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Why are Kuei-jin Widely Hated?

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  • Why are Kuei-jin Widely Hated?

    maybe I'm making too much of a few random comments, but I get the impression a not too small percentage of people dislike Kuei-jin...

    I'm usualy a shameless fan of what other people call "Mary sues"

    Any reason why the Splat gets a lot of hostility it seems to me?

    Part of it I think is because their Disciplines are arguably much mightier and more versatile then Kindred disciplines , and people forget they need to Spend more XP to up them.

    Another is because due to their clannish mentality, and the fact that Kindred Pollute Chi lines, just by existing..they generally are unfriendly, even hositle towards Kindred who come to Asia.

    Thus forcing any Kindred who operate in Asia to do so as at best as "Barely tolerated guests" and at worse as "Outlaws who'll be summarily annihilated if discovered"

    Making the very idea of a Prince of Tokyo, or Beijing laughable.


    This seems to peeve some people.


    3rd Some people see the Kuei-jin as Mary sues, as "Way too special, all because their asian"

    I'll admit, I've been studying the teaching of buddhism and shinto last 2 years so Im pretty open to asian ideas.

    But I thought it cool to be able to gain power from their koans, and moments of truth etc.

    thoughts?



  • #2
    Poor execution of a concept that would have otherwise been left on the table i.e. every non-Anne Rice vampire ever, particularly jiang shi, langsur and various other bloodsuckers around Asia. That's the wages of fanatical Noddist support in metatext crowding out an awful lot of alternatives.

    NB: the Bushi and Gaki weren't necessarily better under Kindred rules, either. The Bushi, in particular, were centered around HONOR in a manner that one would expect in L5R, which is... well, one challenge I'd inflict on Hollywood scriptwriters is to write about Japan (among other potential places) without using "honor" or any of its close synonyms. They probably wouldn't get very far before their heads exploded.
    Last edited by Saur Ops Specialist; 05-16-2014, 12:10 AM.

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    • #3
      I don't think the Kuei-jin themselves are hated as such - at least, I don't recall seeing much vitriol spread across these forums, and they have a dedicated (if small and not-very-vocal) fanbase. I know there are some issues with the books - omissions, generalizations, the claim that White Wolf was trying to "cash-in on the Asian fever"* at the time since anime and manga were becoming widespread and popular.

      I think, like most splats in cWoD, they're really only "Mary Sue-ish" or "twinkish" in the way they are constructed and played by individual players.

      Cheers!

      *Actual criticism.


      If you don't use an Oxford comma, I feel bad for you, son,
      'Cuz I got ninety-nine problems, but clarity ain't one.

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      • #4
        Some of their books, including the core book, were very badly written. The entire Asian themed versions of the main gamelines were largely terrible. They either had needlessly complex rules or were basically all "but netter" splats. When I use the term "but better", I am referring to the fact that a lot of the rules and capabilities of the Asian shen is that they were usually exactly the same in the ways that matter as their Western counterparts, but better. The fluff was pretty terrible at first, before it was smoothed over by the later books. Kindred of the East has a lot of bad dice mechanics, unbearable writing, and fetishism in the first couple books. Shadow War and Dharma Book - Devil Tiger, in my opinion, salvage the entire game setting.

        Personally, I think the Kuei-Jin had a lot of potential. However, they are misused. Rather than portray in depth their own problems in the Middle Kingdom, they are often used only as foils to Western Supernaturals... usually Cainites. I find they work better if they are focused on their own setting, as it not only makes more sense... but tends to play out better.

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        • #5
          They're the face of how unfortunate Asia was in oWoD; a little racist, inexplicably more magic than the rest of the world, revolving wholly around China and Japan as Asia with the rest of the nations ignored, and an unnecesary focus on anime and kung fu rather than decent writing.


          Remi. she/her. game designer.

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          • #6
            Two major reasons, three minor reasons:

            1) The KOTE stuff is more then a little racist. Making Asia magical and "other" is casting it as "not us" and some of the portrayals are pretty cringworthy. It draws on a lot of the propoganda commonly called "Yellow Peril" (Asians are dangerous, work togather against whites, want "our" stuff, etc) and while the authors clearly intended no disrespect, no racism, no hate, no anything but to frame how cool some aspects of Asian culture was, the result was highly problematic. In addition to Asian stereotyping, you had the fact Asians brought the power of special hells (for Asians) and demon lords for spreading their culture, something not the case for other races and cultures (Demons while very Judeo-Christian manifested all over, for instance). You could literally make an arguement that allowing Asians to settle outside Asia is bad because it spreads Yama Kings power. That would be insanely problematic without the stereotyping and othering that also occurred in KOTE.

