Help for a campaign

Fortunately and finally I was able to poison some minions with the curse of FS (meaning: my working colleagues are loving FS and want to continue to play)!

Now we are currently heading into a longer campaign, consisting of several one shots. We play 2-4x per month. Its not a "global powerplayer and epic changes"-campaign, but more a "quick and dirty "snapshots of the secret war". The characters should develop themselves quite fast (different working shifts, so we are able to play some month and then for half a year we need to do a break). What are your suggestions for the following things?

  1. How many Feng Shui sites and how fast should the player have the possibility to attune? Right now they have the Eating Corner site. How many should follow? What is the "limit" for the numbers for attuned sites, before the XP system begins to break? I would estimate something around 4-5?

  2. I have problems adjusting the difficulty of challenging encounters - how many named characters on which skill level (compared to the players) and how many mooks would you suggest? Right now I am running with one namend and masses of mooks but i am not really satisfied with the bookkeeping and the masses of dices I have to roll.

  3. Long term XP: right now the rule book suggests 3 XP as a base and 3 XP per attuned site. Do you have experience with long running campaigns? Like 100, 200, 500 etc XPs? What dangers/problems/breaking points did you experienced?

  4. Does it make sense to regulate the possible AVs, at least in the very high level range, like 21+?

Your input is welcomed!


I've always had problems with running Feng Shui in the long game - I think Queex has run looong games (I might be wrong, but I remember reading something I'm sure) - mainly because I tend to hand out a lot of exp, usually more than recommended as (in other games) I like to give "extras" for good backgrounds and a lot of exp for good downtime etc.

With Feng Shui though it does get a bit silly getting the challenge level right - especially as starting characters are amongst the best in the world and even mooks when you think about it with AV's of 7-10 are damn fine martial artists!

Rather than masses of mooks (I have problems with book keeping too, especially large mooks and players even when getting players to chip with the, relatively simple, mathematics) have you though of scaling the mooks? For example upgrading them it takes a higher outcome to put them down? Or giving them life points (just not as many life points as named characters)?

As for exp, I would recommend either giving 1exp for feng shui sites or coming up with x amount of controlled sites gives x benefit (perhaps some sort of group stchick for free?). The other thing is making the control of the sites more plot related or indeed (if you've ever played Saints Row 2 you'll know that) have them attacked from time to time in between mission/storylines forcing the PC's to go back and protect their assets or to spend exp devising ways of keeping them safe by hiring outside help etc.

With exp, with AV levels it's always a hard one to come up with, you can limit how much AV you can get to (without schticks) or limit how much/often you can raise attributes. After all it's a lot easier to acquire contacts and resources through most rpg's then it is increasing your strength.

Hope that helps a little, I know it's not a strict answer - perhaps Queex or someone else would be able to give a better long term way of doing it - I for one would be interested in it as my games tend to last only a few sessions.

Well, does three years of weekly sessions count as a long campaign? :wink:

  1. Depends on what they want to be doing. The 'classic' approach is to have one that is their HQ, and perhaps one that they are permitted to attune to by an ally (Ice Pagoda being the classic choice). For a 'snapshots' campaign, that's probably enough to provide plenty of plot hooks. If, on the other hand, the players want to grab more sites, drop hints that they're only going to be able to keep them if they start playing politics in the secret war and taking an interest in its course. If one of their sites is taken from them by treachery of guile, that might be sufficient impetus to have them want to go global with their scope. Once they've done that, though, the effect of multiple FS sites is watered down by the fact that they let some of their allies and their support staff attune to them, reducing the mojo left for them.

  2. Out for Blood has some very concrete advice here.

  3. & 4) There are some suggestions for controlling skills inflation in Out for Blood and on my web-site, I'll recap some of them here:

  • Skill AVs can only be increased above 15 if you have the XP to spend AND you find someone better than you and beat them in a symbolic contest of that skill. That would probably be the main plot of that session.
  • You only get the best XP bonus from your attuned sites.
  • Sites offer a smaller XP bonus, but each grants some other advantage like an AV bonus in certain circumstances.
  • Retirement into strings-pullers.
  • The biggest problem with skills inflation is when there's a large XP imbalance. You can construct encounters so that there is a reasonable opponent for each player, but it's probably an idea to give rookie characters some free XP to bring them up to speed. Of course, that then causes problems if some characters retire, because the power level will never get properly reset to the beginning.

