Bavarian State Library's Collection of Digitised East Asian Books Available On-Line

Well, the information is in the tile :-)

The Bavarian State Library has a huge collection of 'Sinica' (i.e., China-themed) books, and apparently they have finished scanning them and making them available on-line. My German is rusty but apparently the collection contains 230,000 printed books and 3,000 manuscripts. At the moment they have digitised more than 1,000,000 pages... quite impressive!

Here is the link: Digitale Sammlungen Ostasien

There is a nifty search tool that accepts Asian characters, and I have already started looking for cool editions of the Water Margin [水滸傳]. Have fun!


Random Prefecture Generator

Judge and Retainers
Whenever I have been GM'ing using The Celestial Empire or Oriental Monsters & Magic, I have found that character parties built around a judge accompanied by retainers, bodyguards, etc. have worked really well in a Chinese context.

In a highly civilised society such as China, with little personal freedom, little motivation to transgress the boundaries of what one is restricted to, and especially in a society that frowns upon the use of violence, the only possibility for the kind of anti-social behaviour that RPGers enjoy is law enforcement.

Well, a judge in China was assigned a city where he would work as a magistrate, carrying out sentences and settling disputes, but also collecting tax, repairing broken bridges, repressing banditry, and suppressing unorthodox cults.

So the first thing to draw up for your judge PC and his fellow PCs is the prefectural seat he's going to spend the next three years in! For that purpose, I have developed a hack of Éric Nieudan's own more generic classic fantasy random wilderness generator.

What you need:
 - A standard 52-card deck with French suits (♠♥♦♣); remove the jokers and the 2's.
 - Dice.

1. Draw cards to make a 7×7 grid; leave centre of grid empty. The centre is your city:

2. Terrain the remaining 48 areas according to card suit; face cards mean there is a steading. See tables below:

  plains or steppe
 ♣ woods or swamp 
  hills or desert
 ♠ mountains or canyons 

 Jack: village, hamlet or camp 
 Queen: temple, shrine, other holy place 
 King: manor or mansion
 Ace: town or harbour

Choose or draw another card for subtypes, e.g.:

 Second Card Drawn   Village Sub-Type   Temple Sub-Type   Manor Sub-Type 
   Hàn Chinese  Confucian  Retired Mandarin 
 ♣  Hàn Chinese  Buddhist  Guildhouse
   Hàn Chinese  Daoist  Head of Local Lineage 
 ♠  Ethnic Minority   Folk Religion  Wealthy Landowner 

 Third Card Drawn   Buddhist Sub-Type   Daoist Sub-Type 
   Pure Land  Complete Orthodoxy (Zhèngyi) 
 ♣  Chán  Quánzhēn
   Tantric  Xié
 ♠  other  other

3. Encounters and events. Now, whenever the judge and his companions are travelling throughout the prefecture, random encounters may happen! For each card, roll d20 and compare to card value (Jack = 11, Queen = 12,  King = 13, Ace = 14). If the die roll is ≤ card value, look at the encounter on the table below.

Variant: Use a d10 in the light grey area.

 Die   Civilised Encounters
Die roll < card value 
Die roll = card value 
 1   Farmers travelling ♣foraging poaching ♠fleeing 
 2   Fishermen working ♣mending nets famished ♠building a dam 
 3   Merchants caravan ♣lost being robbed ♠loaded with silver  Ambush or trap 
 4   Monks preaching ♣looking for help begging ♠on a pilgrimage   Impromptu market 
 5   Soldiers labourers ♣conscripts militia ♠press-gang   Freak weather 
 6   Ethnic minority mercenaries ♣traders confidence artists ♠clan   Blocked roads 
 7   Nomads Steppe ♣Forest Desert ♠Mountain  Fire 
 8   Adventurers bruised & beaten ♣hostile friendly ♠richly equipped   Flood 
 9   Indigenous people warband ♣migrating raiding ♠hiding  Battle 
 10   Koreans merchants ♣ambassadors prisoners ♠seamen   Ghosts 
 11   Bandits river raiders ♣on the run hiding ♠carrying plunder   Country fair 
 12   Thieves street thugs ♣running from the law spies ♠burglars   Bandit Lair 
 13   Vietnamese merchants ♣ambassadors prisoners ♠pilgrims   Siege 
 14   Plague 

Feedback and suggestions welcome.