Sunday, December 8, 2019

Pai Mei and Ringlerun

Reading book one of Legend of the Condor Heroes by Jin Yong, I've been reminded that D&D shares perhaps unexpected similarities with wuxia, the Chinese genre of martial arts adventures:

Advancement is important. adventurers go on adventures, martial artists train, but the desired result is the same.
High level characters can perform superhuman feats that are not necessarily viewed as superhuman within the fiction. D&D characters get extra hit points to shrug off attacks or various other special abilities (particularly in editions after 2nd). Wulin heroes get to fly around and do things with focused internal energies.
The protagonists are a class apart from regular folks. Adventurers on one hand, members of the wulin on the other.
Characters tend to have the their own thing. Call it "niche protection" or special techniques, the heroes of D&D and Wulin tend to be distinctive from other members of their party.
Special abilities tend to have names. Wuxia's are tend to be more flowery, admittedly.

There are some elements of wuxia that D&D doesn't tend to emphasize--but there isn't any reason it couldn't:

Mentors are important. How many D&D characters seek out a sifu or mention one they had in the past? No reason they couldn't though.
Named organizations. D&D characters used to join guilds (though that's less of a thing in later editions), but D&D could use more of the societies, sects, and schools of wuxia. Also, PC groups with names.
A world with its own rules. Adventurers are separated from normal folk by their abilities and activities but members of the wulin or jianghu are expected to adhere to certain codes, and compete with each other, almost like a large, loose organization.

1 comment:

Anne said...

I especially like the second half of this post! It's nice follow-through to say that if D&D really IS like wuxia then we should bring even more wuxia conventions into the game.

Getting players to name their adventuring companies would be an easy enough ask. (It would also make D&D more like a superhero game at the same time!)

The mentor thing is interesting change though, especially if the players have to seek them out as one of their goals within the sandbox. It feels like that should be optional (or that one mentor should be able to tutor the whole group) to avoid a pileup of characters visiting their teachers. (Or maybe those visits could happen as part of the "downtime" at the beginning and end of each session?)