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In the first year, nothing happened. In the second year, nothing happened. In the third year, nothing happened. In the thirteenth year, nothing happened either.

More and more people were starting to believe that, maybe, the Yiling Patriarch actually perished. Even if he was capable of turning the world upside down, it was finally his turn to be toppled over.

Nobody would remain at the top for all of eternity — legends are only legends.
Prologue
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Mo Dao Zu Shi (魔道祖师), translatable as either "Founder of Diabolism" or "Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation", is a danmei Xianxia Web Novel by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, published first on Chinese web novel site JJWXC.

The official summary is as follows: Wei Wuxian, the Yiling Patriarch, was reviled by the rest of the world in his previous life, leaving a tarnished reputation. His shidi who was like a brother to him led others to besiege his hideout and he met his demise and was torn to pieces. Thirteen years later, he is forcefully recalled to life through the use of a forbidden technique and unexpectedly lands in the body of a lunatic who suffered all kinds of torment and humiliation. He then finds himself embroiled in a curious case with a strange dismembered corpse!

On the road, he forms a companionship with the scholarly immortal Lan Wangji with whom he was formerly as incompatible as fire and water. Turbulent events from the past resurge. The spirit of a demonic hand, a stone tomb devouring people, a city of coffins shrouded in a dense fog... The siege of the Burial Mounds, the massacre in the Nightless City, the ambush at Qiongqi Path. This time, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji join hands to solve a mystery; will they unveil this decade-old elusive secret?

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An English translation is ongoing at Exiled Rebels Scanlations.

The novel eventually received the following adaptations:

  • Donghua: The donghua is produced by G.CMAY Animation & Film (the same studio behind The King's Avatar), and was green-lit for three seasons, with the first season airing from July to October 2018 with 15 episodes. The second season is set to air in July 2019. The donghua can be found here, though a VPN or proxy is necessary to watch this outside of China.
  • Audio Drama: The audio drama is produced by Polar Penguin Studios and similar to the donghua, is set to run for three seasons, with the first two seasons already completed. The audio drama is available at the Chinese audio streaming website MissEvan.
  • Manhua: The manhua is illustrated by Mao Tuan Xiao Jian Jian, and the chapters are available via the Kuaikan Manhua app. Exiled Rebels Scanlations also provides the translated versions of the chapters.
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  • Live-Action Adaptation: The live-action drama, titled Chenqing's Command (陈情令) - The Untamed , is stated to air either in late 2019 or early 2020, and unlike the other three adaptations, is only loosely based on the novel's storyline.
  • There have been rumors that Mo Dao Zu Shi will also be adapted into a video game, although no other details were given.

This work contains the following tropes:

  • The Ace: Cultivators in this book are trained according to the standards of ancient Chinese gentlemen - almost like aristocratic warrior-knights. You can expect most cultivators to be the best example of humanity.
    • Some others are especially noted to be even better, especially the top five cultivators of Wei Wuxian's generation. At the start of the story's timeline, the five top gentlemen in this cultivation world are, from top to bottom: Lan Xichen, Lan Wangji, Jin Zixuan, Wei Wuxian, Jiang Cheng.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The animation rearranges and takes out plot points to better fit them into a TV show format.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The audio drama adds several scenes that weren't included the novel or were only mentioned in passing.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: The Lan sect explicitly prohibits drinking. This does not stop Lan Wangji, to hilarious effect. Three times.
    • The audio drama shows us what happens when Lan Xichen gets drunk, it's just as hilarious if for different reasons.
  • Always Someone Better: For Jiang Cheng, Wei Wuxian. Wei Wuxian was the eldest disciple of the Jiang sect, received more affection from Jiang Cheng's father and their teacher Jiang Fengmian, more talented, more handsome, had a higher ranking, was taller... and, even after coming Back from the Dead, Wei Wuxian is Happily Married to Lan Wangji, while Straight Man Jiang Cheng has entered the female cultivators' blacklist.
  • Ambition Is Evil: A lot of tragedy could be traced back to a few people getting too ambitious and wanting to rule over the cultivation world, disturbing the peace and bringing strife in order to gain material power.
