The Urban Jungle
Welcome to the jungleGuns N’ Roses
We take it day by day
If you want its you’re gonna bleed
But it’s the price you pay
The urban jungle. That’s the theme of my Feng Shui 2 blog posts over the next week. The crowded streets of Hong Kong are the default setting for Feng Shui; but the Chi War might play out in Tokyo, New York, London, or San Francisco. Any large metropolitan area has lots of people, and they’re Chi, making them vital in the Secret War. I’ve got a few articles from the mean streets of the world to share with you over the next week. Opening the series are two Feng Shui sites — the City Park and the Night Market.
Most communities have a park of some kind. In a small town, like mine, it might be a simple lawn with a bandstand. In a large city, the park might be huge. Central Park, in New York, is 843 acres. Of course, most parks have benches, walkways and a monument or two. Large ones might also have water features, playgrounds, food carts, or anything else expressing the values of the local community.
A park is often the hub of a community. In a happy, prosperous community, everybody might be attuned to the park and not even know it. Cities with a strong or corrupt government might have a tighter control of the chi flow through the park and keep its benefits for themselves.
Cool Things that Can Happen
If you think about a park as a big lawn, it might seem like a boring place for a fight. But, look closer and you will find lots of possibilities.
- Acrobatics on the playground equipment
- A large, heavy character steps on the see-saw and sends a nook flying
- Somebody gets slammed into a lamp pole
- A park bench becomes an improvised weapon
- The hot dog cart has steaming hot water and condiments
- Somebody gets impaled on the sword or bayonet held by the status of that famous guy
- Or that spiky bit on that modern sculpture nobody actually likes
- Somebody gets thrown into a pond
- The swans in that pond, they are mean. All swans are mean.
- If the park is crowded, innocent bystanders might get used as hostages
- Not just any bystanders, a couple is getting their wedding photos taken
- Also, that old guy, practicing T’ai Chi, don’t mess with him
The chi flow of city park is both subtle and generous. While control of its chi does not grant any special powers, being a member of the community that controls the park grants the benefits of attunement. No special ritual is necessary.
In Your Campaign
When using the city park in your campaign, focus on its role as the central hub in a community.
A small city has seen a revitalization in recent years, after renovating its central square. New grass, flowers, a playground seemed to lift the community’s spirits. New business have come into town, schools are doing better, in short things are better than they have been since the mills closed decades ago.
As if sensing the new prosperity, a group of thugs has come looking for a new place to sell their drugs. Perhaps one of the factions sent them to capture the park’s chi; or perhaps they are not aware they are capitalizing on an auspicious site.
In either case, somebody connected with one of the PC’s melodramatic hooks, comes to them looking for help, restoring order to the community.
Somebody the PC’s care about disappeared in the city park. Investigation shows that there have been several other disappearances in recent weeks. Turns out a group of vile sorcerers has been feeding people to the demon that is hiding in the bottom of the Koi pond. With each meal it grows stronger, taking more of the park’s chi for itself. Somebody has to come and kick this thing’s ass back to the hell from which it came. I wonder who that could be?
The city park is all decked out to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the city’s founding. Everything seems to be going well until strange people in antique clothes show up. It is clear they are mad about something.
Turns out that a portal to a pop-up juncture, 100 years ago, has opened up somewhere in the park. The citi’s founding fathers wronged these people somehow, and they aren’t coming through to negotiate. Meanwhile, other enemies of the park’s controllers may be trying to go back through the portal to stop the city, or at least the park, from ever being founded.
The frenetic energy of the night market is palpable, even for those unaware of chi. When the sun sets, normal daytime thoroughfares become bustling bazaars. Stalls emerge from nowhere, with vendors selling xiaochi, snack foods, drinks, produce and manufactured goods of all kinds. Bright lights and banners try to attract attention, but end up just creating more chaos and noise.
Cool Things That Can Happen
- Advertising banners hang from everywhere. They can be torn down and used to entangle opponents, or obscure vision
- Strings of electric lights are, well, electric
- Two words: hot noodles
- A merchant is selling boot leg martial arts DVDs. The covers might inspire mooks to feats of foolish bravado
- Crowds get in the way during a chase
- Are those fried scorpions on a stick?
- Of course, they were fried in hot oil
- The loud TV outside the discount electronics shop will be much quieter after being broken over somebody’s head
- Down that street. Hardware, children’s wear, ladies’ lingerie
- A number of stalls sell fruits which become messy improvised weapons
- Not only is the scrappy kid familiar with the market well, she fits under most of the carts and booths
- One stall sells plastic martial arts weapons. You know, for the tourists
The Chi of the night market is powerful, but hard to tame. It is difficult to control such a large area with so many independent businesses. Even local gangs have competition in the area. However, attuning to the market is worth it. Everybody attuned has their wealth level increased by one level. If they are already rich, then they are even richer — whatever that means in your campaign.
