kill the enemy. Maybe you even ignore the stats at this point, and just describe it happening as the last hero's life slips away from them, they know that at least they have rescued the captives from the sorcerer's lair, or destroyed the plans for the bomb which was going to destroy Hong Kong...

In setting up your final battle, I'd encourage you to be creative about the environment. The Big Bruiser is Strong as an Ox, so he can pick up things most characters can't. If there's some scaffolding or big sculptures, or a giant block of supercomputer servers, or a tree... these are all things the Big Bruiser could throw or swing at a villain. Be creative with letting environmental effects mess with the Boss character. If the Big Bruiser topples a giant Buddha sculpture onto a Boss eunuch sorcerer, there's nothing wrong with saying he takes some damage AND gets knocked down 3 shots on the Shot Counter as he uses his magical blast to explode the sculpture from underneath.

Use your descriptions to give the bruiser ideas if it doesn't occur to them. "The eunuch sorcerer cackles as he ducks behind an enormous stone Buddha which is 20 feet tall. The statue rocks a bit on its base as the Full Metal Nutball unloads his shotgun into the snake people surrounding him. The sorcerer calls out, 'Don't you understand, even your great strength can have no effect on the magic at my command!!!'"

Any Big Bruiser worth their salt should get the idea and try to push that statue over onto the sorcerer. :slight_smile:

For the Big Bruiser, keep in mind Mounting Fury I. Every time the bruiser misses, they increase their odds of hitting on their next attack. They can also act as a kind of crowd control. Your Boss may be really powerful, but they're not going to ignore a huge dude swinging a parking meter or a telephone pole at their head! The bruiser's first 2 or 3 shots may even miss the Boss, but eventually those bonuses will add up and they'll land a hell of a blow!

If you wanted to highlight the Big Bruiser further, you could trigger a poison gas trap or something which would require a Constitution Check. The bruiser excels at those.

Another thing I often do for the boss is have some very specific things which the heroes need to do, above and beyond just "kill the boss". Maybe he's burning incense in braziers around the room and his cultists are protecting those burning fires, because they're part of a spell which gives the boss power.

Maybe the boss has the plans for the bomb on his computer and your real objective is to get to the computer and steal or destroy the plans. You'll need to get past the boss to do it, but the objective isn't necessarily just "Kill him". Maybe there are captives to rescue or a cloning machine to destroy.

Any of these things could be behind a huge door which would be impassable for almost anyone--except for the Big Bruiser, who can not only stand there and spend his shots making Strength checks to lift up the huge door as everyone passes through it, but can also soak up the damage from the mooks and foes trying to take him out as he does it. A shotgun blast doing 14 points of damage? 2 points gets through. A handgun doing 11 points? He shakes it off!

This was a bunch of stream of consciousness rambling, but I hope it helps :slight_smile:

The main thing I'd recommend for a one-shot, especially introducing new players outside of the context of a big campaign, is... don't worry about the rules. If something is cool, just do it. If a player has a great idea, just go with it. Feng Shui 2's a great system to give the players the incredible experience of being way-over-the-top action movie heroes!

That's great. Thanks for that - it was sort of what I was beginning to imagine but the colourful examples are great. And yes, I've come to realise Toughness 12 is huge! Time to summon up the Luke Cage visuals, albeit he's not totally immune, but pretty cool.

Some questions on the maths - not that I'm math's obsessed, far from it, but I also want it to feel exciting and impervious characters (on either side) tend to put people off.

Stat A | D
Old Master: 16 |15
Martial Artist: 15 | 15
Killer: 15 | 14
Big Bruiser: 11 | 12

These are the Attack and Defence values of the four characters (what they get out of the gate). This puts:-

The average attack at: 14.5
The average defence at: 14

I believe this means I should increase all the foes attack values by 2 including the Mooks.?. I ask this because while everyone in the game wants the players to be like action heroes even the players themselves will feel something is missing if it's too easy (as in they feel too impervious)!

This would mean my featured foes would be packing attacks of 14-16 and my Boss would be hitting with 18 - 19 - this seems very high on the Boss but I'm trusting the maths.

What's interesting about this is, even with an AV of 10 and a 10 damaging weapon, a mook would need +4 or higher result to damage the Big Bruiser (if I had AV 8 mooks they'd need to explode??!?!?).

Do you find, exploding results aside - the heroes get their health taken down in chunks of say 2-12 or something?

