Wuxia Space!

Ghost Whistler

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Yes, that's the reason I really like Qin: Warring States rpg. The idea of heroes wandering the middle kingdom while the states around them are at war and the land is in chaos is really really apealling. In fact I tried to work that into this project, but coudln't quite make it work satisfactorily. I think that could be really strong. The issue is one of scale.

If you note the iteration I posted just above you'll see something not dissimilar to what you're suggesting. Unfortunately it just felt kinda..dull.

My problem is that I can't settle on a single iteration, but each new one produces new ideas that I like (the Dragon Emperor keeping the star alive is a nice riff on the 40k astronomican thing, which I like).

However I'm currently looking at Ashen Stars. I love that kind of freewheeling approach. Here you would have PC's as agents of - either directly (as official state Constables) or hired guns (bounty hunters paid in Xia, in lieu of Imperial credits) for the Imperial Justice Grid in a post conflict 'outlaw zone' style place. This being the Sword Edge. Where all the fun stuff in the setting exists. This is a more focussed approach. My (other) problem is that I can come up with all sorts of cool sounding stuff (like Imperial Predictionists) but making it work as something players can appreciate and use is less easy. RPG designs need that otherwise it's all fluffy clouds and purple prose (aka Nephilim, by Chaoisum :grin:)
 

Edgewise

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My problem is that I can't settle on a single iteration, but each new one produces new ideas that I like
The nice thing about sci-fi settings, IMO, is that you don't have to limit yourself. All of your ideas can be true, somewhere. With cheap FTL, I think it would be nearly impossible to homogenize space, since anyone who doesn't like the current regime can grab a ship and a bunch of friends and set off for a new planet. I understate the difficulty, but only a little. And that's how you want it in order to encourage the adventuring lifestyle.

So I'd say go nuts. You can always put any idea you want on an ever-expanding map. I suppose that doesn't make the question of where you want to actually conduct the campaign much easier...quite the contrary...
My (other) problem is that I can come up with all sorts of cool sounding stuff (like Imperial Predictionists) but making it work as something players can appreciate and use is less easy.
Well, if you're designing a complete setting, no single campaign will be able to explore all the elements. As a GM, I appreciate when a designer throws in some evocative content but leaves it only partially described. The inspiration of the moment makes it quite easy to fill in those gaps. OTOH, it's quite challenging to design a lot of stuff ahead of a campaign to appeal to players who haven't even signed up yet.
 

Ghost Whistler

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I did consider the corporate approach in so far as taking the traditional martial arts clans and translating them thus. Shao Industries, Zero Mei Incorporated, Wu Planetary. It's a little on the nose. But it felt a little prosaic. It might be a workable idea.

I do like the hired gun/troubleshooter approach. I think it combines the best of both worlds in terms of setting: work on behalf of a faction, such as a galactic empire, or be an independent adventurer, as you might find in a traditional fantasy game (or Qin Warring States - though you can just as easily be affiliated to one of the Warring States).

My issue is developing a suitable environment for that to work. In Ashen Stars there was a war and the great and good galactic empire has rolled back from the frontier region. This troubled zone needs heroes...enter the players. So what is required is a frontier zone, and also a reason why said zone is troubled. A conflict between warring states might do it. But they'd all have to be involved in that region; a sort of centralised crucible. A treaty zone fom multiple warfronts converging. That isn't the case in Warring States china because they were not all bordering each other.
 

Edgewise

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So what is required is a frontier zone, and also a reason why said zone is troubled. A conflict between warring states might do it. But they'd all have to be involved in that region; a sort of centralised crucible. A treaty zone fom multiple warfronts converging. That isn't the case in Warring States china because they were not all bordering each other.
Reading what you wrote here, I was reminded of a similar kind of situation: colonialism. During the Age of Exploration, the great European powers divvied up the New World (and plenty of other places!) into a checkerboard of colonial states. These kinds of places end up serving as battlegrounds for proxy wars by distant kings.

There are a lot of ways that this could be fit into a wuxia space setting. The era could be one of recovery, long after a previous collapse. The new empire is reconsolidating its territories, which have broken off into a vast sea of pirate kingdoms, Dark Age barbarism, temple worlds, etc.

