Skyless City – Jadepunk Session 14 – Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums

The fourteenth session of Skyless City Jadepunk game has now finished and been uploaded to Youtube:

Skyless City – Jadepunk Session 13 – With this Ring

We suffered some technical difficulties with our last Jadepunk session video that lead to the audio for one of the players not being recorded at all on the live-streamed video; I’ve been looking into ways to prevent this in the future, but rather than leave a gap in the playlist I decided to record a summary video.

Combining Tianxia martial art styles with Jadepunk

Tianxia Blood, Silk and Jade is a martial arts action game produced using the Fate Core system from Evil Hat Publishing, I bought a PDF of it recently when it was mentioned by Lloyd Collins (JarlDM) in a Google Hangout; as with most wuxia related Fate purchases my first thought in buying the game was ‘How can I use this in my currently running Jadepunk game?”

If you’re interested in the Jadepunk game you can find videos of all the sessions here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMlEyLAkrE__EfHHAfYIIekLdh4qwJxOK and my review of the system here: https://youtu.be/aMiWg_zTlfg

Unfortunately we were down a player in our last session (due to RL circumstances beyond control) and I didn’t want to continue the main plot with a character missing so I decided to run a flashback, asking the players what element of the setting they’d potentially like to find more about; it was suggested that, since in the present day of the setting we’re approaching the time when the Four Winds martial arts tournament is being held, that perhaps a flashback to a previous tournament might be interesting.
Since we were doing a tournament where a number of bouts would take place, but I didn’t want them to drag on, I decided first of all to use the excellent Jadepunk duelling system which allows quick one-on-one combats to be held using a slightly tweaked version of the contest system in Fate Core, but I really wanted the different martial arts styles and techniques to stand out from each other. While virtually flipping through the PDF of Tianxia I discovered the section on martial arts.
Essentially in Tianxia each character creates a martial arts style by pairing an element with a body substyle so you might have Forest Monkey, Stone Dragon or Lightning Tiger for example; each of these substyles offers a description of how the style looks and gives three Stunts for each of them (so 6 in total for a complete style) as well as a final secret technique that a practitionner can only master once they have all of the other Stunts in their technique.
This is a nice simple way of creating difference between martial arts techniques so I used in the game system and it worked quite well, although I had to make a few tweaks on the fly to get it to work (especially since they weren’t designed to work within the contest framework of Jadepunk’s duelling system).
Below are some suggestions for using Tianxia’s system in Jadepunk, and also notes on using them in a duel:
Element Substyles
 

Forest: A technique where the martial artist adapts to their surrounding and uses it to their advantage.

    • Forest Hides the Beast: A tie in a melee based defence action grants no boost to your attacker.
    • Forest Opens its Paths: If you use explorer to overcome and obstacle with style, you may turn the obstacle into an advantage with a free invocation instead of taking a boost.
    • Leaves Like Razors: When invoking a situation aspect of environment based advantage in a melee attack count as having +2 harmful if the attack is successful (or you gain +2 shifts to your degree of success if in a duel).

Ghost: This style relies on focusing internal energies and flowing effortlessly from attack to defence.

    • Exalted Ghost Body: Gains +2 protective when not attacking that combat turn; in a duel if you use the +2 protective from this technique then you only gain 1 victory and may not succeed with style.
    • Ghost Haunts the Shadow: Gains a +2 on scoundrel rolls to create an advantage based on moving silently or remaining unseen.
    • Ghost Strikes the Spirit: Ignores 1 point of protection when making a melee attack, and adds an additional +1 shift of harmful to a successful attack against a foe who has less martial arts based stunts than you.

Iron: Practitioners of this style make themselves hard and unyielding, taking and resisting enemy blows.

Iron Cleaves the Stone: Ignore 2 points of protection when making an attack to inflict physical stress.

Flesh Breaks on Iron: When you defend against a melee attack with style, you may inflict a 2 shift hit on your opponent instead of taking a boost. In a duel, if you defend with style then your opponent takes a 2 shift hit, in addition to any victories they offset using stress/consequences.

Iron Body, Iron Mind: +2 bonus to create advantages related to resisting or coping with pain, intimidation or fear.

Lightning: Cultivating both speed and power to overcome your enemy.

  • Lightning cross the sky: When you succeed with style on a melee attack you may move 1 zone in addition to gaining a boost, if someone tries to stop this movement you gain a +2 to overcome.
  • Lightning splits the tree: When you succeed with style on a melee attack you may remove an invocation on an existing advantage affecting you, instead of taking a boost.
  • Lightning strikes without pause: You gain a +2 bonus when determining intiative.

Stone: Deliberate and uncompromising action focusing on making the most of the artists natural abilities.

  • Mountain does not fall: You gain a +2 bonus to defend against attempts to create an advantage based on unbalacing, pushing, tripping or knocking over the defender. If an opponents technique allows them to automatically create such an advantage with free invocations then they gain one less free invocation.
  • Stone resists the blow: You gain 2 protection against any physical attack you are aware of.
  • If you defend with style you may remove your first stress box or convert another stress box to 1 lower rather than taking a boost.

Storm: Fluid and unpredictable, masters of the storm styles move quickly between attack and defence to keep their opponents off guard.

    • Storm shakes the foundation: When creating an advantage you may trade free invocations to remove free invocations from another character’s advantage.
    • Storm rumbles in distance: Make a Fighter or Explorer roll with a +2 bonus to create an advantage based on controlling or redirecting momentum.
    • Storm flows around mountain: If a target uses a full defence in combat against you, gain +2 bonus to your next attack against them (whether their defence succeeds or not).

