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Tabletop Game / Feng Shui

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Feng Shui is a classic cinematic action Tabletop Game created by Robin D. Laws, based on his Collectible Card Game Shadowfist, that sets out to emulate Hong Kong action movies. There were two versions of the first edition, one by Daedalus Entertainment in 1996, the second by Atlas Games in 1999, which kept the original text, added some extra archetypes from a supplement, and gave it new art and layout. A full second edition, Feng Shui 2, came out in 2015, overhauling the mechanics and setting, and had a Kickstarter. The Kickstarter included Blowing Up The Movies, a collection of essays on action movies and how to incorporate them into roleplaying games (focused on Feng Shui, but with a lot of advice being applicable to other games as well)

The game enlists characters in a Secret War all across time fighting bad guys who are trying to get their hands on sites that generate powerful chi, which are known as Feng Shui sites. If someone controls enough of these sites, he can literally change the course of history.

Time Travel is possible via a weird mystical realm called the "Inner Kingdom" or the Netherworld, home to all kinds of weird people and beings from a thousand shattered timelines. By traversing its loamy grey tunnels, one can access different portals to different points in time known as junctures. Our present day is one of those junctures.

The main junctures in the original versions are:

69 AD: A juncture straight out of Hong Kong wuxia movies, the Hong Kong of this juncture is nominally ruled by the Han Dynasty, but officials have become corrupt, and a secret faction of evil eunuch sorcerers known as the Eaters of the Lotus have taken over the administration of the empire, quashing dissent with kung fu warriors, summoned demons and powerful sorcery.

1850 AD: A juncture straight out of period kung fu cinema, where the Chinese and the Western powers clash in Hong Kong. It's also the period for Victorian adventures and Wild West action. One of the groups seeking power is the Guiding Hand, a group of Shaolin monks and other kung fu types who want to get rid of foreign influence in China and bring about a world of enlightenment, but who are very authoritarian, Sinocentric and Knight Templar-ish in their attitude and despise modern and Western technology and thinking in general.

Contemporary: The modern day, such as it is in the Heroic Bloodshed genre. This juncture (as well as most of 1850) is controlled by the Ascended, an Ancient Conspiracy made up of the descendants of animals who defied the natural order and transformed themselves into humans long ago. The only thing that can turn them back into their natural animal form is magic, and thus, the Ascended and their human agents, the Pledged, are actively involved in the suppression of magic and the discrediting or destruction of sorcerers. The Ascended control the government, the police, the military, and most of the major crime syndicates of the world.

2056 AD: A grim, dark Dystopian future, this juncture is ruled by a one-world government called the Bureau of Tactical Management (or "Buro" in short), monitoring its civilians by a sophisticated surveillance state that is equal parts the World State from Brave New World and Oceania from Nineteen Eighty-Four. The group that was instrumental in bringing the Buro to power are the Architects of the Flesh, a group of mad scientists who use arcanowave technology, an unholy fusion of magic and science that warps its users beyond recognition, and who capture monsters from 69 AD and alter them to create cyber-demonic commandos called Abominations, which the Buro uses to fight its wars.

In addition to the factions listed above, three more factions exist:

The Jammers are a group of Bomb-Throwing Anarchists who are among the few people born with immunity to the influence of chi. They started as rebels against the Buro and the Architects in 2056, and have developed their own brand of junkyard tech that doesn't rely on arcanowave science. Among their number are a good number of intelligent cybernetic apes, the results of the Architects' first experiments. The Jammers, led by Battlechimp Potemkin, want nothing less than to destroy every Feng Shui site in existence so that humanity can be freed from the "tyranny" of chi, something which could have some very bad consequences for the world at large if they succeed.

The Four Monarchs are four siblings and powerful sorcerers who once ruled the world up until the 20th century, when the Ascended captured enough Feng Shui sites in the medieval era to trigger a Critical Shift in time that brought about the world we know and removed them from power. Each monarch has carved out his or her own little kingdom in the Netherworld, and they continually plot and scheme against each other and against the other factions.

The Dragons are the good guys, a collection of maverick cops, redeemed assassins, martial artists, ninjas, big bruisers and other heroic types rising from among the humble and the outcasts of the world in order to fight for freedom, justice, and the right to look extremely cool. The Dragons rise again and again throughout time in order to help people and keep important Feng Shui sites from falling into the wrong hands, but like the heroes of many a Hong Kong action movie, the fate of anyone who takes on the mantle of the Dragons is often a tragic one.

