08 April 2020

Lockdown Challenge Day Eleven: Outlaws of the Water Margin

My son managed to coerce me into watching Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. I won’t comment on the films because they are beyond the scope of ‘normal’ cinephilia by their colossal budget and by the all-pervasive hype surrounding them. No, what interests me is the sheer number of roles in these films. I do not have the exact figure, but I’d say there are about 40 main characters, which is much more than even the ensemble cast of Short Cuts (approximately 25 protagonists). With their almost 50 characters I claim the Avengers films are more akin to Chinese Classical Novels than to the standard ‘Boy Meets Girl’ Western kind of fiction. The Dream of the Red Chamber (紅樓夢), one of the Four Great Classical Novels, has 40 protagonists and more than four hundred additional characters. Famously, the Water Margin (水滸傳) tells the story (or rather the intertwined stories) of the 108 outlaws from the Marshes of Mount Liáng.

Which brings us to today’s role-playing game of choice for the Lockdown Challenge: Paul Mason’s Outlaws of the Water Margin, a heroic adventure role-playing game, which –alas!– was never professionally published (my copy is a printout from the 1998 PDF) – if you are interested, my full review of the game is available here.

There are two methods for character generation: using one of the many templates, or going through the various steps one by one. Let us create a character via the step-by-step method. The character will be very much shaped by the background choices made by the player, enabling them to play the PC they had in mind.

Age: 24 ➡️ born during the Original Plenty era (元豐), sign: Yáng Water Horse
Natural gifts points 11
Experience points 18

Name: Third Son Bāo
Gender: Male
Size: 0
ENERGY: 7 ➡️ I spend 12 experience points to increase it to 10
BODY: 7 ➡️ I spend 6 natural gift points to increase it to 9

Basic Aptitudes
Endurance +1 (3 natural gift points)

Specific Aptitudes
Deception +1 (1 natural gift point)
Intimidation +1 (1 natural gift point)

Unknown aptitudes
??? +1
??? +1
??? +1

Drinking +1 (1 experience point)
Swimming +1 (1 experience point)
Thievery +2 (3 experience points)
Tracking +1 (1 experience point)

Country ➡️ Fighting +1, Animal Lore +1, Plant Lore +1, Wilderness Lore +1, Manners −1

Occupation: Boatman
Status +1
Fishing +1
Rowing +1
Shipcraft +1
Swimming +1 ➡️ total +2

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