Hello again! Yesterday we had a chance to go over the Dynamic Gaming System, Wushu activation and the Basics of Combat in Wu Xing: the Ninja Crusade. Today we’ll be taking a look at the recipients of all that pain: The Antagonists.
Well, some antagonists anyway. I’m constantly surprised with the chapters in Wu Xing since there’s always some hidden nugget somewhere that wasn’t expected. In this case, what we’re actually looking at here is an NPC chapter of sorts that include non-hostile individuals as well as the standard villains of martial arts / ninja anime.
After a quick introduction to the format in which NPCs statblocks are presented, the chapter wastes no time in going into the listing of the various threats.
First off are Animals, I do appreciate the note that Animals don’t have access to every combat maneuver. It’s a simple thing, but it does idiot-proof things a bit.
Each creature entry is given a short write-up before their stat block, along with a few notes on how they behave in combat. One feature of note here is that there’s a sidebar with the Size rules providing the penalties and bonuses to Strike / Throw rolls depending on the size of the target.
Township threats follow, with entries for “Everyday People” as well as “Town Guards” and “Bandits / Criminals”, while the Empire and Ninja Threats that are detailed after also give an idea as to what makes the Izou Army so dangerous to the Ninja. Aside from just having explosives and firearms, some of the more disturbing opponents are the Empire Executioners, who have the ability to snuff out Wushu Effects used on them by force of will. The Golden Lions on the other hand are the Empire’s own Chi-Manipulators, ninjas in their own right, who have special armor charged with extra Chi to allow them to fight much longer than normal Ninja.
There’s also a short description of Spirits, though there’s no mechanics for them, save for the Oni, which are given their own write up at the end of the chapter.
But between those lie the most interesting part of the chapter, the discussion on Celestial Animals. I’m surprised that the discussion of the Animal Realms and the existence of the Celestial Animals weren’t given that much attention in the setting chapter. These are a neat idea, of celestial creatures from another realm that can enter into pacts with Ninja summoners.
The Summoners themselves are given treatment in a sidebar that explains the summoning mechanics and the cost to becoming a summoner (again, I feel just a little bit confused why the Summoner option wasn’t mentioned in Character Generation.) The mechanics for summoning is a nice plot hook as these creatures add a bit more fantasy and sense of wonder to the setting.
Celestial Animals are creatures that act as mentors and allies to chosen Ninja who enter a pact with them. These are spirit creatures who posses various powers of their own, and many have a long history with making pacts with the ninja. Each family of Celestial Animal is given a short write up of their general characteristics and personality, before a sample creature is presented. This is a full stat block with the sample creature’s name, background, powers and personality.
I’m glad that Eloy included sample Celestial Animals as it lets the GM insert an interesting element into an existing game. Despite being really cool, I can’t shake the feeling that they’re an optional element in the game, and a GM who doesn’t like the idea of such things can excise them from a game of Wu Xing without any ill effects.
Overall, the Antagonist Chapter presents a broad spread of possible characters that the players can meet. I feel a little disappointed that there wasn’t a description of the Lotus Coalition. I like the idea of the internal strife and politics between the Clans, and the corebook would have been a great place to actually introduce and shape the agendas of the individual leaders of each of the Clans.
On Monday we move on to The Storytelling Chapter, where we take a look at how Wu Xing guides the fledgeling GM to running the game.