Do you have sheets of pregenerated mook attacks?

I've never messed with changing mook attack values, I just throw more mooks at them. It was pretty common, even in my characters' first few sessions, for them to face 20 or 30 mooks in an encounter.

You have a Killer in your party--they cut through mooks like butter, so I wouldn't be afraid of including more mooks.

You can also add more partway through an encounter if it seems like it will make it more interesting. The eunuch sorcerer could 'cast a spell' and 20 more zombies could crawl out of the ground, or the triad gangster could be saved by another batch of 20 identical gunmen in colored jumpsuits.

It'll give the Killer something to do, and if you have enough, the odds are higher that two or three of the mooks will succeed at an attack.

I have a sheet of pregenerated attacks (Atlas has a tool for generating them). If my heroes are facing 30 mooks, I'll generally just divide the attacks by the number of heroes and then mark off those attacks from the mook sheet. If there's a specific reason that mooks would focus their fire, I'll do that instead, but otherwise I keep it simple and just divide the number of mooks by the number of heroes.

"The walls and floor around you are peppered with gunshots as the jumpsuited mooks attack you. Eight of them miss, one of them takes aim at The Killer and pulls the trigger. The bullet flies toward you in slow motion. This attack looks like it will hit."

Then the player can choose to Dodge as an interrupt, if they'd like.

Then if it still hits they take damage and I continue narrating the mook attacks. I love the exploding dice because most of the time mooks don't do shit. They're almost not worth worrying about--until one of them rolls a 41 and a hero has to start making Up Checks!

Also keep in mind that mooks can have value in protecting things or just running interference for the boss.

I'll often say "There are some magical braziers here that are burning, and the cultists in robes are huddled around them. You'll have to go through the mooks to reach the braziers that are powering the sorcerer's magic."

Or I'll just say "You can't reach the boss without going through the mooks." The gangster is in the office of the steel mill and the heroes have to fight their way through 30 guys to reach that point.

Another trick I use is to not introduce the boss/featured foe until the second sequence. They might see the boss, but he ducks into a tunnel or hides and the heroes have only the mooks to fight in the first sequence. Or the mooks and a few low-level enforcers. Either way, you can just wait until the second sequence to say the gangster boss makes it to the mounted machine gun he was trying to reach and starts spraying it down at the heroes, or the eunuch sorcerer finishes bathing in the magical pool he was using to rejuvenate his life force, and now he comes into the fight in full force.

Here's the mook attack generator if you don't have it already: fs2tools.atlas-games.com/ Print off 4 or 5 of those, it should last you a while.

I don't think you should give your Boss an 18 or 19 Attack Value. Between 15 and 17 should be good. Bosses are especially tough to kill because they can take up to 50 wounds and even then they can keep taking hits if they roll evens on their Up Checks.

I had a sorcerer Boss who got up to something like 60 or 70 hits because he rolled to stay alive like 5 times. He was really lucky!

Here are a few of my GMC sheets that I made for encounters:

dropbox.com/s/ghsk301xy6f4a ... y.pdf?dl=0

In this case, the heroes tracked down the samurai who killed the Sword Master's clan lord, Kuna Hisashi, but it turned out that their ally Akiko was really the enemy. Also, a eunuch sorcerer named Cao Zhang was trying to get his hands on the same legendary sword that Akiko wanted.

Akiko and Cao Zhang were both classed as a Boss. They each had 17 Attack and 16 or 17 Defense. Akiko fought the Sword Master hero while the other heroes fought undead mooks until they discovered Cao Zhang the sorcerer hiding nearby, at which point they faced him in the second or third sequence.

dropbox.com/s/b7v6tlgkhexkn ... t.pdf?dl=0

In this case the heroes had travelled to the Old West to save the steel mill of the Everyday Hero's ancestor. Cao Zhang the sorcerer was working with a land baron named Elias Conroy. Brand Larson was Elias's top enforcer. I classed Brand Larson as a Boss but you can see he has normal stats--13 Attack and Defense. I just made him a Boss so he could stay alive longer in a gunfight.

dropbox.com/s/4g1o7vxx5wl92 ... s.pdf?dl=0

Here the heroes visited a Guiding Hand temple in the Netherworld. The 18 Diagram Buddha was a formation where 18 monks would join together in a stacked formation and whirl around doing crazy shit while the heroes tried to attack them. It was just a test to prove the heroes' worthiness. I treated the 18 monks as one single entity. When the heroes did 35 Wound Points to it, the diagram broke up. Today I'd probably give the formation 14 for Attack and Defense instead of 13, because the heroes defeated it quite handily. But again, it wasn't meant to kill them, just to prove a simple test.

