Passions for Feng Shui

The idea of passions is ripped directly from Chaosium's Pendragon RPG. They are included in this campaign to simulate the internal struggles of teen angst within a duty-bound and emotionless samurai court society.

There are four basic passions: Honour, Love, Hate and Loyalty. Inspiring a passion in the heat of battle allows the character to act well beyond his or her normal abilities but failing to become inspired sinks the character into the depths of depression.

A character with an inspired passion earns an additional positive die (open ended). A character who fails to inspire their nominated passion earns an additional negative die (open ended).

How to Use Passions

Passions allow a character to perform impossible actions in order to satify his or her own bruised honour or to protect the reputation of the character's lover or family.

A character may only inspire a passion appropriate to the current situation. For example, if a rival insults a character's love interest, he or she may inspire Love: [person] to avenge the insult but not Loyalty: [someone else] because it is not appropriate to that situation.

The GM may also call for a character to inspire a passion under certain circumstances.

Game Mechanics

The game mechanics are dead simple. When a player declares a passion, he or she has his character publicly announce it to the game world so that everyone in the game world knows of it.

For example, a character or GM may declare a passion like one of these:

  • Loyalty: Family or Own Zaibatsu,
  • Love: A Girl of a Neutral Zaibatsu,
  • Hate: A Member of a Rival Zaibatsu.

The GM may award the character a passion automatically if the circumstances warrant. For instance, if a member of the opposite sex has a higher honour than a character or the character fails to resist a seduction attempt, the player may be asked to declare a Love passion for the non-player character.

The value of the newly declared passion is equal to 4 + d6, closed roll. This value may change during the campaign.

Honour cannot be directed in this way as it represents the characters personal sense of honour and worth. All characters start with Honour: 6 and Loyalty: Family 6.

To inspire a passion, the player first declares that he or she intends to do so. Then, the player makes a passion test to see if the character's passion is strong enough to overcome the social ideal and give in to such base emotions. Make an attribute check using the passion as the base and the character's own willpower (or mind attribute) as the target number.

Succeeding in the passion check (ie: passion action value is greater than or equal the character's willpower) means that the character allows him or herself to become controlled by his or her passion. This fury earns the character an addirional open-ended die for the remainder of the sequence. The value of the passion is then increased by one point.

Failing the passion check (ie: the passion action value is less than the character's willpower) means that the character has successfully reigned in his or her emotions and has failed to become filled with emotion. The shame of this betrayal of the passion earns the character an additional open ended negative die on all rolls for the remainder of the sequence. The value of the passion is then decreased by one point.

Attempts to inspire passions outside of a combat sequence last for a single skill roll or attribute check only.

Conflicting Passions

If a character is placed in a situation where two passions are appropriate, the player may choose to use either passion. if, however, the applicable passions conflict - that is, they demand opposing actions from the character - the player rolls the passion check as usual for both and uses the passion with the highest action value. The player is considered to have failed to inspire the passion with the lower action value.

Increasing Passions

Other than the methods outlined above, all passions except Honour can be increased by spending XP. Honour can only be raised or lowered by actions in the game and not by spending XP.

The cost to raise a passion by one point is equal to the new level of the passion. For example, to raise Loyalty: Family 7 by one costs 8 XP.

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Honour - Personal and Family

Honour is a measure of how highly esteemed a character is in society. It's a mixture of reputation, moral fortitude and obedience to the social norms and comes in two flavours: personal honour and family honour. The tricky part is that actions and events which enhance a character's personal honour subtract from the honour of his family - such as killing an opponent who insulted you - and vice versa.

Personal honour is considered in more detail under Passions.

Family honour is more a strategic resource. A character may call on the honour of his family to secure a meeting with the Shogun himself or aanother of the general staff. The difference in family honour may be used as a way of gauging the reaction of an unknown person to the character. The difference between a character's personal honour and his family's honour is a measure of how highly regarded he is withim the zaibatsu.

Below is a list of events and actions and how each affects personal and/or family honour. The magnitude of the change in honour is dependant on circumstances.

