Feng Shui’s ‘Buy In’ Simplicity

Ran a session of FENG SHUI last week.

It’s one of my favorite tabletop roleplaying games because it encourages combat that’s rich and imaginative instead of roleplay colliding with cold-hard tactical rules.

It also has a simple and effective conceit around “Character Buy In” that more games should use.

Getting a group of disparate characters together to start an adventure or campaign can be such a hassle.
Finding the in-game logic behind how the group forms and stays together while each has their individual back stories and goals can eat up a lot of Game Master time and brain space.

Feng Shui elegantly puts the onus back on players with a character melodramatic hook and buy in:
You tell the GM and player cast why you’re here.
You tell us why you stick around after the adventure.

Bring a bit of your own fuel and we’ll build a roaring fire and keep it going.
It’s so simple and should be the standard for most TTRPGs.

Feng Shui builds this way of thinking right into the rules and character creation. That makes it intrinsic to how the game feels:
Do not passively wait to be entertained.
You have to bring some energy to this interactive thing we’re building together.

This Buy-In quality (along with Feng Shui‘s ultra-competent starting characters) also works well for building a campaign where don’t you know who is going to be able to make it to play each session.

You tell us where you’ve been between appearances and why you’re back now.

Running an ongoing game is tough with current schedules. We’re all dealing with deadlines and other responsibilities. Having a fun mission-based game where the cast can change on a dime and it still works is a really good fit right now.

Whoever can make it for the next game, you’ve been recruited by ‘the Agency’ for a new mission. Your particular skills will directly come into play tonight or, if your concept seems at odds with the goal, we’ll find a fun action movie-corny way to incorporate it anyway.

You can be a ‘main character’ advancing personal plot lines almost every session or a ‘special guest star’ dropping in with flare to spice things up.

We’ve got a seat for you and it’s going to be a good time.

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