Xia: Game Systems

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Xia: Main Page -> Xia: Game Systems

This page describes the game systems for playing the game.

Conflict Resolution[edit]

The core of the Xia game is Conflict. Our hero warriors battle the world around them, perhaps because they seek to change it, or perhaps because they need to defend themselves against it!
There are three sorts of conflicts in the game:

  • Physical conflicts are usually violent encounters, where the goal is to beat the enemy into submission, or to murder them!
  • Social conflicts are battles of words where conflicting agendas come crashing against each other, and the most charismatic man wins!
  • Mental conflicts involve the matching of wits and the clashing of intellects. This isn't just games of chess and scholarly one upmanship either - two generals directing opposing armies are engaging in mental conflict, as are two sorcerers seeking to undo each others magic.

The type of conflict sets which Trait is at the core of the conflict. For example, a physical conflict uses the physical trait.

Note that it is perfectly possible for multiple conflict types to take place at once. For example, if you are trying to command an army in battle, that's a mental conflict, but if you're fighting on the front line at the same time, that's a physical conflict too!


Acting first and fastest is very important in conflicts!

  • Your Initiative Rating = Active Trait + Thunder Trigram.

For example, if the Xia warrior Moon Shadow has a Physical Trait of 3, and a Thunder Trigram of 4, then in physical conflicts her initiative rating is 7!

The highest Initiative Rating always goes first in a round, and can take a single action. You then move down the Initiative Order, with each character acting in turn.

In the case of equal Initiative Ratings, player characters act before non player characters. The players get to decide who acts first amongst player characters of equal initiative to each other. The GM gets to decide who acts first amongst non-player characters of equal initiative to each other.

If the players can't agree amongst themselves (as might happen in PVP combats), then the oldest player goes first! It is only polite to respect your elders!

If there are multiple conflict types ongoing, then Physical Initiative always trumps Mental Initiative, which in turn always trumps Social Initiative.


The Xia game doesn't worry too much about exact tracking of movement, generally.

On your turn, before you attack, you can move a distance that could reasonably be covered in 2 seconds. For most characters, this is running and leaping acrobatically. Generally you can move sufficient distance to engage anyone in the combat. If the GM needs a rough guide to how mobile you are, he can add Physical + Wind Trigram together to gain a speed score. Note that having a higher speed score doesn't mean that you can move so far that you can't be attacked - closing the distance to melee is generally considered to be quite easy.

Having said that, its possible (and even likely) that some areas of a battle environment might take time or effort to reach. If the combat is set in a vast tower with a long spiral staircase, for example, the GM might rule that you can't get to the fireball-flinging sorcerer at the top until you get past his minions, or somehow circumvent the stairs. In these circumstances, magics that increase your mobility are your best ally.

After you have made your first attack, you can't move again that turn. This is actually is quite important in and has repercussions elsewhere in the game. For example, any multi-attacks you make on one turn must be at targets within reach of your weapons after you attack the first target. Also, it means that if you move into melee combat against a static opponent, they'll always get a chance to attack you back in melee.

Obviously some kung fu secrets break this rule, though having magical movement isn't enough in itself. You don't get to teleport away after attacking, for example, unless the power you are using specifically says you can.


An attack takes your action. When you attack, you need to know three things:

  • Motion: This is how many D6 (six-sided dice) you roll. By default, this is equal to the attacker's active Trait.
  • Accuracy: This is the number you need to roll equal or under to score a hit. By default, this is equal to the attacker's active Trait.
  • Power: This is how much damage each "hit" does. By default, this is equal to the attacker's active Trait.

So, for example, in a Physical Conflict, Moon Shadow (who you will recall has a Physical Trait of 3) would by default roll 3 six sided dice, score a hit on a 3 or less, and deal 3 physical damage on each hit.

The above, however, assumes that the target is standing there like a fool, refusing to defend himself...


You can defend whenever you are attacked. This does not take an action. When you defend, you get three modifiers:

  • Evasion: This defence is deducted from the attacker's Motion. By default, Evasion is equal to the defender's active Trait. Evasion cannot reduce Motion to less than 1.
  • Interference: This defence is deducted from the attacker's Accuracy. By default, Interference is equal to the defender's active Trait. Interference cannot reduce Accuracy to less than 1.
  • Absorption: This defence is deducted from your attacker's Power. By default, your Absorption is equal to the defender's active Trait. Absorption cannot reduce Power to less than 1.

