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Mining for Situations: Seven Swords of Tianshan

October 17, 2008

I’m re-watching the Seven Swords of Tianshan and blown away at how good a lot of the situations are and how many of them would be great for a campaign or even a one shot.

The basic premise is that you have loyalists of the old dynasty seeking to overthrow the new dynasty, and generally being on the run as outlaws.  And the rest is pure drama – love triangles, misunderstandings, betrayals, etc.  (The series sadly has pretty wack roles for women- though each could really stand out on their own, all of them basically become sacrificial girlfriends for the men… grr.)

Here’s some of the situations worth mining:

– The rebels are hiding out in a cave while soldiers are searching the mountains.  Then they find out the water has been poisoned- they have a traitor in their midst…

– The prince has captured their ace swordsman, and is trying to break his will and convince him to join.  How long will he hold out?  Will he play the role of double agent, and can he maintain it convincingly?  How will he convince his friends when he gets back out?

– A few of the outlaws are in charge of the children of the village – they all hide out in a temple during a wedding with soldiers just a day behind them.  How will they explain themselves, how will they feed the kids, how will they keep their cover?

– A few days before a giant festival, a horrible storm has driven everyone inside.  A few rebels are laying low in an inn, while soldiers are searching for troublemakers.  At the same time, a spy for the enemy, a sword for hire who is seeking bounty and reputation, and a unknown loyalist all are in the same inn.  Everyone knows the others are skilled warriors, but who do they serve, and who is allied with whom?

Of course, all of these situations are even more loaded with the various characters falling in love, becoming jealous, having self esteem issues, getting separated, getting reunited, imagining betrayal, actually betraying, etc.  There’s also generally a lot of action (though, the fight scenes are pretty tame with handwavey-wuxia smoke and lights swordfighting).

I should probably dig out some Jin Hong books too and mine those for ideas as well…

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