            2) Kindred of the East was introduced in a very aggressive "us vs. them" way into Masquerade. While there were a few crossovers and Werewolves were often represented as Anti-Vampire, the Kindred of the East made a huge footprint on Masquerade lore, all but eliminating one of the three biggest factions of Cainites and "conquering" an area with ties going back to the early days of Masquerade. The game was also written as "Kuei-Jin are superior to Kindred because X" a few times too often, and while Masquerade was at it's core a game of politics and personal horror, KOTE brought in a faction with mainly combat focused powers, no downside to killing, and who all but ignored the Masquerade with no repercussions while Masquerade actually hinged on it...and made them significantly integrated into vampire. It brought resentment, for good reason.

            3) Touching on both the above, the GLO was incredibly poorly thought out (and really badly named). It tapped into the "Yellow Peril" to a T AND it only increased the "us vs. them" deeply integrated into Masquerade. And the reasoning was pretty weak. This is really #1 and #2, but dovetails into both nicely.

            4) KOTE was weakened also by having a strong anime influence used as cultural to Asian stuff in general. Sort of related to part 1, it gave a very warped a someone Japan-centric view of Asia that had more to do with anime than Asian culture. I have no issue with anime influences in games but the implementation here was troublesome at least.

            5) I'd mention they were extremely poorly balanced with Masquerade, but sometimes Masquerade is poorly balanced with Masquerade, so that is not a big thing. Did not help though.


            Put those togather you have a game with problematic and racist issues and impliment it in a way where it clashes aggressively with an extant game with different moods and themes and occasionally substitute "Asian" with "Anime" and you have a very flawed implementation.

            I said it above but I will say it again to reiterate: Despite all this, the authors are not a bunch of racists. They meant well. The intent was to create a cool Asian flavored vampire game, and by the standards of the 1990s they basically did that....okay. Some of them I know and I can say, for sure, they did not, absolutely did not, intend to create Yellow Peril propaganda. I'll go to bat for their reputations personally. Some of them may well have not known what "Yellow Peril" is. I can't speak to why clashing the mood so directly with Masquerade seemed a good idea, but that is not a moral failing. And by the late 90s, most stuff of any Asian sort had anime influences...it was sadly almost unavoidable.

            I hope this explains the issues in a clear and as objective a way as possible.


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            • #7
              There are some who find it racist(I personally find the Noddist uber alles abit privledged but that's just me) but I feel alot of the HATE comes from people wanting there to just be Funny hats for any culture they don't know but will explain why there shouldn't be unique cultural developments for civilizations outside Europe but will explain why Ventrue, Lasombra and tzim aren't the same archtype.

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              • #8
                I don't dislike the Kuei-Jin, they are actually kinda cool in many ways, both the concept of what they actually are and the execution of that concept. What rubbed me the wrong way in much of the material regarding the Kuei-Jin was this attitude that the Kuei-Jin are always better, more mysterious, more magic, and undefeatable by pathetic western vampires. Combine this with, as Baron Samedi said, a contrived push for the Kindred and Kuei-Jin to fight so that the Kindred can get their butt kicked. Asia is so magic and mysterious that the Kindred can't infiltrate at all, even if they embrace Asian people. Yet the Kuei-Jin, who must necessarily be racially and culturally Asian, have no trouble taking over California. Really, in OWoD, this attitude about Asia wasn't entirely unique. Many books from that era had this sort of guilty white liberal sort of mystification of non-European cultures, where these cultures and people were naturally magical, spiritual, better, and so on.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Baron Samedi View Post
                  2) Kindred of the East was introduced in a very aggressive "us vs. them" way into Masquerade. While there were a few crossovers and Werewolves were often represented as Anti-Vampire, the Kindred of the East made a huge footprint on Masquerade lore, all but eliminating one of the three biggest factions of Cainites and "conquering" an area with ties going back to the early days of Masquerade. The game was also written as "Kuei-Jin are superior to Kindred because X" a few times too often, and while Masquerade was at it's core a game of politics and personal horror, KOTE brought in a faction with mainly combat focused powers, no downside to killing, and who all but ignored the Masquerade with no repercussions while Masquerade actually hinged on it...and made them significantly integrated into vampire. It brought resentment, for good reason.
                  This pretty much why I've never tried to get my hands on KotE material or integrate it into my Masquerade games. The game sounds like it could be fun to play on its own, but it's not the same thing as VtM and I haven't been interested in doing the crossover between the two. I'd prefer to enjoy each one for what it is, individually.

