Outlaws of the Water Margin

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TristramEvans

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Sleepyscholar of Shentian

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This appears to be an official release, and it includes English subtitles.
Ah, now I lose the cachet of having watched this in its Japanese translation.

Why did I bother to learn Japanese?
 

Sleepyscholar of Shentian

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No progress to report (hybrid lessons basically take all the time of normal lessons plus much of the time of online ones), but I did just read a blogpost by Dave Morris which gives some hint as to the style of role-playing I prefer, which may put some people off. The arms-length approach to role-playing seems to have become the dominant strand.

On reflection, the problem here is that most players actually need the scaffolding of an arms-length system to help them play a character from a different culture. And therein lies my dilemma...

...which I'm not in any position to address, so I'll just bang on with the game I have if you don't mind!
 

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No progress to report (hybrid lessons basically take all the time of normal lessons plus much of the time of online ones), but I did just read a blogpost by Dave Morris which gives some hint as to the style of role-playing I prefer, which may put some people off. The arms-length approach to role-playing seems to have become the dominant strand.

On reflection, the problem here is that most players actually need the scaffolding of an arms-length system to help them play a character from a different culture. And therein lies my dilemma...

...which I'm not in any position to address, so I'll just bang on with the game I have if you don't mind!
I felt I really identified with this part:

Sitting at a keyboard making stuff up can get boring if the characters don’t surprise you from time to time.

However, I have sat down and made notes about things that developed in a session before, just to make sure I didn't forget it later. That continuity helps me develop the character during the sessions that come after. I wouldn't say that it's authorial in nature, more along the lines of keeping the perceptions of the character straight when I only play once every two weeks.
 

Silverlion

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No progress to report (hybrid lessons basically take all the time of normal lessons plus much of the time of online ones), but I did just read a blogpost by Dave Morris which gives some hint as to the style of role-playing I prefer, which may put some people off. The arms-length approach to role-playing seems to have become the dominant strand.

On reflection, the problem here is that most players actually need the scaffolding of an arms-length system to help them play a character from a different culture. And therein lies my dilemma...

...which I'm not in any position to address, so I'll just bang on with the game I have if you don't mind!
I think you'll manage fine.
 

TristramEvans

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No progress to report (hybrid lessons basically take all the time of normal lessons plus much of the time of online ones), but I did just read a blogpost by Dave Morris which gives some hint as to the style of role-playing I prefer, which may put some people off. The arms-length approach to role-playing seems to have become the dominant strand.

On reflection, the problem here is that most players actually need the scaffolding of an arms-length system to help them play a character from a different culture. And therein lies my dilemma...

...which I'm not in any position to address, so I'll just bang on with the game I have if you don't mind!


It's funny, reading that blog entry I find myself shaking my head in agreement, saying "yes, exactly", but you are describing a playstyle that is increasingly frustrating to try and talk about online. I dont know if it was always an outlier, but it seems these days to be so far beyond the conception of the majority of new roleplayers that people frequently act as if it's some sort of ruse or idiosynchratic exercise in pretension.

Case in point, I say "it's" because growing up , we simply called this approach to gaming "immersion". But it became unusuable as a term on the RPG forums over the last twenty years with people insisting that during their completely authorial viewpoint games that they were "stepping in and out of immersion", or they were "immersed in the story", or even simply refused to acknowledge any meaning to the word besides "paying attention during a game". It got to the point that I eventually resorted to stealing the term "eläytyminen" from the Nordic LARPers as an alternative, just to try and get the intent across that I was talking about a playstyle where the authorial viewpoint simply didn't take place. But more often than not I simply avoid the subject.
 

Sleepyscholar of Shentian

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However, I
have sat down and made notes about things that developed in a session before, just to make sure I didn't forget it later. That continuity helps me develop the character during the sessions that come after. I wouldn't say that it's authorial in nature, more along the lines of keeping the perceptions of the character straight when I only play once every two weeks.

Note that Dave did associate his approach with a regular session. When we used to play Tekumel, it was weekly ('The Thursday Game'), and at that time Outlaws, or my own Tekumel game, was an additional weekly game ('The Tuesday Game'), with slightly different members -- James Wallis played in it, for example, which was why Hogshead were up to publish the game at one point. And we even had very occasional weekend specials for the Tursday Game, such as the unforgettable Du'un adventure (which inspired the gamebook Heart of Ice).