But the recovery is not an orderly affair. The emperor always has to balance power against a wide array of noble clans and interstellar corporations. Even though the empire is strong and getting stronger, this emperor is weak, so it's a mad grab by various factions to recapture old territory 'in the name of the emperor," or so they say. The only thing keeping the Great Houses from tearing the empire to pieces is the fact that the frontier is currently ripe enough to absorb all of their ambitions and violence. For now.

Meanwhile, if you want to make things morally complex, you've got the whole horror-of-colonialism thing. But if you want to keep things pulpy and fun, you can have most of those frontier worlds having collapsed into decadence and black magic, and worse. That can stray into 40K territory, but these elements can all be seasoned to taste. There's a lot to work with. PCs can work for an imperial faction, which entails exploring worlds that have been cut off from contact while dealing with intrigue and skulduggery. But there are plenty of options if you want to take it another direction.
 

Silverlion

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In my wuxia space opera game, the Emporer is good, but governors, bureaucrats, old nobles, all that? Can be dark and corrupt as I want to make it. They'll game and abuse the system. It allows me to keep some balance to things. While giving players for the freedom to be the wuxia heroes they want to play. Even if one has a beer keg as a weapon.
 

Ghost Whistler

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It's that time again!

The Fivefold Margins of the Ten Thousand Suns

Lunar Turtle Space - a cold and lonely region. Once the purview of the White Bride House, it is now a place of death and sorrow. Yet among these worlds there is life; resources necessary to the Empire’s survival grow in abundance prompting the Consortium of Nobles to pursue their acquisition.

The capital is the planet Moon’s Blossom. An icy world believed to have fallen under harsh endless winter with the demise of the White Bride House and its ruling Lady. Ancient palaces barely occupied on islands surrounded by black inhospitable ocean.

The Shi can be found here; a cult of assassins that many believe are what really became of the White Bride House. A cult of death.


The Phoenix Suns - on the other side of the galactic core there is a region almost tearing itself apart. Worlds rich in resource surrounded by flotsam from the ancient wars that tore the region apart. Many who live here do so among the riches of the past, surrounded by danger whether among the systems of ancient warcraft, or on the surface of worlds tearing themselves apart.

The Empire builds its weapons of war here. Its military is trained here. Above and around, the Phoenix Wave threatens to burn through, enraging stars and tearing worlds apart.


Qing Azure - of all the worlds of the Empire, few are found elsewhere that are as beautiful as the Cloud Libraries of Qing Azure. These vast archives are the repositories of ancient knowledge and connected by mysterious portals known as Cloud Bridges.

The academies of Qing Azure teach the finest minds of the Empire. The Diamond Garden is a major imperial dataspace and recognised as the capital. But its physical location is secret. Scholars that interface with the River, the galactic datasphere, can seek permission from the August Intellects within to visit. But they may not want to leave.


Tiger Star Bai - sometimes known as the Middle Kingdom. These bustling metropolitan worlds are the marketplaces and trading floors of the Empire. It is said one can find anything here and so the great criminal families of the Five Venom Syndicate conduct their business here, surrounded in opulence and drenched in tradition. Almost all business pays them a levy and even the Empire dares not take them on.

The Trade Moons of the Singing Bird World are dedicated to many products, some essential some luxurious. Few places elsewhere are said to have so many nice things.


Imperial Golden Dragon - the heart of the Empire. Worlds stunning and beautiful, but the product of hard artifice. Dragonformed climates and controlled environments give the illusion of paradise. The noble houses gather here with palaces and continental fiefs on the capital planet of the Empire: Qinshi Golden Dragon. But no fief is as impressive or as ancient as the Celestial City. The home of the emperor. It was created prior to the rise of the Empire (inconceivable!) by the hand of the gods, the Celestials.

The Throne betrays vast machinery. Inscrutable Prediction Engines speaking the Celestial language, Tian. The Empire’s feared Astrologers study these predictions with full license to undertake whatever is necessary to maintain the security of the Empire.
 

WitcherPunk

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Sounds like a lotta fun.
For some amusing 40K references, and all-around cool stuff,
I will recommend the WN(LN?) Forty Millenniums of Cultivation.
The author put a lot of detail into it, and it is a fun read.
 

Ghost Whistler

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And we're back!

As hinted at elsewhere, I have new, equally ridiculous ideas, once again guaranteed to go nowhere. But this is 2020 so who cares! We'll all be dead by Christmas! (that's the spirit)

Across the Mandala of Worlds


The greatest legacy of the Dragon Kings; the Mandala is a superluminal network connecting the Enlightened Worlds. It has barely survived the Great Asura War and is now largely under the control of the Jagannath Imperium. This fierce and oppressive regime is the authority of the greatest warrior of that War, the Jaganath.