                  Most of the WoD lines followed the paradigm of "separate, parallel worlds that might actually be one". It meant that each game kept its own themes and setting. There was cross material published in places, and ST Guides gave some rules for crossover, but it was usually never forced. KotE and VtM were basically presented as completely co-existing, which felt kinda weird.

                  I don't really have any "hate" for KotE, though. It's its own thing, probably has its own merits. Keeping my VtM game separate from it is as easy as ignoring the KotE material and keeping my storyline local enough that questions about what's going on in China don't come up. If folks enjoy KotE that's cool.
                  Last edited by Demon Cat; 05-16-2014, 04:21 AM.


                  Demon Cat

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                  • #10
                    It was a long time ago that I read the core rulebook for KotE, but I didn't like it very much. It kinda drew the attention away from the core themes of Vampire and made the origin of the Kindred even more convoluted. And I have to admit, the poetic take on the Dharmas was confusing as hell, I could never figure out how to explain them to players. There was a lot of cherry blossoms and lotus flying around.

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                    • #11
                      In addition to all the issues Baron Samedi raised, you can also consider the amount of additional mechanical complexity that the KotE material introduces. There is nothing inherently "Western" about the easy to understand framework of dividing player options into cultural groups that share a common weakness and an associated set of three supernatural powers that are easier to develop than the rest. If a supplement to the main game is going to toss away fundamental concepts like that in favor of complex subsystems, it better have a damn good reason for doing so; "Asia is different" isn't going to cut it.

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                      • #12
                        Baron Samedi nailed it.

                        With the yellow peril overtones removed (ie. things like only asian cultural areas creating KotE), it has the potential to be a nice interesting setting. It would require a major rebuild though.

                        On top of the problematic setting overtones, it suffers from having a lot of "Celerity but Magically-Asian" reinventing-the-wheel powers instead of reusing the existing powers where appropriate.

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                        • #13
                          I liked the Dharmas, got to admit... the quest for enlightenment being tied to Supernatural power, is really cool...


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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Elphilm View Post
                            In addition to all the issues Baron Samedi raised, you can also consider the amount of additional mechanical complexity that the KotE material introduces. There is nothing inherently "Western" about the easy to understand framework of dividing player options into cultural groups that share a common weakness and an associated set of three supernatural powers that are easier to develop than the rest. If a supplement to the main game is going to toss away fundamental concepts like that in favor of complex subsystems, it better have a damn good reason for doing so; "Asia is different" isn't going to cut it.

                            But there is something intrinsically "Western" about Christianity. The "We enlighten westerners are right oh you poor deluded foreign people" is kind of a problem with Masquerade as well all alternative myths are hit hard with being pretty canonically wrong, I mean Clanbook Ravnos Revised gets pretty funny there when it talks about all the contextual criticism issues with the Wounds of Night when every bit of Noddist lore was made up by someone who has no grounding in Biblical criticism. The Settites get laughed at in Gehenna. Vampires from Africa are just normal clans in funny hats.


                            As for the "oh my God the KJ destroyed the anarchs" Did you read the Anarch book from preGLO? Did you read the v20 version which resets things back to that? the Anarch Free state was setup to fall. That's its base Either the camarilla comes in and cleans up, the sabbat eats it etc. The story was built to be "Its going to collapse"

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                            • #15
                              My approach to Kuei-Jin is basically following, retconing them to Cainites with different cultural traditions and Paths of Enlightment, keeping the Underworld similar everywhere.

                              One of my players would be actually an Indian Kuei-jin under Revised rules, because he asked me to convert one of Dharmas to a Path of Enlightment.


                              “I am absolute, I am perfect, I am supreme. I shall be eternal. My tragedy, is that there is no other fate for me. My powerlessness was that I couldn’t subjugate my journey to the gods, while dreaming of rebirth at the end of distant time, like other pharaohs.” Ramesses II, Fate/Prototype: Argent Fragments.

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