 

 
Body Substyles
 

Crane: Using fluid movement, misdirection and swift movement to overcome their foes.

    • Crane hides in reeds: Add +2 protection when using full defence to defend yourself in combat.
    • Crane sleeps standing: +2 bonus when overcoming physical obstacles by on physical obstruction or poor footing.
    • Crane stuns the carp: If you succeed on a melee attack with style, you may create a stunned advantage on the target with a free invocation instead of taking a boost.

Dragon: Dragon styles focus on a balance of speed and power, borrowing strikes from other techniques; practitioners develop a hissing breathing technique.

    • Dragon rules the fields: When you succeed with style on an attack, gain a boost with a +3 bonus instead of the usual +2.
    • Dragon rules the heavens: Use Fighter instead of Explorer for rolls involving entering zones or preventing others from doing so. If both Fighter and Explorer skills are equal, or Explorer is higher, then gain a +2 bonus instead.
    • Dragon sleeps in the mist: When you succeed with style on a defence you may reduce the the result by 1 to gain +2 protection rating against the next attack in the scene that strikes you, in addition to the normal boost. In a duel you may reduce the number of victories gained by 1 in order to gain +2 on your roll in the next round.

Monkey: A collection of unconventional acrobatic styles.

    • Monkey grabs the peach: Add +2 harmful to an attack where you invoke a consequence that the defender has.
    • Monkey dances in moonlight: When succeeding on a defence with style, you may create a distracting movements advantage with a free invocation instead of the normal boost.
    • Monkey rolls away: When invoking an aspect or advantage during a defence roll, gain +2 protection rating against the attack if it succeeds.

Pheonix: Focus on balance, agility and re-directing the force of an opponents attack.

    • Pheonix beats its wings: If you defend with style you may gain an off balance advantage with a free invocation instead of a boost.
    • Pheonix calls to the heavens: Once per session you may reduce physical stress taken by 2 shifts. If this technique is used in a dual then you may nullify up to two victories scored in a round without actually taking a moderate or severe consequence.
    • Pheonix laughs at the sun: If you succeed at an overcome roll using Explorer or Fighter with style, you may create a situation aspect with a free invocation instead of taking the normal boost.

Serpent: Masters of the serpent style are known for being fast, efficient and ruthless.

    • Serpent bites the hand: If you gain shifts on defence you can sacrifice your action next turn to immediately inflict an attack on your opponent using the shift value of your defense as the attack result.
    • Serpent strikes first: Gains a +2 bonus when initiative is determined.
    • Serpent strikes twice: +2 bonus to rolls to create advantages based on disorientation, distraction or unbalancing against opponents that you have already inflicted stress on in this combat.

Tiger: Tiger styles are about power, ferocity and inflicting maximum damage to your opponent.

    • Tiger moves with purpose: Move at least 1 zone and make an Explorer attack or make an Explorer attack on a target that has just moved into your zone, add +2 shifts to any damage you inflict with this attack.
    • Tiger rends the flesh: When you tie on a roll using Fighter for defense you can inflict a +2 point shift physical attack instead of taking a boost.
    • Tiger rules the jungle: You gain +2 bonus to overcome aspects and advantages based on provocation or psychological manipulation.
This list in no-where near exhaustive, there are additional techniques listed in Tianxia including the mastery level techniques and secret/lost martial arts styles, I highly recommend you give it a look if you’re after some additional ideas for a high action martial arts RPG; the rules are (with a little tweaking) compatible with Fate Core/Accelerated games and I would expect most other games using the rules system as a base.

Jadepunk ready made stat blocks

For those of you who may not be aware, i’m a massive fan of the Fate system by Evil Hat Productions in particular Fate Accelerated Edition is the build of the game that is my go to game when wanting to run a quick one-shot or even just a game that players can jump into quickly and enjoy getting caught up in playing the characters they envision rather than getting snarled up in overly complex character creations processes and hundreds of pages of complex rules.
Fate Accelerated Edition (FAE for short) using six Approaches to define the stats of characters (instead of Skills as with Fate Core), choosing to define character less by what they know and what they do but more by how they do it, these Approaches are:
  • Careful
  • Clever
  • Flashy
  • Forceful
  • Quick
  • Sneaky

(If you want to know more about Fate Accelerated you can find details on the excellent SRD site here: http://fate-srd.com/fate-accelerated-fae-menu)

One of the things I love about FAE is that right at the start it gives you six example spreads of Approaches to create six archetypal characters:

  • The Brute:
    Forceful +3, Careful and Flashy +2, Sneaky and Quick +1, Clever +0
  • The All-Star:
    Quick +3, Forceful and Flashy +2, Clever and Careful +1, Sneaky +0
  • The Trickster:
    Clever +3, Sneaky and Flashy +2, Forceful and Quick +1, Careful +0
  • The Guardian:
    Careful +3, Forceful and Clever +2, Sneaky and Quick +1, Flashy +0
  • The Thief:
    Sneaky +3, Careful and Quick +2, Clever and Flashy +1, Forceful +0
  • The Swashbuckler:
    Flashy +3, Quick and Clever +2, Forceful and Sneaky +1, Careful +0

These samples spreads are a great time saving device if you are playing a quick pick up game or you just want to jump straight in, you pick the type of character you want to play, bang on some Aspects and Stunts and you’re good to go.