In Feng Shui 2, the detonation of a Chi Bomb triggers a major shake-up in the junctures. The main junctures now are:

690 AD: The closure of their original era thanks to the bomb forced the Eaters of the Lotus to find refuge in this new juncture, during the time of the Tang Dynasty, where Empress Wu Zeitan, China's only official female ruler, has begun her reign. Unfortunately for the Lotus, the Empress is not about to tolerate any threats to her power, and has purged her court of sorcerers, so the Lotus seek to undermine her and claim power for themselves. They're also trying to retrieve their boss, Gao Zhang, who was left behind in the 69 juncture.

1850 AD: Uniquely among the main junctures, this one remains attached to its original year, with the Guiding Hand still seeking to remove foreign influence from China.

Contemporary: The contemporary juncture advances with the passing of time, so it's always the present day, and the Ascended continue to maintain their dominion over the world.

2074 AD: Thanks to the Chi Bomb, this juncture has gone from a totalitarian dystopia to a post-apocalyptic wasteland along the lines of Mad Max, with cyborgs, mutants and road warriors struggling to survive in a devastated world. In 2069, the Jammers detonated the bomb in an attempt to eradicate chi in all major junctures. Fortunately for the timestream - if not for those who survived - the worst effects were chiefly limited to their time period, killing 97% of the population, mutating many of the survivors, and laying waste to the environment. The Architects of the Flesh, as holders of most of the planet's chi sites, were wiped off the face of time and existence. The Jammers, faced with the horrific disaster they'd brought about, split into two factions. The original Jammers, still led by Battlechimp Potemkin, now seek to claim sufficient chi sites in the past to Set Right What Once Went Wrong, no matter how many innocents have to die in the process. Opposing them are the New Simian Empire led by the Battlechimp's former right-hand ape Furious George, who seeks the establishment of a new cyber-ape empire, whether in this era or the past.

In addition, the Chi Bomb's explosion has also triggered the creation of pop-up junctures, temporary portals leading to other time periods.

Feng Shui is especially known for being one of the first role-playing games to implement rules for taking out mooks as opposed to important villains, and it encourages both players and Game Master to play the various tropes, clichés and the melodrama of the action genre to the hilt. In fact, Feng Shui is a unapologetic celebration of action movie tropes; it named and codified as many tropes as the author could think of. It was in some ways a precursor to this website.

This RPG provides examples of:

