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Once you have created a full hexagram, look it up in the book. There will be two entries for each hexagram: Theme and Legend. Ignore the Legend when casting your character’s hexagram– the Theme suggests the issues going on in your character’s life, and the lessons it is endeavoring to learn.
Finally, as a group, you cast one final hexagram. This is the hexagram which rules the adventure; the passage that correlates will determine the overall themes the adventure should address. Using these, brainstorm and decide what the issue is that you’re setting off on an adventure in regards to: perhaps the children of your village are ill with a mysterious illness, or holy men are being systematically killed in supernatural ways, or the moon is slowly turning red.
But there’s more to your adventure hexagram than simply themes. In any good story, there is a Key and a Foil; the Key is the thing which solves the adventure, and the Foil is the thing which thwarts the solution. Every line of the adventure hexagram holds clues to the identities of both the Key and the Foil.
As an example, let’s say your adventure hexagram is #50, The Cauldron:
The Theme of the adventure would be as follows. (This is also what the meaning of your character hexagram would look like.)
You will have great success, which shall lead to envy from those around you; you will be confronted with problems which are beyond your ability. Your loftiest ideas will be impractical, and you seek responsibility you are not ready for. When you seek truth and responsibility with sincerity and admit what you do not know, wisdom will be yours for the taking. Others will help you, but only when you are receptive to them.
The Legend of the story– the clues to finding the Key and thwarting the Foil– would be as follows:
Iron legs hold the vessel above the fire.
When the vessel is full, the wife becomes ill.
There is a broken vessel in the rain:
When the legs are broken, the vessel spills.
One vessel hangs on a gold pole
One vessel hangs on a jade pole.
It is up to the GM to provide more information about the Legend during the game itself, but that is the all the information the characters begin with.
☵ Kan: Water
Kan is a dangerous person. It is cold and hungry. Kan’s trappings are mostly yin. Its yin trappings are:
- Kan chooses jobs which require it to only work at night.
- Kan sets traps for its enemies without regard to who might trigger them.
- Kan fears something it will not name.
- Kan is pale, but never sickly.
- Kan moves quickly, and with grace.
Its yang trappings are:
- Kan eats its meat raw.
- Kan lashes out when wounded.
☶ Gen: Mountain
Gen is a calm, dependable person. It is slow to action, and stubborn-minded. Kun’s trappings are mostly yin. Its yin trappings are:
- Gen is a master of meditation.
- Gen guards something precious.
- Gen is who people will turn to for comfort.
- Gen has older siblings, but none younger.
- Gen is welcoming, even to strangers.
Its yang trappings are:
- Gen crushes the things it loves.
- Gen’s physical strength is legend.
☳ Zhen: Thunder
Zhen is a enthusiastic, driven person. It seeks change. Its trappings are mostly yin. Its yin trappings are:
- Zhen awakens before the rest of the house.
- Zhen asks innocent questions that penetrate the heart.
- Zhen keeps a garden with plants both medicinal and lovely.
- Zhen has a bow and arrows.
- Zhen’s ideas and visions change the people who seek it out.
Its yang trappings are:
- Zhen will fight to change what it sees as unjust.
- Zhen browbeats loved ones into aiding its goals.
☴ Xun: Wind
Xun is gentle and strong. It is deferential, but always extracts a price for its obedience. Its trappings are mostly yang. Its yang trappings are:
- Xun can improvise the necessary tools when the tools are unavailable.
- Xun is restless if everything else is calm.
- Xun is a spear fisherman.
- Xun inspires artists to create.
- Xun’s gaze is intense and disconcerting.
Its yin trappings are:
- Xun smiles in secret.
- Xun is at home in the forest.
Thousand-Leaved Grass (working title) is a game about the mythology of an imaginary China, where archetypal and amazing mortals interact with and challenge gods, magicians, and other larger-than-life stuff of legend– and, through nothing more than their extraordinary-but-mortal courage, wit, and strength, become the stuff of legend themselves.
Shreyas and I are going to alternate posting about stuff, but to get the ball rolling, I’m going to post what I remember of what we have so far. It’s a bit of a cop-out for an initial post, since everything here is a total jumble of collaboration; don’t look at this as a post of what I’m bringing to the table, so much as me picking through the scant leftovers and trying to piece together what Shreyas and I completely, savagely ripped through earlier today.
The sacred geometry of chance
Character creation is based on the Yì Jīng. There are eight character archetypes, called Bagua, which correspond with the eight trigrams; these will have certain trappings or descriptors (maybe Shreyas will list them in his post; that would be awesome); choose three of the trappings, around which you then build a character.
Once you’ve got a basic concept, look at the three trappings you’ve chosen. Think about what’s going on internally within your character; if any of these specific trappings are conflicted (ie, a trapping is “always in a state of creation,” and you want your character to have serious creative blockage), turn that whole line into a broken one.
Once you’ve done that for all three, think about how your character looks and presents itself to the rest of the world. Decide what the world sees– keeping in mind that some things which are whole might appear broken to people which do not understand things!– and make the lower trigram.
Once you’ve created your hexagram, look it up in the book (which will have massaged/reinterpreted passages of mystery based on public-domain translations of the Yì Jīng). The definition of your hexagram is the challenge you are facing, or the lesson you must learn. Character growth happens by mending and breaking lines in the trigram.
I’m sure there’s more that I’ve forgotten, but it’s almost 3 AM. Scooter will have to fill you in with his next post.