So you might be wondering why i’m banging on about Fate Accelerated when the title of the post mentions Jadepunk; well recently i’ve been running a Jadepunk game using Google Hangouts for a small group (you can see the actual plays here if you’re interested: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMlEyLAkrE__EfHHAfYIIekLdh4qwJxOK) and it seems to be going quite well, we’re on our ninth session. For those of you who aren’t aware Jadepunk is a game by Re-Roll Productions that uses a slightly tweaked of the Fate rules to tell exciting stories that blend elements of Wuxia, the wild west and steampunk fantasy into a very compelling and exciting setting full of potential for great storytelling; Jadepunk uses a number of Professions rather than Approaches or Skills to define characters:

  • Aristocrat
  • Engineer
  • Explore
  • Fighter
  • Scholar
  • Scoundrel

However there’s one thing that isn’t in Jadepunk that i’d have liked to have seen, yep you guessed it, the example stats spreads that are found in Fate Accelerated Edition; you could argue that they’re not really necessary and (truth be told) I don’t think the game suffers massively from their absence, however they are a handy thing to have access to so i’ve come up with six archetypal character Profession spreads for you to use in your Jadepunk game:

  • The Honourable Warrior/Samurai:
    Aristocrat +2, Engineer +0, Explorer +1, Fighter +3, Scholar +2, Scoundrel +1
  • The Jadetech Engineer:
    Aristocrat +1, Engineer +3, Explorer +2, Fighter +0, Scholar +2, Scoundrel +1
  • The Idle Noble:
    Aristocrat +3, Engineer +0, Explorer +1, Fighter +1, Scholar +2, Scoundrel +2
  • The Sage:
    Aristocrat +2, Engineer +1, Explorer +2, Fighter +0, Scholar +3, Scoundrel +1
  • The Thief/Shadowy Assassin:
    Aristocrat +0, Engineer +1, Explorer +2, Fighter +2, Scholar +1, Scoundrel +3
  • The Pioneer/Explorer:
    Aristocrat +0, Engineer +1, Explorer +3, Fighter +2, Scholar +2, Scoundrel +1 

     

[RPG] Kaiyu Yuuto

When I originally published my post showing the characters for our Jadepunk, we hadn’t yet received the background for Kaiyu Yuuto (played by theRogueDM) since Jenny was feverishly working away on the background, well it’s now arrived and it was definitely worth the wait; I thought it was worth putting in a quick post to show the work that has gone into the background, so without further ado, I present Kaiyu Yuuto…


Kaiyu Yuuto




Please note: All of the text below was written by theRogueDM.

Aspect: Portrayal – “Aristo-Rat”

Yuudai: 雄大 juːdæɪː Great, manly; hero
Yuuto: 優翔 juːtɔː Gentle, superior; [to] soar, fly

It’s all in the name.

Aspect: Background – “Black Sheep”
The Kaiyu estate upheld family and honour, and every new addition to the household was given a name that reflected the reputation of the Kaiyu. Kaiyu Yuudai, the eldest son, was no exception; a boy of seventeen, with the entire estate as his inheritance. He was born into the privileged, and the privileged are established for life.

Yuudai was in the middle of his weekly orienteering class with his father. Their route took them through the nearby forest and would last at least another hour. Yuudai was already bored; he knew this forest well and could easily navigate it without a map. He cringed to himself when he remembered what else was to come that day: mathematics lessons until dinner, and then another high-profile soiree. His whole life encompassed elements to prepare him for his role in the Kaiyu household, once he came of age. Yuudai was not yet sure, however, if it was worth it.

Suddenly he broke out of his train of thought when he heard what sounded like shouting coming from off the main path, near the base of a steep hillock. Yuudai insisted that he and his father investigate.

“You’re hearing things,” his father replied. “It is probably just a bird.”

“It sounded more like a person.” Kaiyu Akihiro shrugged indifferently.

“Then it must be a child playing in the pauper huts.” Yuudai hated the term ‘pauper huts’. Kaiyu Akihiro started his horse off again along the main path, but Yuudai had already decided he was going to come back for another look around.

The next morning, Yuudai headed to the forest alone very early. After a more thorough search, he heard someone coming. Thinking it was his father, he hid from sight. However, it was in fact a young girl around his own age. He watched her enter a seemingly invisible opening in the rock which no one could possibly notice unless they knew where it was beforehand.

He followed shortly afterwards through the concealed entrance, which opened up into a large cavern. Torchlight danced off the red sandstone walls in glorious harmony with the silhouette of the girl Yuudai had seen just a moment ago. Gazing at her once again, she was positioned on a raised platform in the centre of the cavern, performing seemingly flawless acrobatics for someone of her age and build. Yuudai, feeling cocky, attempted to sneak up on her. Unfortunately a small piece of driftwood crackled underfoot and immediately he felt a curled fist whack him between the ribs. Yuudai’s knees buckled and he fell to the floor.

“What are you doing here?” the girl barked. “This is top secret! None of you Kaiyu are welcome here!” Yuudai moaned and squirmed on the floor, attempting to get up again.

“Not bad for a girl. Do you always greet a gentleman this way?”

“HA! Gentleman?” she laughed. “Bit small for a gentleman aren’t we! Here, catch!”

Yuudai looked up to see a blade heading straight for between his eyes. Without even having the time to think, he vaulted himself off the floor and clumsily landed a foot away from where the knife now lay in the soft soil.

“Are you crazy?!” Yuudai screamed. “That could have killed me!”

“That was the idea,” the girl replied coldly, before drawing a short wakizashi.