  • Adventurer Archaeologist: The Two-Fisted Archaeologist (originally in Seal of the Wheel, then included in Feng Shui 2), plus a number of fan archetypes on the web.
  • After the End: The new Future juncture, 2074, is essentially a post-apocalyptic love letter to the Mad Max series. The disaster that led to this future was the use of the Chi Bomb, which not only had the effect of wiping the Buro and the Architects off the map, but also wiped out 97% of the entire human population in the Future juncture, reducing them to cellular powder.
  • A God Am I: Furious George, since his falling out with Battlechimp Potemkin in the wake of the C-Bomb, has developed a severe god complex. And we're not kidding about that either — Furious rules the new post-apocalyptic Future juncture as a God-Emperor, with his rule being both military and religious in nature.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Just like in Hong Kong movies, everyone in the Feng Shui setting speaks Cantonese, translated into English for your games.
  • Almost Lethal Weapons: Named characters, heroes and villains alike, never die with one shot.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Ascended, a cabal of transformed animals who arose during the medieval era and overthrew the previous rulers of the world, the Four Monarchs, and now seek to suppress magic so as to keep anything like the Monarchs from rising again and to prevent themselves from being reverted to their former animal forms.
  • Anti-Villain: A significant portion of the antagonists are understandable if not outright sympathetic. And with the exception of the Architects of the Flesh, even the worst of them have good people in their ranks.
  • Anyone Can Die: The genre of this game is Hong Kong made action flicks, where sometimes heroes (read PCs) do die.
  • Artificial Limbs: Available in both hardtech (Hardware schticks) and Magitek (Arcanowave schticks)
  • Armor Is Useless:
    • In recognition of this trope, armor is made "rather unattractive" — it adds to your Toughness when calculating damage taken, but it reduces your Agility score (which many characters need for their Martial Arts skill) and makes you look like a contemptible Ascended or Buro goon (depending on the juncture and the type of armor).
    • Somewhat averted by the Masked Avenger archetype, who suffers no Initiative penalties from armor
  • Ass Pull: In universe. There are actual rules that allow your character to make up what they need to achieve whatever action-movie-esque effect they need, such as always knowing how to pilot that kind of vehicle or helping another player's magic by disrupting magical symbols that are disrupting his powers (which were never mentioned at any point by the GM). As long as it at least fits in with typical action-movie logic, it flies.
  • The Atoner: Many Killers and other characters with a criminal or otherwise less-than-honorable past, as well as Dr. Anita Dao, a.k.a. The Prof. As of second edition, this now goes for the Jammers too.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
  • Ax-Crazy: The Supernatural Creature archetype's backstory, before they become heroes.
  • Badass Driver: The Maverick Cop, the Karate Cop, the Everyday Hero and the Velocity Addict from the first edition; the Driver, the Highway Ronin and the Maverick Cop from the second edition. Other characters may well qualify depending on how their players awesome them up.
  • Badass Longcoat: Many gunmen and other heroes.
  • Badass Unintentional: One of the character archetypes, the Everyman Hero, is all about this. (in Feng Shui 2, the archetype has an ability called "Accidental Awesome").
  • Barbarian Hero: The Viking Warrior archetype from Seed of the New Flesh. Yes, the Vikings are alive and well in 2056.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: The final showdown of the adventure "Baptism of Fire."
  • Bedlam House: The Asylum of the Damned from Out for Blood, staffed by demons bent on breaking the spirits of Secret Warriors sent there for "treatment."
  • BFG:
    • Anything with a concealment rating of 6 (requires a trenchcoat to hide) or 7 (cannot be hidden, period). Come on, did you really think there wouldn't be?
    • First, the Helix Ripper, an Arcanogun which fires a beam that melts flesh. The beam also passes through inorganic matter without losing coherency, and the damage caused by it cannot be conventionally healed.
    • The Buro also has the Hellharrower, a giant automatic machine gun which is usually either vehicle-mounted or issued to abominations, as it cannot be used unmounted without a Strength of 11 or above.
    • The Chaingun hardware schtick.
  • BFS: The Chainsword hardware schtick. At Str+7, it has the highest damage rating of all melee weapons in the game.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The "Like the Cavalry" schtick for the Drifter allows them to show up mid-fight if they were not with the other PCs when the fight began. "Ammunitional Rescue", another Drifter schtick, allows the Drifter to get a bonus to their first Guns attack after pulling this, along with a +2 bonus to Guns, Martial Arts and Defense for the rest of the fight.
  • Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: The Jammers from the first edition, who were all about blowing up Feng Shui sites to free everyone from the "tyranny" of chi. Up until they set off the Chi Bomb, where they learned exactly what a world without chi was really like.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity:
    • The Criminal Mastermind archetype is unable to just shoot any named character or Buro agent captured; he must whenever possible try to keep them alive while gloating about their Evil Plan (this includes keeping your party members from shooting them as well). The flaw is named "Slave to the Cheese".
    • Meanwhile, the Spy archetype from FS1 can spend a fortune point to have people tell them something they shouldn't. The game recommends using it when captured, to induce gloating in villains.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The "Lightning Reload" schtick.