But yes, there is a different between noting down stuff you want to remember, and playing a character like a game token. On other days of Dave's blog he offers write-ups of games. These don't undermine the argument contained in the post I linked to one whit.
 

Lofgeornost

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I wonder if the connection between this style of play (which is my favorite as well) and regular gaming sessions is not more coincidental than anything else? That is, this style was more common back in the days that Morris (the blog author) played regularly? I guess that regular games could make it easier to embrace this style, which is not in a hurry to achieve character or plot development. But on the other hand I can imagine that people who can only play for a couple of hours twice a month might like the style as well. After all, it means that the player can simply concentrate on being in the world and reacting to it; he or she doesn't have to worry about remembering a complicated pre-written background for the character or attaining set story 'beats,' or interacting with narrative mechanics.
 

Sleepyscholar of Shentian

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I wonder if the connection between this style of play (which is my favorite as well) and regular gaming sessions is not more coincidental than anything else? That is, this style was more common back in the days that Morris (the blog author) played regularly? I guess that regular games could make it easier to embrace this style, which is not in a hurry to achieve character or plot development. But on the other hand I can imagine that people who can only play for a couple of hours twice a month might like the style as well. After all, it means that the player can simply concentrate on being in the world and reacting to it; he or she doesn't have to worry about remembering a complicated pre-written background for the character or attaining set story 'beats,' or interacting with narrative mechanics.
This style may not be 'in a hurry' to achieve character or plot development, but character and plot development are at the heart of it. Just not authorial approaches to those things. As I think Tristram is suggesting, the regular gaming schedule means that as a player you are on top of what is happening with your character without having to keep track of it in a way which yanks you out of immersion (coincidentally, this is why write-ups can function within this approach, because they can reflect a character's point of view).
 

Lofgeornost

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This style may not be 'in a hurry' to achieve character or plot development, but character and plot development are at the heart of it. Just not authorial approaches to those things. As I think Tristram is suggesting, the regular gaming schedule means that as a player you are on top of what is happening with your character without having to keep track of it in a way which yanks you out of immersion (coincidentally, this is why write-ups can function within this approach, because they can reflect a character's point of view).

Yes, when I said the style is "not in a hurry" for character or plot development, I meant that as a positive feature, not a criticism.

I agree that it is easier to maintain identification with, and knowledge about, a character if you are playing him or her weekly or more often. But I've not found that it is that difficult to do with less frequent gaming, particularly if the sessions are planned so that each one more-or-less contains a whole episode in the characters' adventures. This of course works better with some genres that with others--it fits pretty well into some types of sword-and-sorcery, for instance.

One gm I know, who can only arrange games every three weeks or so, begins each session by having the players recap what happened last time. It helps to get everyone back to their characters and has led to some interesting conversations, as one finds that different players saw events in various ways.
 

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particularly if the sessions are planned so that each one more-or-less contains a whole episode in the characters' adventures
I've found Wuxia pretty good for it as it some how generates self contained episodes, e.g. "Battle at the Tea House", "Bandits of the Forest Shrine". It's something to do with the social structure of medieval China and Japan. Centralised urban authority, but vast "wilderness" areas.
 

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Necroing the thread to state that I've been personally enjoying a fanmade translation of Legend of the Condor Heroes over the official English translation starting with "A Hero Born." The biggest thing is, I've noticed that English language writers seem to have no confidence in their audience to parse Chinese names, and in translation prefer "Bee Sting Huang" to "Huang Wenbing" or "Lotus Huang" to "Huang Rong" and "Ironheart Yang" to "Yang Tiexin."

I think the worst part about this phenomenon is that it hampers English readers to relate their favorite characters and moments in conversation with people who aren't familiar with these extremely literal name translations -- such as, y'know, Chinese people.
 

TristramEvans

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Finding good translations is one of the hardest things as an English reader certainly. There's a series of novels from Japan that I'm reading as they are released, but prior to the official translation I read fan translations online, and I've noticed huge differences in how phrases, names and other things are translated, with some of the cultural aspects often not as well conveyed by the official translations as the fan ones, especially when it comes to the idiosynchricies of personal address.
 

