I posted the basic moves for Hearts of Wulin last week. So far we have five playbooks Aware, Bravo, Loyal, Outsider, and Student. Each has three “base” moves players choose from to refine their role. You can see some moves are original and some hybridized. These are my first attempts; I think they work well, but I also need to go back and look at them for how they fit with the Basic Moves and the genre. I'm also unreasonably proud of naming all the moves after wuxia films & series.
With this, my last post, and experience with PbtA, you can probably run Hearts of Wulin. As with the other move, where it says “roll,” players select which Chi to roll with. You can see an example Google character Spreadsheet for HoW here. There are some small changes to the Move texts between these posts and the sheet, but they’re basically the same. On Thursday, I’ll post some thinking about GM Moves & Principles, next steps, repurposing these rules, and a distinct module for more supernatural wuxia stories (Bride with White Hair, Green Snake, Chinese Ghost Story). If you dig this, have questions, or run this preliminary version yourself, give me a heads up.
PICK ONE ROLE:
You're a paragon of calm and thoughtfulness. You understand when it is time to fight and when it is not. When you attempt to stop a conflict as it breaks out, roll. On a 10+ you cool tempers. If anyone decides to instigate the fight, they must mark a condition. This lasts until the circumstances change. On a 7-9, you have a moment to negotiate. You must offer the attacking side something they want or they will press their assault. On a 6-+, you’re caught up in the fight and suffer damage or blame.
You're a gifted scholar, well read and well informed. When you perform a Study action based on history, research, or informants, you always gain +1 Hold. You gain +1 Forward acting on the information.
You have travelled across the land and met many people. You know telltale signs and markings that reveal members of a faction. At a glance you can pick out an unhidden person’s group or organization. When you attempt to penetrate a disguise roll. On a 10+ you can identify them and ask a question. On a 7-9 you can identify them but they notice your attention. On a 6+ you misidentify them or walk into a trap.
THEN PICK TWO MOVES:
FIVE DEADLY VENOMS
You can immediately spot and identify any kind of poison or potion before it's consumed in your presence. If someone has been struck by poison, you may roll Overcome with a +1 to treat and heal them.
You can build strange devices. Say what you wish to create and the GM will tell you what you need (time, materials, assistance). If you have those, roll. On a 10+ you build it. On a 7-9 the GM will tell you how its effect will be uncertain or fragile. On a miss, choose whether you injure yourself in the failure or the creation backfires spectacularly when used.
CLANS OF INTRIGUE
Choose a faction, you take +1 Forward on any social interactions with a member of that faction. You're regarded as an honored guest by them until proven otherwise.
Once per scene you may move to anywhere within line of sight. This can be accomplished regardless of height or distance provided no completely blocking barriers exist. While all PCs possess “lightfoot” movement, this motion demonstrates mastery and may shock your opponents.
A TOUCH OF ZEN
While you have a condition marked on your Style Element, you may substitute another Chi in for Martial actions.
When you craft a plan with someone roll. On a 10+, hold 3. On a 7-9, hold 2. You can spend your hold 1-for-1, regardless of distance, while the plan is being carried out to:
- Add +1 Forward
- Clear a Chi condition
- Reveal you have something necessary for the mission
If you attempt to keep someone from dying in your presence, roll. On a 10+ you keep them from passing, though that may put them into a suspended state. On a 7-9, you can do so, but there is a significant cost. On a fail someone will somehow blame you for the death.
ASHES OF TIME
Take a +1 when you deal with Inner Conflict.
PICK ONE ROLE:
You're the blessed one, the person expected to take control of your family one day. One parent may spoil you, defending you even if the other becomes irritated at your behavior. You always have coin and everywhere you go, merchants and innkeepers set the finest table for you and your entourage. You can defer payment; they know your family's good for it.
You keep a charming smile and live well, but behind the scenes you pursue a life of crime. You're not a common criminal, of course. You simply work to have the finer things in life you deserve. And you only steal from those who deserve it. You may even be a "Robin Hood" character, striking at fat cats and corrupt officials to aid the poor. Come up with a legendary name for your criminal identity. You also have a foil: a magistrate or investigating official who pursues you but manages to always pass you information via their bumbling.
You travel from place to place, enjoying yourself, gambling, and leaving a trail of broken hearts behind. You probably enjoy a bad reputation among the respectable classes, but that only adds to your aura. You may not be wealthy, but you know how to stay ahead of problems. When you would suffer social, legal or financial consequences, name someone and roll. On a hit, they suffer instead. On a 7-9, they know it was you. On a fail, your scapegoating falls apart and your erstwhile victim finds out what you tried to do.
THEN PICK TWO MOVES:
THIEF OF THIEVES
When you case out a location, roll. On a 10+, ask three questions from below. On a 7-9, ask two. Take +1 Forward acting on the answers.
- What’s my best path in/out?