  • Bounty Hunter: Originally in Seal of the Wheel and on the web, made one of the core archetypes in second edition. PCs are more likely to be the heroic version.
  • Buddy Cop Show:
    • Players of Karate and Maverick Cops will often pair the two archetypes up Buddy Cop style, with the Karate Cop being by-the-book and the Maverick Cop being the rule-breaker.
    • 2056 has its own little take on the genre in question with the "buddy cop romance". These movies take the homoerotic elements that tend to crop up in buddy cop movies and take them to their logical conclusion.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Armor vests in the second edition. There's even a specific rule called Pop-Back where an otherwise lethal wound can be negated and the hero in question falls down, seemingly-dead for three shots and then hops back up unharmed.
  • Butt-Monkey: Due to the intrinsically low intelligence of the archetype (unless they have the Onboard Computer, which boosts Intelligence to super-genius levels), particularly sadistic GMs tend to pick on Gorilla Fighters.
  • Chandler's Law: A suggestion on how to keep the plot moving.
  • Character Aged With The Edition: Since Feng Shui 2 came out 20 years after Feng Shui, one suggestion for transitioning between editions is "Getting Too Old For This Shit", where the PCs have aged 20 years too.
  • Chinese Vampire: Just one of the Lotus's many minions.
  • Cool Guns: You'll find most of the guns listed in that page in this game, or in one of the supplements.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Happens a lot given the Secret War.
  • The Corruption: The downside of using Arcanowave technology.
  • Counter-Attack: The non-healing, non-pressure point oriented half of the Path of the Healthy Tiger focuses on counterattacks.
  • Cowboy Cop: The Maverick Cop archetype.
  • Creature-Hunter Organization: Atypical example: Monster Hunters from Feng Shui are former members of the Buro's elite Supernatural Entity Retrieval Units (SERUs), sent from the Buro's home juncture of 2056 into the Netherworld. Their objective, unlike many examples of this trope, is to capture demons from 69 AD and bring them back so that the CDCA, the Architect Mad Scientists that create arcanotech, can turn them into Abominations, the altered demons that the Buro uses to fight its wars. They use a twisted hybrid of magic and technology called arcanowave technology that both gives them an edge against the monsters they face and sends bent magic into their system whenever they use it, and which threatens to turn them into Abominations themselves if they use it too much.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Justified with Arcanowave tech, as Arcanowave tech is made of demons and Black Magic.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Called out in Ming I's writeup - it points out that her Casting a Shadow powers are evil perversions of normal shadow magic, being the all-consuming hunger for life rather than the warm, comforting shelter from persecution and danger. More generally, just about every kind of enemy creature, from the hideous Abominations of 2056, to the monsters of the Netherworld, to the cold-blooded hitmen of the modern age, is playable, and the text outright encourages the player to play them as good people trying to make up for their previous deeds and do the right thing in a dark and evil world.
  • Deader than Dead: If you get hit by Ming I's dreaded Arm of Darkness and fail the Death Check that you have to make because of it, you are instantly and permanently destroyed — you don't come back as a ghost, no schtick can save you or bring you back, and your spirit can't be contacted from beyond the veil. You are, for all intents and purposes, gone.
  • Death Ray: Helix Arcanoguns tend to have this effect.
  • Death Seeker: The Cyborg archetype in Feng Shui 2 is frequently one of these due to having their life unnaturally extended by Scroungetech. Depending on the Melodramatic Hook, some of the other archetypes may well qualify.
  • Depopulation Bomb: The Chi Bomb, which was meant to free humanity in every juncture from the "tyranny" of chi, instead turned out to be this for the Future juncture. 97% of humanity in that juncture was wiped off the map when that thing went off.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: A common scenario, and discussed in Blowing Up The Movies.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: The KA-CHINK! rule for shotguns in Feng Shui gives you an extra damage point on your next attack for doing this. Also applies to spin-cocking lever-action rifles.
  • The Drifter: An archetype in the 2056 supplement Seed of the New Flesh that can be used in any juncture, which gets folded into second edition's core.
  • Drunken Master: The game normally has severe penalties for intoxication. However, Drunken Stance removes these penalties when martial arts rolls are involved. So if you survive long enough when you've bought the stance with experience, you can become a Drunken Master. And of course you can stunt for bonuses, because kicking butt while drunk is cool.
  • Dual Wielding:
    • You don't suffer any penalty for doing this unlike other games, as Feng Shui thrives on the Rule of Cool. Difficulty is based on what your action actually intends to accomplish, not on exactly how it is done. All Dual Wielding really does is enable you to invent cool and well described Dual Wielding stunts.
    • The Both Guns Blazing gun schtick allows you to use two guns to shoot named characters, for a penalty that decreases with each schtick in it you buy and eventually turns into a bonus when using two-gun attacks. Successful rolls result in damage from both guns being dealt.
  • Dystopia: The 2056 juncture, which is ruled by the totalitarian Buro regime. 2074 is a post-apocalyptic dystopia of an entirely different nature.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Failure on the part of the players is not outside of the game's genre. Hong Kong Cinema does not pull punches, and neither does the game.
