To the uninitiated, the story of “Blade and Soul” might look simply like an excuse to beat people up with Kung Fu, but it is actually a tale of loyalty, morality, revenge and redemption. Anyone familiar with eastern literature or movies would recognize it as a Wuxia (“woo-shya”) tale, a modern storytelling genre with roots deep in Chinese culture but a reach that extends to westerns and modern day action movies. Trying to play “Blade and Soul” without understanding Wuxia is a little like trying to play an FPS without understanding military culture; it’s possible, but you are probably missing a lot. So with that in mind, here’s a quick primer on what it means to exist in a Wuxia world.
Jianghu and WulinEdit
Wuxia takes place in the Jianghu (“Jee-AHNG hoo”), which translates literally to “rivers and lakes”. Jianghu is not a specific location, but really a way of describing the state of the world. It is a place of complications and chaos, a place where society is falling apart under the pressures of corruption and war, a place beset by the worst qualities of man and yet a place where the best qualities of man may still prevail. Government authorities are too corrupt to trust, so codes of honor must be adhered to instead of the law.
In the Jianghu exists the Wulin (“woo-lin”), or the society of martial artists. This is no organized group, but a community that anyone who has dedicated themselves to a martial discipline belongs to. The Wulin consists of many factions, sects, and brotherhoods under many masters, and each may be aligned, neutral to, or openly hostile to another.
Neigong, Qinggong, and the Secret ScripturesEdit
The wushu, or martial arts, practiced by the Wulin are as varied as their clans. Skills are passed from master to student as they prove themselves worthy. Schools can specialize in hand to hand, swords, staves and other weaponry, and even more supernatural skills. Neigong (“nay-gong”), or “internal skill”, is the ability to focus qi (“chee”) or energy to heighten speed, strength, and stamina and even grant healing powers. Another mainstay of Wuxia is Qinggong (“ching-gong”), or “lightness skill”, which nearly circumvents gravity, allowing martial artists to propel themselves high into the air, to run up walls, or to even run across water.
The greatest martial arts techniques are usually recorded in an ancient text – a Secret Scripture or Tome – that imbues the owner with superhuman combat abilities. The secrets contained in this Tome are guarded fiercely and can be quite dangerous. They may cause harm to the practitioner if they are used wrongly… and they can be even more dangerous for the world if used correctly.
Both heroes and villains come from the Wulin, and what separates them is Xia (“shee-AH”), a code of honor that borrows heavily from Confucian morality. Xia means both “honorable” and “swordsman”; it requires its followers to be loyal, righteous and to help the poor or oppressed by righting wrongs committed against them. Wuxia heroes must follow their Xia and remain loyal to their clan, their family, and their true love. Often, heroes in these tales are young and inexperienced, and the story unfolds as they mature, master their arts, and grow as people.
External conflict in Wuxia always occurs between a person following the Xia and one who has fallen from it and is hurting the world; but just as important is the internal conflict every character in the Wulin faces when trying to balance their loyalties. Often, the way one goes about addressing conflicting loyalties will be the only thing defining them as hero or villain. When asked to kill his cousin, a member of another school, to settle an old vendetta, a villain may not hesitate to betray his family or lie to his master and say he has done so. A hero will seek the path of righteousness, perhaps reasoning with his master after discovering the vendetta is based on an old and petty slight. And since Wuxia focuses on the development of oneself into a better person, a villain may even learn to seek redemption if they choose the true path.
However, not everyone is redeemable, and a hero must right the wrongs even if it means killing those who committed them. This is ultimately the heart of Wuxia, one person standing against all to make the world a better place, no matter the odds.
The history of the Earthen Realm is a long and varied one. So much has been lost as empires rose and fell through the ages; tyrants sought to shape history to their own design, and entire generations have vanished in the wake of great tragedies. Even what does still remain, gathered in so many scrolls and tomes pieced together from across the continents, tell uncertain stories with much still left to question. Perhaps all we can really do is cover what we have and draw our own conclusions. Those souls entrenched in their own affairs cannot be trusted to give an accurate telling anyway. It takes a neutral party to find the truth tucked amid legend and lies. Let us first speak of those few mighty warriors who helped shape the world as we know it today.
Thousands of years ago, the Naryu Empire stood as the ruling power in the entire world. Drawing upon the mystical natural resource of Soulstones from within the earth itself, the Naryu created technological wonders that vaulted them into prominence on a global scale. But today, all that remains of them are half-forgotten ruins and the buried wreckage of their amazing machines. The Naryu, in their hubris, reached too far and dug too deep. The energy of the Soulstones they mined in such excess distorted the spirit of the continent, and the gap between the Dark Realm and the Earthen Realm was bridged. Dark Chi seeped in from the baleful Dark Realm, poisoning the world and unleashing demons upon the populace. The Naryu Empire fell to these horrors and it seemed as though the very world itself would share that same fate.
