Whenever I start working on a campaign, I find myself gravitating towards discussions of Themes and Moods. I find that these are exceedingly helpful with regards to setting expectations and the tone of a campaign and often can be helpful for players who are looking at what kind of hooks might fit their characters.
- Revenge – Definitely one of the central themes of the campaign, vengeance for their fallen is perhaps the uniting motivation of all the protagonists in the campaign.
- Justice – Being victims of a terrible event, it is inevitable that the Xia stand up in the name of justice in a world where the government has become corrupt and self-serving.
- Tragedy – Not all stories of revenge will end well. No matter how heroic or well-intentioned they might be, not all of the Xia will attain their happy ending.
- Romance – Sometimes, revenge loses it’s appeal, and a Xia finds themselves tempted to settle down and start a family, to abandon ancient feuds and pursue a normal life.
- Redemption – The easing of guilt by avenging the fallen is the opposite side of the need for revenge, motivated by sorrow rather than anger, and is also an example of how someone might react to the loss of their clan.
- Intrigues – The opponents have had six years to solidify their power base, and are perhaps high ranking individuals at this point in time. Therefore, revenge is no simple matter of kicking down a door and killing someone anymore.
Struggle for Catharsis – The player characters are those that are looking for some form of closure in their lives. Whether for themselves or for the fallen, it is only by putting an end to this tragedy will they be able to move on. This may take a variety of emotions, with some optimistic types looking forward to this day of revenge, while others may have misgivings. Still they all swore an oath that day, and are determined to see it through.
I guess what I’m hoping for here is to get protagonists that won’t turn the campaign into “Inglorious Basterds in Zhongguo.” Revenge is presented in the same angle as say “Faster” and “Munich” where Revenge isn’t presented as a completely heroic act. There’s justice to be served, yes, but revenge takes a huge toll on a person.