Once attuned, losing that attunement hurts. If you lose control, then you lose a level of wealth, in addition to the one you gained with initially. If you were already poor, now you are really destitute. Once you attune to a new site, your wealth level will revert to normal.
In Your Campaign
There is no better spot to meet someone in a public, but an anonymous place. The night market is also excellent for evading pursuit. Finally, you can buy just about anything you need here.
The lodge offers to let the PC’s attune to the night market in exchange for a “small” favor. Maybe they are sincere, but probably not. More likely, the lodge will do something to break their attunement then kick the characters hard when they are down.
The players are likely to see this coming, but can they capitalize on the opportunity without being destroyed?
Li Ting, the King of the Fire Pagoda, is trying to establish a night market in the Netherworld. He is hoping to gain control over illicit trade between junctures for both power and profit. Of course his siblings won’t approve, but how do the other factions feel? There are pros and cons to centralizing trade in one area. It might make some things easier, and there is big profit if you can get a cut.
The Feng Shui 2 Kickstarter is going gangbusters. We, the fans, have unlocked all the archetypes and the second pop-up juncture is coming soon. Related to this post, Atlas Games announced the Fistfull of Fight Scenes expansion. Seven cool set pieces for your adventures, with tips for fighting in them and plot hooks for your campaign. While creating a set piece in Feng Shui is pretty easy, having examples for inspiration is always helpful. I hope this week’s location inspires something awesome in your game.
Beach Front Battles
Beach Front Battles is the theme for the week. On Mook Monday, we’ll have some undead pirates and sharks to defend the beach. Wednesday will wrap up the week with three awesome water-related weapons your characters can use to storm the beaches. But now we’ll kick the week off with a feng shui site inspired by a classic Shadowfist card.
Deep orange light reflects off the fine sand as the sun sets against the ocean’s distant horizon. The gentle lapping of the surf and the distant cry of a seagull are all that you can hear. The day fades to darkness as you settle into the tall grasses covering the dune. Turning on your night vision, you peer out into the darkness. Slow, lumbering shapes crawl out of the ocean and work their way up the sand. Flippers made for swimming work to push aside the sand, making a hole large enough for a hundred eggs. Turning your gaze out to sea, you see two boats making their way towards the shore. As usual, the New Simian Army’s timing couldn’t be worse.
Sea turtles are found in tropical waters all over the world, including the hotly contested South China Sea. Sea turtles are cute and lovable. You don’t want them to become victims of the Chi War.
COOL THINGS THAT CAN HAPPEN
- The Ex-Special Forces member should rise out of the ocean firing the biggest gun he can find
- The immunity bonus for soft sand or water is +2
- Sand will get thrown in somebody’s face
- Salt water must hurt when it gets into wounds
- Dune buggies vs. jet skis
- Coconuts can be thrown or broken over somebody’s head for 8 damage
- SCUBA tanks can also be used as improvised weapons for 9 damage
- There are sharks waiting for somebody to get into the water (come back Monday for shark stats)
- A bad guy might try to use a turtle as a shield. He should be punished for this
- If stunned at the wrong time, a mook might get washed out to sea by a large wave
- An outboard motor, with a spinning propeller, can get torn off the back of a boat and used as a weapon
- WWII era bunkers, crumbling with age and neglect, might provide cover or access to rusty, old junk
Attuning with Turtle Beach is, in a sense, making a pact with the turtles. In their limited way, they hope that you will protect them and the beach. In return, their chi will help protect you. When this relationship is in balance, both sides prosper.
When the characters attune to Turtle beach, they get eight Marks of Death (shared between all of them). Each of these Marks of Death can be used to cancel a Mark of Death inflicted on any attuned character. If all eight Marks of Death are ever used, the last turtle dies and the Chi of the beach dissipates. If the characters lose attunement to the beach, they have shown that they cannot protect the turtles’ chi and they will not be able to attune to it again.
IN YOUR CAMPAIGN
The turtles are meant to tug at your players’ heart strings. Turtle Beach will be more fun if you can get your players to care and fret over using the turtles to save themselves. Somebody should die dramatically because they took that last Mark of Death themselves rather than destroy the beach.