  • Evil Reactionary: The Hand are this at their absolute worst.
  • Evil Sorcerer: These, along with corrupt martial artists and other servants, make up the Eaters of the Lotus. Most of the Four Monarchs also qualify, with Ming I being by far the worst.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Conflicts between the various factions (with the exception of the Dragons) tend to work out like this.
  • Explosive Leash: Abomination NPCs come by default with "cerebral greppers," bombs that will blow their heads off if they so much as look funny at some Buro personnel. Player Abominations are assumed to have their greppers removed or shorted out.
  • Extended Disarming: The Full Metal Nutball unique drawback "Oops, Forgot That One" basically makes it impossible for him to conceal his weapons no matter how high his Deceit rating, which leads pretty much invariably to this scene — and even if the Nutball says he's completely disarmed, there's always one more weapon to take away. This is purely for the purpose of comedy and doesn't mean the Nutball is always armed in a combat situation.
  • Femme Fatale: The Buro has an...odd example. Her name is Desdemona Deathangel, and she's actually an abomination, disguised as a drop-dead gorgeous woman. The public loves her! Of course, the CDCA is trying very hard to keep certain information well-hidden, such as her preferred diet and other propensities.
  • Functional Magic: The magic used by the Lotus, the Monarchs and various other sorcerers.
  • Gatling Good: The Chaingun is available as a hardware schtick.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: The specialty of the Bureau of Happiness and Productivity in 2056.
  • Gilligan Cut: Recommended as a way to deal with recalcitrant players who do not want to do something.
  • Government Drug Enforcement: Not mandatory, but Productivity Drugs are used by the majority of consumers in 2056. They're a low-level narcotic and (unusually for Buro products) significantly less harmful than alcohol or other modern drugs, but their main purpose is to keep addicts pleasantly high while they do boring vat work.
  • Gun Nut: The Feng Shui 2 archetype Full Metal Nutball.
  • Guns Akimbo: Many gunmen with the Both Guns Blazing schtick. In fact, you don't need the schtick in order to blast off with two guns — the schtick in question is mainly used to do extra damage to named characters with both guns at once, though as the page illustrates, there's more than one way to use Guns Akimbo.
  • Guns Are Worthless:
    • Guns only do as much damage as your average kung fu warrior's unarmed attacks or weapons, and a named character is never taken down with one bullet. May be reflective of genre, however, given the movies that inspired the gunslinging archetypes.
    • Inverted in the second edition. Guns now do comparable or better damage than melee weapons.
  • The Gunslinger: Most gun-using archetypes fall under here, with Gun Schticks allowing for the use of many Guns and Gunplay Tropes.
  • Hand Cannon: Any handgun with a damage of 12 and a Concealability of at least 3 qualifies as one of these. The contemporary juncture has the Desert Eagle and the AMT Automag V, while 2056 has the aptly-named Buro Godhammer.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The New Simian Empire is the part of the Jammers who became the barbarians the Buro thought of them as.
  • Healthcare Motivation: One of the stock Melodramatic Hooks that a character can have, and often sees use with Killers and Thieves.
  • High-Speed Hijack: Covered under the Stunt rules.
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: This trope can be averted or played straight. If you kill Hitler's ancestors in 1850 under normal circumstances, an equivalent genocidal dictator will be butterflied into existence and probably have Hitler's soul to boot. Erasing Hitler from the timestream entirely would require taking control of appropriate feng shui sites in and around Germany and triggering a Critical Shift in the timeline. (This generally requires a lot more work and organization than a lone PC group can arrange.)
  • Hitman with a Heart: Most versions of the Killer archetype.
  • Hollywood Cyborg: The $10,000 Man from Gorilla Warfare and any Cyborg who takes Hardware schticks rather than Arcanowave schticks.
  • Hollywood Healing: Many heroes.
  • Hunter of Monsters: The Exorcist Monk, Magic Cop and Masked Avenger archetypes, as well as any character with a suitable Melodramatic Hook. The Monster Hunter from the first game, in contrast, used to be charged with capturing monsters so that they could be made into Abominations by the CDCA of their home juncture of 2056.
  • I Like Those Odds: The quote for the Killer archetype is: "Forty of them, one of me. Looks like the odds are about even." Of course, Feng Shui was the first RPG to incorporate rules for Mooks...
  • Improv Fu: The Everyman Hero has this as his or her Unique Schtick.
  • Ki Manipulation: Many Fu Powers.
  • Knight Templar: The Guiding Hand and the Buro.
  • Kung Fu Kid Hero: the Scrappy Kid and Uber-kid archetypes.
  • Kung-Shui: One of the game's cornerstones is that if you're not invoking this trope, in every fight scene, you're missing half the fun. In the published adventures for the game, for any location where a fight might break out, there will be section of the text devoted to describing the furniture and other features of the room, specifically for the purposes of how they could be used as improvised weapons or otherwise feature in combat. A description of a restaurant, for example, will not just mention chairs and cutlery, but also the possibility of using the rotating server in the center of a table for spin kicks, or that someone is definitely going to be dunked in the lobster tank head first and emerge with a lobster pinching their nose, or...
  • The Legions of Hell: The Underworld and its demons.