So, for example, in a Physical Conflict, let us assume that Moon Shadow is attacking an ordinary guardsman, who has Physical 1. This gives the hapless guardsman Evasion 1, Interference 1 and Absorption 1.

Now, Moon Shadow only gets to roll 2 dice, score a hit on a 2 or less, and deals 2 physical damage on each hit.

As a second example, in a Physical Conflict, let us instead assume that Moon Shadow is attacking a powerful demon, who has Physical 5, and from this: Evasion 5, Interference 5 and Absorption 5.

Even though the demon has mighty defences, Evasion, Interference and Absorption can't reduce Motion, Accuracy and Power to less than 1. Moon Shadow still gets to roll 1 dice, score a hit on a 1 or less, and deals 1 physical damage on each hit.

Note that as always, Kung Fu Secrets can break these rules, with many defensive secrets specifically stating that they can reduce an attack number to zero.


Damage is applied to the relevant resilience type. For example, physical damage is applied to the targets physical resilience.
If a target's health is reduced to zero, he is defeated.

  • With a physical resilience of zero a Xia hero is incapacitated. He is so beaten and bloodied that he can't even crawl about anymore, and is helpless to act in any way. Though not necessarily dead, he is open to a coup de grace from anyone who might choose to finish him off.
  • With a social resilience of zero a Xia hero is discredited. His arguments are defeated, his position is untenable and his opponents are proven right. He will roll over to intimidation, surrender to seduction and be convinced by persuasion.
  • With a mental resilience of zero a Xia hero is shattered. He has no will to oppose any more, and will abandon whatever task he set out to do. His plans fall to pieces - if he is playing a game it is lost, if he is commanding an army there is a rout, and if matching arcane power then his spells collapse and fade.

NPCs have different effects on defeat - normally more severe. For example, an ordinary soldier who is reduced to zero physical resilience will be killed outright, while a poor human peasant who loses his social resilience will be cowering, whimpering and subservient. On the other hand, powerful NPCs (especially major villains) might suffer smaller setbacks at the GM's discretion. A physical defeat for the main kung fu demonic nemesis of the story might only be enough to drive him off, for example.

Implicit to this system is the idea that no character suffers permanent defeats without their player's consent. A player's Xia hero may be beaten in combat, but he will not die - or be maimed or disabled - unless the player says that it is ok for that to happen.

Using Chi in Conflicts[edit]

As the astute of you will already have noticed, the above conflict rules will often boil down to each combatant making single dice attacks, hitting on a 1, and only dealing a single point of damage! Combats of this sort would likely be little more than drawn out battles of attrition... not very Kung Fu!

Conflicts aren't like that though, and the reason is Chi.

Chi is used to power Effects.

There are two types of Effects: Channelling Trigrams and Kung Fu secrets. Everyone who has a Trigram score can channel trigrams and can access the effects below, but kung fu secrets are limited to those who have learnt them!

Regardless of an effect's type, the following three rules apply:

  • Each effect can only be activated once per action. Note that there is no limit to the number of times an effect can be played in a turn.
  • An effect only lasts for the duration of that action. Hence, if you somehow take multiple actions during a single turn, each action must be affected separately at new cost.
  • An effect can only be activated if you have enough chi of the appropriate type to pay for it.

With regard to timing:

  • Action effects are declared when you declare your action. Obviously, you can only declare one action effect per action.
  • Attack effects are then declared.
  • Reaction and Defence effects are then declared.
  • The dice are then rolled, and the results resolved.

Some powers break this timing, but they are specifically noted to do so either in their descriptions or through their keywords.

Keywords are special descriptors that tell you about how various effects are used in game. Refer to the Glossary of Keywords for more on these.

Channelling Trigrams in Attack[edit]

There are four Trigrams you can channel in attack: Heaven, Wind, Fire and Thunder. You can channel each of the four Trigrams only once on each attack, though you can activate multiple different Trigrams on the same attack.

