Thorns of the Lotus: The Secret History of the Lotus and New Magic
Author: Rich Warren
Company/Publisher: Daedalus Entertainment, Inc.
Page count: 118
Playtest Review by Jeb Boyt on 04/22/98. Genre tags: none
Thorns of the Lotus is a supplement for Feng Shui devoted to the scheming eunich sorcerors of the Eaters of the Lotus and their power base in 69 CE China. Thorns details the structure and history of the Lotus, its control over the Emperor and Imperial Court, its relationship to the various factions in the secret war and Imperial China, and its ongoing activities in the other junctures (1860, 1998, and 2056) and the Netherworld. Thorns even includes background information on playing a member of the Lotus (should you have a player or party intent on playing “evil” characters). Just remember that membership in the Lotus has its price (snip, snip).
Thorns of the Lotus includes new rules on magic, magical artifacts, new sorcery schticks, and new creature abilities. Also included is background material on the supernatural, chinese mythology, supernatural creatures, and three new character types: Archer, Bandit, and Taoist Wizard. The Taoist Wizard is a particulary welcome addition to Feng Shui.
Enough detail on Imperial China is included to allow you to run a Chinese fantasy roleplaying game without mentioning the secret war. In fact, its the best Chinese roleplaying game that I’ve seen (not that there is a lot of competition).
The only major oversight is the lack of a map showing the principal cities and provinces of Imperial China. I realize that a short trip to the library can provide me with a map, but it’s not difficult to include one in a supplement, and the lack of a map mars and otherwise excellent supplement.
The adventure included in Thorns of the Lotus, “A Cold Watery Grave,” pits a party of adventurers against the Lotus. Encounters with the Lotus in the Contemporary juncuture lead the party back to Imperial China for the grand finale. Unfortunately, this adventure is the weakest part of Thorns of the Lotus. The encounters are unimaginative with only the thinest plot connecting them, and with few consequences or clues flowing from one encounter to the next. It is a weak ending to an otherwise fresh and creative supplement.
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)