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  • Kuei-jin: How to Fix?

    It has been pointed out that the Kuei-jin, or Wan Kuei, is problematic.

    But with the intent of salvaging the concept; what would you keep, what would you change, and what would you excise entirely to make the Wan Kuei work?

  • #2
    Originally posted by omenseer View Post
    It has been pointed out that the Kuei-jin, or Wan Kuei, is problematic.

    But with the intent of salvaging the concept; what would you keep, what would you change, and what would you excise entirely to make the Wan Kuei work?
    I think the question to that is what exactly is the role you want the Kuei-Jin to play in your games?

    The ones in VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE: BLOODLINES are a little problematic in the context that they're a bunch of racist Chinese people coming to kill your white (or black or Hispanic) ass. But Big Trouble in Little China isn't a bad place to go, especially if you have some Chinese locals to help you out. After all, you're playing a bunch of Romanian myths crossed with fears of 80s looter economics.

    But "Kuei-jin as monster to fight" is very different than, say, something you'd want to play or someone who might show up at your local Elysium to talk to you.

    How do I use them in my games?

    1:] I go with Wan Kuei

    Because Kuei-Jin doesn't make any sense as a word.

    2:] They're a separate supernatural species

    The Wan Kuei are different from Kindred the same way Lupines are but superficial similarities. They're basically just a bunch of Wraith: The Oblivion Revenants that have formed their own society of people.

    3:] Dump the Racism on their End
    The Wan Kuei are various groups of Revenants but that doesn't make them particularly any better at doing what they do than Kindred of the West. They also aren't particularly inclined to cultural posturing at every length of time. They may not like Kindred of the West but that's because they're competing for victims.

    4:] Dump the Orientalism

    A Wan Kuei born in modern times might be a communist, a Yakuza, a teen gamer, or anything else but they join the society because that's what being a Wraith reincarnated in a corpse does to you. They're just normal people turned into monsters like anyone else can be.

    5:] Don't link their power to Paths

    A Bone Flower or Devil Tiger is more like a belief system or faction than a fast track to power.
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 11-02-2019, 11:00 PM.


    Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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    • #3
      As far as 5 goes, I think Requiem's Blood Potency system is a decent starting place for an alternative power level/cap system. The Dharmas can then be used as stand alone paths of enlightenment/morality designed to keep the Po in check.


      What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
      Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

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      • #4
        In mechanical terms I would use the vampire system from VtR - no generation, for example. I would modify it as much as I had to and specify all the Eastern Vampire were zero generation. No other vampire made them, they made themselves through their wicked mortal lives.

        In thematic terms, I would keep some of the setting material - but only for Chinese vampires. Other nations and ethnic groups would have different courts and systems. Also, the idea they were sent back from Hell is a widely held belief, but one one universally respected or verified. Much like the story of Caine among the Western Vampires.

        I also generally agree with CTPhipps statements above.
        Last edited by Grumpy RPG Reviews; 11-03-2019, 02:22 AM. Reason: A hopping vampire made me do it.

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        • #5
          1 - Guiren, often used in the books post KotE-"core", would also likely be okay.

          2 - There are connections that the Hungry Dead have to Wraith, but the entire concept of the line is that something went very wrong that prevented the deceased from becoming a proper ghost that easily works within Wraith's framework. Risen, too, are very different, not just because they are very short-lived, but because Risen can use approximations of Kindred Disciplines, which would go against being an entirely different sort of vampire with no real relation to the Kindred, and also because their Shadow doesn't inhabit an object that anchors them to the Skinlands.

          3 - If they're trying to make amends with most spirits, that would also necessitate driving out Kindred.

          5 - There are thematic links to Exalted that make that difficult. At the very least. though, the systems need to get cleaned up, because if you have Willpower 10, the math gets really screwy in that old WoD system way.