He rules from Surya City, capital of the Enlightened Worlds. His power comes from controlling the surviving Dragon Jewels which were created by the Dragon Kings. Transcendent technology, unmatched. Yet beyond, in the Nirvana Edge, under the shadow of the Void Element, martial warriors repudiate the brutality of the Imperium whose forces struggle to contain dissent.

Lurking, the insidious Spider Monarchy, a cancer within Enlightened World society, worships the dark power of the Element hoping to emancipate it. The Element is the last Jewel, built from Voidcore by the Dragon Kings to contain that portion of them they cast off in order to transcend. This is the Evil Soul. It’s sanctity is protected by the Lotus, a powerful enigmatic being venerated by the martial community. It will join the Dragon Kings at the end of this cosmic age: when the Soul itself is finally spent, worn down by its prison.

Thanks to the chaos of the period, and the depredations of the Spider Monarchy, that prison is weakened. Once before it reached out, finding purchase in the living machines that it turned into the Asura Combine, making war on humanity. Now, after a thousand years of war, their return is threatened as the Lotus struggles to contain it. Even the Jagannath fears it.
 

Ghost Whistler

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The Jagannath Imperium

Once the greatest general of the Asura Wars, the Jagannath led the Luminaries to victory against the Asura Combine. A bitter interstellar conflict lasting a thousand long years, fought across the Mandala of Worlds. Victory came after a long struggle to procure the most powerful relics of the ancients: the Dragon Jewels. No human was meant to wield such power, not even the Luminaries.

Following victory, the Jagannath took control of the remains of the Enlightened Worlds. The Mandala encompasses separate sectors, governed from Surya City by the iron hand of the Imperium and its fearsome Dragon Police. The Earthcore, at it’s heart, the Fireworlds that bear the scars of war the greatest, the Wind Marches, and the Ice Kingdom. Beyond that is the most ancient region of space, now contested. Home of refugees, heroes, and, most importantly, the Void Element, this is the Nirvana Edge.

From Surya City, orbiting the star within which the Jewels were placed, the Jagannath maintains a constant vigil over the Enlightened Worlds. His law is ruthless and unyielding the purpose of which is to institute order. Society now exists in a strict hierarchy, rigorously enforced. One is born to a Caste, as defined by the Jagannath according to ancient precepts. In this way, through the Dragon Jewels, the flow of Light, through the Mandala, empowers him, and this his rule.

The Dragon Police are the most common exponent of his will, ubiquitous throughout the Imperium. Through the power of the Jewels, the Jagannath controls them. All. Their most important function is the repression of the chaotic element of Warrior arts: the cultivation of Inner Fire. Martial Arts are outlawed. Only the practices that benefit the Jagannath are permitted, and only in direct service. Those that study are bent to his will with successful students almost inevitably becoming Dragon Police constables. Where autonomous practice or potential is discovered it is ruthlessly repressed; practitioners must either flee the Imperium (heading to the Edge) or face conscription and imperial conditioning. Or destruction. Imperial culture brands these chaotic elements as an evil the equivalent of the Asura.
 

Ghost Whistler

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The Void Element

Once there were the Dragon Kings, a race of hyper advanced beings most famous for their transcendent technology: the Dragon Jewels. They created the Mandala of Worlds; the superluminal network Lightcasters use to travel between the Enlightened Worlds. Without it, interstellar civilisation would collapse. It bore the brunt of the Asuran Wars and remains frayed at the edges, subject to Ghul pirate crews and remnant Asuran tech.

The Kings sought to transcend to Highspace; a domain of purity and thought. First they needed to shrieve themselves of their base aspects. This gave birth to a separate entity, liberating them. This is the Evil Soul and it was bound into a prison made from pure Voidcore; the stuff of primal creation. Dangerous buit necessary to contain the terrible corrupting half life of the Evil Soul.
One of their kind remained to watch over the Element: the Lotus. When the Soul is finally depleted, the Great Wheel of Ages will turn and the Lotus will be the last Dragon King to ascend.