I made the Abbot a "Boss" just in case they should have a disagreement, but they never fought him. Nobody on this sheet was intended to be a huge challenge to the heroes, hence they all have Attack values of 15 or less.

I make sheets like this for every session that I plan out, and I keep them in my binder. If I don't have any enemies planned, I can easily grab a sheet with some mooks, a Boss, and some Featured Foes on it, and just re-skin the enemies to match whatever I need. A sorcerer with Chi Blast that I used last week could become a gangster with an AK-47, and so on.

I'm using those sheets as well as the pre-generated mook rolls.

It's interesting because using so many mooks is against the guidelines in the book which was all I had to go on: 1 featured foe per hero and 3 mooks per hero?

I'm still not sure though, at the moment I face a situation that unless a mooks roll explodes they are ineffectual either because they can't hit or hit and then can't get past toughness? Is that the standard of how they should work?

Is there any sense of what the difference in AV values should be in 'too easy', good challenge, grind-fest sort of sense? No more than +2 difference say?

Mook numbers are really easy to fudge, so you can change them up or down at any point in a fight.

Feel like you've got too many mooks? A player's gunshot takes out an explosive barrel, killing 5 mooks instead of the one he was aiming for. A falling giant Buddha sculpture cuts off the tunnel where the snake people were swarming into the temple. A mook's scroungetech gun explodes and takes out him and 3 of his friends.

Too few mooks? Reinforcements arrive.

If you've got a Sword Master, a Masked Avenger, or a Killer among your heroes, those archetypes are specifically designed to kill mooks for a living. They have lots of abilities which encourage them to focus on mooks and they kill them easily. It's not uncommon for a Sword Master to take down 10 or 15 mooks in a single sequence.

Also keep in mind the rules for attacking multiple targets. It's very common (at least in my games) for heroes to target multiple mooks. If your players are new, definitely point this out to them. Mooks have a Defense of only 13 so it's generally not too difficult to target 2 or even 3 at a time. It becomes a 15 Defense to hit 2 mooks, a 16 Defense to his 3 mooks, and so on.

Watch a few action movies and see how effectual mooks are. Whether it's John Woo's "The Killer" or "Avengers: Age of Ultron", the mooks tend to be large-scale obstacles the heroes must confront, but the mooks don't tend to do a lot of specific damage to the heroes. Every now and then one will get lucky with an exploding roll, but typically they're just cannon fodder, designed to keep the heroes busy for as long as possible.

Make sure you describe the mooks as if they're significant, and they can have a big impact on the battle--think of the lobby battle from The Matrix, where none of those mooks did even a single point of damage to Neo and Trinity, but their machine gun fire was tearing up the environment, plaster was exploding off the walls, pillars were crumbling under the weight of automatic weapon fire, smoke filled the air, the sounds of gunfire echoed through the room. Encourage your players to describe the amazing badass ways they take out dozens of mooks in just a few minutes, it will make them feel great!

In one adventure a bunch of mooks had AK-47s and a hero wanted to close on the Boss. I told him that he'd have to travel across a space being covered by all these mooks and he would draw their fire. He did it anyway. I think none of the mooks succeeded in hitting him but I described him dashing across the snow as it was just torn up by machine gun fire, with dirt and rocks exploding up into the air around him as he ran. It's a great action movie moment!

Even a single point in an Action Value in FS2 is significant, so definitely adding or subtracting 2 would have a huge impact. Especially for a one-shot game I would favor the lower numbers because you want to make sure your players feel like badass action heroes.

This has been very useful. It provides a frame of reference from experience which is what I'm lacking.

I'm going to not have the AV's that high, as the game essentially works like FATE in a way and a +2 difference between foes is quite a big bonus, so going much higher than that is a bit insane.

I'm going leave the mooks at eight and we can all sort of cheer when one of them roles 27, assuming they're still alive.

And yes, I need more mooks, that carnival of carnage is insane :slight_smile:

The next question: How the hell does movement work?

I'm expecting abstract and everything but I can't find a mention of it other than the run for 3-shots and move twice your speed. Is this essentially the only way to move?

I'm a bit disappointed there isn't something more abstract like zones, or close, near, far, etc.

