Using LotFP supplements with TCE - Tower of the Stargazer

This module (blurb here) is a stand-alone adventure that can be easily ported to The Celestial Empire. It must be set under the Míng or under the Qīng. If set under the Míng, then it must be set at the beginning of the Míng so that the Stargazer was active under the Yuán. If set under the Qīng, then it must be set at the end of the 18th century so that the Stargazer was active at the end of the 17th century.

The rationale behind these time frames is the major astronomic advances that happened under the Yuán because of the presence of Arab and Persian astronomers. Likewise, there were major astronomic advances at the end of the 17th century thanks to the Jesuit missionaries present at the court of the Kāngxī Emperor.

The rest of this post is hidden because of major spoilers that it contains.

As suggested on p5 of the module, the tower should be placed away from any settlements, possibly in the mountains — which is by the way the most logical place to build an observatory.

Page 9: The dead thief is actually a dead bandit, famous in the Rivers and Lakes.
Page 10, Sitting Room: It's obviously rice wine, not grape wine.
Page 11, Sitting Room: It is the statue of a vixen lady embracing a mandarin.
Page 13, Head Servant's Quarters: His name was Tái Ānruì
Page 14, Wizard's Quarters: His name is Shěn Yùruì
Page 15: The reward is 10 gold taels. More generally, use the 10gp=1 gold tael equivalence throughout the module.
Page 17: Shěn Yùruì is a very powerful (POW 18) Daoist magician. Just make sure he has plenty of offensive spells.
Page 21, Library: The books in the library are written in Arabic if the adventure is set at the beginning of the Míng; they are written in Latin if it is set at the end of the 18th century.
Page 22, The Ghost: obviously it will be a game of go (wéiqí)
Page 23, Eldritch Library: The books in the library are written in Classical Chinese, with many unusual Daoist versions of the characters (-25% to read, unless the reader is himself a member of a Daoist sect). The scrolls will contain Daoist spells, possibly sorcery spells.
Pages 24-25, Workshop and Telescope: the book on the podium is written in Arabic/Latin (depending on the era).
Page 28, Trap Room: the POT of the spider poison is 13.


Chinese Yuletide

All peoples in the world celebrate and have always celebrated the winter solstice. We Westerners have had various pagan midwinter traditions that were later 'transformed' by the Church into Christmas.

Well, the Chinese obviously still have their midwinter festival, which is called the Dōngzhì (冬至) Festival. On this day, all members of the clan must assemble at the Ancestral Hall and worship their ancestors. Failing to do so will cause penalties to one's Allegiance score in most Chinese religions (see the rule book). Specially consecrated tāngyuán (湯圓, glutinous rice flour balls) are eaten during the ceremony. These consecrated tāngyuán serve as protective talismans to keep evil spirits from coming close to whomever has eaten them. In gaming terms, no guǐ-monster can come closer than 10m to the person for 2D6 days.

This year, the Dōngzhì Festival fell on 22 December. Sorry for having been late with the relevant post!



China and the Chinese pop up in pseudohistory. They may not pop up as often as the Egyptians or the Atlanteans, but what they lack in presence they make up in solidity. I certainly do not pay much heed to works of pseudohistory or cryptohistory, but some of them do contain disturbing evidence.

Land masses east of China are present in pre-1492 European maps rumoured to have been copied from Chinese originals. The 1475 Martellus map, for instance, shows a large land mass very similar to South America east of mainland China.

Gavin Menzies uses many more of these troubling facts to claim that Zhèng Hé's fleet reached the Americas. Although his book 1421: The Year China Discovered the World does not resist scientific scrutiny, it is great fun reading, and it surely makes for a great campaign setting for The Celestial Empire: imagine that the player characters participate in one of Zhèng Hé's voyages and embark on a long trip round the world!

Other disturbing references in ancient Chinese manuscripts would point to the mythical eastern island continent of Fúsāng being the same as America. But more on that in a separate post!

TCE Forum

The Celestial Empire has its own forum, hosted by Alephtar Games, the fine publishers of TCE and of many other quality historical role-playing games.


Cubicle 7 Sale Starts Today

That's your chance to grab a copy of The Celestial Empire with a 10% discount. Just go to Cubicle 7's web store and look for Basic Roleplaying System in the left hand-side menu.

