Ever since my Let’s Study series for Yggdrasill, I’ve come to expect a certain level of thoroughness when it comes to research from this particular team of authors and Qin does not disappoint.
Life in the Warring states is a chapter that focuses on the social angle of the Zhongguo setting. In some ways, it’s the kind of chapter that is immeasurably useful for many GMs, and often very good color for many players as well. Certainly many other games present similar information, but Qin and Yggdrasill excel at being able to grab the important snippets and present them in a manner that paints a compelling picture of life in that era without losing the sense of wonder that makes it game-worthy.
The chapter starts off with a discussion of the family, starting with the authority and heirarchy, and the recognition of wives and concubines (if a man can afford them.) Repudiation and divorce is also tackled here, along with the importance of Funerals to a family.
Morality is also given attention here, something that I find to be a wise idea given that the Chinese culture may deviate from the norms of western morality in certain respects. The Role of Women is the first thing brought up, with a nod towards the fact that women may be viewed a certain way by society, but many exceptions to the rule exist without suffering a severe stigma. Issues of love, sex and gender identity are tackled, as well as the existence of Courtesans and Prostitutes.
Naming Conventions, fashion, food, healthcare, the arts, work and lesiure, the nature of settlements and housing, crime, travel and transportation and the calendar are also given a large amount of pagecount. Again I find myself amused to see this almost encyclopaedic treatment to the subject matter, and I greatly appreciate it, as it fits well with my manner of GMing.
I tend to prefer games with a strong sense of culture. Blame it on the appeal of exoticism perhaps, but being able to convey the little things, like unique nature of food or a specific moral dilemmas only present in a given culture are great fodder to establish the idea that the players are operating in a different theater. This isn’t the standard western fantasy, and to behave as if it were would be a shame.
I don’t think I’d be lying if I said that Qin’s setting chapters are perhaps the most valuable parts of the book. All of this information specific to the era compiled and presented in a clear, and entertaining fashion is something that is hard to find these days, and is fertile ground for games that strive to emulate the Wuxia feel.
Tomorrow we move on to exploring yet another facet of the setting for Qin: the Warring States: Jiang Hu, the World of Martial Arts