Has anybody played it? I'm tempted to raise it to my group because of its interesting mechanics with conditions and Ripples, as well as the unique world it encourages, unlike most other fantasy RPGs
I play a lot of LotW, it's my favourite RPG system so far due to its really interesting mechanics and awesome combat system. I'm in a few different games of it, as well as running some, in a variety of styles and settings, and it works great. There are a few mechanical niggles that could do with tweaking, but on the whole it works great. If you're looking for more content for the game, look up the Wulin Legends wiki.
However, there is a major downside to LotW. If you're presenting it to your group, be prepared to have to explain it without much help from the book. If you've read it you're probably already aware, but goddamn the editing is bad. A few important mechanics aren't even directly stated, only implied while being mentioned tangential to something else. It's a mess, which is a real shame for such an excellent game, but if you can get past it it's sublime.
Hah, gimme a bit and I'll see if I can rustle something up.
It's beautiful and fascinating and I have never, ever convinced anyone to sit down and actually play it. Let alone even read the book. Goddammit.
I'm pretty sure that if I could get some people to actually give it a day and read the material to get an idea of what it's about, they'd pick it up in a heartbeat.
Well, I have to explain every game we play to them because it seems like nobody but me knows how to read, so the explaining part isn't a problem. Something I wonder about is how many people who play put on stereotypical accents as they shout out "IRON HEART STRENGTH" and stuff like that
I'm not >>45067358 but a friend of his, and it's honestly not a problem. Granted, we've used the system more for homebrew than for its default setting, but even in the games that I've played using the book's mythic-China realm nobody has gone that over-the-top with the technique names. If it's important to the character or to the game's premise to do that, then it'll happen. If not, more people that I have seen tend to ignore that trope.
But I DO feel you, anon, at
>I have to explain every game we play to them because it seems like nobody but me knows how to read
My old group back home had a couple of players that were exactly like that--and had to have the same rules explained to them week after week because they had the memory of a leaky sieve.
I can give a brief rundown from the top.
LotW uses a d10 dicepool system. Mostly you roll a pool of static size, called your Lake. For starting characters, this is 7d10. How you read and use the rolls is a little odd, and it's easiest explained with an example.
Say you roll 7, 9, 2, 4, 2, 5, 7
In LotW, you evaluate dice by sets. The value of a set is ten times the number of dice in the set, plus the number on the dice. A single dice is a set of one, so it has a value of the number on the die plus 10- So the singles in the above roll are worth 14, 15 and 19. However, we also got two pairs, two 2's and two 7's, which are worth 22 and 27 respectively.
It might seem a little intuitive, but once you get used to it it's fast to read, and it leads into one of the most interesting properties of the system- A single roll can give you multiple usable results. Instead of simply just taking the highest value, you can use extra sets to take extra actions. The ability to make a single roll to do multiple things is at the heart of LotW.
All modifiers in LotW come in increments of 5. Your Skills, stats and all other bonuses or penalties will always be in multiples of 5, which makes the math a lot easier.
The skill system is relatively simple, roll dice and add skill values to sets against a DC, but the combat is where the real meat of the system is (and also includes some of the coolest stuff you can do with skills.)
LotW also has a rather unusual take on what counts as a stat and a skill. Might and Finesse, which might be stats in any other system, are Skills in LotW. Instead, stats are drawn from your combat style, and purely relate to how you fight.
The six stats are Speed, Strike, Footwork, Block, Damage and Toughness. It's easiest to describe what each does by going through a combat round, so I'll do that now.
First is the Initiative Roll, which is a bit of a misnomer. As part of the Initiative Roll, you set your Initiative value for the turn by adding your Speed to a set or single dice, but LotW also puts various utility actions on the Initiative roll. Moving from zone to zone, assessing an opponents style, focusing your breath to regain more Chi and Shaping Waves are performed on the initiative roll.
Waves are another really cool system concept. A Wave is a long action, that begins on your initiative roll, but only resolves when it comes around to your turn. As a result, anyone who takes their turn before you can try to Break your Wave. Covering Ground, the way you move around in combat, is a Wave. Someone with very high Footwork is good at getting around... But someone with very high Speed can have a chance to intercept them, stopping them getting away or blocking their attempts to get closer. Waves can also be used to represent almost any long, interruptable action, and is a useful and flexible part of the system.
Which takes us on to your turn, when you'll roll your Lake again. Strike is the key stat for this roll, where you add your Strike to a set and use that value as your Primary Strike. However, as with init, there's lots of stuff you can do. Secondary attacks or special attacks are things your Kung fu styles can grant you, but Marvels are available to everyone. Marvels are made and resisted with skills, and come in three basic flavours- Disrupt, disorient and Knockbacks. A successful Disrupt puts a -5 penalty on an opponents stat of your choice, a Disorient does the same for skills, and a Knockback forcibly moves someone from one zone to another.
Mixing and matching Marvels alongside your Strike adds a lot of extra choice and flexibility to basic attack rolls, and figuring out your opponents strengths and weaknesses is key.