For example, you could choose to activate Heaven and Wind on the same attack, but you couldn't choose to activate Heaven twice on the same attack.

  • Channelling Wind - aka "Chi Motion"'

When you channel Wind, spend 1 Yang Chi and add your Wind Trigram to the Motion of that attack.
Keywords: Attack;

  • Channelling Heaven aka "Chi Accuracy"'

When you channel Heaven, spend 1 Yang Chi and add your Heaven Trigram to the Accuracy of that attack.
Keywords: Attack;

  • Channelling Fire aka "Chi Power"'

When you channel Fire, spend 1 Yang Chi and add your Fire Trigram to the Power of that attack.
Keywords: Attack;

  • Channelling Thunder aka "Chi Celerity"'

When you channel Thunder, spend 1 Yang Chi. If your attack Defeats your target (i.e. reduces him to 0 Resilience) then you can immediately make another attack against a new target. Any chi effects or powers applying to the previous attack do not apply to this new attack. Regardless of source, the maximum number of attacks you can make in one turn is equal to your Thunder Trigram.
Keywords: Attack; Aftertouch;

Channelling Trigrams in Defence[edit]

There are four Trigrams you can channel in defence: Earth, Mist, Water and Mountain. You can channel each of the four Trigrams only once on each defence, though you can activate multiple different Trigrams on the same defence.

For example, you could choose to activate Earth and Wind on the same defence, but you couldn't choose to activate Earth twice on the same defence.

  • Channelling Mist - aka "Chi Evasion"'

When you channel Mist, spend 1 Yin Chi and add your Mist Trigram to your Evasion for this attack.
Keywords: Defence;

  • Channelling Earth aka "Chi Interference"'

When you channel Earth, spend 1 Yin Chi and add your Earth Trigram to your Interference for this attack.
Keywords: Defence;

  • Channelling Water aka "Chi Absorption"'

When you channel Water, spend 1 Yin Chi and add your Water Trigram to your Absorption for this attack.
Keywords: Defence;

  • Channelling Mountain aka "Chi Breaker"'

When you channel Mountain, spend 1 Yin Chi. If the attack fails to do any damage to you, you inflict a "Stop" on the attacker. That attacker cannot make any additional attacks against you this round, though he can still attack other targets.
Keywords: Defence;

Players might perceive "Chi Breaker" as being quite a weak power at the start of the game, but it is one that grows in utility as they and their enemies advance, as there are many sources of extra attacks available to a skilled Xia.

Timing: Note that Defence is always declared after Attack, so the active player must finish declaring all his active effects before the defender declares any defence effects. There are specific exceptions to this rule (notably Chi Celerity above) which are flagged with Keywords.

Regaining Chi[edit]

Catching breath[edit]

Chi is often literally interpreted as "breath". A Xia who has a chance to catch his breath (i.e. when a conflict is done, and when he gets a chance to take a short rest) automatically regains all spent Yang Chi and Yin Chi.

This is primarily a dramatic decision - if the GM feels that tension is better maintained by making players run off the same limited resources, then he simply rules that they haven't had time or space to catch their breath yet.

Style Bonuses[edit]

Xia heroes can also gain Chi back through exceptional style. In game terms, this is to encourage great roleplaying and creative descriptions. In the game world itself, the style bonus could be justified as the attention of the gods, or mobilising inner chi reserves through harmonious action.

If a Xia describes an entertaining stunt, or roleplays his actions well, he gains a +1 Chi Style Bonus when that action resolves.

If the stunt is so amazing that it wows the GM and other players, or just seems too cool to reward with such a small bonus, then increase that Chi Style Bonus to +2.

The type of Chi gained depends on the type of action. Stylish attacks and active tasks gain Yang Chi. Stylish defences and reactions gain Yin Chi.

Bear in mind that by default, most actions do NOT receive a Style Bonus. The Bonus should be a reward for being exceptional, rather than an expected part of the calculations for Chi management. If a player is gaining Style Bonuses more than three or four times in a Conflict, then you're probably being too generous.