Really, I wouldn't worry about it. Generally if something too far to reach, you can spend 3 shots to move the distance and reach it. That's how I run it.

You've got the rate of a character's movement in the rules--you can run twice your Speed in meters as a 3-shot action. If you feel like tracking physical distance between characters, knock yourself out, you can use these rules. If someone is 30 meters away from an enemy and their speed is 6, they can move 12 meters in a 3-shot action, then they could move 12 meters again in their next 3 shot action, and then they could move the remainder for their next 3 shot action. That's a drag to me, I never keep track of distances in FS2.

In my games, you're either in melee range or you're far away in which case you can use ranged attacks or you can spend 3 shots to get into melee range. Distances in action movies are typically handled very abstractly anyway.

Yeah, I fully agree on the abstract. I guess you tend to ignore those modifiers to shooting for distance as well? To be honest, as part of the update, the system could have really done with an abstract banding sort of approach to these things.

I was just thinking about it for the purposes of when 'there is something else to do other than fight in the fight' and distance might have been part of that (though I agree, not in a wargaming sort of way).

Yeah, I would ignore those modifiers for shooting distance as well, unless there was a situation with a sniper character setting up a shot that was 2000 feet away or something like that.

Remember the system is designed not to simulate reality, but to emulate action movies. Range is hardly ever a factor in action movies, just like ammunition is handled very loosely, and heroes can get back in the fight without all their bones being broken :slight_smile:

I definitely have cases where something the heroes need to interact with is too far away for them to do it. Generally I just say it'll take them either 3 shots or two consecutive 3-shot actions to reach it. If it's not dangerous to do, then I don't worry about it--just let them do it.

So maybe you have an aircraft hangar and the mooks are spread out trying to keep you from getting to the USB drive with the secret plans which is in the office. Then you can move around in a small area and attack the mooks by punching or shooting them, or you can spend your 3 shots to move halfway across the hangar. Then you might be in the middle of some mooks, so maybe your next 3 shot action is to shoot or punch several mooks. Then maybe your next 3-shot action is to run the remainder of the distance to the door of the office. Then it could be a further 3 shots to open the door, enter the office, and take the USB drive.

I also think it's reasonable in such a situation to say either "you just literally can't reach the other side of the hangar until most of these mooks are taken care of", OR, "you can run across this area but you'll face the equivalent of an Attack of Opportunity, meaning all the mooks will shoot at you as you run."

Think about Neo rescuing Morpheus from the Agents at the end of The Matrix. He needed to spend 3 shots to run the distance across the room, while the Agents shot at him through the wall. He made it, but he took a hit. Then on his next 3 shots, he performed a stunt to leap toward the helicopter. He failed his stunt roll, so on Neo's next 3 shot action, Neo performed a stunt to leap out and grab Morpheus.

Often heroes want to 'run and shoot', or swing from a cable and shoot, or slide down stairs and shoot, etc. I generally allow it, but consider it a stunt, which increases the Difficulty by 2. So to run halfway across the hangar AND shoot at a mook would be 15. 13 for the mook's Defense, plus 2 for the stunt. To try to shoot 2 mooks would be 17 (15 for 2 mooks, plus 2), and so on.

If you have characters with movement powers, like the Old Master or the Gene Freak, just make sure you let them do stuff to take advantage of their powers. Maybe it's 3 shots to run up the stairs toward the office, but the Old Master can use Prodigious Leap to cover the same distance for 1 shot.

I try to use distance only as a complicating factor, giving the heroes the need to perform huge epic stunts to overcome the complications.

I ran my so far only FS2 game the other day at my friend's, and most of the time, the mooks were faring poorly. I discovered it was because I had been using the advice I read to just roll 1 die for each mook and unless it came up a 6, to just assume they missed, because of the idea that mooks are so sub-competent that it would take an exploding die roll to even hit a PC.

I switched from that about an hour in, and I wound up with every PC with at least a full, signficant wound, and the last roll, by a MOOK, not even a henchman or main bad guy, was FORTY NINE damage to ONE PC. I could not STOP rolling sixes - that currently tops the highest I ever rolled on one die for anything ever, in all my 42 years of life. The PC had taken damage already but I let him use a FP or something and basically he went to the hospital in critical condition after the other PCs finished off the bad guy - who THIS PC had dropped in the first place by shooting both his hands.

I would be VERY careful about being too freewheeling or inattentive to even mook hit or damage rolls.