The defense roll is next, which is sadly less interesting. Oppose Strikes with Block or Footwork, oppose Marvels with skills, and weird stuff generally specifies what it takes to oppose it.
Thankfully, things get interesting with LotW's damage system, which will also answer >>45067973's specific query. A successful Strike in LotW inflicts one or more Ripples on your opponent, which are an abstract measure of the toll of combat. Ripples do nothing by themselves, and they expire at the end of a combat, but they can never be reduced during a fight. They only increase. Why do ripples matter? Because of Rippling Rolls.
Rippling Rolls are inflicted by particularly successful attacks or powerful techniques, and are the only place where you roll a dicepool other than your Lake. In a Rippling Roll, you roll 1d10 for every Ripple on your opponent, including any you inflicted with that attack. You choose a high set, add your Damage value, and your opponent counters it with their Toughness. If your total Damage beats their Toughness, you inflict an Injury Condition on them.
Chi Conditions are very simple- They're a mechanical bonus or penalty, tied to a narrative clause. If you satisfy the narrative clause, you get the bonus/avoid the penalty.
For Injuries, this makes every Condition inflicted on your opponent a difficult choice. You're a swordsman, but your opponent just injured your arm. You now have to avoid taking actions that would put strain on that arm- Or you take a mechanical penalty. Yes, it's not 'realistic', but I massively prefer it to death spiral systems, and the ability to impose narrative restrictions on your opponents actions is interesting.
Chi Conditions also leads nicely into Secret Arts. Secret Arts are the various weird/crazy things you can do in LotW. The Courtiers Arts, as an example, lets you inflict Passion and Inspiration conditions on friends or foes, buffing allies or restricting enemies. It's one of the few places where an RPG has a system for mental influence which is usable both by and against PCs.
Being struck by a Courtiers Arts condition isn't mind control- It's a difficult choice. If you're being compelled to do something you're actively against, you can always choose not to- But you're eating the penalty.
More insidiously, you could give someone a beneficial condition towards something You want. If they want to be enhanced and get a bonus... They have to go along with what you say.
The actual system is intricate and fascinating, but it's way too much to describe here, and I think I've hit all the basics.
This seems hard to grasp just from this, but it sounds quite interesting. I'll have to check it out.
What are the issues mentioned in >>45067358? Are there any other pitfalls to avoid?
Fantasy China doesn't do much for me, what else would it be well suited to running? Are there other officially supported settings?
Damn, I'm already getting hype.
>What are the issues mentioned in >>45067358? Are there any other pitfalls to avoid?
The primary, key one?
The book is an abomination to editing and good design. It makes it a game that's a lot easier to learn by doing than reading as it has a lot of terminology it throws about without really good explanation and several things are named way too close to each other (Chi Aura vs Chi Threshold being a big one.)
If you want to learn I'd advise turning up to #LOTW on Suptg IRC as it's got a lot of veteran players who would be more than willing to help.
>Fantasy China doesn't do much for me, what else would it be well suited to running? Are there other officially supported settings?
Is it high flying and dramatic, with heroes who do dramatic things and make a mockery of lesser foes? Then it will likely work with LOTW.
You could run 7th Sea or Dungeons: The Dragoning very easily in it (In fact, I'm DOING the latter currently)
LotW is suitable for basically any setting built around high action combat. I've used it for Kung fu giant robots in space, and I'm currently in a Magical Girl game using the system. It can do basically anything shonen anime, over the top action movie or so that you want it to.
As for pitfalls, there are a few in core. A few of the Kung fu styles in the core book (Particularly Heaven's Lightning) are unbalanced and overpowered, while others are too weak. The Wulin Legends fanbrew wiki does a lot to fix this with suggestions for adjustments and rewrites, so it's worth looking at.
There's also something of an imbalance between the combat stats. Strike is generally more important than anything, while in terms of defense Footwork is used for both mobility and defence, making it better than Block. Damage and Toughness both suffer, at least theoretically, from only coming up after a Strike has succeeded.
In practice, the Strike/Damage+Toughness disparity isn't as bad as it seems. While on paper a Strike focused character is optimal, a Damage/Toughness focused character can survive a ludicrous number of Ripples or flat take out opponents with a single blow.
The Footwork/Block thing also has an easy fix, although it's a little unintuitive. In my groups, we allow Block to be used for Cover Ground. Footwork is used for moving over or around things, Block is used for moving Through things. So a Block person moves around by barging through crowds or busting through walls rather than dashing across rooftops.
So how does combat, for lack of a better word, "feel"? Do players feel like they can make clever decisions and pick out weaknesses or negate enemy advantages? Are there things that encourage teamwork?
Why does it use oceanographic terms?
The whole water terminology comes from a Chinese concept of the two different worlds that coexist simultaneously. The Shan Li, or Mountains and Forests, is the civilized, stable world. Everything in its place, obedient to the divine and natural order. Wuxia fiction, however, is concerned with the Jiang Hu, the Rivers and Lakes. The Jiang Hu is a wild and changeable place, where the ordinary structures fall apart and pride, passion or strength will rule the day.