Somebody connected with one of the characters is a scientist, park ranger or concerned citizen. She needs help to protect the beach from those who want to exploit or destroy it. The Lodge might want to build a luxury resort on the beach to channel Chi into something they can control. Any of the other factions might want its power for themselves, or to kill it off to prevent others from having it.
In a period of escalating tensions, a group of Taiwanese college students who were helping with sea turtle research has gone missing. Taiwan blames China, while China claims this shows that Taiwan is incapable of protecting its own people. Meanwhile, the Dragons sense that something is amiss. Can they follow the clues from the beach to the real culprit and avert war in Southeast Asia?
In 1850, a transformed turtle betrayed the Ascended and took up a life of piracy in the South China Sea. Rumor has it that he became quite wealthy, trading the secrets and spoils of the Chi War with anyone who could pay. Until, one day, a Lotus sorcerer double crossed him, forcing him to revert into turtle form.
The pirate kept the map to his treasure tattooed on his chest. After he fell into the sea, there was no way to find his treasure, or the secrets he kept. Until a video turned up on the internet of a large, old turtle with strange markings on its shell. Strange markings that look like a map? Now the race is on to see which faction can find the turtle first.
FENG SHUI SITE FRIDAY: SOUND STAGE
03 October, 2014
The Feng Shui 2 Kickstarter is more than half-done, and things are going very well. I swear I thought of this week’s theme before Robin’s Blowing Up The Movies stretch goal was announced. I’m super excited that it just funded. Here’s hoping the stretch goals just keep getting better and better.
We are going a little meta this week and exploring incorporating the filming of an action movie into your Feng Shui adventure. Not in the silly “the characters know they are in a movie” sense. The rules, rightly, warn us away from that. Instead, what if part of your adventure takes place on a movie set? The action and the stunts become real and deadly.
For the Feng Shui Site Friday opener to Action! Week, we present the sound stage. Let me know what you think in the comments below.
You’re thinking that your role as “Karate Student #3” in this picture isn’t worth the money. There is so much boring standing around in the making of a movie. Leaning against a totem pole, you notice a new guy manning the prop table, and some extras you don’t remember from yesterday. You see, the prop guy hand one of the extras a sword from a box off to one side. It looks heavier than your rubber sword. Something’s up…
Wary now, you stand on your mark to start the scene. As the beautiful and talented Johanna Scarlettson moves into position, you realize she’s the target. As the director calls “Action!” you spring into it.
The sound stage is a large, open warehouse like building that is acoustically isolated from the outside world. Inside whole worlds come to life as sets and props are built for specific movies.
COOL THINGS THAT CAN HAPPEN
The best thing about a sound stage is that inside can be any setting you want. From space opera battle cruisers, to an old west saloon, to a Roman colosseum. The cool things below focus on stuff with movie making equipment that can happen in any sound stage. You will want to add your own layer of cool things based on what is being filmed when your adventure takes place.
- Bad guys, maybe even a sniper, will try to shoot from the catwalks above the stage
- Somebody can fall off the catwalk onto a pointy piece of scenery, or get strangled in a lighting cable.
- A hot stage light will get smashed over somebody’s head.
- If the studio is old school, a camera can fly open, tangling somebody in the film
- Somebody might swing around on a camera boom, or ride on a camera track
- There is a food service table
- Real weapons might get mixed up with the prop weapons
- Mooks might be disguised as extras in strange or humorous costumes
- There are wind fans, rain makers and smoke machines that can get used to go effect
- A named foe, who is a movie star, might get hit with a chair that has his name on it
- A light diffuser screen will get smashed over somebody’s head
- There are lots of wires around that might get used as lasso’s, trip lines or garrets
- Two words: Gaffers Tape
- There are lots of green screens these days. Somebody might get thrown through one, or it could get pulled over by a bunch of mooks
- The fight might get caught on camera, which might become a clue later
I can’t explain why, but the sound stage doesn’t feel like a feng shui site to me. It is a great set piece, but it just doesn’t seem chi-full to me. However, if you want it to be a feng shui site with special powers, then it is sensible the site would enhance communication somehow. Perhaps it gives +2 to social skills like deceit, intimidation, seduction, and leadership to everybody who is attuned to the site.
IN YOUR CAMPAIGN
The Lodge has full control of most major centers of film production in the world: Hollywood, Bollywood, Hong Kong. It uses this control to produce films that influence public perceptions and attitudes. A popular starlet is a dedicated member of the Lodge. Until one of her enemies planted evidence, she intends to betray the Lodge. Now the Lodge plans to kill her and make it look like an accident.
With their martial arts skills, the characters hired on as extras. Not knowing the starlet is a lodge member, they, of course, intervene and stop the assassination attempt. Perhaps, as the characters work through the adventure to protect and save her. Will she come around to the side of righteousness? Or will she betray them to increase her own status with the Lodge?