  • Anachronic Order: The novel constantly jumps back and forth between Wei Wuxian's current and previous lives.
  • Analogy Backfire: Intentionally invoked. When Su She accuses Wei Wuxian of being afraid of death, where Wei Wuxian counters that fearing death is not the same as simply not wanting to die yet, much like how there's a difference with him not wanting to leave Lan Wangji's embrace and being afraid of doing such... before he retracts his statement by realizing that they're actually the same thing. Of course, he was trying to piss Su She off.
  • Arc Words: "Thank you" and "I'm sorry", both of which are repeatedly echoed throughout the story. Wei Wuxian tells Jin Ling that these are two phrases everyone must learn to say; they're the last words Wen Qing said to Wei Wuxian before sacrificing herself to the Jin Sect; and they're the words that Lan Wangji never wants to hear from Wei Wuxian as whenever they exchanged these words, they always met again under worse circumstances and their relationship subsequently deteriorated.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Any Sect Leader is bound to know how to fight like a badass. The one exception may be the current Nie Sect leader Nie Huaisang, although that's because he's more of The Chessmaster than a fighter.
  • Back from the Dead: Technically, Wei Wuxian. Wen Ning as well. Both Nie Mingjue and Song Lan, in similar fashion to Wen Ning.
  • The Beautiful Elite: All cultivator clans may be seen as such, being both long-lived and able to maintain their youth and able to fly and slay monsters.
    • Deconstructed in that cultivators are often isolated and sheltered which affects their ability to empathize with and understand the common folk (i.e. the people they are supposed to protect).
  • Big Bad:
    • Wen Ruohan and Wen Chao during the Sunshot Campaign, although in the overall story they're more of a Disc-One Final Boss.
    • After the Sunshot Campaign, there's Jin Guangyao and by extension, Jin Guangshan.
  • Bittersweet Ending:
    • The Yi City arc ends on this note, at best. Xiao Xingchen and A-Qing are dead but Song Lan is free and is wandering the Earth with the remnants of their souls. There is a slim hope that maybe one day, they can be repaired and return to the living world and with Xue Yang dead maybe they can have a happier life.
    • The overall story also ends this note, as while Wei Wuxian successfully clears his name and finds happiness with Lan Wangji, it doesn't mean their loved ones get the same resolution. Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng's relationship is finally free of hatred, but there's still a lot unsaid from both sides and they can never go back to being the brothers they once were; and Lan Xichen falls into a depression after killing his sworn brother, and doesn't seem to be recovering even by the time of the extras. If there are any upsides, Jin Ling has forgiven Wei Wuxian and they begin to properly bond as uncle and nephew with the former occasionally joining and mentoring the latter on his night hunts, and Lan Wangji makes sure to visit his brother every now and then.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Only 6 out of 32 named characters are female, and most of the men, even the older ones (Lan Qiren) are noted to be rather handsome.
    • The Gusu Lan as a whole is noted to never have an ugly disciple. The only exception may be Su She, who left to set up his own sect.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: One of the most egregious examples in modern fiction. What is an otherwise lighthearted story of adventuring is overshadowed by the overarching plot of finding and piecing together parts of a dismembered body scattered all over northern Alternate Imperial China.
    • It literally jumps from investigating a mass murder of a whole clan, to Lan Wangji getting drunk in the space of two chapters.
  • Child Soldiers: One of the tragedies of the Sunshot Campaign was how so many of the main characters were forced to become soldiers and generals at an incredibly young age (Wei Wuxian's generation was 16-20). Wei Wuxian's so protective of children because he wants to preserve their innocence, having lost his in the war.
  • Chinese Vampire: The really tall thresholds at the entrances and exits of ancient Chinese coffin homes (like a morgue, except storing corpses in coffins and all) is meant to prevent them from getting out. See, when the corpse is animated by natural energy, the body is still undergoing rigor mortis, so it can only hop, and it becomes difficult to hop over the threshold. So it hops, it trips, and it falls and stays on the ground until daybreak, where it could be discovered...
  • Class Trip: The Yi City involves Wei Wuxian and a bunch of younger-generation disciples of multiple clans going messing about in an empty zombie-filled city, learning about corpse poisoning and how to cure it, how to look at ghosts, a practical use of dark magic, and mundane-people methods of warding against the supernatural threats. It's basically an impromptu class-trip cum internship.