“Do you even know how to use that thing?” Yuudai asked her, still dumbfounded by the situation.

“If you are a gentleman, then fight me like a gentleman. We Jianghu are merciful, after all.” She tossed Yuudai another sheathed wakizashi. Reluctantly he drew it, keeping a close eye on her.

“You are one of the Jianghu?”

She launched herself forward and he barely managed to block her strike, once again landing on the soft floor. His fencing training suddenly engaged in his brain and he nimbly rolled away and stood up in a ready stance – his left hand behind his back and his right hand pointing the wakizashi in front of him. It felt light and balanced in his hand; his hand-me-down fencing swords were nothing like the craftsmanship of this new blade. Now Yuudai’s confidence was growing, he tried to address his attacker once again.

“If you are one of the Jianghu then we are not so different. I may be one of the Kaiyu but I don’t exactly enjoy it.”

The girl performed an uppercut with her blade, and once again the torchlight danced on the red sandstone. This time Yuudai was ready for it and he swept an arc through the air with his own sword. A clang sounded in the cavern and echoed off the walls.

“How could you not enjoy it?” the girl replied angrily. “You have everything. Food, shelter, servants, soft beds… We have none of those things and all thanks to his Most Benevolent Excellency!” Her wakizashi did a quick swipe towards Yuudai’s shoulders, but just in time he veered himself backwards. He backed away even further, intending to put an end to the fight. The girl, however, had no such intention.

“You Kaiyu will not stand in our way while we take what is rightfully ours!”

“I have no intention of standing in your way!” Yuuto shouted. “And stop calling me Kaiyu! My name is Yuudai!” His adversary stopped in her tracks with a puzzled look on her face.
“Yuuto sounds better to me,” she replied with an apathetic look.

As if that’s so important right now! Yuudai thought, but he played along.

“But that’s not my name! My name is Yuudai!”

“Really? So did you name yourself, or did one of your family members decide that name would be fitting for you?” Yuudai was speechless. “If you are a Jianghu, you name yourself. If you have no intention of standing in our way, you are not a true Kaiyu.” The girl sheathed her wakizashi while Yuudai looked at her further.

“What did you name yourself, then?”

“Shizu.” Yuudai laughed.

“But you’re not silent, or else I wouldn’t have heard you.”

“Your father didn’t hear me,” Shizu replied. Yuudai once again said nothing. “You are not like the other Kaiyu. You don’t go running to your mother at the first sign of danger. You seek to know the truth.” Shizu outstretched her hand. “I can show you the truth, Yuuto.” This time, the way she addressed him was poetic and soothing, even if it was not his name. For a split second two silhouettes on the red sandstone were joined and at a standstill as he inhaled deeply, and took her hand.

Aspect: Inciting Incident – “Careless Talk Costs Lives”
Five months passed.

Once again the silhouettes danced on the red sandstone, but they were always joined in some mystical fashion. Yuuto and Shizu were practising their weekly sparring, although this was a much more passionate art than fencing. It spoke to Yuuto much more, and he had improved greatly since the first time he had entered the Jianghu cavern.

Yuuto’s mindset had changed as well. No longer was he caught up in the frivolity of the Kaiyu life as much as his family intended him to be, which concerned them. It was only until he returned home that evening when it became apparent where his father was waiting for him.

Yuuto’s father Kaiyu Akihiro was sitting in his evening armchair, smoking one of his favourite brands of cigar, but once he heard Yuuto enter the house, he drew a breath so harshly that the butt of the cigar resembled a hot poker.

“Been out again, have we Yuudai?” Kaiyu Akihiro questioned while still seated in his evening armchair. Yuuto entered the room, and the heat of the fireplace hit his cold skin. “You look cold, son. Come, sit by the fire for a while and tell me what you have done today.” Yuuto could hear something strange in his father’s tone of voice, and didn’t like it.

“I was practising my fencing again. You know how passionate I am about fighting,” Yuuto claimed.

“Ah yes, you seem to do a lot of that nowadays which is all well and good, but I fear that you are lagging behind in your studies.” Yuuto suddenly tensed up and thought he should make amends.

“Yes, father, I will go and study now,” he said, getting up to leave. But Kaiyu Akihiro stopped him.

“Wait! Hold on, boy!” he replied with a laugh that cut through Yuuto’s heart. “Let me see this sword of yours. It will be interesting to see which one you have shined to the most.” Yuuto’s heart felt split in two, and a hot bead of sweat trailed past his temple.

“I will show you later, father… after my studying.” Kaiyu Akihiro was not convinced, and his mask of sincerity was suddenly removed to reveal a much darker underside.

“Kaiyu Yuudai – you would not disobey your father now, would you?” Slowly, Yuuto opened his bag where he kept his weapon, and revealed his trusted wakizashi. Kaiyu Akihiro took it and studied it for a moment.

“This is not a family weapon. Where did you get this blade?” Yuuto quickly stuttered an answer.

“I bought it myself. From the market.” Kaiyu Akihiro gave Yuuto an unsettling leer.

“If you bought it at the market, how much did it cost?” Again, Yuuto had to think on his feet.

“1200.” Kaiyu Akihiro’s leer did not change.

“Don’t lie to me, Yuudai. Such a blade is far superior to that price. I have never seen you with this sword. If you bought this from a market you would not hesitate to show us all. You are hiding something from me.”

“No…”

“Someone gave this to you. Who?”

“No one!”