  • Lemony Narrator: The books are written in a breezy, snarky style with a few jokes seeded through the various chapters.
  • Little Useless Gun: Low-caliber weapons, like many such guns in RPGs, are mainly only useful for killing mooks — unless you've taken one as a signature weapon, it's not going to deal very respectable damage against named characters.
  • Mad Bomber: The Jammers used to be all about this in the original Feng Shui, preferring destroying feng shui sites to capturing them, best exemplified by their Battle Cry, "BLOW THINGS UP! BLOW THINGS UP!" Come second edition, they've changed their tune, as the Chi Bomb and its horrific effects made them reevaluate their priorities.
  • Mad Scientist:
    • Curtis Boatman, head of the CDCA (those Buro people who created Arcanotech and Abominations).
    • By extension, the whole of the CDCA.
  • Made of Iron: Many heroes, especially the Big Bruiser.
  • Magitek: Arcanowave technology.
  • Maniac Monkeys: The Jammers (including their leader, Battlechimp Potemkin, plus many other notables such as Furious George and the Orangotank). The New Simian Army, as an ex-Jammer faction, continue the tradition.
  • Master Swordsman: The Swordmaster archetype from Feng Shui 2, as well as anyone else who invests heavily in the Path of the Sword.
  • Mook Promotion: If Mooks hired through the Criminal Mastermind's Mook Magnet schtick survive three fights in a row, they become named characters.
  • Mooks: Feng Shui was one of the first games to institute mook rules.
  • More Dakka: Automatic weapons in general, the Who Wants Some gun schtick, and the Minigun hardware schtick in particular.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: The Shiva Squadron from Glimpse of the Abyss and any other supernatural character with the Multiple Arms creature schtick from that book. A nice little effect of this is that one can use more than two guns if you have the Both Guns Blazing schtick, but the opponent's Toughness is multiplied by the number of guns your character is wielding if you do this.
  • Mutants: Created as a side-effect of the Chi Bomb's explosion, and playable with the Gene Freak archetype.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Draco, Homo Omega, the White Ninja, Desdemona Deathangel, any of the Four Monarchs...
  • Ninja: Heroes, villains and mooks alike.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Oh boy...where to begin?!
    • How about the Jammers, who are literally all that with "zombie" replaced by "monkey"?
    • Abominations, who can be all that replacing "pirate" with "demon".
  • No Campaign for the Wicked:
    • Usually averted, since none of the factions are totally, irredeemably evil... with the critical exception being the Architects of the Flesh, whose fluff automatically assumes you're playing a rebel or a defector. The sourcebook "Seed of the New Flesh" instead has the option of playing TacOps for the Buro, who are far, far more idealistic and compassionate than their Mad Scientist contemporaries, but to destroy the latter is to collapse the former — the Buro needs the CDCA the other owns to preserve itself.
    • The corebook invokes this with the Guiding Hand. Because players are almost certain to sympathize with most of the goals of the group, the book makes it absolutely clear that they are fanatical, often suicidal terrorists and that their organization has no room for anything but absolute obedience to their master's will. In other words, it's not a good organization to be a PC in. In general, the corebook assumes that PCs will be or want to be working for the Dragons, who are generic good guys, and encourages playing even the "dark" archetypes like the Killer or Supernatural Creature as people trying to turn their lives around.
  • No "Police" Option: Don't expect help from the cops if you're fighting the Ascended. Fifty-fifty, the guys they send after you will be the cops.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore:
    • If a Critical Shift cannot be reversed by the PCs somehow, it is a clear-cut case of this.
    • The Chi Bomb had this effect on both the Ancient and Future junctures. The 69 juncture was closed, forcing the Lotus to seek refuge in the 690 juncture, where they are anything but in power. And as for the Future juncture, the totalitarian dystopia of 2056 is no more, and a ruined Mad Max style future is now the main backdrop, with evil warlords, cybermonkeys trying to set up a new empire, and gene freaks abounding.
  • Old Master: One of the archetypes, which trades Martial Arts ability even higher than the Martial Artist's and more Fu Schticks for being a Glass Cannon. FS2's Old Master is just a little tougher than FS1's Old Master, but has his Defense lowered every time they take damage.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: The "True Ascended," a fanatical splinter group of human-hating racists within the Ascended's Shell of the Tortoise who are planning to destroy all life on Earth in a plan called the "Extinction Agenda" if the Lodge's defeat seems imminent.
  • One World Order: The Architects have set one up in 2056 through powerful feng shui.
  • Poke the Poodle: Justified. The Criminal Mastermind archetype does reprehensible acts by the standards of the Buro, such as kidnapping war orphans away from the Tyke Bomb project they have going or stealing money to fund a non-Buro hospital. Were it not for how screwed-up the moral compass is by 2056, they'd be out-and-out costumed superheroes.
  • Police Are Useless: Thanks to the Ascended controlling much of the world in the contemporary juncture, don't expect help from the cops (aside from Maverick and other cops who've joined the Dragons) if you're fighting them.
  • Police Brutality: Public Order cops in the 2056 juncture are nearly always some flavor of this, barring the few good ones who become PCs. Some of the cops of other junctures aren't much better, especially if you have the Ascended as an enemy.