    • This repeats later in an extra, with actual taking notes for future reference.
  • Code of Honour: Most sects have a code of etiquette and honour that its disciples are expected to follow.
    • No other sect matches the Lan sect for scope: they carve all their rules on the giant Wall of Discipline at the entrance of the Cloud Recesses. In his time studying there, Wei Wuxian noted that there were three thousand-plus rules crammed onto the wall. In the thirteen years since he died, a thousand more were added.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The five most prominent cultivation clans are easily distinguishable by color.
    • Gusu Lan Sect: Light blue and white.
    • Yunmeng Jiang Sect: Purple and black.
    • Lanling Jin Sect: Yellow and orange.
    • Qinghe Nie Sect: Dark green and olive.
    • Qishan Wen Sect: Red and white.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: It's probably easier to list the characters in the main cast without dead parents.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The book averts the Squishy Wizard trope since magic in the Chinese view is a technique analogous to Full-Contact Magic and Supernatural Martial Arts on some levels.
    • It is however important to note that apparently, nobody bothers to learn, say, protective magics or a magic shield.
    • Wei Wuxian is the founder of the demonic way of cultivation, being able to control corpses and ghosts with a flute, and his martial arts can take on any normal person. However due to a missing or weak golden core, he is not arrow-proof, still needs to eat, and has much less tenacity than other cultivators.
  • The Dark Arts: What demonic cultivation essentially is. While it's proven to be very useful in many situations, it's still feared and hated by many cultivators since it makes use of resentful energy, which is meant to be cleansed, not harnessed and utilized.
  • Darker and Edgier: While it has several comedic moments, the overall plot is considerably darker and more tragic compared to the author's previous work.
  • Death by Origin Story: The story starts from Wei Wuxian's death from all the cultivator clans uniting to kill him, and its aftermath. And given the novel's propensity to flashback to Wei Wuxian's previous life, a lot of the characters that show up in the past are dead in the present.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Wei Wuxian's parents died when he was very young and he doesn't have many memories of them. However, he does remember his mother telling him to "always remember people's kindness towards you and never your kindness towards others" which heavily influenced the way he lives he life and is the reason for his terrible memory according to him.
  • Defrosting Ice King: Lan Wangji. Compare the earliest recollection of him as a little fuddy-duddy, to the current devoted husband that even guys would want.
  • Dramatic Irony: Most of the flashbacks fall into this trope due to the Foregone Conclusion established in the first few chapters. The flashbacks for example goes to great lengths to establish Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian as Heterosexual Life-Partners when the reader knows that eventually they drift apart and become enemies.
  • The Dreaded:
    • Wei Wuxian and by association Wen Ning, with the mere mention of their names causing many to ger nervous.
    • On a funnier note, the Gusu Lan Sect's punishment involve copying (by hand, mind you) all four thousand rules of the sect. Serious cases involve copying while upside-down.
    • Lan Wangji is this to the younger disciples of the Lan Sect, for the very innocuous reason of being in charge of disciplining students.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After twenty years of trials, losses, misunderstandings and various other obstacles, Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji finally get together in the end and are now Happily Married.
  • Elemental Nation: Excluding the Lanling Jin Sect (which is mainly characterized by their wealth) the other four main cultivation clans are associated with the four elements. The Gusu Lan Sect represents air, the Yunmeng Jiang Sect represents water, the Qinghe Nie Sect represents earth, and the Qishan Wen Sect represents fire.
  • Embarrassing Old Story: At the end of the novel, Wei Wuxian recounted a story about Lan Sizhui when he was still Wen Yuan when he was young and called Lan Wangji "dad" in public, clinging to his legs and crying while surrounded by a crowd of disapproving onlookers. Sizhui reacted as one might expect.
    • There's also the stories about burying your kids in mud to make them grow taller, and burying them in a pile of rabbits... just because.
  • Establishing Character Moment
  • Family of Choice: The novel shows through Wei Wuxian's various relationships that your family doesn't necessarily consist of the people you're related to by blood, but the people who you love and loves you in kind.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • The Jiang family (excluding Wei Wuxian): Jiang Cheng (Melancholic), Jiang Yanli (Sanguine), Jiang Fengmian (Phlegmatic), Yu Ziyuan (Choleric).
