Children of the War

By David Eber.

Like most RPGs, Feng Shui involves getting a group of characters together to kick some bad guy butt. By the same token, GMs running Feng Shui will have to deal with the problem of how to get a group together and how to keep them together, especially as they will have little reason to even trust each other, much less work together. Needless to say, this gets worse when the group contains, say, a killer and a maverick cop.

It was with this in mind that I came up with the following idea for getting a new group started. Set up a story in which all the PCs are the children (or students or nephews or granddaughters or whatever) of former secret warriors. These parental figures have passed on their talents and skills to their children, but never told them about their past, either because they didn't want them to get involved, or because they didn't feel they were ready to know yet. Oh, and these older secret warriors were all part of the same team in the past as well (naturally).

And now, the hook: An enemy from the past whom the ex-secret warriors thought was dead has returned and kidnapped them all save one (we'll assume the villan is a Lotus, as they make great villans for new players). The one who got away is a grizzled old NPC with a bad knee (or arthritis or what have you) and who has seen it all. He's long since retired and wants nothing to do with this, but he knows that the only chance he and the PCs have is to get together and meet the evil Lotus sorceror. So he assembles the players and fills them in on the deal, and then leads them into battle. Of course, this is all a trap set up by the Lotus baddie, who figures that the best revenge is not to kill the grown-ups, but the kids.

Whoa, got ahead of myself there for a moment. Anyway, the strengths of this start-up are that it gets all the PCs a reason to get together and stay together, and it gives everyone a melodramatic hook, which is a big part of every Feng Shui game. It also gives the GM an NPC who can reveal the background of the secret war easily and who can help out the PCs if they get stuck without dominating the action. The drawback is that it gives the players less freedom in choosing their characters, especially when it comes to supernatural and futuristic character types. Then again, for both players and GMs who are new to the game this is not necessarily such a bad thing.

Last modified: June 7, 1996; please send comments to