Feng Shui Mechanics: The Trailer

Feng Shui is the game of Hong Kong action cinema, where the PCs are issued entire shelves full of whup-ass at character creation time.

Character Definition

Characters are defined by attributes and skills, with schticks thrown in on top.

Attributes are arranged in a two-tiered system: there are four primary attributes (Body, Chi, Mind, and Reflex), each of which has secondary attributes:

These all have about the meanings you would expect, except Chi: Fortune is extra dice that you can add to rolls (one die per roll, refreshes only at the beginning of the next session); Fu is mystic energy used to power cool martial arts schticks like leaping tall buildings and whacking everyone in the room at once; Magic is mystic energy used to power cool magic schticks.

Secondary attributes default to the same value as the corresponding primary attribute, unless specifically bought up or down.

Skills are very broad in Feng Shui. For example, there are only two skills to cover normal human combat: Guns and Martial Arts (there are other skills for magic, demon power, icky demon-based biotech weaponry, etc). All skills include not only the immediate applications, but knowledge of the subject and secondary applications (Guns includes gunsmithing), and contacts with other people in the field. Skills are just numbers that are added to an attribute when task resolution time comes around; in FS, each skill is only ever added to one secondary attribute (Ref:Dex for Guns, Ref:Agl for Martial Arts, Mnd:Cha for Seduction, ...).

Schticks are cool things the character can do: martial arts maneuvers, magic powers, gun stunts, demon powers, etc. Fu Schticks are arranged in paths, so that you have to buy them in order; the others are mostly singletons, although a lot of them can be bought multiple times for extra coolness. The schticks are just in lists presented by the designers; there is no system for making up your own.

In fact, there's not even a lot of support for making up your own PC writeup: characters are created by picking an archetype (Ex-Commando, Ninja, Ghost, Sorcerer, Scrappy Kid, Spy, ...), assigning a few customization points (that don't affect the primary skills of the archetype: the Killer always has Guns at a total of 15, no matter what you do to his Ref:Dex), picking the specified number of schticks from the specified list, and rolling camera.

All the archtypes have at least one combat skill at 13-15, sometimes two, and often have another central skill at that level. Secondary skills range from about 8 to 12. This puts the PCs head, shoulders, and heroic chest above normal cops, Triad enforcers, soldiers, and whatnot, who typically have combat skills of about 8 (and die much more easily; see Combat). Major villains have skills on par with the PCs, of course, or even exceeding them. Characters on the level of the PCs are referred to as Named Characters; the faceless minions who get wasted in droves to show how bad-ass the PCs are, are called mooks.

Task Resolution

Feng Shui uses 2 six-sided dice for pretty much all rolls. One die is positive, the other negative (selected before you roll; nice try) and both reroll and add on 6s, so you can in theory get any result from -infinity to +infinity (but usually -5 to +5). This roll is added to the Action Value, which represents how skillful or cool the person performing the action is; for skill use, it's the character's skill plus appropriate stat. The total thus generated is the Result; the Result is compared to the Difficulty of the task. The difference is the Outcome: a negative Outcome means failure, a 0 Outcome indicates marginal success, and increasingly positive Outcomes indicate increasingly good success.


Combat time takes place in sequences of (nominally) three seconds, each of which is divided into a variable number of shots according to how the initiative rolls went that sequence.

Initiative is determined by each character rolling 1d6 (not open-ended; nice try) and adding it to their Ref:Spd. This is the number of shots they get that sequence. Then, the following process is iterated:

  1. Whoever has the highest Initiative performs an action.
  2. The character who acted reduces her Initiative by the appropriate number of shots (normally 3, but sometimes more for cool Fu schticks, or less for a snapshot).
  3. Determine who has highest Initiative now.

The sequence is over when everyone has 0 Initiative or passes.

There is one exception to the above: a character may perform an Active Dodge at any time, which costs 1 shot and raises her Dodge by +3 against one attack.

To attack, a character rolls her combat skill plus appropriate secondary attribute (the total of which is already recorded on the character sheet) against the target's Dodge (the highest of her combat skills). If the attack is successful, the Outcome of the roll is added to the weapon's base damage (typically 5-12 for hand-to-hand attacks, and 10-13 for for guns) to determine how much damage the target takes. The target subtracts her Bod:Tgh from this, and takes that many wound points. Characters take a -1 to all rolls at 25 WPs, -2 at 30 WPs, and have to start rolling to see if they croak at 35 WPs (but never go below -2 Impairment as long as they're alive).

The above applies to named characters; for mooks, the procedure is simpler: If the Outcome of the attack roll is 5 or greater, the mook goes down, unconscious, maimed, or dead at the attacker's option. Otherwise, the mook keeps coming. Given the great disparity between Named characters' skills and mooks' skills, this is pretty easy to achieve.

This file was last modified at 1635 on 22Jun99 by trip@idiom.com.