          I would add on changing around how the concept of the Hunpo gets addressed, too, with knock-on effects for Wraith. The Po isn't really comparable to a demon; it's a seat of passions, while the Hun deals mostly with your connection to classic Confucian relationships and karma. That means that the Po should be only half a Shadow (deals with both Passions and Shadow Passions), and the Hun should be going to hell, since it maintains the connections that would drag it off to be punished (or whatever other origin gets pitched). Naturally, this would also substantially alter how various status get calculated, used, and assigned; perhaps all the esoteric placements like Direction and Xing can fill in there.

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          • #6
            Would dropping the Ying and Yang chi and just leaving it as chi be too much of a change?

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            • #7
              Basically, I would just make them vampires of a different sort and organization rather than reinventing the wheel. They might invade a city but no different from the Anarchs, Sabbat, or Camarilla.


              Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                5:] Don't link their power to Paths

                A Bone Flower or Devil Tiger is more like a belief system or faction than a fast track to power.
                I don't know that this was an issue? At least I don't think powers were ever linked to Paths and I don't think Paths ever got any sort of boost to powers. Certainly Bone Flowers were more likely to practice Yin Prana than Yang Prana (for example), but that's because, due to the nature of Bone Flower teachings, they were more likely to focus on Yin aspected powers than Yang ones and probably have larger Yin pools than Yang pools. Not because they got any sort of bonus to Yin Prana.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post

                  I don't know that this was an issue? At least I don't think powers were ever linked to Paths and I don't think Paths ever got any sort of boost to powers. Certainly Bone Flowers were more likely to practice Yin Prana than Yang Prana (for example), but that's because, due to the nature of Bone Flower teachings, they were more likely to focus on Yin aspected powers than Yang ones and probably have larger Yin pools than Yang pools. Not because they got any sort of bonus to Yin Prana.
                  Basically, it overly complicates power levels and links power too much to "enlightenment." You lose the ability and variety of characters like if vampires had to be Path of Death and Soul to be Generation 4.


                  Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                    Basically, it overly complicates power levels and links power too much to "enlightenment." You lose the ability and variety of characters like if vampires had to be Path of Death and Soul to be Generation 4.
                    Oh I see what you were talking about now. I've never found it to be an issue since the 5 different paths are fairly broad and get even more so once you throw in things like their Direction, Sect and where a particular Wan Kuei comes from or what era they hailed from.

                    A South facing Devil Tiger who's part of the Brilliant Coals sect and lives in Thailand is going to be very different from a West facing Devil Tiger who's part of the Electric Money Wickedness Club and lives in Tokyo. While both might have a broad general agreement on ideas like pain or the punishment of sinners or what not, I think they'd be distinct enough from one another that players wouldn't have any issue in figuring out which Devil Tiger was which. Even members of the same sect who live in the same location are going to be different enough that I don't think it's a problem (or at least it's never been an issue that cropped up in my games).

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                    • #11
                      Ditch, not fix. In VtR and its sourcebooks, there's a fairly large collection of various Persian, Indian, Bangladeshi, South-East Asian, Chinese and Japanese bloodlines that stem from the kindred clans we all know and love yet maintain their own distinct identities, cultures and hierarchies (not to mention disciplines). Use them as inspiration.

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                      • #12
                        I fixed the Wan Kuei by doing what other posters have suggested in this thread, by making them a Splat proper to the WOD. I called them Revenants, and had them show up all over the world. I stole from the old tv series Brimstone, added an actual Hell in the WOD spirit realms, but kept the mechanics mostly as is, except my player and i came up with the bare bones of the equivalent of Dharmas for Western Revenants. It worked out pretty well.

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                        • #13
                          For my two cents on the subject:

                          What Needs Changing:
                          1. Retcon the aggressive expansion BS because this makes default enemies rather than blank slates you can use in stories. This is easy enough to change to the idea that Kuei-jin are setting up shop in Chinatowns or Japan towns around the world as guardians who help those Asian souls who take the second breath outside the traditional boarders of their homelands. Given how much fluff is placed on augury practices, just make it possible for the elders to forsee or detect when a community gets big enough or tainted enough to allow for kuei-jin respawns.