The C-Bomb didn’t kill everybody associated with the Buro. A Buro media exec was one of the more unlikely survivors. He has made his way to the modern juncture and back into the only industry he ever knew. He has brought some special equipment with him, and now he is using that equipment to film special commercials and music videos.
The special equipment allows for the insertion of subliminal messages and even commands into this content. These messages are much more subtle and harder to detect than clumsy, modern Lodge attempts to do the same. At the moment, the media exec is just using this for his own personal gain. However, his former comrades are sure to find out and they will want to use this to rebuild here in the modern juncture.
The small Pacific nation of New Zealand has some of the most beautiful terrain. Terrain rich in feng shui sites, that channel chi to a bountiful and happy nation. The Lotus sees this island as a potential beach head into the modern juncture. It is lightly guarded, remote and easy to protect, yet still close enough to threaten and influence the Ascended strongholds in Asia.
The Lotus created a brilliant plan to take control of the islands. They will start a small but well-funded movie studio to produce a trilogy of blockbuster fantasy movies. These movies give cover to move in hordes of sword wielding mooks, smiths and other historic craftsmen to support them. Monsters and magic can be explained away as special effects.
Filming will occur all over the islands, allowing access to the feng shui sites. Gradually, over the course of the decade long project, the chi of the islands will flow through the film studio to the islands’ new eunuch masters. Unless somebody figures out what is going on.
FENG SHUI SITE FRIDAY: ANCESTRAL TOMB
10 October, 2014
This is an exciting week for the Feng Shui 2 Kickstarter. It is the last week, and that means two things. The final mad rush is about to begin, and the best stretch goals are about to come out. I believe the Kickstarter will break $200k, maybe even $250k. The chi seems to be flowing in the right direction. Let’s do what we can to make it happen.
Speaking of flowing chi, the theme for my posts during this final week is Vile Sorcery. We are looking at all things magical, including the Lotus, as they struggle to find a foothold in their new juncture. For Feng Shui Site Friday, I present the Ancestral Tomb.
The old man said that the tomb covered an area the size of a small city. You can’t understand how all of that could be underground now. However, you have no doubt that the spooky hole opening before you is the right place. You snap a chemical light stick and descend into the darkness.
When the 69AD juncture closed, the Lotus found themselves forced to relocate into the 7th century. One of the first orders of business was to find the tombs of those left behind, now long dead. In these tombs, they hoped to find magic and relics to aid them in this more hostile juncture. A rare few of these tombs were feng shui sites themselves, providing an early source of chi power. Several key tombs remain lost, including Gao Zhang’s, so the hunt continues.
To be fair, the tomb depicted here is more of an emperor’s tomb than a family mausoleum. The Tomb of the First Qin Emperor is the archetype of tombs from pulp stories. Its designers laid the necropolis out like a miniature version of his capital city. “Miniature” is a relative term, as the tomb is 1 1/4 miles in diameter. Period accounts of its construction claim it had crossbow traps and pools of mercury simulated the rivers that ran through the capital city. The legendary terra cotta warriors occupied part of the city. After the Emperor’s funeral, workers buried the whole thing under a 250 foot high mound of earth to look like a hill.
To date, archeologists have not excavated much of the necropolis. Even if the political and cultural issues could be resolved, high levels of mercury in the soil would make excavation of the tomb proper very dangerous.
COOL THINGS THAT CAN HAPPEN
- If the parties are trying to acquire a fragile object, it might get damaged in the fight. Any time a named character misses an attack roll, they must make a fortune check against a difficulty of 5 to avoid jeopardizing the item. If they fail that roll, they should describe what happens that puts the item at risk. The next named character to go, must do something to save the item or it will break.
- The terra cotta soldiers (mooks) guarding the tomb come to life and attack
- Ceramic pots will break over somebody’s head, or get thrown as improvised weapons
- The stone sarcophagus makes good cover
- Until it is blown or knocked open, then somebody gets knocked into it and gets tangled in the remains
- Somebody who is very strong can use the lid as an improvised weapon
- There are death traps that might be triggered during the fight
- Mercury from a pool or river can be thrown at an enemy doing damage as a strong poison
- If somebody gets pushed into the mercury fountain, it acts as if they had ingested an extremely toxic poison
- Ancient weapons on racks can get picked up and used
The Ancestral Tomb channels the chi of deceased allies to the living. Every character who is attuned to the tomb gets 2 extra wound points for every player character who has died since the start of the current campaign. Characters who die after attunement do not add to this amount. GMs might want to change the awarded wound points depending on how many characters have died and how many extra wound points they want their PCs to have.