  • Political Overcorrectness: The Buro in a nutshell. It's as if the wild ramblings of every apocalyptic internet Men's Rights Activist came true: the social order has been overtaken by people so obsessed with equality and progressiveness (essentially stereotypical "Social Justice Warriors", with missiles) that same-race marriage has become taboo, straight people are ashamed of themselves for being insensitive and being paid more than a co-worker is a crime. That said, the books do point out that if it weren't for the murderous, dictatorial lengths the Buro went to achieve its goals, most of them would've been quite noble, and while their future is generally dystopian, it is, in some small ways, better than our own socially speaking.
  • Portal Network: The Netherworld.
  • Portal to the Past: How time-travel tends to work.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: The gun schtick Blam Blam Epigram from Feng Shui 2 allows you to spend a shot to deliver a one-liner before or after attacking in order to do more damage. It does its best damage against impaired opponents, meaning it's perfect for delivering either one of these or a Bond One-Liner when finishing off a named opponent.
  • Professional Killer: If a PC Killer isn't an Assassin, he or she is probably a Hitman with a Heart.
  • Punny Name: Cybernetic monkey/ape Player Characters in the Jammers are penalized XP if their name is NOT some form of pun. Among the setting's established characters, besides Jammer leader Battlechimp Potemkin, there's Furious George (Battlechimp's Number Two, and he can fly), Rhesus Pieces (who can disassemble himself), Koko Chanel (a female gorilla looking for romance) and Funky Monkey (with a voicebox that makes him sound like Barry White). Most of the human Jammers have Punny Names as well.
  • Reincarnation Romance: It's not unknown for innerwalkers to fall in love with alternate incarnations of love interests, or vice versa.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction:
    • In Feng Shui 2, the Jammers have undergone a schism following the detonation of the Chi Bomb. The main body of the Jammers, led by Battlechimp Potemkin, feel that setting it off was a mistake, and wish to capture enough sites to create a whole new future and undo this mistake. But Furious George, once the Battlechimp's right-hand ape, sees his former boss's change of heart as a sign of going soft, and doesn't see the logic in trying to undo the future that they created, wanting instead to make the most of it by ruling it (not helped by the fact that Furious has developed a serious god complex). His faction currently rules much of the Future juncture as the New Simian Empire.
    • In the chronology of the Shadowfist CCG, which shares a general setting with Feng Shui, a similar schism has happened to the Architects of the Flesh as a result of a civil war between the two leaders of the Architects, Johann Bonengel and Curtis Boatman, and a critical shift in 1934 which wiped their timeline out of existence. The Architects are now split into two factions: the BuroMil led by Bonengel, who have taken over Nazi Germany from within, and the CDCA led by Boatman, who heads a multinational corporation in a more Cyberpunk future in 2072.
  • Resurrective Immortality: The Inevitable Comeback creature power allows a supernatural creature to resurrect after being killed.
  • Retired Badass/Mandatory Unretirement: One of the campaign models outlined in Feng Shui 2 is "Getting Too Old For This Shit", which allows you to play your old Feng Shui PCs under the new system. The Chi War of the game is set 20 years after the events of the old game, so returning characters will have a few years on them, and can play either as their old archetype, or as a new one.
  • Returning War Vet: The Ex-Special Forces archetype.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Inverted, due to limited ammo and reloading time. As in real life, automatics are pretty much better at everything.
  • Right Man in the Wrong Place: The Everyman Hero archetype in a goddamn nutshell.
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Anyone who visits the Netherworld acquires this. This isn't always a good thing, given that while your memories may remain intact, your world and the people you love may change beyond your recognition. In fact, the Netherworld is home to a number of "distimers", people who have watched their world change too many times and can't take it anymore.
  • Rule of Cool: Feng Shui, and Hong Kong action cinema in general, thrives on this.
    • Actually codified into the game, with the stunt system. Describing your action in a cool way and adding interesting details actually gives bonuses. Repeating the same thing over and over again, however, is usually not cool, and can even get penalties. Except when it is cool.
    • In most official Feng Shui adventures, each described location has a section labelled "Cool Things That Could Happen", which are usually action movie tropes of one kind or another.
  • Scaled Up: Ophidian Form, an advanced schtick for Supernatural Creatures.
  • Schrödinger's Gun: for once, explicitly noted.
  • Secret War: The Chi War, which revolves around the Places of Power known as Feng Shui sites, which takes place in four different junctures across the timestream as well as the Netherworld that connects them, with the ultimate goal of the warring factions being the ability to remake history in their image.
  • Shoot the Hostage Taker: The "Take the Shot" gun schtick gives you a +4 bonus to your Guns for the purpose of doing this to bad guys trying to pull a Put Down Your Gun and Step Away situation.
  • Shout-Out: Many Archetypes have large chunks of them based on particular characters:
  • Significant Name Overlap: The basic premise of "Hong Kong Phonebook", one of the game's published adventures - three different factions each abduct a man named Simon Wong, but each of them has the wrong Simon. Wacky hijinks ensue. invoked
