Now that I have this book, I wonder why I avoided getting it all these years.
This is one utterly amusing little RPG! In case you haven't heard of it (where've you been living? The Netherworld?), Feng Shui is "Action Movie Roleplaying."
Chapter One is entitled "Kii-yaaahhh!" and is pretty much a basic introduction to the game, just as it should be. There's information on the Netherworld, on what Junctions are and how to do skill checks in this Chapter. Just by reading this section alone, you could get a basic feel for how the game works.
Chapter Two is "Characters." While I originally thought the idea of choosing a character type and modifying it within the parameters set forth in each type was kind of lame, the more I read it, the more the idea grew on me. I love the idea of the Melodramatic Hook (aka "Here, GM, take this plot hook that I, the player, have made up for you!") and character "creation" is quick and relatively painless. One interesting note about the character creation process for this game: If you don't like the way your character is after you play your first adventure, you get to tweak it. This section is well written and gets its point across easily. There are 26 Types to choose from, everything from a Ninja to a Magic Cop to a Scrappy Kid.
Chapter 3 is unimaginatively called "Skills," but that's okay. This section is explained simply and in plain English (though, since everyone, including Ancient Egyptian sorcerers speak Cantonese, maybe it's written in Cantonese...) and can easily be understood. Each skill has three parts, the Physical Ability, the Knowledge section and you get Contacts for each skill.
Chapter 4 is all about "Guns." Lots of guns. This is also where the "gun schticks," special "powers" some characters get with guns, are listed, though there's not many, only seven. However, the schticks they have are pretty cool. Taking the Lightning Reload Schtick 3 times means you never run out of bullets, for example, while taking it 1 or 2 times means you reload your gun quicker. Rules on concealment, malfunctions, losing guns and a whole buncha guns round out this chapter.
Chapter 5 is dedicated to "Fu Powers," or schticks your funky fu fighters can use. Some of these are just amusing, like the Path of the Empty Bottle, which makes you a better fighter the druker you are. Others are kinda scary, like the Path of the Storm Turtle which can make you immune to bullets.
Chapter 6 is "Magic," which covers spells for those mystic sorcerer types. 8 different types of spells, and several "special effects" for each type of spell are covered in loving detail in this chapter.
Chapter 7 details "Creature Abilities," or abilities for use with playing supernatural creatures. Some of the powers require a skill check, some don't. A personal favorite power of mine is "Foul Spew," which allows you to basically vomit a nasty substance from your mouth. Nasty. The tentacles power brings in some imagery that I know my gaming group is going to run with, as many of them are fans of anime. "You have long tentacle(s) attached to some part of your monstrous anatomy."
Chapter 8 is the chapter for "Transformed Animals." These are animals that have taken human shape. It's simple to create one of these animals...choose the Transformed Animal type and a creature package. Choose schticks from the package and, viola, a transformed animal player character.
Chapter 9 is dedicated to "Arcanowave Gear." This is essential for the Cyborg type. Arcanowave Gear is basically a fusion of technology and magic, and using it can cause you to mutate. Eek! My favorite Arcanowave Schtick is the Agony Grenade. The more damage you take from an attack while charging the grenade, the more damage it does when you use it.
Chapter 10 is for "Fights." This is where the game shines. OUtrageous stunts are encouraged, and the combat system is fast and furious. Unnamed characters, like the quintessential henchman or security guard, you can wade through (especially if you have the gun schtick "Carnival of Carnage"), which, again, fits with the action movie genre. Initiative is simple, and you will most likely get several actions per turn. Just about everything I could think of in a combat type situation is covered, and if it isn't, well, then it gets to be a Stunt. Yeah, you can run up along a wall and fire both guns at the same time...cool!
Chapter 11 is "GM Tips." Nothing REALLY stands out here that hasn't been stressed in the rest of the book, but is definitely worth a read nonetheless.
Chapter 12 is "Getting Even Tougher," and deals with upgrading the characters with Experience. Also, the the benefits of attuning the characters to a Feng Shui site is detailed here.
Chapter 13 details "Feng Shui Sites," and is a definite need-to-read. How to attune to a site, how to defend one and what these sites are is all discussed here.
Chapter 14 gives you a host of "Monsters." I like the "special rule" given here. "If when you introduce one of these monsters into your series, any of your players ever say anything like, "Oh, I know this monster, it's Action Value is X," you should immediately increase all of the creature's Action Vallues by 5 against that player's character.
Chapter 15 is a listing of all of the "Groups" involved in the Secret War to control the Feng Shui sites, and, thus, time itself. Anyone reading this section should immediately be able to come up with several plots. Again, this is a must-read section.
Chapter 16 details the "Time War." It goes into more detail on the Junctures, or periods of time where the characters can travel. The only four times which are known to be open (currently) are 69AD, 1850, 1996 (called "the Contemporary" throughout the book) and 2056. There are rules on changing time and "reincarnation."
Chapter 17 goes into detail on the "Netherworld," the space through which you travel to reach the various Junctures, and how each faction in the Secret War affects the Netherworlds. AGain, for GMs, this is a must-read. There are even rules on shaping the Netherworld's landscape.
Chapter 18 talks about the default campaign setting, "Hong Kong." Lots of information is in here, making you capable of running adventures in Hong Kong even if you have never been there. While not a MUST-read, definitely a suggested-read.
Appendix A, "Baptism of Fire," is an adventure. Nothing really outstanding here.
Appendix B is a guide to "Hong Kong Action Movies" and can provide you with ideas on where to get hours and hours of inspiration for your game. Useful.
Ending the book are 4 pages which have the rules for skill checks and combat condensed down (great to photocopy and give to your players, or download from the Atlas games site and print 'em up). A Master Gun list is here, too, as is a useful Index. We also, of course, have the character sheet as the last page.
All in all, this game RAWKS! CRACK, SMACK, KA-CHINK!
Style: 5 (Excellent!)