Sleepyscholar of Shentian

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I've read a few Jin Yong stories in official as well as fan translations. I think the worst was the 'official' Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain, with the problems starting with the title! But I sympathise with writers who are afraid about the ability of readers to deal with Chinese names. You'll find I waffle about this in Outlaws, and the reason is simple: bitter personal experience with players. I don't believe in 'translating' given names. In fact I think it's nonsensical when we're talking about actual given names, that are not understood for their meaning. That's why Outlaws does not give the meanings of any of the given or family names that appear in its list. However, I do think that supplementing names with nicknames helps players remember. As does attaching titles. 'Tiger Slayer Wu Song', 'Nine Dragons Shi Jin,' or 'Academician Bao' may be a little longer, but the additional bits help many players remember the actual names.

On a different topic, James Wallis contacted me recently to let me know that he, Greg Stolze and Ross Payton will be doing a podcast about Outlaws at some point. It'll be interesting to hear their comments. James did play in my Outlaws game, back in the day.
 

TristramEvans

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On a different topic, James Wallis contacted me recently to let me know that he, Greg Stolze and Ross Payton will be doing a podcast about Outlaws at some point. It'll be interesting to hear their comments. James did play in my Outlaws game, back in the day.


Do you know the name of the podcast (if it's part of a series)? I'd really like to check that out.
 

Panzerkraken

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I've read a few Jin Yong stories in official as well as fan translations. I think the worst was the 'official' Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain, with the problems starting with the title! But I sympathise with writers who are afraid about the ability of readers to deal with Chinese names. You'll find I waffle about this in Outlaws, and the reason is simple: bitter personal experience with players. I don't believe in 'translating' given names. In fact I think it's nonsensical when we're talking about actual given names, that are not understood for their meaning. That's why Outlaws does not give the meanings of any of the given or family names that appear in its list. However, I do think that supplementing names with nicknames helps players remember. As does attaching titles. 'Tiger Slayer Wu Song', 'Nine Dragons Shi Jin,' or 'Academician Bao' may be a little longer, but the additional bits help many players remember the actual names.

On a different topic, James Wallis contacted me recently to let me know that he, Greg Stolze and Ross Payton will be doing a podcast about Outlaws at some point. It'll be interesting to hear their comments. James did play in my Outlaws game, back in the day.

This led me slightly down a rabbit hole thinking about how the name translations are probably a means to make them more more pronounceable to foreign audiences.. and to the realization that my own name could easily wind up as 國王很快湖 in Chinese rather than 理查德·塞巴爾德.

On a related note, while I was living in Korea I was referred to by a pseudonym my friends gave me (이진우) rather than my English name, because the pronunciation of my name to a Korean mindset was more than vaguely profane (Sebald, pronounced See-Bald is close to 시발, which is slang for 성교하다, or to "have intercourse;" cue the entire sequence from "Meet the Fokkers.") It was just easier to use a Korean name and keep my actual name for jokes in bars.
 

AsenRG

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This led me slightly down a rabbit hole thinking about how the name translations are probably a means to make them more more pronounceable to foreign audiences.. and to the realization that my own name could easily wind up as 國王很快湖 in Chinese rather than 理查德·塞巴爾德.

On a related note, while I was living in Korea I was referred to by a pseudonym my friends gave me (이진우) rather than my English name, because the pronunciation of my name to a Korean mindset was more than vaguely profane (Sebald, pronounced See-Bald is close to 시발, which is slang for 성교하다, or to "have intercourse;" cue the entire sequence from "Meet the Fokkers.") It was just easier to use a Korean name and keep my actual name for jokes in bars.
I feel you, man:grin:! I still haven't resolved the matter with my first name...when I write it the way I do here, French people read the "e" as an "a", and over here that's...well, let's just say that I've seen people being punched out over it (it was done deliberately and trying to provoke a negative reaction, but let's not dwell on the details which only make sense in the context of history).

OTOH, to get the French to pronounce it correctly, I need to write my name with "double s". And that makes it...suspicious...to English-speakers:shade:.

Of course, no such issues exist in the original spelling, which can only be read one way. But them's the breaks of only having 26 letters to play with (sorry, but I'm used to having 30 available, and arguments have been made that we shouldn't have dropped some that we'd dropped:tongue:)!
 

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Hi, all! I wanted to say that I really appreciate this thread and hope that our resident Sleepyscholar continues to plug away at Outlaws until we see an official release. I found this thread while looking around online for a low-fantasy, medieval China RPG to do a Three Kingdoms campaign. I think Outlaws might be a good template, even if the time period, magic level, and core adventuring activities are at least somewhat different.

