The Good [ edit ]
The setting of Feng Shui, which happens to also be the world of the Shadow Fist trading card game, is by far this game's biggest strength. As an "Innerwalker" players from a wide variety of backgrounds travel to four specific points in time: 7th century AD, 1850, modern times, and 2074. This allows GMs to have adventures in any of four different common movie settings ... or to have adventures which cross over between them. Furthermore it also allows characters from a wide varietyof backgrounds (fourty-five total), everything from a modern "everyman hero" to a sorcerrer, spy, masked avenger, or Shaolin master.
The games rules are deliberately light on "crunch", and this is especially true in the latest edition of the game, where there are virtually no character creation decisions besides which archetype (ie. class) you pick.
To achieve things in Feng Shui players roll a "postive" die and a "negative" die, and add the results along with any additional dice they get based on their attributes and skills. Positive 6's and negative 1's "explode" (ie. are re-rolled and added to the total), which as you can probably imagine leads to frequent extreme results (L5R also uses "exploding" dice ... but since it uses d10s such explosions happen more rarely).
In short, Feng Shui offers over-the-top cinematic craziness in four different Asian (or not) settings, with a heavy John Wu vibe.
The Bad [ edit ]
Feng Shui is all about it's setting; it's rules are ... well let's just say most would agree they're not the greatest RPG rules ever. One common critique is that, despite having a somewhat simple core system, a large variety of rules details are spread out throughout the book, and not in a consistent and organized way. In short, Feng Shui isn't an RPG you pick for it's great rules, and RPG whose rules you deal with to get your John Wu action fix.
Another major issue is that most fans consider the game's second edition a step backwards, as can be seen by it's much lower (274 vs. 90) ranking on RPG Geek. This means newcomers must pick between the more popular out-of-date first edition, and the still available less popular second.
But even that second editin is no longer strongly supported, with no new products since 2018 (and even that was only a small online PDF of extra archetypes).
Recommendation [ edit ]
This RPG is not for everyone, but some will love it. If you want a modern RPG or an RPG with modern game design quality, this is not the game for you. If you want detailed character creation, clean/clear rules, or even just die rolls that don't frequently result in unexpected extreme highs and lows, this isn't the RPG for you.
But if you were just watching a quality piece of Hong Kong cinema, and thought "man, I'd love to run a campaign with this feel, with monks and sorcerrers and dudes from the future traveling through time to all sorts of fun settings, in a wacky world loved by many" ... then this might just be the RPG for you.
Whether it is or not comes down to whether you would instead prefer the rules of a more modern generic RPG, like GURPS or Savage Worlds, which could also be used to run a similar time period-spanning campaign. But then again, even if you do decide you'd prefer one of those systems, you still might want to pick up Feng Shui, possibly to use it's setting, and even if not simply for Hong Kong ciniema-styled inspiration.
Edition Recommendation [ edit ]
For the most part, the RPG Geek rankings speak for themselves: the first edition was far more popular than the second, as most fans felt it lost some of the magic. You can still get that edition as a PDF on DriveThruRPG, or you can find used hard copies on sites like Noble Knight and EBay.
However, if you'd prefer to have the latest edition (and one that's still published ... although again with no new products in over a year), then obviously you should pick the second edition. Also, while many find the simplicity of character creation in the second edition a defect, GMs with a group that's completely new to role-playing might find it to instead be a benefit.
Both editions have a decent, but certainly not huge, set of related products.
Feng Shui, 1st Edition [ edit ]
Feng Shui's first edition is the more popular, but unfortunately discontinued edition.