what is Xianxia
Xianxia is about cultivation…among other things. The primary focus for this exalted game will be the cultivation aspect of Xianxia, though I am open to bringing others into it if you wish.
Cultivation is described on wiktionary as :
The art or act of cultivating; improvement of land for or by agriculture;
Devotion of time or attention to the improvement of (something);
Advancement or refinement in physical, intellectual, or moral condition.
How will this be implemented into the setting
There will be a few ways, the primary one being as “limiters” of growth. The secondary one being the effects this has on the setting as a whole.
Limiters of Growth
The average person with no outside supernatural help can achieve up to rank 3 in any skill or attribute. This still is quite impressive for many mortals and represents the peak ability of what people can do. However there are a great many ways to enhance…or cultivate…the essence/spirit of a person in order to be able to surpass where the body and soul are currently limited. Almost all of these ways are supernatural, semimagical in some aspect, though they might not seem to be. It is important to understand that for the setting change even things such as meditation or training under a master are represented not simply as coming to a better understanding of a skill or practicing to be better, but as a fundamental change in the characters essence. Being able to achieve strength of 4 is not simply because the person worked out, even if visually it seems like they simply spent a year training, it actually represents them coming to a fuller understanding of the nature of their body and perhaps even the nature of what “strength” is. In this sense it is not a wholly natural progression, but semimagical.
Of note however is that there are also many ways that are blatantly supernatural, such as being infused by spirits, going into magical zones to absorb ambient energy, and learning secret techniques to increase ones awareness, mind, or toughness. Often these ways are extremely rare, extremely costly and/or extremely dangerous. Ones essence must be ready for the advancement, as taking in a potion that will let your intelligence increase beyond where it is…if your essence is not ready will be a deadly poison, or the spirit who makes a pact with you to give you the lost secrets of walking in the shadows will take you away to malfease.
Essence-Unique & dangerous
Skill 4-common costly
Skill 5-very rare costly
Skill 6-unique exorbitant
Att 4-rare costly
Att 5-very rare, exorbitant
Att 6-unique exorbitant
Meditation, time, pills, potions, ingredients, teacher, mentor, spirit, scroll, secret knowledge, experience, repetition, unique experience, past friends, memories, objects, possession, spiritual deals/trades
Though it may seem like some of these techniques are easier or cheaper then others it should be understood that “costly” and “unique” can be applied to teacher, ingredients, experience or even memories. What they cost and how they are unique might be different, but the requirement remains the same. This is also not simply a singular way of increasing. While you may have a mentor that can train you from strength 3 to 4 to 5, it is very unlikely that that same mentor will be able to train your dexterity or your occult, he might not even be able or willing to train you sequentially in the same attribute or ability due to his own ability, cost or time restraints.
Effects on the Setting
- Emphasis on caste and class systems, making the poor who are unable to afford means of increasing their abilities stuck in their lifestyle. Mixed with the already common problems for those who are downcast, this makes it even more so. The rich get more powerful not only because they have wealth, but also because they have the ability to mold and take care of their health and essence.
- People with seemingly “mundane” types of jobs can become extremely well protected and respected if they can raise above 3 in their Abilities. While farmers and couriers who have skills of 3 are a dime a dozen, those who are in the 4s and 5s possess the ability to do things that are literally beyond the scope of most people. Tieing this into that many of the people who possess the resources to raise Attributes and Abilities beyond 3 tend to focus on more popular and large scale things such as combat, bureaucracy and social climbing, the power of a “Master” of even a mundane art can be quite compelling to people in power.
- Emphasizes the oppression of those in power and hording of resources, both physical and mental. Slightly different then the first point, this is more about how much more unrest builds in the masses, due to their being held back by those in power. Tied into their increased sense of powerlessness, it builds a even stronger sense of brooding fear, resentment and hopelessness.
- Normalizing of the supernatural comes in the fact that since people who are higher up tend to be relying on supernatural means to get there, they are more in tune with and used to the supernatural around them, including in other creatures. While this doesn’t mean that the average street vendor can defend himself from the undead hordes it does mean that when on the road a street vendor from a high cultivation town will be a big surprise to the bandits who are used to preying on a tiny poor village.
- Tiered systems and levels of access will be almost universal. Since people with power tend to congregate together, away from the masses, you end up having the weaker pushed away from the stronger, in increasing levels. This means towns with different districts will often be heavily walled off (figuratively) from other sections due to cultivation level difference. What use does a merchant who deals with otherworldly goods or a guard who protects spirits and exalts have with people who can’t even make the food he is used to, or build as quickly as him, or deal with a fight like he can. (This is perhaps the thing that I most need practice on to be able to get it to work, so please bear with me in actually implementing this in a way that makes sense)
- People have levels, and they are tied heavily into social society. A cultivation level 5 merchant would not have a meal at a cultivation level 1 inn. To do so would be tantamount to a noble going into that inn, or a dragonblooded seeking to spend the night in the slums.
- There is a nonsensical aspect that is prevalent with the people in a Xianxia setting general, where they will often not do what is best because it is not “how things work” or “honorable”. It might be most beneficial for the town if the Best guard taught everyone his ability so that they would increase faster…but there is a sense of personal growth and development, and simply being “pragmatic” about cultivation seems foreign to most people.
- There are clans, sects, guilds and schools for EVERYTHING. Getting anything done outside of these is extremely difficult, costly and sometimes impossible.
- There is a universal sense of desire to cultivate and grow in power. Remember this is not HIDDEN knowledge, though it is beyond the grasps of many people, and limited in grasp for most. That doesn’t stop people from trying to grow and be the best there is.
- When dealing with others of a lower essence add 1 automatic success to all actions taken against that target per essence point they are bellow you. For every 2 essence lower, also raise all static values by 1 (this does not stack with the automatic successes)