To claim your 10% discount, use the following coupon codes during check-out:
  • If you are paying in GBP – KW7CWNXUFMT7MW8L1H8BHUSQ
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Using LotFP supplements with TCE - The Tower

The Tower is a short Lamentations of the Flame Princess (LotFP) adventure from issue No.4 of Green Devil Face, LotFP's in-house magazine. As with most LotFP adventures, it presents a lonely location to be used by the GM as he sees fit. In my particular case, that would be in Imperial China, and using The Celestial Empire!

The rest of this post is hidden because of major spoilers that it contains.

The Tower is a mansion, not necessarily a day's journey from civilisation, but maybe 2-3 hours from the centre of the closest town/village, or in its most ancient part. The architecture is clearly from the previous dynasty, or even older. The mansion is, however, absolutely shunned by the locals.

The thing guarding the door of the mansion needn't be a monster if the setting doesn't contemplate them. It could be a tall, foreign guard, who doesn't speak Chinese.

The door can be kept the same. After all, metamorphs abound in Chinese legends.

First Level: The statues are those of female immortals (xiān); their rhymes refer to a magical lofty kingdom in the abodes of the Immortals, or to a fiefdom within a Dragon kingdom in a nearby river/lake.

Fourth Level: The people who put the woman to sleep are not wizards but some kind of foreign-looking priests. The glyphs within the thaumaturgic circle are undecipherable ancient and/or foreign-looking characters, even for scholarly PCs.

How It Happens: Instead of meeting a knight, the characters meet the wealthy but low-status son of a merchant who dreams of marrying the Beloved Daughter of the Dragon Kind (or some other bombastic title), even if it means leaving this stupid material world behind. His retainers are obviously men from the Rivers and Lakes...


Using LotFP supplements with TCE

Thanks to a recent sale on the PDF versions, I have recently bought quite a few LotFP supplements. For those of you who have spent the last two years on Mars, Lamentations of the Flame Princess (LotFP) is a weird fantasy role-playing game, which is part of the "Old School Renaissance" (OSR) movement. However, contrary to most OSR fantasy role-playing games, whose sole aim is to re-create that 'dungeon' feeling from our high school years, LotFP has a few innovations of its own, which I'll detail in this post. These are much more important in my eyes than what LotFP is usually only known for: a general taste for adult themes and illustrations.

1. To me, the most important innovation is that LotFP adventures, for all their 'dungeonness', are definitely different from those 1980s modules: they are usually designed for low-level characters, and there is only one major opponent within the 'dungeon' -- the rest of the dungeon is there to unnerve the PCs through its many traps or weird encounters.

2. Another peculiarity of LotFP is that its default setting, although never really described, is more of a 15th-17th century Europe than an imaginary Dark Ages quasi-European fantasy world. Again, this makes for grittier adventures where the enemy is not an exaggerated 'monster' but a cunning, evil enemy that has laid out a careful plan to trap unwanted trespassers.

3. Yet another peculiarity is that LotFP adventures tend to be light on stats and heavy on description. A creature's armour class, for instance, is never given as a numeric value but always as "as unarmored man", "armor as leather", etc. Movement is likewise always rendered as a multiplier of an unarmoured man's movement value.

As a consequence, LotFP adventures are surprisingly adaptable to The Celestial Empire. I have started penning conversion notes for No Dignity in Death, The Tower, and Tower of the Stargazer. Since I don't want to spoil these adventures, I won't write anything here. Just PM me or let me know in the comments if you are interested.



Elegant British game designers Cakebread and Walton have released for free their 139-page d100 engine for Renaissance-themed frp gaming. The system is aptly titled Renaissance and may be downloaded from their web-site.

I haven't had time yet to fully scrutinise it, but I believe this rule set should be >95% compatible with The Celestial Empire and hence an interesting, free alternative to the purchase of Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying (BRP) System.

Renaissance features a lengthy section on Black Powder weapons and should hence be a welcome addition to any Qīng-dynasty games.

Renaissance also features a fully-fledged, spell-based alchemy system. Now, I am not in favour of magic-based alchemy systems (I'd rather manage alchemy as a set of mundane skills), but until I produce Chinese Alchemy rules for The Celestial Empire, it might be a good idea to try and use Renaissance's alchemy sytem -- with the obvious modifications for China, such as replacing the Philosopher's Stone with the Pill of Immortality. The Alchemists' Spells listed in Renaissance could be considered as a sub-set of The Celestial Empire Daoist spells.