    • The (named) junior disciples: Lan Sizhui (Phlegmatic), Lan Jingyi (Leukine), Jin Ling (Choleric), Ouyang Zizhen (Sanguine).
    • The top five cultivators of Wei Wuxian's generation: Wei Wuxian (Sanguine), Lan Wangji (Melancholic), Jiang Cheng (Choleric), Lan Xichen (Phlegmatic), Jin Zixuan (Leukine).
  • Framing Device: Employed a lot due to the first-person construction of the novel, requiring plenty of use of channelling to get the other segments of the story.
    • Flashback: Egregious use of it as a framing device, mainly because Wei Wuxian has such a bad memory it's a wonder he remembers anything.
  • Freudian Trio:
    • The three protagonists: Wei Wuxian (Ego), Lan Wangji (Superego), Jiang Cheng (Id).
    • The main three junior disciples: Lan Sizhui (Superego), Lan Jingyi (Ego), and Jin Ling (Id).
  • Full-Name Basis: This is China we're talking about, so it's a given. However, one must pay attention to whether someone is addressed by either their birth name or their courtesy name as it generally indicates the state of someone's relationship or how serious a situation is.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: With some few exceptions, almost the entire cast is difficult to peg as simply good or evil. Those who lean more on the side of good still have some flaws, and those who lean more on the side of evil have a few sympathetic edges. Everyone has reasons behind why they act like they do and why they perform certain actions, and said reasons make their motives understandable but not necessarily justifiable.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Lan Qiren.
  • Honor Before Reason: The novel brutally deconstructs and examines notions of honor, righteousness and selflessness. Honor without wisdom becomes naivete and recklessness which can bring more suffering either by being manipulated and taken advantage of, or by simply not considering or understanding the consequences of your actions. Just because it's the honorable thing to do, doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.
  • I Have Many Names: This being Alternate Imperial China, all notable people have at least 3 names: a birth name, a common name, and a title.
  • Improbable Age: Most of the sect leaders are incredibly young. Justified in that the turmoil of that last 20 or so years killed a lot of powerful cultivators. The Wen Clan in particular targeted Sect Leaders, likely to weaken their enemies.
  • I See Dead People: The existence of ghosts and their exorcisms are a central point in this story.
  • Lineage Comes from the Father: A running undercurrent. Being Imperial China, everyone expects sons to inherit from fathers and continue the family line. The novel examines how this affects succession, bastards and expectations of Like Father, Like Son
    • Jiang Cheng and Wei Wuxian are victims of this trope as both take after their mothers. This causes strife because Jiang Cheng is viewed as an Inadequate Inheritor because he doesn't act as the ideal Yummeng Jiang leader as embodied by his father. Wei Wuxian is constantly gossiped about as being a son of a servant and acting above his place because no one seems to remember that he's still the son of a talented and famous cultivator.
  • Lost in Translation: The novel itself is a web-novel originally in Chinese and then translated to English, which renders a number of jokes and nuances in-text difficult, if not outright impossible, to translate.
    • Wei Wuxian's sword, Suibian (随便), means 'whatever' or 'anyhow' when used as an adverb. Wei Wuxian has to clarify and show the name carved into the hilt of his sword to show that the sword is literally called 'Whatever'. As a result, everyone else uses 'this sword' or 'that sword' when referring to it]].
    • A lot of the courtesy names (Wangji, Sizhui) and titles (Han Guang-Jun, Sandu Shengshou) which Exiled Rebels translates literally need to be broken down to be understood, or refer to esoteric religious concepts.
    • The Cloud Recesses takes its name (云深不知处) from a line in a Chinese poem.
  • MacGuffin:
    • Nie Mingjue's body parts.
    • The Stygian Tiger Amulet, which Wei Wuxian created during the Sunshot Campaign. After the war wih the Wen Sect, everyone targeted it until half of it was lost. Then after Wei Wuxian's death, it was the target of the Lanling Jin Sect, and their reason for protecting Xue Yang was because he could recreate the other half.
