Xanadu - A BRP Chinese Fantasy

Campaign Overview

The Great Khan Kubilai The year is the twentyfourth year of the reign of Kubilai, the Great Khan, grandson of the Mighty Genghis (or AD 1284 in the western world), and the sixth year of his reign over the Sung Chinese. The Great Khan decrees that a summer palace shall be built for him at Shang-do, at the place known as Xanadu. The architect's plan is magnificent. Kubilai is pleased and orders five people to oversee the construction. The local barbarian tribe are endentured as workers on the project. The river Alph, sacred to them, is diverted to make a more pleasing water effect. But all attempts to tame the rugged wilderness of Xanadu end in disaster and the orcales say that spiritual forces are working to prevent the completion of the pleasure dome. The omens are not favourable. The five overseers knows that they must complete their duties satisfactorily or the Great Khan will devise such exquite punishments as to make them wish they and their families had never been born.

Can the characters overcome misfortune and supernatural obstacles to build the summer palace before the Great Khan visits at the start of summer?

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Game System

Elric! RPG Cover This is a campaign for five players using the Elric! rules system so that I can slip in appropriate mechanisms from other Chaosium game products as needed. Characters are important people involved in building the Great Khan's summer palace at Xanadu. Each character is based on one of the five elements of Chinese metaphysics outlined below. Each character also has a major role in the construction of the pleasure dome, such as scholar-architect, engineer, military governor, court spy, works overseer-foreman or Mongol retainer of the Khan's family. These roles are not exclusive and other options are possible.

The allegiences section of the Elric! game system are not appropriate for this campaign and has been dropped. Rather than dealing with demons, the magic system has been modified (in name only) to concern itself with elementals and the spirits of one's ancestors.

Many of the spells and rituals found in the Elric! rules are inappropriate for the camapign as they do not properly reflect Mongol society and culture. Here is an overview of Mongol beliefs and a whole bunch of spells that fit their world better.

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Metaphysical Elements

Very early on in their cultural development, the Chinese developed the idea of the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. While each has specific characteristics and attributes, the relationships between the elements are more important than the elements themselves. Each element dominates and controls another in that the effects it causes can completely overwhelm those of the dominated element. Likewaise, each element supports or aid another element to increase its effectiveness. The relevant attributes and relationships are detailed below.


Wood represents planned activity and is associated with the colour green, spring and morning. It is associated with the tiger and the rabbit.

Wood personalities centre around ideas of leadership, assertiveness, creativity, planning, decision-making, competitiveness, conflict, anger and frustration. In a corporation, the role of wood is the perfect (as opposed to typical) CEO and concerned with growth, vitality and leadership.

Wood consumes earth and is cut by metal. It feeds fire.


Fire represents drive or purpose and is associated with the colour red, mid-day, midsummer. It is associated with the horse and the snake.

Fire personalities centre around ideas of self-expression, emotional extremes, empathy, being an extrovert, attention-seeking, being sociable and talkative. In a corporation, the role of fire is that of the marketing department and is concerned with passion, energy and excitement.

Fire melts metal and is extinguished by water. It generates and feeds earth.


Earth represents social (informal) networks and infrastructure and is associated with the colour yellow, afternoon and late summer. It is associated with the dog and the sheep.

Earth personalities centre around ideas of caring, being supportive and nourishing, family-oriented, stability, grounding, being a "mother hen" and a worrier. In a corporation, the role of earth is that of technology and is concerned with foundational stability and rationality.

Earth dams water and is consumed by wood. It creates metal.


Metal represents the formal structure and is associated with the colour white, evening, autumn. It is associated with the monkey and the hen.

Metal personalities centre around ideas of being precise and meticulous, logical, analytical, ensuring moderation, self-control, morality, and has a tendency towards pessimism. In a corporation, the role of metal is that of the service department representing that values of patience, honesty and determination.

Metal cuts wood and is melted by fire. It holds and supports water.


Water represents creativity and insight and is associated with the colour black, night and winter. It is associated with the rat and the hog.

Water personalities centre around ideas of solitude, privacy, introspection, philosophy, mystery, truth, honesty, anxiety, nervousness and insecurity. In a corporation, the role of water is that of office administration representing sensitivity and calmness.

Water extinguishes fire and is dammed by earth. It nutures wood.

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