One thing to note about any Wuxia game is the fact that it always has two different settings: the normal world, and the Wu Lin, the world of martial arts. These aren’t separate locations, but rather the circles in which people interact. Most of the time, characters are assumed to be involved in the Wu Lin as that’s where the more heroic (and villainous) individuals tend to gather.
Today we’re looking at the Warring States as a whole, then we’ll tackle the Wu Lin later.
The Chapter on the Warring States starts off with a look at the Government and Administrative structure of the time. With Zhongguo divided among so many warring kingdoms, it was interesting to note that they adapted fairly similar structures of government.
Ideally, the Emperor was meant to be at the top of the structure, but with the rise of the state of Qin, the Emperor has been deposed and all the other kings struggle to attain that position.
Currently the states are led by a King, who is surrounded by several Ministers. These Ministers handle a broad range of duties and are considered to be some of the most powerful and influential men in a particular kingdom. Eunuchs, born of a practice of castrating servants who had duties inside the Emperor’s Palace, are still a constant influence in the courts. Unofficially, they have become advisers to those in power, and wield a shadowy influence outside of the official heirarchy.
The courts of each kingdom is a political battlefield, as Ministers, eunuchs, officials, artists and foreign dignitaries compete for the attention and influence of the King. Favors are traded at incredible speed and factions form and divide over a war of lies, and intrigue.
The smallest administrative unit of the government is the district, which is run by a mayor, who is typically a commanding officer of the nearest garrison. This leads to soldiers policing the district to maintain law and order.
The chapter then goes on to discuss the nature of Justice (often harsh and repressive) taxes (including bribery) and the curious relationship between States, as reinforced at times by political hostages.
How the army is organized is then given thorough treatment with notes on the structure, types of units, method of warfare and the importantce of strategy and philosophy in waging war.
It is at this point that the chapter goes on to discuss each of the seven States in great detail. Each State has a beefy section several pages long dedicated to it’s history, geography, nature and relations with other States, as well as a few key figures that feature prominently in the affairs of the state. Needless to say it’s a huge setting, one with a lot of fertile ground for adventures of any stripe.
Given the size of the setting and the potential story hooks in any of the seven states, I’d advise that GMs start with a very small scale first, before going into inter-state issues. Staying in a single district, or engaging in the affairs of a single state is more than enough fodder for a full campaign, though more ambitious groups can go and try to engage themselves in the wars for superiority of the era.
Qin: the Warring States presents itself admirably again in this regard, and has a strong foundation to build many campaign on with this chapter alone. Tomorrow, we take a look at the Daily Life in the Warring States.