Before beginning work on Art of Wuxia I developed a list of things that I wanted out of the game. Before every writing session and play test session, I take that list out and read it. My rule is that the list must absolutely be followed to keep the design of the game focused on its most important parts. The next few articles will cover this list and explain why I feel each of these guidelines was important for Art of Wuxia.
Nothing defines wuxia heroes more than the adversaries they face.
Design Guideline: Bad guys should come in several flavors; crunchies, villains and master villains. Wuxia heroes wade through crunchies, have duels with villains and have epic battles with master villains. The D00Lite system (of which Art of Wuxia is based), already differentiates between minor NPCs (crunchies) and normal NPCs (named villains). We’ve added Master Villains to the game and they are designed to battle a whole group of player characters. In fact some of their stats are related to the number and power of the heroes. These are used at the end of major adventures. Heroes must come prepared to face such a challenge and give their all.
Design Guideline: Unimportant NPCs should be able to be fought by the dozens. Wuxia heroes are clearly cut of a different silk. They may start out weak but once they come into their own they can take on hordes of minor NPCs and not take a scratch. As mentioned above we already have minor NPCs and they are not much of a threat to heroes. Art of Wuxia lets you take it further and with the spending of chi, player characters can take out a dozen or more minor NPCs in one turn. Even more if you use the Battle Fu option.
Design Guideline: Most adversaries should be human; some will be demons/monsters. A strong trope of the wuxia genre is that these are human stories about human deeds, emotions, desires and actions. A guardian monster might play a role. A demon might be a powerful opponent but ultimately it must be about humans. The guardian monster is guarding something for a human. A human summoned the demon or otherwise let it loose for their own failings or ambitions. Art of Wuxia does have a monster section in it for GMs that want more fantasy in their game but adventure generation tables and published adventures will focus on the goals of humans. Wuxia stories are personal stories and the main villain is seldom if ever a nameless monster.
Adversaries are crucial to good wuxia stories and Art of Wuxia, by having genre examples of several different strengths and types, has you covered for any wuxia story you want to tell.