My current plan (unless Outlaws gets a release) is to use the Genesys system, plugging in a few meta-systems from other games that use the same mechanics. E.g., Genesys is a variant of the Star Wars system from Fantasy Flight Games (now Edge), and Star Wars has a mass-combat system that could easily be applied to a Three Kingdoms setting. My big sticking point so far has been magic, as very few RPGs seem to have any interest in representing magic as something mysterious, dangerous, and usually done in a ritual/ceremonial setting (rather than Galdalfian instantaneous casting à la D&D). I'm hoping Outlaws can provide some good inspiration there, too.

At any rate, I'm happy to have stumbled across this thread, this project, and this community. I didn't see any suggested protocol about how to announce oneself on the Pub, so hopefully I'm not out of order here. Looking forward to following more progress on Outlaws!
 

AsenRG

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Hi, all! I wanted to say that I really appreciate this thread and hope that our resident Sleepyscholar continues to plug away at Outlaws until we see an official release. I found this thread while looking around online for a low-fantasy, medieval China RPG to do a Three Kingdoms campaign. I think Outlaws might be a good template, even if the time period, magic level, and core adventuring activities are at least somewhat different.

My current plan (unless Outlaws gets a release) is to use the Genesys system, plugging in a few meta-systems from other games that use the same mechanics. E.g., Genesys is a variant of the Star Wars system from Fantasy Flight Games (now Edge), and Star Wars has a mass-combat system that could easily be applied to a Three Kingdoms setting. My big sticking point so far has been magic, as very few RPGs seem to have any interest in representing magic as something mysterious, dangerous, and usually done in a ritual/ceremonial setting (rather than Galdalfian instantaneous casting à la D&D). I'm hoping Outlaws can provide some good inspiration there, too.

At any rate, I'm happy to have stumbled across this thread, this project, and this community. I didn't see any suggested protocol about how to announce oneself on the Pub, so hopefully I'm not out of order here. Looking forward to following more progress on Outlaws!
There is a thread "how you got here" somewhere, but it's not a protocol, required introduction, or anything like it.
Welcome to the Pub:thumbsup:!
 

Sleepyscholar of Shentian

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Hi again.

Just thought I should mention that having overcome one of my blocks, I have commenced layout. This doesn't mean I have finished all the text, just that starting layout helps me make those difficult (cut this! cut that!) decisions with the remaining material. This cutting mentality is also going to apply to my former desire to have the game fully illustrated. It'll have pretty much the art that appeared in the old version, and no more. Originally I was going to be doing town plans, building plans, clothing, you name it. But since I started the game someone seems have made some kind of easily accessible computer network on which information about a topic can be easily searched, rendering this less of a necessity. Thanks for that, Tim.

Long ago my layout for the manuscript of the game was slagged off by the representative of Hogshead who rejected the game (not the same representative of Hogshead who had actually asked me if he could publish it!). I believe now, as I believed then, in making role-playing games look like books rather than computer magazines, so my layout is going to be basic. In fact, it will closely resemble the layout I did for Hogshead. More Pendragon than Feng Shui, if you'll pardon me for evoking games from the olden days when I was still active. If you're interested in me putting a chapter up here when I've got one done, so that you can all tear it apart for me, let me know.
 

TristramEvans

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If you're interested in me putting a chapter up here when I've got one done, so that you can all tear it apart for me, let me know.

Absolutely.

And my preference is also for readability prioritized over graphic indulgence, as it were, when it comes to game rules.


Though if you do at any time find that you are bereft of art assets for any portion of the game, my offer still stands, as an ardent fan and doodler...

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Sleepyscholar of Shentian

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Absolutely.

And my preference is also for readability prioritized over graphic indulgence, as it were, when it comes to game rules.


Though if you do at any time find that you are bereft of art assets for any portion of the game, my offer still stands, as an ardent fan and doodler...


49943987436_c340ed391d_z.jpg

Lovely. Though I have yet to write any hippopotamuses into the game. That's added a couple of months to the ETA...
 

Sleepyscholar of Shentian

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I want:
1) Any new chapters, especially with readable background.
2) That hippopitamus on a t-shirt.
What do you mean by 'readable background'?

My wish to provide reams of background was one thing that held this game up. With the Web, I no longer think that's as necessary, but I am here to be instructed.
 