- What happened here recently?
- What here is worth stealing?
- Who or what here is not what they seem?
- How can I embarrass them?
Your clothing, belongings and quarters are all lavish and expensive. Gain one of the following NPCs as a retainer: Servant, Assistant, Bodyguard, Consort, or Teacher. Name the NPC and give them a 2-4 word description.
HEADS FOR SALE
When you go to your circle of contacts to get something you want roll. On a hit, you get what you want. On a 10+ they provide more than you asked for in volume or quality. On a 7-9 there's a cost or complication. Choose one: it takes time, it depletes your ready cash, it attracts unwanted attention, your contact needs other assistance—burn a bond. On a fail they don’t have it and someone finds out about your hunt.
LAUGHING IN THE WIND
When you express yourself through a performance of song, poetry, or other art, roll. On a 10+, choose 3. On a 7-9, choose 2.
- People understand your message.
- One person present must meet you; tell the GM who.
- You inflict or clear a condition of your choice in someone present.
- This experience begins to change popular opinion. Tell the GM what it is you hope for. (2 choices)
When you Study in a formal, official, or high society setting you always have +1 Hold for choices. You gain +1 Forward acting on the answers. As well without rolling you may always pick out who is the most influential or wealthy person in the room at a glance.
IT TAKES A THIEF
You can slip from any restraint or pass through any door or window as if it were open. This slippery nature extends to attack and defense—you move elegantly to avoid attacks so as to not wrinkle your dress or spill your plum wine.
When you spend time with someone to learn their web of connections, roll. On a hit, you discover their three closest confidantes and a short descriptor of that relationship. Alternately, you may learn one confidante and one debt the target has not revealed to others. On a 7-9 your target’s aware of your workings. On a miss someone you didn’t want to know becomes aware of your meddling.
COME DRINK WITH ME
So long as you continue to interact with someone, you keep their attention and distract them from other business. You may even draw them away to another locale. If they want to leave you, the target must mark a condition. This ability doesn’t work after an open conflict has erupted.
PICK ONE ROLE:
You're loyal to your family or clan, and they in turn support you. You have no worries about resources. Once per session you may call in a favor from your family: a letter of introduction, pulling strings to get you and your companions into an exclusive party, or perhaps support for a wild plan. They may ask favors or have other expectations for you.
You might be a magistrate, judge, or simply a civil servant. This gives you a measure of authority. You have connections who can give you information or help you out when you need it. Choose a type of contact- street beggars, court hangers on, members of a particular faction. You can always make contact with someone of that type who can give you basic information or help you in some minor way, so long as it doesn't cost them anything or put them in danger. If you want more hard-to-find information or a dangerous favor, you will have to agree to a cost your connection stipulates.
All in the wulin world have learned combat, but only a few have truly devoted themselves to it as deeply as you. Your service to your family and clan comes in being the best knight you can be. You have an additional Wounded condition. When you mark your first Wounded, you're bloodied and cut, but you can still fight. You're only taken out after checking your second Wounded.
THEN PICK TWO MOVES:
HEAVEN SWORD AND DRAGON SABRE
You possess a legendary blade which can be recognized wherever you go. You gain +1 when you Deal with Mooks or attempt to Impress someone from the martial world.
PALADINS IN TROUBLED TIMES
When you seek advice from one of your seniors, roll. On a hit they will tell you what to do. On a 10+, mark XP if you follow their advice and take +1 ongoing to follow through. On a 7-9, you get +1 forward to see it through if you do it their way. On a miss, they’re secretly connected to the troubles you’re asking about.
STRIFE FOR MASTERY
When you give NPCS an order based on your authority, roll. On a hit, they choose one from below. On a 10+, take +1 forward against them.
- Follow your order
- Clear your path
- Clumsily attack you
- Freeze with uncertainty
TRAIL OF THE EVERLASTING HERO
When you hunt someone, roll. On a hit, you know exactly where to find them and can track them until you do. On a 10+, they're not alerted and you take +1 Forward against them. On a miss, someone unpleasant finds you first.
TWO WONDROUS TIGERS
When you Support an ally, give them +2 to their roll instead of +1.
LEGEND OF THE MOUNTAIN
When you defend someone or something from an immediate threat, roll. On a hit, you keep them safe and choose one.
- Take control of something
- Change the location of the conflict
- Gain a bond with the person protected
You may burn a bond with someone to appear in their presence. Others may burn a bond with you to have you appear as well.
RAGE OF THE TIGER
When someone breaks a promise to you or lies to you and you find out, you gain a Bond with them. If you burn this bond in an action against them, you may add +2 Forward. Additionally, you can spend it to have one of their plans or activities go awry. Say what happens.