“Really…” Kaiyu Akihiro pulled the blade out of its sheath and examined the underside of the guard. Strange writing was inscribed there, and Yuuto’s father widened. “This is a Jianghu sword. You have been associating with the Jianghu!”

At that, Kaiyu Akihiro called two of his male servants.

“Take Kaiyu Yuudai to the cellar and make sure he doesn’t leave,” he stated as he pulled on his coat.

“Sir?” one of the servants questioned.

“Do as I say!” Yuuto’s father cried. “Or do you want to be kept down there as well?” His voice calmed again to a soothing voice, like the soothing voice of an assassin before the blade enters your heart. “When you’re done with that, get my horse.” He turned to his son once again. “Then we’ll really see whether you got this sword from a market.”

Aspect: Belief – “Nobility is a Virtue, Not a Privilege.”
Night had fallen, and the cellar was even darker than by day. Yuuto was shivering on the cold stone floor as he pulled his knees up to his chest. The last words his father spoke were playing over and over in his mind. Initially he was frightened for himself, as to what his father would do to him when he had absolute proof of his association with the Jianghu. However, he was suddenly reminded of that fateful day in the forest – what if his father also remembered, and had gone to investigate? Yuuto’s thoughts turned to Shizu, and suddenly he was scared for her. Up until now, he had always thought of her as a great warrior, but while she possessed speed and finesse, Kaiyu Akihiro possessed rage and strength in numbers. He was also a renowned marksman.

Flashbacks of his confrontation with Shizu were playing through in his head, but then it stopped at that split second Shizu had uttered his new name – “Yuuto”, gentleness and soaring in flight. It suited him far more than the name given to him at birth, “Yuudai” meaning “great hero”. He did not intend to be great, nor be a hero, and Shizu had uncovered this true feeling Yuuto possessed.

He had to do something.

Yuuto glanced behind him into the other side of the cellar where an iron gate stood. Originally it was to transport wine up to the cellar without using the rest of the house as a thoroughfare, but it had not been used for at least several months. A rusty padlock bolted to the bars, however, prevented him from leaving. Yuuto acted quickly, jumping to his feet and then kneeling down next to the gate. He outstretched his hand through the bars and picked up the nearest stone. Yuuto pondered for a moment if there was a quiet way to bust the padlock open, but concluded there was none. With all his might he pounded the shackle, and the noise echoed round the cellar. The servants were bound to hear, and he was right. After a few more hits Yuuto heard footsteps coming from the door up to the basement. Not wanting to waste any more time, he smashed the padlock once more with the stone, and the shackle split in two. The door to the basement was now being unlocked, but Yuuto had already grabbed an oil lamp hanging on the wall.

Without looking back, he pulled open the gate and disappeared down the passageway.

The lantern shook in his hand as Yuuto sprinted through the darkness. The tunnel carried on in a near straight-line for about a mile, until a blast of cold sea air hit him in the face. Yuuto had come out near the edge of the farmland, adjacent to the end of the main estate driveway. He bounded across the open fields to the forest, hoping with all his heart that he was not too late.

Upon reaching the cave, Yuuto realised that Shizu had gone, but a clumsy disturbance in the sand confirmed that Kaiyu Akihiro had also been there. Footprints led towards the back, and sure enough was another entrance. Once again Yuuto was back outside, but his surroundings were no longer familiar to him. Rolling hills were stretched out before him as the forest snaked across the landscape further away to the north. The stars were now strewn across the never-ending sky, with the pale moon hanging among them. Yuuto’s lamp gave out a much warmer light in contrast, but in the distance at the bottom of the slope something glowed warmer still.

As he moved closer, the sounds of voices danced around him on the air. He could not quite make them out, but he sensed fear and dread. But soon as he got closer still, his senses engulfed him like the flames that engulfed the houses ahead. He dashed down the hill and he could now make out figures dancing in the flame. Some were on foot; others were on horseback. The voices – no, screams – were getting much louder, piercing the bellowing frequencies of the spreading fires. Hooves thundered on the ash-strewn soil causing dust to fly everywhere, while their riders bore blue satin garments that imitated waves in the wind – garments that looked extremely familiar to Yuuto. He looked at his own silk tunic in complete disdain before sprinting forward once again.

He had to find Shizu.

Yuuto saw a horse rear up with a loud whinny as a blade flashed past its vision. It came from someone on the ground, but the horse’s owner retaliated by drawing a pistol and firing a warning shot in the air. The horse seemed more used to the sound of a gunshot but the villagers certainly were not, and a unison scream erupted in fright. Yuuto, however, was too frightened to scream. His eyes were now fixed on the figure who fired the gun, and was now addressing the people he had so senselessly attacked. For just a split second, Yuuto was able to see the man’s facial features as the sparks from the pistol illuminated it, but it was long enough to reveal that the one leading the attack on this village was his own father.

“Now listen to me you Jianghu scum, I am Kaiyu Akihiro and you are treading far too close to my estate. I will give you one chance to leave this place, as long as you surrender the wielder of this wakishizu to me.” As Akihiro’s speech pierced the hearts of the weary throng, he presented Yuuto’s sword and held it above him like his own trophy. Yuuto scowled at the thought of his father using his own weapon as an ultimatum, but before he could react, a familiar face emerged out of the crowd.

Her hair was dishevelled and her eyes weary as the warm light lured her into view. Akihiro did not react, but merely lowered his gaze towards her. Shizu remained silent and submissive as Akihiro slowly drew Yuuto’s blade out of its sheath, but worst of all, Shizu was unarmed. An incoherent cry erupted from the crowd in protest, but Shizu did not flinch.

