Playing Fantastic Wuxia
The wuxia genre contains many fantastic elements. Within wuxia stories, some skills and talents appear superhuman but actually come from specific training and knowledge. By default, Hearts of Wulin and the classic forms of wuxia accept things like:
- Incredible forms of movement, often called Lightness, allowing heroes to run up walls, perform great leaps, balance on thin branches.
- Vulnerable parts of the body which can be attacked to weaken an opponent’s powers or make them vulnerable.
- Medicine which can perform miracles of restoration and healing.
Other wuxia media exist which include more elements of the supernatural: sorcerers, ghosts, shape-shifters, monsters, etc. These elements can be divided into two groups: Supernatural Wuxia, which adds these elements, and Xianxia, which takes that and turns it up to 11.
Because Hearts of Wulin abstracts mechanics significantly, most of the supernatural elements can be handled by reframing and recoloring characters and ideas. Players can easily change the scale of what’s possible. Groups can play without distinct mechanics for a higher scale sorcerer. It simply changes how the players have to approach the problem.
That being said, this section provides many options to enhance playing a supernatural game. These are divided into base mechanics—meaning those players will always likely use—and optional mechanics, which the GM and table will want to decide on together.
New Moves & Mechanics
New Move: Facing the Supernatural
In this genre, the mere act of facing the supernatural can break even the most solid of heroes.
When you face a new supernatural manifestation alongside the unready, roll. On a 10+ your calm and determination hold them steady. On a 7-9, choose one: bear the brunt and mark an Element (choice), someone panics and spreads chaos, someone panics and causes injuries, or the manifestation claims a victim. On a Miss, the situation goes out of your control and the power of the supernatural foe increases.
Once the unready have faced such a foe, they’re considered ready. If a PC declares themselves unready, they may mark XP.
The Study Move & the Supernatural
If players want to enhance the distinctiveness of the supernatural, restrict the Study move. Only allow characters with an appropriate background or role to ask questions regarding a supernatural manifestation. In this case, or if the GM determines the PC need further help, use this move:
New Optional Move: Seek Expert
When you ask an expert about a supernatural manifestation you’ve witnessed or seen evidence of, roll. On a 10+ they provide you with answers. You may ask two questions about the manifestation or make one declaration. On a 7-9 they’re cranky or recalcitrant, choose one: ask one question before they drive you away or take the 10+ result if you provide them something idiosyncratic they want (declare their superiority, provide a legendary wine, carry them across a river, etc.). On a Miss, choose: they provide you with misleading information or they’re secretly associated with or responsible for the manifestation.
Scale & the Supernatural
Like more conventional foes, supernatural villains can be of a higher Scale. Unlike conventional foes, supernatural villains don’t fight the heroes the same way. To represent this, GMs should consider their Scale Superior. Heroes cannot deal with a Superior supernatural threat within a scene the first time they face it. They may drive it off or escape. But to gain Scale, the player characters must find a Bane. This is a variation on the New Technique move.
New Move: Uncover Bane
When you seek out a Bane by study, practice, or consultation, roll. On a 10+ you discover a Bane. It doesn’t claim another victim in the meantime. Choose one: it can only be used once, it is costly/rare, it is forbidden, a rival controls access, it harms you, or it damages something important. Describe what it is. On a 7-9, choose two and it claims another victim while you work. On a Miss, despite your belief in it, the Bane fails. Alternatively, the GM may decide it succeeds but there’s a horrific cost.
New Variant: Options for Monsters/Supernatural Foes
Corrupting: This foe is dangerous to engage. You must mark an Element (choice) when Dueling them. Nastier versions require you to mark a specific Element associated with the being (or Wounded if that’s already marked).
Insidious: When you Duel this creature, roll +Bonds spent instead of an Element. If you cannot or will not spend Bonds, roll +0 and as if the foe is a higher Scale.
Undying: The foe is the same Scale, but when defeated it dissipates or vanishes. The “show mercy” option is removed for Duel. The “at a cost” choice for the 7-9 result is changed to “Mark an Element, reveal a secret, or embarrass yourself.” This foe can return in a later scene. This cycle can be broken by discovering a Bane to remove this power.
Venomous: If you mark an Element as a result of a Duel, it cannot be cleared without expert knowledge about the supernatural.
Vindictive: This foe hurts innocents nearby. When facing a Superior Scale foe, this happens on all but a 10+ result. For a Same Scale foe, a 7-9 result only has two options: lose and mark XP or win at a cost (innocents or allies harmed).
Vital Points: As a cost or GM move in a Duel, this foe can lock down one your moves, your choice. You cannot use that ability until you have a scene with someone who has supernatural expertise who can assist you. A particularly powerful foe might have this as a cost to even engage them. (Note: this ability is meta and so choices don’t have to logically sync up).
New Move: Use Found Magic
If your characters come across magical talismans, wands, supernatural scrolls, or the like, they may want to use them. The first step is to Study an item. They can then use the move Use Found Magic. If a character cannot or chooses not to Study, they roll Use Found Magic at +0.
Use Found Magic
When you attempt to use an item of supernatural power which you have found, roll. On a Hit, it works. Choose one: it must be recharged to use it again; mark an Element, while you bear the item, you can only use that Element to roll to use the item; it vanishes back whence it came after use. On a 7-9, choose one: the item does not do what you thought or there is a significant cost to using the item (harm someone dear, alienate one of the NPCs named in your Entanglements, destroy something of value, or gain a permanent mark upon your body). On a Miss, you lose control of the powers in the worst way.
If you missed the Kickstarter, you can pre-order Hearts of Wulin here.