TristramEvans

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What do you mean by 'readable background'?

My wish to provide reams of background was one thing that held this game up. With the Web, I no longer think that's as necessary, but I am here to be instructed.

lol, you're reading that as historical background, I read that as avoiding the trend of overdesigned RPGs of having barely readable text set over background images.
 

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What do you mean by 'readable background'?

My wish to provide reams of background was one thing that held this game up. With the Web, I no longer think that's as necessary, but I am here to be instructed.
I mean the background some people put on their game books' text makes them harder to read, which I really don't need:grin:! You said you're making the layout "like a novel" or something to that effect, so I concluded that wouldn't be an issue in your case...

FWIW, I liked your style of adding "reams of background". Historical books on the period might well lack key gaming info like daily life, or I might be unable to find a book on life in that specific period:thumbsup:.
 

Sleepyscholar of Shentian

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Oh god, I hate those slick coloured pages with artwork on them behind the text. It's bad enough, though maybe vaguely defensible, in magazines, but in something designed for reference it's criminal. I've had this opinion since the late 80s, and been mocked for it. This may explain why I have deliberately gone back to a layout echoing the one I used for the manuscript I sent to Hogshead.

So here's an introductory chapter (not quite the first section: there's the title page/credits/flavour text bit before it). Comments very welcome.

Actually I haven't stuck any artwork in at all, yet. I'm still deliberating about how it will fit into the grid. As you'll see, it is very black and white. 20% greyscale is as exciting as it gets. It is designed to be reflowable, which makes placing artwork much, much easier. The Characters chapter, which hasn't had much added to it, should be up soon, followed by the Action, Combat and Magic chapters. They've had a little tinkering, but not much. The 'China' chapter, on the other hand is more rejigged, and fuses the geography, society, beliefs type chapters together. Not reams of background, I'm afraid, but I'm hoping it is at least coherent.
 

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Aos

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With the recent Tetsubo announcement,I figured it might be a good time to introduce the game to those unfamiliar with it, by way of a mini review/overview.

Outlaws has long been a system that I've greatly admired and taken inspiration from. I followed it's development for years, and I've name-dropped it here on several occasion in the past (I think the most recent time being the thread on Initiative systems from last month). Sadly it never got an official release, despite it being nearly complete in the last form it was made available online.

Outlaws of the Water Margin of course refers to the classic cycle of adventure tales first recorded in the 14th century. Sometimes translated as "All Men Are Brothers" or "Outlaws of the Marsh", it is a Wuxia narrative of the disconnected adventures of a group of heroes fighting against injustice and corruption that in the end band together as a team. It is considered one of the "Four Great Classic Novels of Chinese Literature" (along with Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Journey to the West, and Dream of the Red Chamber), although it's more a collection of legends than a novel, akin to the Tales of Robin Hood or the Arthurian mythos.

Based on the historical outlaw Song Jiang and his companions who, in the Song Dynasty of the early 12th century, faced down the army of the Emperor,. The legends are heavily fanticized, featuring magic, demons, and liberal doses of over-the-top kung fu. If you've never read it, or been exposed to the classic 1980's television series, I highly recommend giving it a go. It is pulp Martial Arts mayhem at it's best.

olw_book.png


Paul Mason's game is, what he refers to himself as, a "Culture Game" (with Pendragon and Tekumel being prominent examples of this categorization). The rules are heavily invested in placing a player in the mindset of a person living in 11th-12th century China. So while the system itself is quite rules-lite (the franework of the system can be written up as a one-page document (something Mason himself did in an issue of Imazine), the majority of the game book is taken over to indoctrinating readers into the setting.

We start with a Preface in the form of a short story excerpt from the Water Margin tales, and then an introduction which gives an overview of the history of the Water MArgin tales, a brief overview of the rules and warning not too attempt to use every rule at once but introduce complications gradually as they fit the game, and then a section on Chinese language and pronunciation of terms.

These two sections take up only 3 pages before we reach chapter 1 "Characters". There is a utilitarian brevity to the presentation here that packs an enormous amount of information into a condensed writing style I greatly appreciate, especially as the opposite has been something of a trend in the hobby since the 90s.

