Feng Shui – Digging deeper

A couple of nights ago I wrapped up my first Feng Shui arc, running the introductory adventure out of the core book. We had an absolute blast, kicking it action movie style. My players really bought into the tropes of the genre and have produced some hilarious, awesome and characterful moments so far. I only hope my home brewed sessions can live up to what we have experienced so far.

Anyway, the game itself is vastly improved over the original, feeling slick and easy to grasp with tonnes of advice for GMs old and new. This is the biggest strength of the new addition I think, giving lots of helpful tips and ideas on how to run this sort of high action game whilst still making it something that can be run log term.

My own personal highlights so far:

Character Creation

How simple is this? Dead simple. Take archetype like ‘Spy’. Add concept that makes you different from other spies, add melodramatic hook, maybe make a couple of mechanical choices, done. Seriously a group can be ready to go in about 10 mins.

Melodramatic Hooks

Melodramatic hooks are the main thing that the players need to get themselves connected to the narrative. So one of my players has a son who was kidnapped by evil luchadores who also killed his wife. Another has come through time from the ancient past chasing her husband, did I mention that she is a Pirate Queen? These are a great tool for the GM and the players can refer back to it whenever they are drifting from the story, finding a way to weave it in to the ongoing story, leading us nicely to…

Buy In

The book encourages you to throw the players in the deep end and let them explain how and why they are there. If your players shrug their shoulders and don’t come along for the ride, they are basically doing the action movie genre wrong. You need the right group of players for this but you could say that of any game.

Fight Scenes

The meat of the game is of course laying the Smackdown! Boy have they made some changes here that I love. First up all the Shot counts have been normalised so that pretty much everything takes 3 shots, much easier. Resolving shots is super quick although the positive/negative dice pairing does make for some slightly clunky calculations. The mook sheet is the real killer for me though.

Being a game about action films, the number of mooks in a given scene for the heroes to plough through can be a bit on the high side. Rolling dice for each of these attacks would be a pain in the ass seeing as you would be doing that 3 or 4 times per sequence. The designers have therefore provided a random number generator based on mook attack value and you can print out a sheet of results. Then you just tick them off as you use them. Simple, but brilliant and makes the scenes go so quickly.

On top of the actual mechanics the advice on how to throw challenging fights together is top notch, with lots of guidance that I felt was not talking down to me like I had never done this before nor assuming I had a vast wealth of GM experience. The game really shines in all the advice it gives making throwing together your own action plots very straightforward alongside guiding you on how to make the fight scenes interesting and your villains memorable.

My current arc involves the aforementioned missing son ,the evil luchadores and the arrival of the Ascended on the scene. The last session ended with a villain they were questioning being shot by a sniper and next up will be a chase through the streets of Hong Kong to… well I won’t say to much as some of them read this blog. I’ll keep you updated as we go.

As you can probably tell I have really enjoyed GMing Feng Shui so far and hope to do at least 1 arc for each of my characters before we reach the end of our time with it. Due to the nature of the genre I’m not sure you can run it for a massive number of sessions, but that is perfectly ok. Feng Shui arrives through a plate glass window, kicks ass and rides off into the sunset, just as it should.

Iain McAllister

Tabletop games reviewer and podcaster based in Dalkeith, Scotland.

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