  • Magic Music: Wei Wuxian uses a flute to control corpses. Any sort of signal seems to work, but perhaps for style.
    • The Lan Sect is famous for their musical guqin skills, which can be used to summon spirits, interrogate spirits, forcibly silence people, and even nullify magical powers - albeit temporarily.
  • Missing Mom
  • Murder Mystery: The plot is constructed as one, except: Nobody except one character suspects murder, and; nobody else save for Wei Wuxian can prove it, and he's dead. So begins the race to bring back Wei Wuxian...
  • Must Be Invited: In an extra, it's revealed that the very concept of houses is enough to repel both humans and non-humans to some extent without supernatural reinforcement. Of course, once the nasties get past the really tall gate thresholds, they can then come in at any time. Luckily, most houses in Imperial China are constructed with three 'gates': the main gate, the main hall door, and the main bedroom door. And a virgin boy may or may not be required to guard the last one if necessary...
  • Named Weapon: All the rage in this genre of novels. Every notable character has a personal blade (sword or dao), maybe another magical treasure as well, all of them named.
  • The Necromancer: A rare Chinese take on the subject.
  • Nephewism: See Parental Substitute down below.
  • Never Found the Body: Subverted. Xue Yang really is dead, despite the suspicious circumstances in which his body is taken away.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Because of the plot's setup, it can seem like Wei Wuxian has new abilities out of nowhere. However, from a purely chronological point of view, Wei Wuxian actually lost his abilities along with his golden core, and then spent three months without a weapon in the Burial Mounds, so what we see as new powers is actually a lot of improvisation done on the spot based on half-remembered theory.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The reason why Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng aren't able to completely reconcile in the ending. From Wei Wuxian's perspective, Jiang Cheng already has his responsibilities as a sect leader and as Jin Ling's uncle; he feels that he wronged Jiang Cheng too much to have the right to reach out to him again; and he believes that they've been stuck in the past for too long and they now have their own paths to follow. From Jiang Cheng's perspective, there's the knowledge of what Wei Wuxian had sacrificed for him and why he broke his promise; the subsequent guilt he feels from said knowledge; he sees that Wei Wuxian is now happy and content by Lan Wangji's side and decides not to intrude on that; and he believes that there's nothing more to say between them.
  • One Steve Limit: There are a few exceptions, specifically with the names Ziyuan (from the Yu and Mo families) and Yuan (from the Lan and Wen Sects). The latter is revealed to be a subversion as Wen Yuan and Lan Yuan/Sizhui are one and the same.
  • Parental Substitute:
    • Jin Ling was raised by his maternal and paternal uncles due to Parental Abandonment.
    • Lan Wangji and Wei Wuxian turn out to be this for Lan Sizhui a.k.a. Wen Yuan.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Do not insult Wei Wuxian where Jiang Yanli can hear you. She might not be able to physically beat you up, but you can bet she can give the most polite tongue lashing of the century, point out every single fault in your logic, and look good while doing it.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: In order to fulfill the requirements of summoning a villainous ghoul to take revenge, Mo Xuanyu had to scatter his own soul and die for good (as in, beyond any possibility of coming back as a ghost, even). Mo Xuanyu thus had to die for Wei Wuxian to reenter the world and get the plot rolling.
  • Poor Communication Kills: What causes some of the conflicts in the story is the characters' tendency to keep to themselves or their inability to express themselves, hear the other party out, or even have a proper and civil discussion about anything; as best seen with the cultivators of Wei Wuxian's generation, including Wei Wuxian himself.
  • Real Men Wear Pink:
    • Lan Wangji keeps rabbits, wields a guqin alongside his sword in combat, and cooks (secretly). He can also lift with his non-dominant hand a wood coffin, two corpses inside the coffin, a large Guanyin statue atop the coffin, and Wei Wuxian atop the statue altogether.
    • Let's not forget Wei Wuxian's spicy cooking.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The rabbits, being the adorably round, plump, cuddly, and fluffy things they are.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Wei Wuxian goes on one against the Wen Clan after he escapes the Burial Mounds.
  • Scenery Porn: The Cloud Recesses' description, despite being the setup of a long punchline, veers on this.