PICK ONE ROLE:
You rebel against something: a corrupt official, your original faction, the Empire itself. When you call up your fellow rebels to aid you, roll. On a hit you can secretly summon a small group to assist you. On a 7-9 choose one: it takes a long time, you cannot do this again until you're performed a quest for your faction, the group's small in number, you attract unwanted attention. On a fail, they’re in trouble right and your efforts deepen that.
You travel from place to place in search of something: purpose, faith, love. When you return to a community you’ve visited, roll. On a hit, the locals remember you favorably. On a 10 or greater, they owe you a debt of gratitude. On a fail you left a mess behind when you departed.
You're a trickster, happy go lucky and smart. You know how to use the rules of the wulin and outside world to your advantage. You always have leverage when you go to use the Hearts & Minds move, even against those who might not otherwise be susceptible to your words.
THEN PICK TWO MOVES:
A DEADLY SECRET
When villains appear you always know who they are. The GM will name them and you may declare (or ask for) one detail about them. You're never taken by surprise.
You can assume a perfect disguise. If you're impersonating someone specific you must have seen them and have their garb. When you might be challenged, roll. On a hit, your disguise fools them. On a 7-9 they have a delayed suspicion. On a miss, your disguise falls apart on inspection.
You may attempt to escape a situation, even when surprised. When you try to escape, roll. On a hit, you get away. On a 7-9, choose a complication:
- You must mark a condition
- You end up in another dangerous situation
- You leave evidence behind
- You owe someone; burn a bond.
HOUSE OF TRAPS
When you reveal a trap you've left for someone, roll. On a hit, your opponent trips into it, and you get an opening or opportunity. On a 10+, you take +2 forward against them. On a miss, the trap inadvertently leads to a dangerous escalation.
ALL MEN ARE BROTHERS
You may choose to appear as another faction to those who do not know the truth.
HAVE SWORD, WILL TRAVEL
Once per session, you may announce your presence in the perfect place to "help" someone, regardless of distance or logic.
REIGN OF ASSASSINS
So long as there are shadows and cover, you may attempt to become invisible and undetectable for a scene. When you conceal yourself, roll. On a hit, no one can detect you until you decide they can. You can break this by choice or attacking. On a 7-9 you remain hidden but leave some trace of yourself behind or alert someone in the scene before you reveal yourself. On a miss, your attempt fails and leaves you vulnerable.
HEROES SHED NO TEARS
When you reject someone's declaration of love or friendship because of the gap between you, clear a condition and take a bond with them.
PICK ONE ROLE:
You belong to a temple, but have decided (or been told to) explore the temporal world. When wearing your temple robes, locals will treat you with respect and even bandits may think twice before attacking you. You may ask for hospitality while travelling. You must decide a vow which could cause you problems during your journeys.
You understand devotion and dedication even in the face of suffering. When you burn a bond with a person for a bonus, you gain +2 instead of +1.
You have to prove yourself and your natural talent. When you battle someone above your Scale, you do not lose immediately. You may choose to mark a condition to keep your clearly superior foe busy. This gives others breathing room to act, protect people, or get something they came for. If you do this to cover the group's escape, then everyone gets away, including yourself.
THEN PICK TWO MOVES:
When you mark the Wounded condition, all of your allies gain +1 Forward.
THE PROUD YOUTH
When you seek the guidance of one of your elders, tell them a problem you face, and ask them a question about the problem. They will answer it honestly, and tell you what to do. Take +1 ongoing if you listen. If you go your own way, mark XP.
FACE TO FATE
At start of session, roll 2d6. On a 6-, mark XP and the GM gains a “karmic” soft move for later use. On a 7+, note the die roll. At any time during the session, you may swap this in for a roll by you or an ally. The swapped out roll goes away. If the roll has not been swapped by the end of the session, it goes away.
RAGE AND PASSION
When you intervene as someone offends, horrifies, or upsets another, roll. On a hit you may change what was said said into the kindest compliment. On a miss, you make matters worse. If the effect came from a failed move, on a 10+ you eliminate any fallout. On a 7-9 you reduce the GM Hard Move to a Soft Move.
When you attempt to change the loyalty or purpose of a worthy henchperson or lieutenant, roll. On a 10+ they hear your wisdom and passion. Depending on the situation they may come with you, go to face their master, or flee. On a 7-9, your words make them hesitate. Choose if this plants doubt in their mind or if they take a deliberate or inadvertent action to assist you right now. On a fail, they push your efforts back against you. Mark a condition.
STATE OF DIVINITY
You may use Comfort or Support to clear a Wounded condition.
SMILING, PROUD WANDERER
You're just here to see the world. Once per scene, you may ask one question from Study without rolling.
SAVIOR OF THE SOUL
You're inexperienced, but somehow you alone are the voice of reason. When you offer advice to another PC and they ignore it, you take +1 Ongoing during any attempt to bail them out of their troubles.
If you dig this, have questions, or run this preliminary version yourself, give me a heads up.