  • Smug Snake: Draco, Curtis Boatman.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: If something doesn't go kaboom at some point during a game session, never mind a campaign, you're doing things wrong. The Jammers in particular thrive on this kind of thing.
  • Suddenly Always Knew That: It's not uncommon for characters to reveal that a schtick they've recently paid for with XP is one they've known how to do all along. As the book explains, "Action heroes pull this one all the time."
  • Temporal Mutability: Type 3 (Rubber Band History) without Feng Shui sites, Type 4 (Temporal Balancing Act) with Feng Shui sites.
  • Terminal Transformation: A Transformed Dragon that reverts to his or her original form in a magic-hostile juncture will die, because dragons in general can only live in places where magic is in abundance, something that the Ascended (who fear reversion and seek to keep the magic level low so that they can't be reverted) don't want.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality: If you need to hide you do not ask "is there an alcove?" you say "I duck into the poorly lit alcove just behind me." Anything that could reasonably be there to help you survive or do a cool stunt you just thought up was always there. You are just the first to have noticed it. Only exceptional powergaming should be denied.
  • Time Machine: Feng Shui mainly uses the Time Portal method of going through time.
  • Time Travel: Feng Shui uses the Portal to the Past method of time travel, with the added wrinkle of the Netherworld being a Portal Network.
  • Totalitarian Utilitarian: Both the Buro and the Jammers.
  • Touch of Death: Ming I, Queen of the Darkness Pagoda, has the Arm of Darkness. If this hits you, it doesn't deal any damage, it just forces you to make a death check that you do not want to fail.
  • Trans Nature: The original purpose behind the Ascended conspiracy was to make sure that Transformed Animals would never be reverted to their original animal forms.
  • Trapped in the Past: Because of the nature of pop-up junctures in Feng Shui 2, it is very possible to wind up like this if you don't make it back to your portal before it closes.
  • Travel Cool: The "Signature Vehicle" Schtick, usually a Cool Car, Cool Bike or Big Badass Rig (although other kinds of vehicles are also accepted)—not only will the players be incredibly good at driving them (more than with a regular vehicle), but the vehicles will be repaired or replaced in between adventures if they are destroyed with no extra cost. The ruleset advocates that Metallicar Syndrome be "off" for the sake of Rule of Cool, as well.
  • The Triads and the Tongs: A common enemy and occasional ally in the Contemporary juncture. Much like other major criminal syndicates, they're largely controlled by the Ascended.
  • Turned Against Their Masters:
    • The Abomination archetype, but a good thing in this case.
    • Also the Battlechimp Potemkin, leader of the Jammers, and the many uplifted apes under his command.
  • Uplifted Animal: The Jammers count many intelligent apes among their ranks, the result of an Architect experiment predating arcanowave tech. The apes broke free from the Architects' control, and have now united under the banner of Battlechimp Potemkin.
  • Urban Fantasy: Feng Shui definitely has this going on, especially if you set much of the action in the contemporary juncture.
  • Villain Has a Point: The Buro isn't entirely wrong; they have ended world hunger (by forcing everyone to eat crappy artificial food), sexism and racism (at the cost of reducing overall sexual freedom by effectively banning same-race relations) and income inequality (by reducing everyone's standard of living to barely above poverty). The problem (aside from all the factors listed above) is that they're enforcing their new equality through mass murder, and they're also dependent on the Architects of the Flesh and their truly horrifying evil.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Johann Bonengel, President of the Buro, just wants a world free of racism and crime. At any price.
    • The Guiding Hand, whose goal was to get rid of foreign influence in China, including the hated opium trade.
    • Also, the Jammers, who are attempting to free all of history from the overwhelming influence of Chi so that people can make their own choices and not have them influenced by who controls more Feng Shui sites. Unfortunately, when the Jammers actually do manage to 'free' their time period in Feng Shui 2 through the use of the Chi Bomb, it results in horrific consequences for the world, and the faction of them led by Battlechimp Potemkin are horrified at the consequences of what they've done, and have set about trying to make sure it never happens, no matter what the cost.
  • Wham Episode: Feng Shui 2, with the detonation of the Chi Bomb. In addition, Critical Shifts that are not reversible by the players essentially act as this.
  • Wok Fu: The opening battle of the adventure "Baptism of Fire" takes place in a restaurant in Yaumatei. Depending on the makeup of your party this could be a kung fu battle, a shootout, or a more general brawl.
  • World of Badass: If you have a name in Feng Shui, chances are that you're a badass.
  • Wuxia: The earliest junctures tend to have a wuxia theme.
  • You All Meet in an Inn: Most often, the Game Master will have characters meet somewhere at the beginning of the story. Players then have to give a reason as to why their character is at the locale in question.
  • Your Head A-Splode: This is a standard occupational hazard for mooks of the Eaters of the Lotus, who often have ward-spells placed on them by their Evil Sorcerer master to make their heads go boom if they do anything out of line.
  • Your Normal Is Our Taboo: Mixed race relationships and even homosexual relationships are very much the norm in 2056. Romances with people of the same race, on the other hand, are typically labeled "racist."
  • Zombie Apocalypse: If even one of the Corpse Factories created by the Buro in 2056 gets loose, you'll have one of these on your hands in short order.