                          2. Revisit the mechanics crunch of the entire line. Kindred of the East was always a mishmash of mechanics from other older systems and a testing ground for newer mechanics, this made the crunch aspect needlessly excessive. I would suggest overhauling the multiple souls setup, you can keep the behavior model of the darker side but having to treat it like almost a secondary character is just overkill. Change the system to default chi and chi pool like how normal vampires have a blood pool rather than blood type pools, but have a few mechanics in place that relate to positive and negative chi. Then once the groundwork is solid, hit the disciplines with one by one. I advocate that many of them should be just abilities and permanent buffs rather than constant chi sinks to use. Given that the composition of coteries or Wu as they are called was a big thing in the original line, it might be a good idea to revisit 5th editions coterie system for the structure for mechanical bonuses based off of Wu membership and stats.

                          3. Retrofit the dharma interaction landscape. Several of the "heretical dharmas" are less destructive, less problematic, and less edge lord than a couple of the standard dharmas, yet they are somehow seen as dangerous philosophies that need to be exterminated. A Face of the Gods dharma practitioner looks identical to a Devil Tiger running its Herd as a cult unless you look at the discipline allocation, a flame of the rising phoenix defending its living relative looks a lot like a Bone Flower protecting its mortal decedents, etc. In short just allow the different schools of thought to co-exist, like martial arts schools that bicker with each other the dharmas will have natural points of contention rather than needing another layer of heretical vs traditional dharma stacked on top of it. A couple of the heretical dharmas are also clearly just reskinned versions of some of the main ones, so just make them a subvariant of the main dharma rather than a separate group.

                          4. Don't make the page background in the books so clogged with Asian style art doodles that the main text is hard to read. Also don't fill page space with MET conversions when there is a lot of world building that needs to be conveyed.

                          5. Clean up the cosmology of the setting. Even in the original game line there was a side box that admitted you would need hundreds of dollars worth of books from other game lines just to have the rules set required for running a KotE game. So yeah, there needs to be a simplification and streamlining of the multiple dimensions, planes of the existence, hells, etc so that it is manageable to work with.


                          What Needs New Stuff:
                          1. Expanded mechanics for things like family interactions and ancestor worship. This is a big thing in many Asian cultures and is only given fluff references rather than mechanics. Also since the supernatural in Asian society is a bit more of an open secret this would allow for some interesting mechanical differences from standard vampire. I know the whole angsty isolation emo cliché is a core trope of western vampirism, but Asian vampirism really is a different thing entirely. I am thinking of mechanics similar to Dragon-Blooded in Exalted and how they gain mechanical benefits from massive families. This would be especially appropriate considering that the Dragon-Blooded were originally supposed to be the splat that the Kuei-jin devolved from.

                          2. Expanded Cult mechanics. Going along the same lines that the supernatural is more of an open secret that exists along side with humanity rather than being completely antagonistic to it, there will need to be expanded cult mechanics.

                          3. I would suggest a much more robust artifact system. Originally artifacts were treated as just power up magical items, but given the rich history of many Asian countries, there really should be a much more in-depth system for artifacts. Most jade items were just chi batteries, like carrying around a cooler full of blood packs rather than rare items from a bygone age. The items that weren't chi pool related often were more akin to mechanical patches for holes in the disciplines or the dharma in general.


                          That's all I can think of off the top of my head, but I haven't played a KotE game in many years so I would need to dig into the books for further examples and ideas.

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                          • #14
                            One thought that occurred to me after I asked the Chi question was to make it one chi pool/chi rouse kind of thing and if one wanted to include Yin and Yang specifics treat it like blood humors.

                            What about making the aggressive expansion the action of a small subset that the Kindred thought was bigger? I like your thought Thoth about WK following the growing communities..

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                            • #15
                              I had this thought of a Chronicle where a Wu is tasked in preventing the Great Leap Forward.

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