Carpe Blogiem: The Middle Kingdom Primer – Optional Rules

Like my previous posts this one is kind of an “outloud thinking” post. I’ve discussed doing research on Chinese history and folklore, the general thrust of the campaign, and how I was approaching character creation. This post is going to talk about the general optional rules I’d be using for the campaign.

First, I decided to scour the GURPS books to see if there were any cinematic rules I wanted to be in effect. I decided on these:

  • Bullet Time (empowered by requiring a use of IP) – because yeah, Bullet Time.
  • Cannon Fodder (for mooks) – hordes of guys running into a room to attack the protagonist is so on point for wuxia games that this was just required.
  • Cinematic Knockback – because guns tend to send folks through.
  • Flesh Wounds (empowered by requiring a use of IP) – because fighting through the pain/hp loss is common.
  • Gun Control Law (can be turned off by using VP) – because guns are meant to scare people, not blow holes through the protagonists (though that CAN happen)
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy (can be turned off by using VP) – because even when they get shot at it usually misses long enough for the protagonist to run away
  • Shaking it Off (empowered by requiring a use of IP) – because fighting through fatigue is common.

Next, I decided what optional rules would be in play from various books. I decided on these (sort by book):

GURPS Basic Set

  • Limited Enhancements (p. B111) – for deep modding of traits to turn them into appropriate chi abilities.
  • Malfunctions (p. B279) – because guns sometimes just don’t work in kung fu flicks.
  • Modifying Dice + Adds (p. B269) – for more pleasing randomness in high bonus dice rolls.

GURPS Low-Tech Series

  • Armor Hit Locations (Low-Tech, p. 100) – because I use this pretty much in all my campaigns.
  • Sheaths (Low-Tech, p. 57) – ditto.

GURPS Martial Arts

  • Multiple Blocks (pp. 123) – I doubt I’ll see many shield users on any of the teams, but I still want the option there.
  • Pain in Close Combat (pp. 119) – this is a classic thing in wuxia and just needs to be in the campaign for use..
  • All of the Additional Combat Options except for A Matter of Inches (pp. 109-132) – there is too much to unpack here, but basically, this sort of stuff is needed to create the appropriate depth for combat that wuxia requires.
  • All the Expanded Combat Maneuvers from Chapter Four (pp. 96-124) – ditto.
  • Cinematic Rapid Strike (p. 127) – having multiple attacks per turn is pretty much de rigueur for wuxia flicks.
  • Chambara Fighting (p.128-129) – this campaign was the first one where I’ve ever used them and while reading them I was struck with just how perfect they were when it came to replicating the genre.
  • Extra Effort in Combat (p. 131), all options are available (Heroic Charge, Flurry of Blows and Mighty Blows are especially appropriate) – because true masters can do lots of things others can’t
  • Martial Arts Styles (pp. 140-206), all PCs should know at least one martial arts style. I ruthlessly enforce the rules for techniques and chi abilities. If it doesn’t appear in your style, you don’t get access to it. Period. This ensured that PCs would highly scrutinize the styles they wanted to take instead of just plopping stuff down on a character sheet.

GURPS Powers

  • Coordinated Attacks (p. 165) – being able to overwhelm your target’s defenses with multiple attacks from multiple people is highly in genre.
  • Crippled Abilities (p. 156) – having your “chi” messed up for this or that reason is common enough in wuxia films that this was pretty much required.
  • Defending with Powers (p. 167) – being able to use your abilities as a part of an active defense just screams chi powers to me.
  • Abilities and Exertion (p. 159) – sure, you can use Breaking Blow to pulverize boulders all day, but you’re going to pay for it later on by being fatigued.
  • Power Skills (p. 162) – appropriate for the system I wanted to create with the chi powers.
  • Power Techniques (p. 162) – ditto.
  • Trading Fatigue for Effect (p. 160) – ditto.
  • Trading Fatigue for Skill (p. 161) – ditto.
  • Repeated Attempts (p. 159) – ditto.

Pyramid Magazine

The following Pyramid articles are being used for the campaign; if a magazine is not listed, and you wish to use something from it ask the GM.

  • Pyramid #3/53: Action (“Fortunately I Saw This Coming,” pp 32-34) – I pretty much always use these rules when I run a campaign. They’re amazing.
  • Pyramid #3/77: Combat (“On Target,” pp. 4-8) – ditto.
  • Pyramid #3/100: Pyramid Secrets (“Impulse Control,” pp. 4-9) – I know, I know, eating my own dog food, but I love meta-currencies and they can produce powerfully dramatic moments in a campaign if done right.
  • Pyramid #3/105: Cinematic Magic (“Chi Sorcery,” pp. 12-21). It should be noted that Chi Sorcery is the basis for the martial arts abilities of the campaign setting, but only the powers would be in use – Ki Investment was stractily off the table. These powers would serve as placeholders until I could get the chi power system I wanted to create functioning.

Miscellaneous rules

  • Fantastic Grappling: The simplified version of Technical Grappling would serve to enhance grappling’s flavor for the campaign.
  • GURPS After the End 1: Wastelanders: the rules for Long-term Fatigue Points (p. 24) are in play.
  • GURPS After the End 2: The New World: the rules for Temperature Tolerance (p. 12) are in effect (and how they affect the rules for being cold, hot, etc.).
  • GURPS Fantasy-Tech 1: The Edge of Reality: Ethnic Cool Weapons (p. 10; renamed as appropriate), Armor (p. 13), and Azzalum (p. 27) are available. Ethnic Cool weaponry are not typically starting gear! Ask the GM before taking anything.
  • GURPS Fantasy-Tech 2: Weapons of Fantasy: Full Metal Weapons (p. 4), Double-Ended Weapons (p. 5), Giant Swords (p. 8), Serpent’s Fangs (p. 10), Multi-Blades (p. 10), and Diabolical whips (p. 12) are available. Ask the GM before taking anything for a starting character.
  • GURPS Power-Ups 3: Talents: Alternative benefits for Talents are in effect for all of those who prefer those to reaction modifiers. You can get both if you want by purchasing a number of levels of a new perk: “Enhanced Talent.” All racial talents start with alternative benefits instead of reaction modifiers.
  • GURPS Power-Ups 5: Impulse Buys: This book is in use, but with the Impulse Control modifications from Pyramid #3/100.
  • GURPS Social Engineering: the Expanded Influence Rolls (p. 36).
  • GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic: This book with some modification would serve me well to build the system I wanted for the campaign’s magic.

Picking Over the Bones

This was basically a pull from this post, but with more commentary. Next up, my final thoughts on the premise of the campaign itself.

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