Dem Tiger Flügel geben - 如虎添翼 rú hǔ tiān yì
The following Fortes are examples of fitting Wuxia Fortes. Their penumbra can, of course, be modified according to your needs.
“Swashbucklers of the 7 Skies” fortes also usable in an Wuxia setting are: Acrobatic, Alchemy, Gear: [X], Minions, Organization: [X], Profession: [X], Reputation, Rogue, Sanctum: [X], Secret, Sidekick, Spy, Vehicle: [X], Wealthy, and of course, the core fortes of Motivation and Past.
“Wushu” simply means “The Art of Fighting”. But in this game, it is so much more. In the hands of a real Wuxia-hero, anything changes into a weapon, be it swords, bows, fans, or chicken legs. Often, their hands are the most deadly weapon of all.
But Wushu goes beyond a universal combat training. Anybody trained in Wushu can jump walls in a single leap and fight while balancing on the smallest of spaces. They can intuitively judge an enemy’s combat strength, make their own “Inner Strength” known to intimidate or awe others (both are Flashy Challenges using the Wushu forte) and use the same “Inner Strength” to lessen the effects of deadly poisons and sickness (simply meaning that the Wushu forte’s bonus can be applied to Challenge rolls against poison or sickness).
How strong these quasi-mystic abilities are, should be discussed in advance: While some Wuxia heroes can easily float off one storey buildings, others slide down sheer cliffs without breaking a sweat.
Normally, every Wuxia PC should possess the Wushu forte. It is the difference between a common soldier and a wandering Xiake, between a pickpocket and a Flying Thief. Without it, they’ll be only half as awesome in a fight – and come on, why play Wuxia if you don’t want some Wire Fu?
Wushu is normally not encompassed in other fortes. Exceptions are the Xiake-forte, membership in certain Buddhist or Daoist sects, where everybody is taught Wushu, in combat schools or clans, or students of a specific master (e.g. “Monk of the Monastery on Small-Forrest Mountain”, “Member of the School of the Myriad Swords”, “Student of Mistress Tiandao”).
A “Chinese knight-errant”, the Xiake is a member of the Jianghu, a wandering fighter, setting wrongs right. Apart from Wushu (without Wushu no Xiake), Xiakes know how to survive in the wilderness and are familiar with the world of the Jianghu. Xiakes have a strong sense of morality and often a reputation to uphold. Both are fitting foibles.
A professional performer can act, is proficient in face-painting, music, dance, singing and acrobatics. Most plays contain several of those elements. Some performers can change clothes and “change their face” to masquerade themselves in an astonishingly short time.
Actors or performers are generally considered to have rather loose morals. Even worse, some people read “perfomer” as a synonym for “prostitute” and treat them accordingly. From Empress Wu’s reign onward, only male actors are allowed on stage, while most singers and dancers are female. This also led to a rise of female impersonators.
Acupuncture, herbal medicine, the properties of food, diagnosing and treating illness or injury, knowledge of poisons and a profound knowledge of the human body, also usable to cause damage, are all part of the Medicine forte.
A character trained in medicine can use a Style Die to grant another character the benefit of the Second Wind.
Waving a sword is well and good, but in the eyes of the Confucian society, knowledge is much more important. The power of the country lies in the hand of the officials, and you become an official by passing the imperial exams, which in turn is only possibly through a solid education. Scholars are versed in all kinds of knowledge: the Confucian classics, ritual and etiquette, history, mathematics, geography and nature. They can compose essays in fine calligraphy, write poems, discuss ethics and play musical instruments.
Many scholars, as the famous poet Li Bai, were also fighters, but that aspect is not a part of the Scholar forte.
A high-ranking soldier might not necessarily possess the additional powers granted by the Wushu forte, but he has the advantages of having studied Sun Zi and Sun Bin (the most famous strategists of former times), social prestige and connections to the military or even the court.
Concerning heroic officers (including all PCs, but also famous NPCs), the Forte also includes the Wushu Forte.
Some officials gain their post through the imperial examinations, while some might be appointed by the emperor himself or, in less ethical times, buy their office. Meaning, some officials are great scholars, others are greatly corrupt. In general, officials know how to run a yamen or be a judge, about the practical sides of laws and ethics, have social prestige and connections to other officials. Depending on their post, an official can also have detective- or police skills, like the famous judge Di.
Feel free to rename this forte to fit the official’s post, e.g. “Judge”,
A Buddhist monk is studied in sutras, meditation and the knowledge of buddhas, arhats and bodhisattvas. In a fantastic setting, they might also be able to influence and exorcise demons and ghosts. Depending on your setting, all monks might know some martial arts.
Buddhist monks are subject to a strict code of conduct: They are not allowed to eat meat, drink alcohol, have sexual intercourse or possess wealth. Wuxia monks, on the other hand, tend to be a bit less strict, especially when it comes to drinking.
Besides the obvious knowledge of daoist rituals, gods and philosophy, a daoist priest also has a solid understanding of the supernatural and how to deal with it, like writing charms against ghosts and monsters and exorcising them.
Daoists might possess some abilities in alchemy as well, soothsaying or even sexual practices to strengthen the Qi (works the same as the medicine forte, but you have to, well, you know).
Note that there is a difference between daoist philosophy and daoist religion: While daoist philosophy deals with concepts like the “Way”, the dao, or how to act through not-acting, daoist folk-religion focuses on spirits, soothsaying and attaining immortality.
Ah, what would a scholar and beauty story be without the beauty? A high-ranking courtesan in the Tang dynasty could choose her customers freely, who brought her precious gifts and fought for her favour. The downside was that a courtesan still wasn’t free. She had to buy her way to freedom – or just flee and become part of the Jianghu.
Seduction, beautification, singing, dancing, music and etiquette are all part of the courtesan forte, as might be political power through influential friends.
Courtesans can be both male and female.
Many Wuxia heroes feature special weapons like the “Green Dragon Axe” or “Golden Serpent Sword”. Of course, these Fortes can be combined with the Wushu forte in a fight. Like temporary fortes, Named Weapons can be stolen or squandered, and when disarmed, the forte can not be used actively, but can still absorb damage.
No, it’s not nice being called a barbarian. Whoever the character is, he is not a Han Chinese. He is what is nowadays called a “national minority” and has the disadvantage of being considered somewhat uncivilized by the Han. Of course it’s not fair to depict a whole kind of people having the same abilities, but that is how Non-Han are (mostly) used in Wuxia fiction. If you feel uncomfortable with that assumption, just split the Forte into less offensive Fortes.
Depending on the minority, this Forte will encompass different skills. A Mongol might be a great rider and archer and a Miao might know shamanistic rites and poisons.
Even though these minorities are, depending on the era, not necessarily part of the Chinese state, they are still considered to be Chinese and thus not total foreigners.