“Look around, my dear, for this rather impressive blade of yours has caused all of this destruction upon your people. And you have tainted my eldest son, Kaiyu Yuudai, the rightful heir to my estate. But I am the one to seal your fate, Jianghu.”

Shizu smiled weakly and muttered, “His name is Yuuto.”

Akihiro swung the wakizashi in a seamless arc, slicing into Shizu’s neck. Drops of blood escaped the now gaping fleshwound, but her eyes did not leave Akihiro’s gaze. The blood began to cascade down her neck and she dropped to the floor.

Her silhouette had ended its final dance.

Yuuto released an agonising scream, turning Akihiro’s attention from the Jianghu. His followers also turned, and Yuuto’s father smiled.

“Now Yuudai, you see what happens when you disobey your father,” he stated as the wakizashi glinted red. “Turn around and go home, and I will deal with you when I return.”

Yuuto clenched his teeth so hard his jawbone ached; he had no intention of backing down.

“Nobility is a virtue – not a privilege.” The words spat out through his teeth like spitting embers. Yuuto’s father lazily tossed the blade away and it landed in the nearby grass.

“Virtue gets you nowhere in a society run by the privileged!” On his final word Akihiro fired his pistol in the air once again, and two of his followers jolted their horses into action, causing them to gallop towards Yuuto. Yuuto proceeded to run straight towards them, intending to get to Shizu. He headed round so he was in line with the left rider, but as it came up to meet him a burly arm from atop the horse wrapped round his torso. Yuuto instinctively sunk his teeth into the satin garment and the rider cried out in pain, his weight shifting to one side in response. Without being able to balance himself again and Yuuto still ripping into the man’s arm, he finally lost grip on his horse and Yuuto, hitting the ground below with a thud. Yuuto had caught one leg in the nearest stirrup while desperately clinging onto the horse’s main. The animal was still galloping but was now out of control, wild and unpredictable. Yuuto attempted to get a better grip on the reigns, and with all his might pulled himself up. Once he was level, he reared the horse to a halt and turned it around to face his father.

Kaiyu Akihiro had also pivoted round to face his son. A glint of rage could be seen in his eyes as he readied his pistol once again. Akihiro charged but this time Yuuto remained stationary, waiting until his father was close enough. Then without warning he stood up on the saddle and leapt towards his father, throwing him off his horse. The gun also flew through the air, landing several feet away from them both. The grass felt cool compared to the searing heat from the burning houses, but Yuuto could feel his father’s hot breath in his ear. Akihiro wrestled Yuuto off him in order to retrieve his pistol, but Yuuto spotted his blade first and darted towards it like a magnet. Quickly he readied it as Akihiro, united with his weapon once again, marched back towards his son.

“How does it feel to know that dealt your friend the killing blow? That is her blood upon your sword. I doubt you would have the guts to use it against your own father.” Yuuto desperately tried not to focus on his father’s words, and instead kept eye contact.

“I doubted you would have the guts to kill your own son, but now I am not so sure.” Akihiro snarled.

“You are no son of mine.”

As Akihiro drew his pistol up to meet his son’s eyes, he let out a bellow of pain, dropping his gun. He gripped his ankle where a throwing dagger was now deeply embedded in his flesh and toppled to the floor. Yuuto looked at him briefly before running over to where Shizu lay.

Upon seeing her body, Yuuto nearly retched, but he mustered himself to cradle her head in his hands.

“You will die like the rest of them!” Akihiro shouted, and two more of his bodyguards rushed towards the Jianghu. Someone grabbed Yuuto’s wrist, tearing him away from Shizu.

“Take one of the horses and go. We will take the rest of them.” Yuuto gazed in horror at the Jianghu.

“But you’ll die!”

“There is nothing left for us now, but you belong with the rest of our clan. Look to Kausau City. There you will be welcomed by our brothers and sisters.” As Akihiro’s men closed the gap, Yuuto realised he was running out of options. Without another word, he bounded off towards the first horse as his protector rallied whomever was left to his side. Yuuto clambered onto the horse, tucked his wakizashi into his belt and rode off into the night, not once looking back.

Aspect: Trouble – ‘Not Everything Can Be Undone’

As the cries faded into silence behind him and the fires dimmed, Yuuto pressed on. So many emotions flooded through him and so many memories flashed before him: his father’s words, the blazing fires, but most of all, the sound of Shizu’s head leaving her body. Yuuto winced and his vision blurred as tears welled in his eyes. He turned to look at the sea on his left; the wind had settled to a gentle breeze. A strange calmness then flooded Yuuto’s mind. The coolness of the night air created a state of complete emotionless. He could think incredibly clearly and all his senses seemed amplified. While his heart wanted to bring back Shiza, he knew now that not everything could be undone. But the undoing would not redeem Yuuto’s predicament – it would be his actions from then on that would determine his fate. He thought back to his family, to his father, and the rest of the Jianghu who saved his life. He could never go back home. Kausao City would become his home.

Jade-xalted: Collected

For ease of reading for anyone who wants to make use of my Jade-xalted Fate hack I have collected all of the posts together in a PDF document and posted it in my Red Dice Diaries google drive so that people can access it.

Jade-xalted: Sample assets

Below are some sample assets built using the system described in earlier posts.
* * *
White Jade Warstrider (Device)

Cost: 3 refresh
Features

  • Harmful – +2 shifts of damage on attack (up to a max of shifts scored on attack roll)
  • Protective – reduces shift value of successful attack by 2
  • Sturdy – has 2 stress boxes
  • Jade construction – +1 to rolls when used by a terrestrial exalt, may activate the ‘blessed by the elements’ aspect at will.