The Element resides now in the depths of the Nirvana Edge. It once animated the Asura, giving them terrible purpose. It does so again in the shadow of the Imperium. Deep within imperial society a cancer grows, influenced through the ages by the Element. THe Spider Monarchy has long sought to free the Evil Soul. They worship it, aspiring to its power. Even some within the Martial Arts community, out in the Edge, away from the Jagannath's reach, believe the Evil Soul is a path to true power.

The Lotus watches, fearing that such attention could truly liberate the darkness within the Element.
 

Ghost Whistler

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So this project is called Lotus Overdrive. There's an rpg called Nefertiti Overdrive and I always thought that a cool title. It's a sort of action movie take on ancient Egypt. I've never played and can't speak to what it's like.

Martial Arts

More commonly known as Warrior Arts. These are skills one can learn through application of personal power, which can be cultivated. Such practice is strictly forbidden by the Jagannath. He believes it chaotic and thus destructive to the path he would have humanity walk. Only his Arts are allowed, controlled by the Dragon Jewel. Those who learn these arts become the Dragon Police; largely mindless enforcers of his will. Personal power is more commonly known as Inner Fire.
There are five Warrior Arts: Celestial Weaponry, Dragon Bindu, the Eye of Light, Fate Mandala, and Void Element. The latter of course is a dark path that all warriors, not just the Jagannath, eschew. It is a path studied by the Spider Monarchy and those within (and beyond) the warrior community who seek power over all. These arts are a mixture of science and skill.
Celestial Weaponry is the ability to craft weapons from Inner Fire. A sword to cleave a starship burning with solar light, for example.
Dragonbindu is the ancient art of the body's inner workings, it's energy flows and points to allow change and manipulation. It can heal others.
The Eye of Light is the power wielded by generals and heroes; a shining third eye of inspiration and domination.
Fate Mandala is the art of being sensitive to the flow of the Mandala of Worlds. It is to Lightcasting what Lightcasting is to the first human starships and their anachronistic rocket engines. Through it one can perceive future events and wield powers of prediction.
The Void Element is the art of tapping the darkness of the Evil Soul. All those that try this believe they can master it, but in all cases, sooner or later, the opposite is true. Those so corrupted become inhuman monsters known as Ghul. They retain their independence of thought, or so they believe, making them dangerous and cunning. But their actions are informed by the needs of the Evil Soul and its desire to be free and to destroy the universe. The greatest source of Void Element knowledge is kept by the furtive Spider Monarchy; a terrible and deeply embedded human cult that reaches far into the Imperium's infrastructure, and beyond into the Nirvana Edge. Its members are powerful elites who manipulate their servants without them ever really knowing.
 

Ghost Whistler

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The Asuran Combine

An army of machines, their will subverted and slaved to the Void Element. Driven to destroy the Mandala of Worlds, they fought a war that lasted a thousand years and almost succeeded. They began as a race of sentient robotic life, innocently making contact with the Void Element which found, in them, a conduit.
The Combine is a vast hive mind possessed by the Element. Despite the power of the Jagannath and his forces, it was never fully destroyed. Shattered and scattered the disparate machine forges were believed to have been rendered inert. Asuran technology is prized on the black market, but possession is a capital offence within the Imperium. For good reason; when it has become active it has taken over the host, reworking them into a new form of cyborg life. Such beings are driven to find their master: the Void Element. The Imperium fears a new and terrible evolution of the Combine and an inevitable resurgence of galaxy shattering conflict.
 

Ghost Whistler

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The Golden City

The capital of the Mandala, now of the Imperium. The greatest and most effulgent intergalactic metropolis. Yet, now, beyond the shining facade, it is the heart of an oppressive regime. Life is controlled and measured. The Dragon Polcie are everywhere, as is the image and voice of the Jagannath, reinforcing Doctrine. The Jagannath's controlling ideology. The source of his martial arts.

In the sky, around which the planet orbits, is the star Surya. The last of the great Dragon Jewels, bent to the power of the Jagannath. It maintains the Mandala of Worlds; the superluminal web through which Lightcasters spin starships and connect the worlds of the Imperium. Its edges are fraying now. Integrity wounded by the Asura. Surya struggles to heal. She hears the voice of the Lotus.
 

Ghost Whistler

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The Nirvana Edge

Ancestral home of the ancients, the Dragon Kings. Its core is now a dangerous hinterland dominated by the bleeding power of the Void Element, drawing to it all manner of evil. The Edge exists agonisingly beyond the Jagannath's reach, despite this he expends considerable resources, potentially overreaching himself to suppress the dissent within. The Edge is home to the surviving warrior community; great heroes cultivating Inner Fire. Most protect communities, but some, repudiating the Warrior Code, are warlords and monsters. Some even pursue arts of the Void Element.

