One thing that stands out with wuxia stories is the level of passion displayed by the main characters and villains. When I say passion, I mean “an elevated emotional response” to other people and situations. I’ve written before about how similar wuxia RPG stories can be to traditional fantasy stories but passion is a key difference. I’m not saying traditional fantasy stories don’t have passion. Not at all. But wuxia stories seem to have an extra heaping spoonful of it. Strong feelings are what drive heroes and villains in wuxia stories. Whether love, regret, longing, revenge, loss or heartache strong emotions guide the destinies of both villain and hero.
Art of Wuxia uses the Moral Code game mechanic used in other D00Lite games (BareBones Fantasy, Covert Ops & Frontier Space). This “alignment” system is very useful for helping players figure out what motivates their character, which is a key ingredient in wuxia and other stories. I won’t spell out the whole moral code here but in simple terms you have several moral aspects such as kind or cruel, selfish or selfless etc. To each of these moral aspects you have a term that describes how dedicated you are to that moral aspect. For example; very dedicated to being kind or being only somewhat brave. In Art of Wuxia, your character must have one “Totally” dedicated moral aspect. You can’t be all wishy-washy about what drives you. At least one thing you will feel passionate about and act accordingly.
Players characters can show great devotion to one another. Through a small ceremony they can become sworn brothers/sisters. Each swears to take on the concerns and burdens of the other for as long as they live. You see this often in wuxia stories and it is a pretty powerful bond not to be taken lightly. In game terms there are some mechanical benefits to becoming a sworn brother/sister.
NPCs have not been forgotten in this game. In the Adventure Idea Generation chapter, there is a “story seed” table. This defines the thing or concept that the main villain or other main NPC wants, covets or demands. In other words, what they are most passionate about. This will help the GM determine why an NPC goes about doing the things he or she does based on what their passion is.
Revenge is a powerful emotion. The GM of Art of Wuxia is encouraged to go through a checklist of possible reasons why someone would want revenge after every game session. Not all game sessions will produce such a person but enough will to keep your games constantly interesting. It also helps to ground the PCs in the setting as others hold them accountable for their actions.
Finally, if you want to add some romance to your wuxia, and I highly encourage you to do so, there is a romance section of rules to help you set up story arcs involving love from initial meeting, obstacles to love, misunderstandings and eventual reconciliation or parting. Included are some random tables you can roll on for inspiration for story arcs involving romance. The point of adding romance to your stories is that it is a common element in wuxia stories and nothing inflames a passionate response like love. The greatest stories every written involve some aspect of how someone feels about someone else.
Art of Wuxia embraces the passion of the genre. It gives you several tools to help players and GMs play characters with the depth of emotion seen in wuxia tales. It also has several things that help drive stories with strong emotional content. That is something to feel passionate about!