The game offers three methods of character creation, with the aim of making it as easy as possible for players to jump into the game. The simplest is of course to choose one of the characters from the Water Margin to play - or it would be, but that section of the game was never completed, as far as I know. PResumably when published, an appendix would have detailed the major characters from the legends who could be taken as a pre-gens. Regardless, the second method is not much more difficult -

A player simply chooses a character type, comes up with a name or appearance, and starts playing. Anytime you want to perform an action in the game, you can record a bonus. At the end of the session, you refer back to the detailed chargen rules, and "pay" for the bonuses you've already defined using the expanded Chargen rules.

I really like this focus on getting the players into the game as soon as possible, and worrying about rules later. I don't know about anyone else, but I've had many games fall victim to the dreaded "Session Zero", where everyone gets together and spends a whole session making characters, and the game never goes any further than that. The quicker you can get people actually gaming the better IMO.

From there we get into the "full" chargen rules, which are point-buy, but with a few interesting twists...
Having read the novel, I have hard time considering any of the characters heroes. They’re mostly murderers, deserters, arsonist, outlaws or cannibals- if not all of those things- there is at least one child murderer and a couple of dudes who killed their wives. They steal from the innocent and butcher people to avoid inconvenience. All and all they’re a terrible bunch.
 

AsenRG

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Having read the novel, I have hard time considering any of the characters heroes. They’re mostly murderers, deserters, arsonist, outlaws or cannibals- if not all of those things- there is at least one child murderer and a couple of dudes who killed their wives. They steal from the innocent and butcher people to avoid inconvenience. All and all they’re a terrible bunch.
Well, the Age was corrupt due to the lost Mandate of Heavens, so the Stars kinda got sullied...:grin:
 
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TristramEvans

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OK, I've had some time to read it.

Graphic design-wise, as I said previously, I like it. Very clear, visually clean, the borders and use of quotes and sidebars is nice. And I didn't see a single typo.

As for the content, I like the conversational tone. It's friendly while providing a strong authorial voice that gives the discussions a unique flavour. The only part I found that didn't work (for me) was the "What is Role Playing?" section at the beginning. I think if you believe (and I tend to agree) that it is unnecessary to define this for readers, then it seems to me equally unnecessary to tell them that you aren't going to define it or to suggest they do a web search. From the opening question the paragraph comes across as....well, "hostile" isn't the right word, but the tone seems somehow off in comparison to the rest of the chapter. Personally, I'd either drop it entirely or replace it with a much more utilitarian "What you need to play" - as in "this game uses a pair of six sided dice," etc.

Other than that, seems great. Curious, when you consider print, will this be in a 6x9 format? It just comes across that way to me, as opposed to the atypical oversized RPG tomes.
 

Sleepyscholar of Shentian

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Ho ho. There was I talking about a grid. Just noticed it's all way off in the file I just uploaded. That'll teach me to slap it in InDesign without double checking in Normal mode.

Anyway, it gives a general idea.
 

Sleepyscholar of Shentian

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Having read the novel, I have hard time considering any of the characters heroes. They’re mostly murderers, deserters, arsonist, outlaws or cannibals- if not all of those things- there is at least one child murderer and a couple of dudes who killed their wives. They steal from the innocent and butcher people to avoid inconvenience. All and all they’re a terrible bunch.
Well yes, obviously. This is a very good point. I defy anyone to read the stuff about Li Kui and not have their jaw drop.

But the next stage after that "Having read the novel, I have hard time considering any of the characters heroes" moment is to have a look at the overwhelming majority of what we consider 'heroes'. I grew up loving James Bond in both movies and novels. But Bond is as unequivocally a villain as the 'heroes' of Liangshan Po. Look at any other Hollywood action movie, and consider the behaviour of the hero(es) in moral terms.

Over the course of the years it was shown, I watched the crime drama Luther. Clearly Luther was the 'hero' of his eponymous show, but he was a bent cop, no doubt about it. Breaking Bad tackled this idea pretty head-on. In other words, 'heroes' are people who occupy a particular role in a story. How often are they moral exemplars? Very rarely.

I think this confusion is quite injurious to society as a whole, but that's a rather different topic. What I will mention, however is that heroes often become so by a process of opposition. Robin Hood is a hero primarily because he opposes the Sheriff, who is clearly villainous. The Taliban are heroes to some people because they oppose both the corrupt officials, and those who have been massacring their families for the last few years. Luther is a hero because he opposes murderers and other significant villains. And the 'heroes' of Liangshan Po are not heroes because they are moral, but because they oppose a corrupted political system.
 
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