Huamnity exists here, in the shadow of vast ancient powers. The Lotus watches, calling many warriors to assist. A great and terrible conflict is certain. These are isolated fringe communities. As much a spirit of independence as strong community, but also opportunism, glory and profit. The best and the worst. Caught between the stifling yoke of the Jagannath's reassuring control, and the corrupting vertiginous power of the Void Element.
 

Ghost Whistler

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Places in the Edge

Jianghu Station - the furthest settled point on the Mandala of Worlds. The Station is a vast independent commercial hub that has fiercely maintained its independence through the efforts of the Lightcaster Union. Its value to all communities helps this cause. The Imperium would to take control. So far they have failed. It is the nexus between the Edge and the Imperium. Lightcasters believe there are more hubs, deeper in the Edge. THose have yet to be reliably discovered. Exploration is a major source of profit.
The Union runs the station directly, hiring sheriffs and peacekeepers where necessary. Lightcasters are descendants of the first colonial diaspora that settled the Mandala of Worlds. They explored and charted the superluminal network and control travel throughout. The experience of hwich has had a marked effect genetically. Many wonder if they are even human anymore. They view space travel and the Mandala of Worlds, and thus the Dragon Kings, with a spiritual reverance. The Union is as much a clergy as it is a service and it is independent from the Lightcasters that serve the Imperium, and much smaller. Those individuals do not hold the Dragon Kings as anything more than a dead race. They serve the grand designs of their emperor.
 

Ghost Whistler

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The Void Element

Here it sits, at the heart of everything. To all intents and purposes, to the mundane systems of the Imperium, a vast black sun. A gutted sun spewing corruption and force beyond all radiation. Once these worlds were the treasure of the Dragon Kings, builders of the Mandala of Worlds. They enacted a great ritual to cast off a growing inner darkness, holding them back from entering Highspace; the realm of pure energy and thought. Following, they transcended. The Element was constructed to contain that force; the Evil Soul. The most dangerous force in the cosmos.

Warlords come to receive the blessing of the Evil Soul, to merge their Inner Fire with it and master the unassaibnale martial arts of the Void Temple, whose dark masters contemplate in the glare of the black sun. Equally too, dark technology is built from the ruins of the Asura that litter these worlds as the dying machines, beaten by the Jagannath, came to rest. They await a spark to regenerate. Many trade in such technology, abhorrent elsewhere.

The entrance to the region is marked by an old battle station, under the control of the Five; a court of powerful criminal warlords. Each is known only by their title: Centipede, Snake, Scorpion, Lizard, and Toad. They are ancient, in fact some believe these titles predate their occupants. None is certain; you meet the Court fo the Five once and once only. Powerful warriors, Demon Constables, attend them, serving as their agents and policing their territory with an iron fist. Strong exponents of the martial power of the Void Element. The will fo the Court reaches far beyond, into the outer limits of the Nirvana Edge, even into the Imperium itself. They are the most powerful criminal element in the galaxy. The station is known as Underworld.
 

Ghost Whistler

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Temple of the Gongen

Only the Jagannath knows the truth: did this long lived mortal culture build the Asura? If so perhaps that would explain why they went on to build the weaponry used to fight them during the war. A sense of guilt for what their creations became, after exposure to the Void Element. Gongen society, a culture of spirit scientists, endures largely outside of the Imperium. The Temple is found in the Edge in a region known as the Sword Stars. Those who practice the art of Celestial Weaponry will find no better teacher - or technician. Such ordnance interfaces through cultivated Inner Fire. It's prevalence, as the most practised martial art, comes from its use during the Asuran Wars: the use of things like Astraguns, Trigrammunition, and Bodhiswords. Such weaponry is highly illegal in the Imperium. It is still uncommon, most who acquire such relics find them as treasure or heirlooms, or plunder. There is of course a black market for such technology, one the Gongen would like to either control or eliminate. Some believe the Temple is a secret headquarters for the training of a new wave of armed warriors, ready to restore justice to the galaxy. To that end, whiel the Temple - a vast station on an industrialised ruin - is the home of the surviving Gongen, it is not their only facility. There are many.
 
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