Action or Event Personal Family
'Disadvantaging' a rival + 0
Killing a rival + -
Causing a public disturbance 0 -
Keeping the peace under provocation 0 +
Public works, acts of charity 0 +
Refusing a daimyo's order - 0
Cowardice - -
Bravery + 0
Self-sacrifice 0 +
Obeying a lover's request + 0
Finding a lover + 0
Being dumped by a lover - 0
Getting married - +
Honour gain and loss for actions or events

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Formal Dueling

Duels are one of the main methods of settling disputes of honour and are, of course, forbidden by the Shogun. Being caught dueling in defiance of the edict is punishable by exile to the wastelands or by a suitable punishment decided by the aggreived family if any wounds have been inflicted. Dueling, however, is the surest and quickest way of gaining great honour in the eyes of the community. The Shogun almost never interferes with or disputes a punishment decreed by the family of the injured party.

Formal duels last one combat sequence only. If there is no result by the end of the sequence, the duel is considered a draw.

Using armour in a duel is considered cowardice and provides the non-armoured combattant with an automatic victory.

Duels are more than mere fights. There is a strong mental or spiritual component to them as well. To simulate this characters can use non-combat skills such as intimidate, seduction and possibly info/knowledge skills, if the player can make a strong enough case for it, to gain an advantage over an opponent. Each use of a skill in this way has a shot cost of three and each skill provides specific bonuses and penalties if successful. Bonuses and penalties are cumulative.

Induce you opponent to attack you or to attack against an area in which you feign weakness. If successful, the opponent must make an attack roll against you at -3 on his or her next shot. The penalty lasts for this attack only.
Make you opponent afraid of you and your duelling ability. For the remainder of the sequence, you make all attack rolls at +1.
Info (Area)
A successful Info skill check in an appropriate area (eg: to understand your opponent's fighting style, etc) awards you +1 and your opponent -1 to all attack rolls for the remainder of the sequence. You must convince the game master that the info skill is appropriate to the duel at hand.
Other skills
These either give you a +1 bonus or your opponent a -1 penalty depending on circumstances. I figure, however, that it will be hard to convince a game master that other skills are appropriate in a formal duel.

There are two types of duel: duel to first blood and duel to the end. In a duel to first blood, the victor is the combattant who first scores a wounding attack (ie: scoring at least one wound point) against his or her opponent. In a duel to the end (also called a duel to the death), the victor is the combattant who scores the most wounding attacks on his or her opponent. Note that this does not mean that victory goes to the combattant who scores the most damage against an opponent.

The prize for victory in a duel is honour. If the victor in a duel started with honour equal to or less than his opponent, he gains one point of honour for overcoming a formidable challenge. If the loser of a duel starts with more honour than the victor, he or she loses one point of honour for failing to overcome the weaker opponent. In other cases, there is no change to honour.

These rules mean that it makes sense to challenge people to duels who have more honour than you character although this means that they will most likely have better combat skills. It also means that character with high honour scores have a real reason to be nice to those below them so they don't take offense and demand a duel.

Samurai society is dead easy to model in this way.

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Samurai Insta-Kill

For those times when you really need to chop someone in half or send a head flying across the room to land in a gangster-boss' rice bowl, you need the samurai insta-kill. Against unnamed characters (mooks), on an Outcome of eight or greater the player character may remove a mook's head from his shoulder, slice the poor sap in two or similar extremem of violence. Against named characters, any attack which causes the named character to fail a death check has a similar effect.

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What's In, What's Out

Certain parts of the published Feng Shui background do not fit comfortably with this campaign setting or game idea and for this reason they have been dropped. These are:

The Secret War
Anything happening behind the scenes in this game world is purely political. It's corporation versus corporation and family versus family. There's no need for any overarching conflict.
Time Junctures
Likewise, the campaign is set in a specific time and place. In this case, the junctures are nothing more than a distraction. Travel between the junctures is impossible.
While the rules for arcanoware may be useful for cybernetics and such like, the idea of living matter merged with inanimate matter in the way described in the standard Feng Shui game world just doesn't fit.
This is an odd one. Magic exists but I guess I think of something more subtle than the flashy pyro-technics of regular Feng Shui games. I imagine that in such a closed community any open display of magical power will be jumped on by the Shogun.

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