Also, the Style Bonus is gained as soon as the GM awards it and not a moment sooner or later. If the GM notes the player's style before he has spent any chi, he gains that bonus chi now! If the GM notes the player's style when the action is done and completed, then the bonus us gained then.

Its worth saying again and again - this is a bonus, not an expected part of the chi flow calculation. GMs are never obliged to dish out this bonus, and can be as strict or as generous as they wish.

Kung Fu Secrets and Chi Flow[edit]

A sizeable number of kung fu secrets deal with regaining or converting Chi. These are detailed on their respective Lore Sheets. Experienced players will soon realise how important these secrets are to effective fighting, especially in longer and more protracted conflicts.

Unopposed Tasks[edit]

So far the game system has dealt just with Conflicts... This is only right and proper, as a Xia's life is defined by conflict, and it is conflict which drives any good drama!

Sometimes though, the Xia is not opposing anyone or anything in particular... he is just trying to do something, like smash down a wall, or paint a picture.

The game system unashamedly goes for a "quick and easy" solution to these tasks.

The GM selects the trait (physical, social or mental) that best applies, and the Trigram that seems most appropriate. He then totals them, and decides from that number whether the task succeeds or not.

How he scales this is up to him! Bear in mind though that an average human will have a score of 1 on most tasks, and an average kung fu hero a score of 4 to 5. He should decide what sort of things he wants his players to be capable of, and determine according to that! As a good rule of thumb, if you're not sure, and if it doesn't hurt the story then allow players to succeed!

GMs and Players who particularly desire a game system for unopposed tasks can check out the optional rules for skill tests, though these are not by default part of the core game rules.


Earning XP[edit]

Each player character gains 1-3 XP per session:

  • 1 XP for turning up. Everyone gets this!
  • 1 XP for style. Basically the GM gives this bonus if the session was awesome fun. Either everyone gets it, or no-one gets it.
  • 1 XP for success. The GM gives this bonus if the Xia succeeded in a major goal during the session, for example attaining the secrets they were seeking or defeating a powerful enemy. Again, either everyone gets it or no-one gets it. If the players have won most of their conflicts this session, be generous and give them this point!

Additionally, the GM can choose to give out bonus XP at the end of story arcs, when exceptionally powerful foes are defeated, etc.

Spending XP[edit]

Players can spend their XP at the start or end of a game session, but not during a session.

  • Buying a new Kung Fu Secret costs 1 XP.
  • Increasing a Trigram costs XP equal to your current level (e.g. increasing from 4 to 5 costs 4 XP).
  • Traits cannot be increased with XP.

Note that learning new Kung Fu secrets requires a rationale. Sample (and universally acceptable) rationales include the following.

  • The Xia is expanding his mastery within a certain style. With this rationale, a Xia can justify buying Kung Fu secrets from any style sheet that he already has at least one secret.
  • The Xia has found a source of lore within the game setting. If, for example, within the story the Xia come across the Ancient Scrolls of Zodiac Wushu then it is justifiable for them to study these scrolls, and spend XP to buy kung fu secrets from that style sheet.
  • The Xia finds a tutor, who can teach him the secret. This can be a classic wuxia story in itself, as the player characters seek out wise old mentors who are rumoured to have mastered a certain style, then petition for instruction. Bear in mind that Xia player characters can also tutor each other - its up to you whether you want to roleplay out such processes in full, or simply state that the Xia has learned by watching his expert comrade.
  • The Xia finds or crafts an advantage. This is especially appropriate for Quality Items and Major Edges. Bear in mind that finding a magical sword doesn't bypass the need to have to spend XP for it. Until the Xia has spent the XP, we just assume that he hasn't gotten round to using it yet!
  • The Xia trains himself, or completes a task that reveals the secret to himself. This is especially appropriate for Inner Masteries. For example, a Scholar could seek to learn the "cultivation of yin chi" secret by allowing herself to fall pregnant.

The above list is not exhaustive, but rather just a set of examples. The key thing to remember is that in a Xia game, the acquisition of kung fu secrets is a large part of the story in itself! Great stories can be told and adventures can be had in the pursuit of new secrets! Don't just let them become mere marks on a character sheet!


This page created by Asklepios.