But the Divine Realm was not content to sit idle and watch mortals suffer at the hands of invading demons. While the denizens of the Dark Realm sought to open a permanent path between their world and the mortal world for conquest, the Divine Realm gave a call to arms. Of all the beings in the Earthen Realm, four powerful martial artists were chosen to fight against the darkness. Mushin: the Divine Fist and the heir to the Naryu bloodline. Jiwan: the Righteous Blade. Iksanun: the Realmwalker. Hong Sokgyun, the eldest of the Four Guardians and so mighty his power earned him the title Earthbreaker. It is said that the divine spirits granted these Four Guardians a weapon of immeasurable power and unknown origins: the Twilight’s Edge. It is said the weapon would change its form to suit whoever wielded it and could drive back the darkness. Armed with the Twilight’s Edge and empowered by the mystical blessings of the Divine Realm, the Four Guardians met the demons in glorious battle.
It would be pleasant to say everything went well. That the righteous triumphed and the world was saved. But, alas, things are never so simple or clean. The demons attempted to summon their master, the Dark Lord (Hajoon), to the Earthen Realm through a Dark Gate so his might could overwhelm the world. Mushin, in a moment of desperation, made a noble sacrifice as he leaped into the Dark Gate and closed it from within, sealing away himself and the Dark Lord. The remaining Guardians had no time to mourn the loss of their friend as they fought against the remaining demons, finally purging the world of evil for a time. But, in the end, all they could really do was delay the inevitable. The corruption of the vile Dark Chi had infested the world and could only be held at bay for so long.
As the centuries marched along, the Four Guardians passed into history and then legend. The world rebuilt itself and new empires rose where the Naryu had once stood. The Stratus Empire came to prominence in the Southern Continent and spread its influence throughout the Earthen Realm. The Northern, Eastern, and Western Continents were each ruled by one of the Emperor’s sons while the Emperor himself remained upon the throne of the Southern Empire. His youngest son, Prince Wan, was not yet ready to rule and remained by his father’s side, learning the ways of leadership and royalty until his day would come. But that day arrived far too soon as the Emperor met an untimely demise, forcing Prince Wan to take the throne for the sake of the people.
From then on, the Stratus Empire was besieged with tragedy and loss. Young Emperor Wan’s older brothers were jealous of him ruling in their father’s wake and sought to overthrow their own sibling, each believing their self to be a more appropriate candidate to rule. The strife and unrest of the Stratus Empire allowed the toxic influence of Dark Chi to return, seeping into the hearts of man as they turned on one another. While the exact nature of the incident is unknown, some great disaster befell the Eastern Continent as its capital city, the Highland Central, was invaded by demons thirty years ago. Prince Sobu and his sister, Princess Solaan, were both killed in the event as malevolent forces overran the city and threatened to open another Dark Gate. But, as before, the remaining Guardians once again rose to their divine duty. The energy of the Divine Realm sustained them throughout the centuries and, along with the Sacred Beasts of the land, they managed to seal away the dark forces once more. The city was lost, but the world was safe again.
That was not the end of the Stratus’ troubles though. With the Empire in such a weakened and disorganized state, it became unable to control its own army. Defectors rose within the Stratus itself as one of its mightiest generals, Yunma Kahn, broke off from the Stratus Empire and founded his own Talus Dominion in the east. In these modern days, the Talus Dominion of the Eastern Continent has risen rapidly in power to become a true force to be reckoned with. Meanwhile the Stratus Empire of the Southern Continent is a hobbled beast gasping its last defiant breaths. The two kingdoms remain fast enemies even as both are fraught with civil unrest and corruption, fighting each other to the bitter end in an ill-fated hunger for power and control.
The World TodayEdit
The modern world is built upon the bones of fallen warriors and the ashes of ruined lives. Warring factions have risen to bicker over territory and resources while smaller clans exploit the population for their own ends. In these times of discord, martial artists have grown in population and influence; some as the defenders of the weak, standing up for the people. Righteous warriors such as the Eight Masters have banded together, rallying their clans behind them for the sake of the innocent. The Guardians’ absence is keenly felt: Jiwan had been slain years earlier by the wicked Jinsoyun (influenced by the Dark Lord Hajoon) for the Twilight’s Edge she wielded. Hong Sokgyun struck down Jinsoyun before she could claim the mystical blade, while Iksanun was badly wounded in the ensuing battle and retreated from the world at large.
Where this will all lead is unknown. Dark Chi has once more begun to poison the world, the people suffer under the burden of corrupted empires, and the heroes of old are no longer able to come to the rescue. Perhaps the world truly is coming to an end. Or, perhaps, new heroes will rise up to stand defiant against these threats.
The Earthen Realm is a place of wonder, teeming with the beauty of the natural world and a wide variety of inhabitants. Mortals live side by side with beasts, spirits, and inexplicable creatures born of the mystical energies of the world. Of course, for every gorgeous sunset beyond lush forests, there are also dangerous mires where hidden threats lurk patiently for the unwary. Only the unwise would dare wander the lands content in their ignorance of the world and its potential threats.
The Southern Continent is home to some of the most lovely and abundant regions in the world. There is little that can compare to the serene Viridian Coast. From the sandy beaches outside of picturesque Bamboo Village, to the eerie depths of the Gloomdross Forest where phantoms play, to the towering coastal cliffs of Songshu Isle.