There are other interesting ways which I don't think I've ever actually written down anywhere:

  • Talk to the players and say up front that things will be more interesting if they keep their combat skills broadly at the same level, and that getting interesting and cool schticks will probably be more fun.
  • Give the players access to things their character type wouldn't normally be able to get as special rewards, and encourage them to spend XP on developing that other side of their character. This is particularly good if the campaign starts off with all contemporary characters, because they still get to play with some of the funkier schticks later on.

You think that after this amount of time it wouldn't be exp that would be the problem but running out of things to break.

Who am I kiddin', there's always more mooks to break.

It surely does :slight_smile:

Thanks to both of you for the advises, I think some of them will be very useful.

As a sidenote: can you tell uns some stories/campaigns/developement about this 3 year campaign?


It broke down into three major arcs, one for each year, as I was running mostly for chaps at university.

Arc 1: Darkness Over All
After the necessary introduction to the system and setting, they get 2 FS sites, including the Dragons' abandoned Junkyard base (in this setting, everyone went to ground after Killdeer). Then they lost the first, and their much beloved NPC car mechanic, to the Jammers. The main plot revolved around Ming I creating arcanobombs with the assistance of a Demon Lord. She made clones of the characters, which escaped before being brainwashed and met their real versions. The clones were designed to instantly destroy the originals if they touched them, and have a limited life-span if they did not. Two characters touched their originals, and hence ended up playing the clones form that point on instead (and the clones were allowed to take Creature Powers, so wahey!). One cloned character had as his hook that his heart had been taken by the Demon Lord, so there were now two Demon Lords knocking about. One let himself by captured by the CDCA in order to learn the secrets of Arcanotech, and the other remained with Ming I to build a series of Arcanobombs. These bombs would flood entire junctures with energy that would instantly slay every living creature without Sorcery, Creature Powers or very high Chi. She intended to set them off simultaneously, and sweep into the major Feng Shui sites of each in the confusion. The only way to stop them was a full-on assault against the Darkness Pagoda, with assistance from the Jammers, the Ascended, Pui Ti and Huan Ken. They fought Ming I atop her pyramid, and destroyed her (after she had taken 80 Wound Points!). Her Pagoda collapsed immediately afterwards.

Arc 2: The Rift
Lai Kuang (From Glimpse of the Abyss) was the main villain in this arc. As the Dragons build the Light Pagoda on the ruins of the Darkness pagoda, they spent a lot of time building up their forces, taking in everyone who could help swell their ranks. Lai Kuang made it his mission to confound them at every turn, so they had to track down the 7 elemental rings needed to enact a ritual that would seal the rift in him forever. Meanwhile, the other monarchs had taken against the Dragons, fearing they might now have a taste for regicide. The Reascended appeared (albeit in a different form to the Shadowfist version), and it emerged that the Maverick Cop's wife was in the Lodge, and had been killed for fraternising with humans. Her genetic material had been used to create a Reascended Scorpion who was now on the trail of the Dragons with orders to kill them all. After several near-misses with Reascended attacks, they got all of the rings just as Lai Kuang decided to take them out once and for all. It turned out he has an eighth ring that allowed him to control other people wearing the rings, which made completing the ritual and destroying him for good rather difficult. Just as they had done so, the Gardener they had recruited to look after the chi of their pagoda revealed herself as Ming I back from the dead, and turned their lovely Light Pagoda into her new Bastion of Darkness, cackling like a hag as she did so. Too weary and wounded from their battle with Kai Luang, they could do nothing but flee.

Act 3: No Escape But Death
Many of the NPCs and retired characters knocking around the Light Pagoda when it was destroyed return as newer, insanely powerful servants of Ming I, who can trap a single target in a pocket universe with them while they try to kill them. The old Dragons emerge from hiding, leading the characters to find a new, humble Feng Shui site back in Hong Kong when they are kicked out of the Junkyard. Things go a little more low-key for a while, as many of the most heinous characters have retired. Quimtech, a company that until recently was under control of the Ascended, is starting experimentation that is eerily similar to the CDCA. The arc ends with an all-star, out-of-retirement, one-night-only assault on Ming I's new transdimensional fortress, and in desperation at being overwhelmed the mirror, their only way back to the real Inner Kingdom, is destroyed. The eventual fates of those five brave Dragons are unknown.

There were recurring elements, too- Desdemona Deathangle came back time and time again, more powerful each visit. Something called the Chaos Engine was created and achieved sentience. Any attempt to use mobile phones in the Netherworld worked, as long as you didn't mind being interrupted by a mysterious voice saying 'Buy toothbrushes!' all the time.

There's more detail in the write-ups (which became too much of a chore towards the end) in reverse order here.