  • Separate Scene Storytelling: Most of the story told through Flashback, possession/Empathy.
  • Seven Deadly Sins
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Most of the sibling pairs serve as Foils to each other.
    • Jiang Cheng and Jiang Yanli take after their mother and father, respectively.
    • Lan Wangji is stoic and aloof while Lan Xichen is a genuinely open and nice person.
    • Nie Mingjue is a Blood Knight warrior who prefers fighting to poetry and politics while Nie Huaisang is weak at cultivation, prefers gentlemanly pursuits and is more cunning and better at politics. They also turn out to be Not So Different as both deeply value their family and are willing to go to great lengths for revenge.
    • Jin Guangyao and Jin Zixuan are an interesting case. Jin Zixuan is the only legitimate son of Jin Guangshan. Despite his arrogant exterior, he's honorable and kind once you get to know him. Jin Guangyao is an illegitimate son who worked his way up and despite acting kind and self-effacing, is actually the novel's main villain.
    • Wen Qing is direct and fiery, in contrast to Wen Ning who is quiet and nervous.
  • Sidequest: The Yi City arc, where the main plot-relevant character Xue Yang only goes to highlight the following: the Stygian Tiger Amulet, and the extent Jin Guangshan went through when he protected Xue Yang.
  • Shout-Out: The protagonist gets pushed down into an abyss where they gain both immense power and a dark personality change? Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The novel contrasts the lofty goals of cultivators with the mundane and dirty realities of politics and war. Cultivators try to strive to be beyond base and material concerns but they ignore that at their own peril and the most honorable and powerful cultivators often end up crushed by reality. The novel lands somewhere in the middle. While it is good to strive to be virtuous, one must keep in mind that not everyone is and that no matter how powerful you are, cultivation power and justice cannot solve everything. So one must always keep an eye on the mundane world and understand and recognize evil at least enough to avoid its traps.
  • The Stoic: Lan Wangji. He also works out as The Comically Serious in contrast to his partner Wei Wuxian, especially in his moments of Alcohol-Induced Idiocy.
  • Tamer and Chaster: The animated adaptation tones down a lot of the overt eroticism and gorn from the novel.
  • There Is Only One Bed: Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji are faced with this trope when they stop by an inn in Yunping City.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: All 3 major characters (Wei Wuxian, Lan Wangji and Jiang Cheng) struggle with choosing to either do the right thing or uphold the peace and stability. Part of the problem is that as heirs and sons of the major sects, anything they do reflects on their clan which at best damages their reputation and at worst brings disaster as the sects bear the consequences of their actions. The fact that the characters are so young means that they lack to experience and wisdom to successfully balance these concerns.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: In this story, any character who is completely kind and selfless is guaranteed to die in a horrible way, as was the case with Xiao Xingchen and Jiang Yanli.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: A few of the characters in the novel have this dynamic with each other. Namely, Wei Wuxian and Jiang Cheng (in the past), and Lan Jingyi and Jin Ling (even if they won't admit it).
  • We ARE Struggling Together: As embodied by the younger generation, the four clans struggle to get along. When they lack a powerful common enemy (like the Wen Clan or the Yiling Patriarch), the clans either go their separate ways or descend into petty politics and infighting. Even nominally close alliances ( like the three Zun) are fragile at best.
  • Wizarding School: If you tilt your head and squint, the Cloud Recesses (the Lan Sect's main base) seems like this, boasting a top-level book collection, famed and strict teachers, too many rules, and the practical side of cultivation on the side.
  • Won the War, Lost the Peace: Powers and personalities that were even celebrated during the Sunshot Campaign often fared badly during the post war peace and qualities that make a good fighter or cultivator aren't entirely well suited towards politics. In general, honor and cultivation power are good for night hunts and war but it is forethought and diplomacy that matters for politics and peace.
  • Wuxia: Technically classified as xianxia, or a cultivation novel involving people who are practicing magical skills to work towards immortality.
    • Mo Dao Zu Shi is remarkably toned down on the degree of fantasy involved here — for example, most fantastic creatures still adhere to some idea of biology as commonly understood by the ancient Chinese, and walking corpses can be differentiated from living corpses because the latter still breathe.

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