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Weapons of the Gods vs. Legend of the Wulin

Caldorian

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By now, the LotW pdf has been out for a while and the pre-order books have finally arrived. Since its publication, I have browsed through my LotW pdf and book several times, but it will be a while until I get to read the book properly. (And since I'm not going to play a wuxia campaign in the foreseeable future, I'm not really in a hurry.)

So far, my impression had been that LotW is generally considered a big improvement over WotG with regard to the setting and the system. Then I read a comment (by jhudsui?) that he actually prefers WotG over LotW. Now I'm wondering: has the enthusiastic reception of LotW been replaced by a more sober and critical view towards the new system? Have people uncovered critical pitfalls of the new system that weren't apparent in the beginning?

Of course, this one person's preference of WotG over LotW might be just an outlier opinion. Still, I'm curious how LotW plays compared with WotG and whether people have discovered (bigger) problems with the LotW system that weren't there in the previous game.
 

Rand Brittain

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The mechanics are an improvement over WotG; the setting and writing are significantly blander.
 

The Wyzard

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LLotW still needs The Great Game.
 

Caldorian

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The mechanics are an improvement over WotG; the setting and writing are significantly blander.
Huh, that's a surprise. My rough impression was that the setting in LotW is much closer to the sources (such as Jin Yong's and Gu Long's stories). Do you mean the setting itself or the presentation (i.e. no Lore fluff by Jenna Moran)?

EDIT: Just re-read that you wrote that both are blander. Is there something specific you don't like or is it just not as inspirational for you?

LLotW still needs The Great Game.
Hopefully, this will be changed with a future supplement. Did the Great Game see much use in your games?
 
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Ladegard

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Huh, that's a surprise. My rough impression was that the setting in LotW is much closer to the sources (such as Jin Yong's and Gu Long's stories). Do you mean the setting itself or the presentation (i.e. no Lore fluff by Jenna Moran)?
Weapons of the Gods was based on the Hong Kong comic of the same name by Tony Wong Yuk Long.
 

Caldorian

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Weapons of the Gods was based on the Hong Kong comic of the same name by Tony Wong Yuk Long.
Yeah, I know that but, while I didn't read the comic, its setting always seemed much more over-the-top than most wuxia stories that I know. I don't know whether this is just a biased perception but the stuff from Hong Kong comic books (like WotG or Storm Riders) or computer games (like Chinese Paladin) always seemed to be much more fantastical and superheroic than the stories by the likes of Jin Yong.
 

DeusExBiotica

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Prologue:
I love both games. None of the following is an insult to anyone involved in the creation of either.

Regarding flavor:
Weapons of the Gods was always a little schizophrenic. It was based on a comic series which was set in pseudo-historic China, apparently immediately after the Romance of Three Kingdoms but without any mention of that work or its characters. However, a lot of its flavor was done by the inimitable Jenna K. Moran, who might or might not have read the comic, but certainly focused more on Chinese mythology and bits of history. The two inspirations occasionally clashed, but mostly the idea of assigning God-Weapons to historical figures worked, and both of the sources were so vivid, it was awesome reading the fiction, however it leaned. And that's a good thing: the book was so saturated with fiction, even Albert Wesker thought it was a little excessive. There were short stories from each of a dozen periods of ancient (even from the setting's viewpoint) history, and the Secret Arts section stopped for a little flavor text after each and every ability. As vivid as the stories were, they also distracted a lot of people, and made it confusing to just find something quickly, rather than reading the book cover to cover.

Legends of the Wulin, by way of inevitable contrast, has much less fiction. I mean, tons less. There aren't a dozen full stories in the book, and the loresheets are mostly just (clear and concise, but deliberately more dry) exposition. The new factions are, to me, more evocative than the Weapons clans, but the world feels less alive and full of color without those stories.

To illustrate my point, Weapons explained the ways women might try to deal with their "outsider" status in the halls of power by way of two short stories, each with their own little cast of colorful characters, running six pages in total. Legends retells these stories (they were among the most popular from the older game), but reduces one to a single page, and the other to four paragraphs.

Regarding Mechanics:
Legends has the luxury of coming second, and it shows. Ripples are a great innovation in general, and replace the damage system which I always felt was one of Weapons's roughest patches. External Styles are awesome, Secret Arts are more clear (and Warriors get one!), and a bunch of balance issues have been addressed. Also, as someone who never followed the original comics, I enjoyed the de-emphasizing of magical weapons, though I can see how other people might be more attached.

That said, I feel like it lost something, too. The five elements of Chi, playing as they did into both the themes of the setting and the way Chi Conditions - possibly the cleverest game design technology I've seen invented in my lifetime - aren't something I cast aside lightly. With a general Chi pool and starting characters only getting one Style, Chi use becomes much less tactical. I'm working on a hack to bring back Weapons-era Internal Styles while keeping the other innovations of Legends, but it's less simple than it sounds, for costing reasons.

In Conclusion:
There's a lot of buzz about Legends right now, partially because it's all new and shiny, and partially because it improves a lot more than it regresses. But there's plenty to stay fond of in Weapons, so don't feel surprised if people still prefer it, and don't count it out as just being worse. Hell, I think it's a good asset even for a pure Legends game, if only because all those stories are great fuel for adventures and character concepts.

-- Deus Ex Biotica

P.S. Both games are way, way at the upper end of the Wuxia over the topness curve. As in, a normal starting character feels at home in Hero or Storm Warriors. If you want a grittier feel, you'd need to re-work Minion rules, and write several new Kung Fu styles to avoid all the telekinesis and blasts of lightning.
 
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Caldorian

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Thanks for the detailed answer, Deus Ex Biotica!

Interesting. From what you wrote about the two games, it sounds like I won't miss much from WotG. (For instance, I never cared much for the overly mythological tone in Jenna Moran's loresheets. They were okay, but for me they were just a bit too baroque for the setting.)

So would you say that LotW is less tactical than WotG? Or is it just tactical in a different way?
 

Extrakun

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Yeah, I know that but, while I didn't read the comic, its setting always seemed much more over-the-top than most wuxia stories that I know. I don't know whether this is just a biased perception but the stuff from Hong Kong comic books (like WotG or Storm Riders) or computer games (like Chinese Paladin) always seemed to be much more fantastical and superheroic than the stories by the likes of Jin Yong.
Chinese Paladin is one sub-genre of wuxia where the characters are almost demi-gods whereas Jin Yong and Gu Long are more of the mortal variety.

That said, Storm Rider and such are more fantastic, while featuring mortals.
 

barnsey

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I found LotW to be too mechanically crunchy for my tastes. I think the two changes that I really disliked were ditching the multiple colours of Chi and the idea that bonuses now stack. The second of these was pretty much a deal-breaker for me, since it really doesn't work with the way I GM.

It's a pity because I think LotW is a well put together game that probably works well for people who like it, but Weapons is my favourite game ever, and one that I'll rave to people about until their eyes glaze over. Personally I think a version of the game that was closer to WotG and back compatible would have been a better idea - I would probably have bullied about a dozen people into getting it.
 
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