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THE CELESTIAL EMPIRE - Roleplaying in Imperial China


Trifletraxor

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the-celestial-empire.jpgThe Celestial Empire is an old phrase used in Classical Chinese to describe the Chinese Empire. In the original Chinese writing, the phrase literally reads ‘Heavenly dynasty’ – ‘Large country’, which renders both the size of the country and the fact that the emperor was considered as having directly been mandated by Heaven.

This book is thus a historically accurate roleplaying game about Imperial China. Yet history-based does not mean boring: depending on the game master’s inspiration, ‘The Celestial Empire’ may capture the exotic bewilderment of The Journey to the West, the virile excitement of The Water Margin, the investigative astuteness of Judge Dee, or the kinetic fantasy from Hong Kong fiction!

By Gianni Vacca. 160 pages. Published by Alephtar Games January 2011.

Edited by Trifletraxor

Ef plest master, this mighty fine grub!
b1.gif 116/420. High Priest.

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Included with the setting is also a fully-fledged introductory adventure and several adventure seeds.

Er, actually, no. But if Paolo authorises it, we could make available on Alephtar Games' web-site the bits that have been left out of the published version of the game. Or in a forthcoming issue of Uncounted Worlds.

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Er, actually, no. But if Paolo authorises it, we could make available on Alephtar Games' web-site the bits that have been left out of the published version of the game. Or in a forthcoming issue of Uncounted Worlds.

Okay, edited the description. (Maybe you should tell Chaosium and Cubicle 7 too if you haven't allready.) Some free leftovers would be great! :)

Ef plest master, this mighty fine grub!
b1.gif 116/420. High Priest.

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  • 1 month later...

An excellent supplement, congratulations. ;t)

I downloaded it to see whether I can find some informations and ideas for my

Bhotanta setting, a fictional version of Bhutan, and was very pleasantly surpri-

sed to find almost truckloads of most useful stuff.

There are a few typos, but only one jumped out at me, the Tibetan "Plateu" on

Map 2 on page 28.

I gave The Celestial Empire its well deserved 5 stars on DTRPG and wrote a ve-

ry short recommendation, hoping that this will help to spread the word. ;)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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I downloaded it to see whether I can find some informations and ideas for my

Bhotanta setting, a fictional version of Bhutan, and was very pleasantly surpri-

sed to find almost truckloads of most useful stuff.

Yes, there is heavy emphasis on Tantric Buddhism, because of its association with magic.

I gave The Celestial Empire its well deserved 5 stars on DTRPG and wrote a ve-

ry short recommendation, hoping that this will help to spread the word. ;)

Thank you, thank you...

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks interesting information+1)

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Gianni, I finally ordered my copy, and am looking forward to receiving it!

Good! Do not hesitate to bug me with questions :)

Also do not forget to regularly check my blog (in my sig) -- I update it daily.

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Good post, thanks you!)

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I've seen the Judge Dee novels mentioned various times, can anybody recommend which ones to start with ?

I would say the ones with a full story are superior to the ones with several short stories but except for this caveat, they are frankly all very very good. So you may safely pick any one of them.

I would also recommend you read them in the chronological order rather than in the order in which they were written. Meaning you should start with The Chinese Gold Murders

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I like the historic/cultural info.

what i'd like to see (if it's not already a blog post) is a couple-paragraph summary of the differences between gaming during the dynastic periods, and earlier when their were noble-types and things were more "wild."

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what i'd like to see (if it's not already a blog post) is a couple-paragraph summary of the differences between gaming during the dynastic periods, and earlier when their were noble-types and things were more "wild."

Yes, this is an idea for a post I've had for quite some time. Actually, within civilised areas, Táng dynasty times were probably less "wild" than under later dynasties, especially when the central government couldn't guarantee peace over the whole empire [which is what the Mandate of Heaven was all about]. For instance travelling even on the main roads of the Empire under the Sòng was tantamount to exposing oneself to being robbed -- hence most travel was by the many waterways. Under the Qīng it was so much worse and banditry was so widespread that the biāojú escort agencies came into being (see p41 of The Celestial Empire).

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Yes, this is an idea for a post I've had for quite some time. Actually, within civilised areas, Táng dynasty times were probably less "wild" than under later dynasties, especially when the central government couldn't guarantee peace over the whole empire [which is what the Mandate of Heaven was all about]. For instance travelling even on the main roads of the Empire under the Sòng was tantamount to exposing oneself to being robbed -- hence most travel was by the many waterways. Under the Qīng it was so much worse and banditry was so widespread that the biāojú escort agencies came into being (see p41 of The Celestial Empire).

It is interesting to compare maps of the area controlled by the court during the various dynasties. Qin and Han were relatively compact states, and the Tang started to expand out fairly widely into the west. If I recall correctly, the areas that are now part of Vietnam were constantly rebelling against the Tang and being retaken.

The Qing state was extremely large and hard to control. Modern China has problems controlling the non-Han regions that the Qing brought into the Empire, so one can easily imagine how difficult it was for the Qing. It's one thing to militarily defeat someone, and quite a different thing to pacify him. And the Qing had the same problem as the Yuan: there was a fundamental resentment among Han people at being ruled by foreigners, especially uncivilized foreigners.

My avatar is the personal glyph of Siyaj K'ak' a.k.a. "Smoking Frog."

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I would say the ones with a full story are superior to the ones with several short stories but except for this caveat, they are frankly all very very good. So you may safely pick any one of them.

I would also recommend you read them in the chronological order rather than in the order in which they were written. Meaning you should start with The Chinese Gold Murders

I would also recommend all of the Judge Dee stories. They would be very helpful in getting a feel for a Tang setting.

Interestingly, thanks to Robert van Gulik, in the west, Judge Dee (the historical Di Renjie) is the well-known Chinese "detective," but among the Chinese, Bao Zheng (999-1062) is much more famous. Unfortunately there don't seem to be any English versions of Bao Zheng's exploits.

My avatar is the personal glyph of Siyaj K'ak' a.k.a. "Smoking Frog."

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among the Chinese, Bao Zheng (999-1062) is much more famous.

Definitely, yes.

Unfortunately there don't seem to be any English versions of Bao Zheng's exploits.

If you read French, you may want to check the following:

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Unfortunately, French is one of the many languages I am terrible at. My wife is fluent in Chinese, but I can't manage to get her to translate things for me.

My avatar is the personal glyph of Siyaj K'ak' a.k.a. "Smoking Frog."

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  • 6 months later...

Hey all, there are three of us on the RPGnet forums that are interested in playing a martial arts game using Basic Roleplaying, possibly with the Celestial Empire and / or Dragon Lines supplements. Some pretty interesting discussion at this thread (including wuxia in spa-a-ace!):

http://forum.rpg.net/showthread.php?608305-Interest-BRP-based-Oriental-Martial-Arts-Game

If you might be interested in playing, and especially if you'd consider GMing, please check it out! Thanks!

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