The Viridian Coast lives up to its name with its lush green plains, cool bamboo forests, and valleys where fragments of the earth float into the sky to dizzying heights. It is home to Jadestone Village, a bustling lakeside community where business thrives in the region, and the prestigious Hongmoon School tucked away in Heaven’s Reach beyond the shore. But for all its peaceful beauty, there’s always the looming threat of the devious Blackram Marauders waiting to strike at the unsuspecting coastal towns, or the restless spirits haunting the Gloomdross Forest.
The Southern Continent’s mainland was once the proud heart of civilization, where the mighty Naryu Empire stood uncontested for centuries. The Naryu Empire became a battleground to hold back the invading demons from the Dark Realm, and was blighted during the Four Guardian’s fight against the great corrupted energy. Deep forests and surging rivers dried up, leaving a vast wasteland where only the strong and stubborn can possibly survive. Yet in every endless desert there always lies an oasis. Yehara’s Mirage is the hub of all activity in the region, welcoming travelers in from near and far to experience a bit of luxury amid desolation with its fine dining and strong drinks.
Away from the Scorching Sands, the bestial Jaofang Village rests safe in its valley, while not far beyond is the Blindeye Bazaar where shady dealings of a less savory crowd operate outside the law. There are even rumors of the tomb of Mushin himself buried somewhere amid the ruins of the Naryu Empire, where a treasure beyond all imagination waits to be claimed. That is, if daring adventurers could first survive the vicious Bonemask Tribe warriors, the giant scorpions, and the bands of tomb raiders along the way.
After surviving the desolate heat of the Cinderlands, a bit of water is a relief! Upon the Eastern Continent, The Moonwater Plains has a surplus of mighty rivers, crashing waterfalls, and vast lakes as clear as a cloudless sky. The sprawling Lycandi Foothills are home to the native people of the region who live side-by-side with the Lyn of Brightstone Village and the farming community of Hogshead Pastures. The glorious Sapphire Basin is home to many curious species such as the frog-like Ploggles and the brutish Hoglin.
But a shadow always lurks nearby: The Highland Necropolis, stained by corrupted energy some 30 years past, is where a demonic outbreak is endlessly held back by the brave Snapjaw Tribe. As the Eastern Continent is also territory of the Talus Dominion, one must always be wary of the outbreak of violence where the Talus Army clashes with the rebellious Skyhaven Resistance.
Further north on the Eastern Continent are the Skypetal Plains: gorgeous fields of swaying grass and fragrant wildflowers caressed by the ocean winds. It is home to Zaiwei, capital city of the Talus Dominion, standing as a beacon of wealth and power among nature’s bounty. But it is a city endlessly challenged by the thieving Lumang Syndicate, the corrupt Hao Society, and a bevy of powerful monsters who call Skypetal Plains their home.
Beyond the city awaits frozen mountains full of treacherous heights, blistering snowstorms, and ancient temples of long-slumbering gods waiting to awaken once more. But for all the mystery and intrigue the region has to offer, it is the grand capital city itself that holds the darkest secrets.
The Divine Realm lies beyond the Earthen Realm, serving as an afterlife, where pure-hearted spirits and enlightened beings watch over the world. These beings possess Divine Chi and have the ability to bestow its power onto ordinary mortals. Unlike the Dark Realm, the Divine Realm is connected with the Earthen Realm and spirits have the ability to pass into the Earthen Realm and vice versa. When the Naryu Empire opened a bridge to the Dark Realm, the beings of the Divine Realm gave their power to the Four Guardians, granting them martial arts prowess and the infinite power of the Twilight's Edge.
The Dark Realm is home to the Dark Lord and his demons and the source of Dark Chi. The Dark Realm is separated from the Earthen Realm, only accessible through the formation of a Dark Gate. Thousands of years before, the Naryu Empire's excessive Soulstone mining inadvertently created a bridge to the Dark Realm, causing the first influx of demonic energy into the Earthen Realm. Since then, the Four Guardians and the Sacred Beasts of the Moonwater Plains have been fighting the darkness from returning.
The exact nature of the Dark Realm is shrouded in mystery but it is very clear that should the Earthen Realm be subject to its effects, the world would descend into chaos.
The Dark Lord (Hajoon), is the ruler of the Dark Realm and for unknown reasons, seeks to conquer the Earthen Realm. He feeds into feelings of anger, hate, and revenge, offering power in exchange for a mortal's soul. All that he touches becomes infused with Dark Chi, becoming twisted demons. In order for him to exist in the Earthen Realm, he requires a proper human vessel and a large enough Dark Gate for him to pass through.
The Dark Gate is formed when a Divine Mandate Ritual is performed incorrectly, allowing the Dark Lord to pass through to the Earthen Realm. It has never before been achieved and the mighty warriors of the Earthen Realm fight to keep it that way.
|The World||Earthen Realm • Divine Realm • Dark Realm • Chi|
|Empires & People||Naryu Empire • Stratus Empire • Talus Dominion • Jinsoyun|
|The Four Guardians||Members: Jiwan • Mushin • Iksanun • Hong Sokgyun |
Twilight's Edge • Sacred Beasts