It's mostly just flavour, and it does unfortunately add for LotW being a bit harder than it needs to be to get into.
>Do players feel like they can make clever decisions and pick out weaknesses or negate enemy advantages?
Very much so. In fact, that's the core idea between two people of equal skill.
Every Style has things it Laughs At (Gets a bonus against) and Fears (Gets a penalty against). A lot of a battle between two people who are otherwise on roughly the same level is trying to find the way to use your Laughs and poke their Fears while avoiding the same in turn.
The primary advantage of teamwork? A person can only use a given technique 1/turn. So unless that defense ability lasts all turn? Your buddy can carve through after you ate it.
This is actually where High Damage builds shine. They don't duel well but no one capitalizes on the late in the turn empty defenses like a High Damage build.
>Why does it use oceanographic terms?
It uses them because the flow of water is a very common Wuxia theme and image. Both literally and metaphorically. It's also tied into Chinese Elemental Theory.
TL:DR - To make it harder to understand by being a little TOO close to Wuxia. That much water leads to confusion at times.
Most of the work, as usual, comes in setting up antagonists. They don't really NEED a whole lot of things more than an Internal, an External, some techniques from each, and a few important skills, and entities such as Minions (groups of faceless mooks) and Lesser Legends (singular, stronger, still faceless mooks) are pretty much statted right in the book.
And of course, the talky guy can actually do something, because chances are his Kung Fu is pretty strong, and he can talk people out of fighting, taunt them, etc..
I'm already shaking in my chair.
>So a Block person moves around by barging through crowds or busting through walls rather than dashing across rooftops.
It's not perfect, although context can make Block or Footwork a better option.
In a very open area, or one with gaps or hard to reach places, Footwork is better. In close quarters, with lots of obstacles or rough features, Block will often work better.
That and just for 'Running on flat ground' both of them work equally well. Just depends if you are an agile sprinter or an unstoppable locomotive.
Some overlap isn't a bad thing.
A few, although making new Internal and External styles is easy enough, and there's plenty of extra new ones to choose from on the Wulin Legends wiki. It's also easy to refluff core styles as basically anything which fits how they work. Fire Sutra could be a flamethrower while Fox Spirit Song could be an illusion/sensor disruption system, shit like that.
I'm homebrewing a few styles as well, and while it's going to my satisfaction, I cannot help but wish I had better knowledge of the system to design better, more esoteric effects.
Evaluating odd techniques can be a bugger, yeah. Generally you just have to eyeball it, playtest it and get feedback on it. The wulin legends wiki is decent for that, although some of the stuff on it is broken/shitty and has never been fixed.
The parts of the system for diplomacy and intrigue can be directly plugged into the combat system. They have other uses outside of it, but creating a character who uses words rather than weapons makes you no less capable of kicking ass.
In fact, your kung fu can aid you out of combat as much as it can in combat. Chi conditions are, by design, initially (and VERY generally speaking) only usable out of combat. Warriors, of course, are an exception to this, as their Fighting Styles are expressly fighting-buffs.
Courtiers are an archetype that are BUILT around social interaction and manipulation. They are also among the *strongest* Secret Arts attackers in the game.
>Implying I'm in a game
>Implying it'd be glorious LotW
>Implying I'm not sitting at home, sporadically working on my LotW-based homebrew
>It doesn't even have elements
>It isn't even in English
I'm currently running a game set in the RWBY universe in LotW. Grimm are generally minions or lesser legends (who don't have Chi aura), because they don't have Aura, etc
Some of that stuff is up on the Wulin Legends wiki, though none of it made by me.
I'm also running a game based off Symphogear, and I've made the various Relics from that world as Legendary Weapons, and use a similar system of Noise as non-Xia because Noise don't have souls.
That's the problem with LotW. The flavor is so trenched into the game mechanics that it's impossible to have a "flavorless" version. It will always be kung fu, no matter what you use it to run - It's just that many things take principles of martial arts, and so a lot of them will find LotW works very well for them anyway.
Currently also busy learning Legends of the Wulin.
Have some Jade Empire music, 'cause that's appropriate.
Speaking of setting viability. A while back someone asked how they could run a GUNNM/Battle Angel Alita campaign.(cyborg martial artists in interplanetary transhuman dystopia) I suggested LotW on the basis of the emphasis on martial arts, but I was unsure how well the high tech side of the setting would gel with LotW.
>but I was unsure how well the high tech side of the setting would gel with LotW.
That depends on how heavily you'd want the technology to have an impact on the play. You could, for example, keep Internal Kung Fu styles, but instead of them being magic and chi centered, they are augmentations and available/implanted technology, burning a metabolic resource provided by the character's body (which would explain how it can refill).
>At the start of each round, you roll your Lake and apply your Speed bonus.[...]On a tie the person with the higher roll on the dice, not counting modifiers, goes first.
Yes...this is one of those examples of the book needing a solid editing pass or three. Rolling your Lake includes forming sets and picking how the sets get used, so your Initiative result is your chosen Set plus Speed.