Qin: the Warring States

GM’s Day Sale – Philippine Gamer’s Picks: Cubicle 7

Hey everyone!

It’s the happiest week in RPG gaming as DriveThruRPG has it’s week-long GM’s Day Sale. Today we’re looking at some of the best games from Cubicle 7 all on sale for this week alone!

Qin: The Warring States

Hailed as a gold mine of Wuxia setting goodness, Qin: The Warring States has more “realistic” kung fu while painting a beautiful setting that radiates the unique and enthralling tone and mood of Wuxia games.


If Qin paints Wuxia well, then Yggrasill is the last word in Viking games. With unique berzerker mechanics and another extremely well researched setting, Yggdrasill is the best game to pick up the moment your players want to try some real Norse adventures.


Cyberpunk and Horror make for a potent cocktail in Kuro. Set in a post-supernatural-apocalypse Japan, Kuro is a game that has a unique take on cyberpunk meets the supernatural that Shadowrun can’t pull off. It’s a beautiful game with a lot of potential, and interesting expansions that promise to change the game with each release.

Dark Harvest: Legacy of Frankenstein

The Dark Harvest is a uniquely beautiful and utterly cruel setting painted in heart-breaking shades of gray. Iain Lowson’s setting is one of the few games that have truly managed to score a bull’s eye when it comes to horror in my experience and this chance to pick it up is one that you shouldn’t miss.

Goal Setting 2013: Games I’ll Run

Hey everyone, since it’s the new year, the latest trend is not to come up with a list of resolutions, but to approach the year with a list of goals. So in the spirit of the new year, I figure I might as well put up a list of my own goals as well as far as running games is concerned:

Legend of the Five Rings – Inflated with the triumph of “Never a Dull Blade”, I’m hoping that my upcoming campaign, “Hearts and Souls” will be met with similar success.

Mummy: the Curse – It’s shiny and new and I’ve pledged for it in Kickstarter. Mummy promises to shake up how things are done for nWoD and I’m hoping that the book inspires me to run an interesting campaign that my players will like.

Exalted, 3rd Edition – Time to put my money where my mouth is… again. I’ve tried running 2e Exalted, only to quickly switch to the Qwixalted Hack because my brain died from the complexity. I’m still remarkably optimistic about this and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to make it work.

Something from Cubicle 7 – Qin: the Warring States, Kuro or Yggdrasill are all fine games and I’m curious about how they run. It’s a great time to actually break out of the usual stable of games I run and try stuff from other companies.

A Supers Game – Surprise, surprise! (Okay, not really.) Every year I keep hoping that I’ll be able to run a Supers game, but somehow it never really materializes. Whether it’ll be HERO, M&M, MHR or some other supers ruleset, I’ll make something happen this year.

A Sudden Change of Plans of Campaigns to Run

Given the shift in the number of players I have, and some real life scheduling conflicts, it seems that I will have to put my plans for Qin on hold. The Eight Swords of Vengeance campaign will run eventually, but not in the next few months, I fear. I’m stuffing all my research and reading into a file somewhere, and will be coming back to it when we’re able to run a game with all the interested parties.

So in lieu of that, I’ll be running Call of Cthulhu instead, specifically the Masks of Nyarlathotep mega-campaign. It’s a big book with various adventures around the globe, so I have no fear that it will be able to take up many a gaming night with thrills and chills of the Lovecraftian persuasion. I’m currently working with only Hikkikomori, Mappy and Silver Countess as my players so far, with Sheimaruen on the fence at this point.

Given the small turnout of players, I may have to issue a general call for other players in other gaming groups I know of. I’m slated to pay a visit to another group if their game pushes through this Friday and see if any of them there will mesh well with our groups play style. It’ll be good to get some new blood in our group after all.