Flaws
  • Demanding – requires a scene of preparation and a great (+4) sorceror roll to activate the warstrider.

Warstriders are ancient suits of magitech armour from the First Age, designed to not only protect the wearer inside their enormous armoured hides but also to increase their strength and prowess, only scant few function in the present and these require extensive maintenance (normally in the form of barely understood annointing ceremonies) to continue running.
* * *
Door-Evading Technique (technique)
Cost: 3 refresh
Features
  • Exceptional
Flaws
  • Consuming
At the cost of a fate point the user of this technique may completely bypass one inanimate obstacle (such as a door for example) that impedes movement between zones.
* * *
Beastman warband (allies)
Cost: 2 refresh
Features
  • Professional x 2 – Warrior +2, Assassin +1. 
  • Resilient – Ally gains a mild consequence slot.
  • Sturdy – Gains an additional 1 stress box.
  • Numerous x 3 – 8 total allies. 
Flaws
Troubling (“Hunted and despised in civilised lands.”)
Having lurked on the fringes of civilisation for so long, many Lunar Exalted have bred half beast-like offspring and are served by their savage children.
* * *
These are just three examples of assets that can be quickly created with the Jadepunk style method of handling assets once you are familiar with the system, it is flexible but provides enough structure to enable you jump straight in and start designing.

Jade-xalted: Celestial and Terrestrial circle charms

The two asset features following are additional to those listed in my previous post (http://wh40krpg.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/jade-xalted-assets.html), and may be added to an asset in the same way.
Techniques (amended from previous post)
No technique can have the troubling flaw.
  • Exceptional
  • Harmful
  • Flexible
  • Protective
  • Focus
  • Sorcery
  • Celestial Circle
  • Terrestrial Circle
Additional Feature Descriptions (those not listed are in previous post)
  • Celestial circle (counts as two features, a celestial circle technique must have the consuming flaw) [this feature may be added to a technique only and may only be taken by Celestial Exalted (Solars, Lunars, Sidereals and Abyssals)]: When a fate point is spent to activate this technique the celestial exalt pours power into themselves, doubling the bonus that would normally be received through the use of the technique, however, once such a technique is used the exalt will be surrounded by a glowing aura of light coloured appropriately to their exaltation until the end of the scene. This is potentially very dangerous given that the Dragonblooded hunt the exalted.
  • Terrestrial Circle (counts as two features, a terrestrial circle technique must have the consuming flaw) [this feature may be added to a technique only and may only be taken by terrestrial exalted (dragonblooded)]: The terrestrials were fashioned to work together as units and be soldiers in the armies of the gods even their very exaltations work better as a group; when a character spends a fate point to activate a terrestrial circle charm they receive a +1 to their action for every other allied terrestrial exalt in the same zone who also has a terrestrial circle technique. Once such a technique is used the exalt will be surrounded by a dazzling display of their element (as appropriate) until either the end of the scene.
Sample Assets

Below is an example of both a solar and a terrestrial circle asset built using the asset rules as laid out in Jadepunk and with the additions made in this hack.

* * *

Protective Wall of Golden Blades (technique)
Cost: 2 Refresh
Features
  • Celestial circle – doubles bonus of technique, when fate point is spent to activate the solar is surrounded by a very visible glowing nimbus of golden light for the rest of the scene.
  • Exceptional – on a successful defense, deal shifts of harm equal to margin of success (this is doubled by the celestial circle charm)

Flaws
  • Consuming – technique costs a fate point to activate.
  • Limited – can be used once per scene.

When the solar with this technique is attacked they summon up the energy flowing through them and the air around them fills with phantasmal blades of golden light that hack and slash at their enemy, inflicting a number of shifts of harm to their attacker double to the margin of success on their defense roll. Although the blades fade, the golden light from them remains surrounding the Solar until the end of the scene.
* * *
Strike of the Dragon’s Fury
Cost: 2 refresh
Features
  • Terrestrial circle – When a character spends a fate point to activate a terrestrial circle technique they receive a +1 to their action for every other allied terrestrial exalt in the same zone who also has a terrestrial circle technique. Once such a technique is used the exalt will be surrounded by a dazzling display of their element (as appropriate) until either the end of the scene.
  • Harmful – +2 shifts of harm on a successful attack (max equal to the number of shifts scored on the attacking roll)

Flaws
  • Consuming – technique costs a fate point to activate.
When the terrestrial exalt possessing this technique makes an attack, with a striking motion they send out a short ranged blast of their element (flames, rocks, water, etc) that strikes their foe doing +2 shifts of harm on a successful attack.

If there are allied terrestrial exalts who also possess terrestrial circle techniques in the same zone then the exalt also pulls on the power of her allies and the elemental blast reflects this (for example: if a fire aspected terrestial made the strike whilst back up by a wood aspected terrestrial then the blast might be a barrage of burning wooden spikes), they add +1 to their attack roll for each such terrestrial in the same zone.