IN YOUR CAMPAIGN
A powerful magic artifact was sealed away in an ancient tomb. The Dragons are racing against other factions to recover the item first. Once the item is recovered, the characters can attune to the site to get some extra wound points as the bad guys try to claim the MacGuffin for themselves.
One of the characters discovers that they are descended from an ancient leader. When he finds the tomb and explores it, he encounters the ghost of this lost ancestor. The ancestor has unfinished business, and the character can pick up a melodramatic hook to finish their ancestors’ task. As an alternative, the ghost might become an NPC mentor to the party, or even another player character if somebody wants to play it.
Ming I has discovered or created a zombie virus, and has infected a town in rural China. Her goal is to create an army of the dead she can use to restore herself to power. The Chinese military tried to intervene, but casualties of the living add to the army of the dead. She seems unstoppable.
With no other recourse, the player characters venture into the tomb of an ancient Chinese emperor. If they find a way to activate its army of terra cotta warriors, they will have a force capable of fighting the zombies.
If you want to go wild, this adventure idea can be combined with the two above it. The emperor could be the distant ancestor, and the artifact the item needed to activate the army.
FENG SHUI SITE FRIDAY: THE RUST GARDEN
17 October, 2014
So, yesterday brought some exciting news. The Feng Shui 2 Kickstarter passed $163,000 and funded the Mook Attack Sheet Generator. That will allow me to take the tool you can find on this site, awesome it up, and give it a permanent home on the Atlas Games website. The new version will incorporate the brilliant graphic styling of the new edition, changing some of the code to work on its own. It might also have a new feature or two. We will see what the Atlas team thinks. I am proud to be able to support, even in this small way, the return of a great game.
Once the Kickstarter ends, later tonight, I will keep updating LostPapyr.us, though on a less frequent basis. It has been a challenge to maintain a 3 day a week publishing schedule for the whole month. I also have content for other games I want to publish.
Enough lamenting the end of the Kickstarter and the 9 months of waiting that are before us. Today, I present one of my favorite locations in the Chi War. The Rust Garden.
Nobody knows how long ago the Netherworld began. The Chi War has rewritten History countless times. Many junctures are no longer remembered by anybody still alive. However, humans are always shedding the detritus of their lives. Much of that waste seems to end up in one place in the Netherworld: the Rust Garden.
The Rust Garden appears as a vast junk yard, rusting away. From the top of any gigantic mound of metal, the edges of the garden appear distant and indistinct. While you can find anything in the Rust Garden, without an attuned guide, it might take you days, weeks, or more to find it.
Back in the first edition days, the Rust Garden was the home and playground of one of the Dragon’s key mentors, the Prof. In the intervening years, she seems to have disappeared without a trace, but the Garden continues on. Whether you are looking for something, or just passing through, travel cautiously and don’t forget your tetanus boosters.
COOL THINGS THAT CAN HAPPEN
- Almost anything might be found and used as an improvised weapon
- Instead of picking up your improvised weapon, pick your opponent and drop him on something sharp and rusty
- Multiple mooks might get taken out by a collapsing pile of junk
- Bad guys might hide inside rusty cars for an ambush
- Two words: Strong magnets
- Two more words: Netherworld vermin
- Somebody might accidentally turn on an old robot. He’s not happy about being all rusty and nasty.
- Ewww, what was that?
- The Sylvan Master (see the introductory adventure in the core rulebook), starts talking from some random piece of computer equipment.
The Rust Garden is peculiar in that only a single person can be attuned to it at any time. In order to attune the site you must spend at least a week clearing a space and building your a special workshop just for you. An attuned character gets +2 to all Fit-It rolls. This increases to +3 while in the junkyard and +4 while in your special workshop.
IN YOUR CAMPAIGN
You can find almost anything in the Rust Garden and the heroes need a MacGuffin. While searching through the Rust Garden, they encounter Simian Army scroungers, non-simian scroungers, some Netherworld thug hiding a body, and their arch-rivals bent on finding the same MacGuffin.
After learning of the Prof the new Dragons travel to the Rust Garden looking for her workshop, hoping to find information or weapons they can use in the Chi War. It is hidden under a large pile of junk, but the heroes can find it. Inside, they find a clue that the Prof is still alive, and in need of their help.
While wandering the Rust Garden, a character finds a treasured toy they lost as a child. Next to the toy is a single bag of garbage from their home as a child. Rummaging through that bag of trash, they find papers and photos that reveal.