Language (Own)

In the Skills section of the ‘Character Generation’ chapter of The Celestial Empire, on p58, I have written that the base chance for this skill is EDU×5.

Now there was such a divide in Imperial China (and in the neighbouring civilised lands) between spoken and written language, that I now wish I had given a different base chance for this skill. Most East Asian languages featured completely different sets of verbs and of pronouns depending on whether one was speaking in a relaxed way or in a codified, formal manner.

The optional rule I suggest is as follows:
  • the base chance for the spoken vernacular of Language (Own) is INT×5;
  • the base chance for the spoken variety of the learnt Language (Own) is EDU×5.

Using the sample character from the rule book:

White Fox has INT 14 and EDU 12. She speaks her Northern Chinese vernacular at 70%, but she only has 60% when trying to speak in an educated, formal way.



The Celestial Empire is targeted at historic or semi-historic games, or at least at campaigns consistent with Chinese literature, myth and legend.

Yet the recent piece of news published on the technology weblog Gizmodo about a 300 million year-old forest that has been discovered under a coal mine in Inner Mongolia has spurred me to write this short post about a "Hollow Earth"-themed campaign game. The "Hollow Earth" hypothesis, which posits that the Earth is hollow and that it contains a prehistoric or otherwise ancient world in its interior, does not appear in Chinese literature, myth or legend at all; on the contrary, it is a staple of Western occult. However, given the interest of many Western occultists for all things Tibetan, it could well fit in a TCE campaign, albeit an over-the-top one.

The idea is for the GM to have the players stumble upon the entrance within a cave for the subterranean kingdom of Agartha, which is ruled by an ancient lineage of über mysterious lamas and/or inhabited by Asura (see p123 of TCE).
Agartha would have lush prehistoric forests, strangely-coloured lakes, and obviously prehistoric animals (dinosaurs and Pleistocene mammals), which would provide some tough opposition to the player characters!

The subterranean kingdom of Agartha might or might not be connected with the underground City of Ghosts (Fēngdū), which could spell further trouble for the player characters...


New Version of Magic World

The Worlds of Wonder boxed set, published in 1982 by the Chaosium, was their first shot at providing the Basic Roleplaying generic system (at the time much smaller than its current incarnation) with three genre-based settings, viz, fantasy, super-heroes, and science-fiction. Magic World was the name of the fantasy setting.

The Chaosium has announced today that Magic World would be re-published this summer as a stand-alone product (if I do understand correctly the phrase "self-contained fantasy role-playing game"), which means that there could be yet another alternative engine for The Celestial Empire, on top of the already mentioned BRP Quick-Start Edition, Renaissance, and RuneQuest 6.


Brilliant China-themed French comic books (cont'd)

I have already mentioned the Juge Bao series of French graphic novels. Nie Chongrui, the artist, uses an engraving technique that produces extremely detailed and impressive black and white drawings. The women in his stories are incredibly beautiful, which is definitely  a plus.

Volume 4 (l'Auberge Maudite) has been available for a few weeks, which has been a good incentive to re-read the whole series. Recommended if you can read French (a good understanding of the langage is required as these are detective stories).