* * *

Jade-xalted: Assets

This section refers heavily to the excellent Jadepunk game, no challenge is intended to any copyrights and I have attempted to omit any rules specifically featured in the book – you will probably need a copy of Jadepunk to make use of this, but I would advise you to pick up a copy anyway as it is an excellent book.
ASSETS IN JADE-XALTED HACK

Assets

Step One: Asset Type

Ally: Helpful NPC assocate, sidekick, contact or secret society.
Device: A weapon, tool, or other piece of equipment including items made from the magical materials.
Technique: Personal capabilities either gained from special training, knowledge or as a result of the exaltation.
Step Two: Function/Guiding Aspect
Allies and Devices come with an aspect describing it’s function as per the rules in Jadepunk, it can be invoked or compelled as with any other aspect, but it tends to be more focussed on the role that the ally or device plays in the character’s life.
Technique assets don’t have function aspects, they are connected to one of the characters existed aspects (called it’s ‘guiding aspect’) as detailed in the Jadepunk rules.
Step Three: Features & Flaws
These function as per the rules in Jadepunk, each point of refresh you spent on an asset gives it two features, each asset also comes with one flaw. More flaws may be taken to give an asset additional features on a one-to-one basis.
Full rules for this can be found in the Jadepunk book however there are a few additional  list of features and flaws differ, they can be found below.
Ally Features
When you spend a point of refresh to create an Ally, in addition to any other features, they start with one application of Professional, Resilient and Sturdy for free.
  • Aspect
  • Resilient
  • Numerous
  • Professional
  • Sturdy
  • Independent
  • Talented

Device Features
The function aspect of a device featuring one or more of the magical materials must make reference to each material.
  • Aspect
  • Harmful
  • Jade construction
  • Moonsilver construction
  • Orichalcum construction
  • Protective
  • Starmetal construction
  • Soulsteel construction
  • Exceptional
  • Numerous
  • Flexible
  • Focus
  • Sturdy

Techniques
No technique can have the troubling flaw.
  • Exceptional
  • Harmful
  • Flexible
  • Protective
  • Focus
  • Sorcery

Step Four: Determine Refresh cost
Determine asset cost as listed in the Jadepunk book.
Feature Descriptions
As listed in the Jadepunk rulebook (with the following additions):
  • Jade construction: See magical materials section for details.
  • Moonsilver construction: See magical materials section for details.
  • Orichalcum construction: See magical materials section for details.
  • Sorcery (counts as two features, asset starts with consuming feature, many only be applied to a technique): Allows a technique to be perform over distance as long as the character possesses something taken from the location or something of significance to the person that they wish to affect; if the target is within the same zone then the technique can be performed at range without the requirement of the component.
  • Soulsteel construction: See magical materials section for details.
  • Starmetal construction: See magical materials section for details.

Flaw Descriptions
As listed in the Jadepunk rulebook.
Gaining and Improving Assets
Functions as per the Jadepunk rulebook.

The Magical Materials
The five magical materials below are easily enchanted by those with the right knowledge and each one resonates with a different type of Exalted.
Please note: In order to have an item made of a magical material (or several) a feature must be taken (it must be taken once for each magical material involved in the item construction).
  • Orichalcum: Gold purified by the Sun, Orichalcum is noted for making equipment which is good at everything. Orichalcum artifacts are used by Solar Exalted.
  • Moonsilver: Moonsilver is silver touched by Luna, and lends some of Luna’s protean nature to the material. Moonsilver is considered sacred by Lunar Exalted.
  • Starmetal: Rarer than all other materials, because the Sidereal Exalted must predict where this congealed essence of dead Gods will fall. Starmetal shines with the nature of the Five Maidens and warps fate slightly as part of its basic nature.
  • Jade: Commonest of all the Magical Materials, and used to make the weapons and armor of the Terrestrial Exalted. Jade comes in five colors, one for each Aspect.
  • Soulsteel: Comprised of the bodies of ghosts and scrapings from the Mouth of the Void in Stygia, soulsteel mutters and moans with the pain of the spirits trapped within. This horrifying black material is the trademark of the Abyssal Exalted.

An item made from one of the magical materials will function especially well in the hands of the type of Exalted that it was intended for (adding an additional +1 to any rolls made using the device, if a device does not use a roll but increases or reduces shift values then it increases/reduces it by an additional +1). This bonus only becomes active when the device is in the possession of the appropriate type of exalted.
In addition, the correct type of exalted may (at will activate the following effect):
  • Orichalcum: Device sheds light, bestowing a ‘light of the Unconquered Sun’ aspect on the wielder.
  • Moonsilver: Gives the owner the ‘master of disguise’ aspect.
  • Starmetal: Bestows the aspect ‘touched by fate’ on the owner.
  • Jade: Bestows the aspect ‘blessed by the elements’ as appropriate on the owner.
  • Soulsteel: Device sheds darkness, bestowing a ‘shrouded in darkness’ aspect on the owner.
  • Aspects gained from carrying items of the appropriate magical material can be turned on and off at will as long as the exalt still possesses an item of the appropriate material.

Jade-xalted: Finishing touches to character creation

Refresh
Refresh functions as per the rules in Jadepunk, however, the levels of refresh that people start with differ slightly.

  • Mortals and equivalents begin with 5 refresh.
  • Terrestrial Exalted begin with 7 refresh.
  • Celestial Exalted (Solar, Lunar, Abyssal and Sidereals) begin with 10 refresh.

Refresh is reduced by purchasing assets, you may not reduce your refresh below one.
Assets
Assets are purchased in a similar fashion to those listed in the Jadepunk rules, there will be additional options available to represent exalted charms and how the construction of magi-tech style items differs between Exalted and Jadepunk, these will be covered in more detail in a later post.

Stress and Consequences
Every character begins with three stress boxes and three consequences (mild, moderate and severe); these function as per the rules in Jadepunk.