[Qin: the Warring States] Eight Swords of Vengeance – Resources & Inspirations

I’ve been doing some research as part of my preparations to run the Eight Swords of Vengeance, and I decided to revisit a few of my favorite links when talking about Wuxia. One of the neatest links I’ve seen before is the nigh-legendary Kongming’s Archives, which is a depository of all things relating to the Romance of the Three Kingdoms. While the Three Kingdoms Era takes place after the Warring States Period, where the campaign is set, the website also sports a huge number of character portraits that could be of use for any games set in China.

I highly encourage you guys to take a peek, as this is a fun resource to check out. Below are links to some galleries of portraits for player-generated officers for the various Romance of the Three Kingdoms games:

Aside from visuals, looking for music is also very helpful for inspiring me to run a game. Needless to say, I’m going through a bunch of soundtracks that I own right now in hopes of compiling something interesting for the game. The HERO soundtrack by Tan Dun is especially nice for the game, as the campaign and the movie share some interesting parallels.

For those who like reading, I’d advise checking out Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay. GGK’s superb handling of language helps convey the entire cultural tone and color of a fantasy China that fits so perfectly with Qin that I find myself enthralled with this book, no matter how many times I read it.

[Qin: the Warring States] Eight Swords of Vengeance – Themes & Mood

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.

[Qin: the Warring States] Eight Swords of Vengeance – Research Mode… On!

I’ve had a chance to pitch the idea of the Qin: the Warring States campaign “Eight Swords of Vengeance” to my players and it looks like a lot of people are interested in playing the game. I won’t be starting the game until two weeks from now at the earliest, giving me a lot of time to sit down and really do my research and planning for the game. The premise is a strong one, but without a sufficiently interesting cast of characters and a complex plot behind it, it’ll just fall into the category of a Kung Fu movie satire, which isn’t what I’m gunning for.

At this point I’m considering holding the game in the Southern State of Chu. It’s a massive territory in the Warring States, and has a vast amount of locations where I can set the game. I’ll also go and admit that part of the reason I chose the state is because of my own genealogy. While the state of Yue has already been destroyed and conquered by Chu at the start of the game, it’s still neat to think that my family could be traced that far back.

I also like the fact that the state of Yue was well known for it’s Metalworking and skill with the creation of weapons (like the Sword of Goujian), something that ties in very neatly with the title of the campaign.

Will I have Eight actual Swords forged for the player characters? Well, that’s something we’ll have to see when the game kicks off, won’t we?

Overall I’m still early into the research of the setting and the game, while listening to music from more recent Chinese movies and reading Blood & Steel to get me in the right mindset for it. After this, I might find myself working on building NPCs soon enough, with a focus on the eventual opponents of the player characters when the game starts.

[Campaign Pitch] Qin: the Warring States – Eight Swords of Vengeance

It has been six years since the frightful night when assassins struck against your clan. You were among the eight novices who managed to escape the massacre by luck and the sacrifices of your family.

You all swore to go your separate ways to study and train in the best ways you could in order to become stronger, wiser and more capable… anything to put the spirits of your fallen to rest on the appointed day.

Now that day has come.

In the ruins of your fallen ancestral home you find the faces of those who fled with you that fateful night. Older, wiser, stronger, but eyes still burning with the same hunger for justice you feel in your heart.

I’ve had some encouragement from some of my play group to run Qin: the Warring States, and so I’ve been putting some serious thought into a campaign premise. Eight Swords of Vengeance is my attempt to try an emulate the genre with the tried-and-true revenge flick sensibility meets wire-fu and historical Chinese sensibilities and genre tropes.

For character concepts, I’m expecting the gamut from the players. Just because they were all studying under the same Clan doesn’t mean that they’re all combatants. The premise is pretty clear that they sought out a means to extract revenge by learning to be the best at something, whether that be politics, manipulation, magic, kung-fu or crime. This allows players to pick a concept that they’re comfortable with, while still having a singular uniting thread that will make them cooperate despite any external differences.

I’ll be pitching this campaign idea to my team and seeing what kind of response I get from this. Hopefully they’ll bite. 😀

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