Here are the Wū of the setting.
Characters with martial arts powers can either declare for a Wū (or House) or choose to become houseless. Being houseless means you don’t have to be ordered about or must commit to the cause of a given Wū, but it also means you don’t have the protection that loyalty buys. A few of the more prominent Wū in the Middle Kingdom are:
- House of Lost Masters. Originally one of the nine Wū that were founded in antiquity, during the Boxer’s Rebellion in China all of its leaders to the man disappeared and have not been seen since. The lesser scions of the Wū picked up where they left off and have been soldiering on since.
- House of the Spirit Flower (Shen Hua). The legendary house of the Spirit Flower is the only Wū to be utterly neutral in the shadow games the other Wū play. This has resulted in the properties of the house to become a neutral ground to all Wū and houseless alike. Most notable for their ability to blend chi sorcery with martial gifts, the wise of the house are also well versed in crafting pacts and accords that bind its signers as well as exorcise spirits. The women of the house know secrets to promote fertility and ensure healthy children during birth. All are skilled at protecting themselves. Fighting a member of this Wū for any reason other than self-defense will result in the Shen Hua casting the subject out, allowing other Wū or houseless to attack them, even on neutral ground.
- House of the Still Field (Hissori Hata). Originally, a group of well-trained martial artists from Okinawa that rose to prominence in the 19th century, this Wū is very mercenary and will take just about any job for hire. Their masters are known for the ability to call upon the earth with chi magic as well as their mastery of a multitude of weapons.
- House of the Old River (Koga). The famous Koga clan of shinobi is constantly at war with the Genji and Iga Wū. If two of these three meet in the same area there will be blood, if all three meet there will be death. Known for their mastery of the art of ninjutsu some members of the house are quite skilled with illusory and water magic. Like the other two houses the majority of their income comes from assassination for hire.
- House of the Two Beginnings (Genji). The Genji are the youngest of the three ninja clans and legend holds that it’s made of members of the Koga and the Iga who wished to stop the needless bloodshed between the two houses. Unfortunately, that dream never came to pass as the leader of the house was slaughtered by members of the Koga and Iga and only his bride was left. She cut a path through the other shinobi Wū so deep that it took them a century to recover from it. They are competent at fire and divination magics and masters of ninjutsu. Their clan also has an unusual number of chi mages and are almost generalists. Like the other two houses, the majority of their income comes from assassination for hire. Occasionally does bodyguard work.
- House of the Grey Moth (Iga). The eldest of the three ninja clans, the Iga’s name is lost to time, but is thought to mean “grey moth.” Like the other clans they are masters of ninjutsu. They are also one of the few Wū who study chi magic as a whole and are as capable as sorcerers as they are martial artists. Like the other two houses, the majority of their income comes from assassination for hire.
- House of the White Lotus (Bai Lianhua). Formed sometime in the 17th century by the rogue monk Pai Mei they are known for their brutal and callous personalities as well as their mastery of Shaolin Kung Fu and various animal styles. The Wū also has a secret technique that can kill others with a mere touch. The Bai Lianhua are nominally a neutral clan, but often work with the Golden Butterfly when it suits them.
- House of the Jade Spider (Yu Zhizhu). Makers of deadly poisons, the Yu Zhizhu are schemers and know for making many deals, but keeping few promises. Callous to the extreme the Jade Spider only recruits those who have no sympathy left or are willing to let the sadistic Jade Spider recruiter beat it out of them.
- House of the Golden Butterfly (Jin Hudie). The Jin Hudie are a ruthless clan of female only assassins and saboteurs. Their members are capable of influencing even the strongest of minds with chi magic and mundane methods. Sometimes called honey traps – but never to their face – they typically use sex to get what they want and they are very good at it.
- House of the Mountain People (Yama-Bito). A house in decline, the Yama-Bito taught the secrets of shugendo to the Iga and Koga, but in doing so weakened themselves. The Yama-Bito are a spiritual house (as much as any Wū) can be and dream of reclaiming their place among the houses.
Picking Over the Bones
This is by far not the full list of all the Wū, but instead the list of the top ten. Players may make up their own Wū if they wish, perhaps even being Houseless because their clan mates are long gone.