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[Fantasy Craft] Collaboratively Creating a Mythic China Setting

Gizmit

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Hey guys.

I need some assistance in creating a setting for Fantasy Craft to entice my group into trying the system. They indicated that they want to try a setting that's relatively different from normal Western Fantasy, while maintaining some DnD-isms (namely, Races). The central idea is of an Empire at war with itself: the Empire of Ten Thousand Kings. In ages past, the armies of the Central Kingdom conquered all of the lands and'peoples around them, ranging from the frozen seas of the south to the burning wastes of the north. All races, people, and religions are welcome to pay tribute to Emperor and join in his prosperity.

When the Glorious Armies had marched from coast to coast, and found no new lands or chiefs to conquer, the Empire's attention turned inwards. For the past ninety years, they've settled and stultified. The armies have changed from legions of warriors to louche layabouts. The Righteous Generals are now called the Pompous Peacocks. The Ten Thousand Satraps neglect their charges and scheme against each other and their ministers in cities that have overgrown their walls, amidst crumbling palaces and gilded whorehouses. The Most Humble Geniuses, the Emperor's own crackpots, inventors, architects, and scholars have gone from inventing and creating to suppressing innovation in an Inquisition which threatens to break the land in two. Peasants say that the Twin Forces of Yin and Yang are out of balance and fighting, though none can say which is too strong.

Only the Twelve Imperial Cults have stood firm. Their temples stand, well tended. Their bureaucracies are pruned with care. Their guardians' armor is spotless, and their swords unnotched. They stand above the petty squabbles, communing with the distant gods, The Zodiac Beasts, and caring for the common folk. Even they are worried, though, for in the South, the stars are going dark...

The Empire is traditional, grand, and falling apart.
The Rebels are innovative, free, and far too destructive.

I have some details of the Alignments here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0Aivdhxbq5xy9dF9xTEZhRllhOHhZRXFkWDgtVUlKWmc&output=html
However, many of the details surrounding these Alignments need filling out.

I'm not sure what my players are interested in playing, and my creative juices are low. RPG.net, help me create this setting!
 

prototype00

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So what are the races going to be like?

Humans (default)
Drakes (Traditional Chinese Lung)

I suppose martial artist will take the place of the main fighty front-liner, which is cool.

prototype00
 

Gizmit

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One player always plays Elves. One has indicated interest in a Drake. The other two haven't said what they want to play, but I can guess (human and something extremely weird with mechanical trickiness).
 

That Other Guy

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I say go bold and have your orc-esque race be more along the lines of Sun-Wukong; monkey people who are wild and arrogant and tricksy, but not have them necessarily be outright malevolent.
 

prototype00

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So something like an unborn clockwork monstrosity then (powered by a taoist pill furnace).

Wasn't there a drake racial trait that made them basically wingless but gave them a native fly speed and made them basically a celestial creature (found it, Gold Scale, basically turns you into a celestial dragon).

I'm at a loss as to how elves fit into chinese mythos, perhaps reskin them as a race of enlightened immortals? Like the sage of Journey to the West.

prototype00
 

Gizmit

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I do like the Monkey-people orcs. Maybe have them be more apelike, with the goblins more monkey-like. Having a giant roving Primate Horde would be cool!

Elves are really going to be difficult. Worse comes to worse, we can leave them in as a strange Western Fantasy holdout. The Empire conquered a lot of strange places.
 

Silvercat Moonpaw

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I'm at a loss as to how elves fit into chinese mythos, perhaps reskin them as a race of enlightened immortals? Like the sage of Journey to the West.
Their stats certainly work that way.

Ogres should be demons, not always evil in Chinese mythology as far as I know. Probably the same with goblins and orcs.

Dwarves, Giants, and Rootwalkers could probably be "spirits" of some kind: stone, mountain, and tree, respectively.

Not so sure about Pech (but then again I always have problems with them).

I think there are many instances of animals who take human form in Chinese stories, so you can always refer back to that.
 

Caspian

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Elves in this setting would likely be minor functionaries of the celestial court, ie small gods or ghosts.

Dragons don't really interact in a mythical chinese setting as people, more like forces of nature, in a similar vein to D&D with say every dragon is either an elemental or a great wyrm.

If you were going to take strands from actual Chinese folklore and myth, there's the core concept that "China" is civilization, Tien Sha, all under heaven and all that BS. So with that in mind the orks from that perspective are literally just folk who live outside the borders and are less civilized. You could run like a caveman kind of thing, but the problem with that is the more you think about it the more inherently racist these ideas become.
 

Gizmit

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Anyone have any ideas for the skills for the various Zodiac animals? I based their Paths off of their Elements (changing Wood to Nature), and based-off of their Trine (Heroism, Strength, Protection, or Beauty). I think I may need to change Yin's Path, as the Death Path seems too focused on evil stuff.

The idea behind the Alignments is everyone gets one of the Zodiac Beasts, and can choose to gain one of Yang or Yin, and one of Empire or Rebel. Those who choose to buck the system may join the forces of the Void Propheices, which wipes their Destiny clean from the Akashic Record, at the cost of being an enemy of the natural balance.
 

Gizmit

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If you were going to take strands from actual Chinese folklore and myth, there's the core concept that "China" is civilization, Tien Sha, all under heaven and all that BS. So with that in mind the orks from that perspective are literally just folk who live outside the borders and are less civilized. You could run like a caveman kind of thing, but the problem with that is the more you think about it the more inherently racist these ideas become.
The Glorius Empire probably once had that point of view, sometime in its past. However, more "progressive" Emperors declared that all who paid him tribute were "civilized". He then formed the Glorious Army and "civilized" the crap out of the surrounding peoples.
 
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