Serial Setting 2 ~ Week 20

The Casting Shadows blog’s second Serial Setting appears in weekly installments and is scheduled for a 6-month run of which only 1 month remains. This series is focused on providing basic details for heroic pulp adventures for the Ubiquity Roleplaying System as presented in Hollow Earth Expedition  and to a much lesser extent Leagues of Adventure. These ideas, set in a fictionalized and mysticized version of the Korean peninsula in 1936, present a community oppressed by faceless enemies and their own countrymen. It will additionally suggest routes, leads, and hooks for GMs to entice groups based elsewhere in the world to get involved. This series portrays characters and situations which are often grim, oppressive, and hopeless in hope that once characters from your campaigns are introduced, you can change that, or part of that, for those whose lives your players’ PCs encounter. This series also contains very strong suggestions of ways to enable the characters to travel either to or from the Hollow Earth (and even a small suggestion of how they might come to learn to do both), and so has quite a few touches of the unexplained and unexplored.

20 Railway Men –   One step at a time

One of the principle changes precipitated by the peninsula’s increased dealings with neighboring foreign powers from the late 1870s onward was the commissioning of the first railway by an American firm in the late 1890s. With the tentacles of the Oppressor already intertwined with the remaining Korean political figures, such projects paved the way for more and more business interests, and more and more foreign figures of power and ambition to become actively involved in the affairs of the once Hermit Kingdom.

Once built and slowly spreading across the mountainous terrain, the railways served an additional purpose to the one envisioned by the owners; a vastly different purpose. Not only could the railways reduce the complications and delays of transporting goods across the challenging landscape, but it also facilitated the movement of young men looking for work, and looking for like-minded fellows with whom to drink, commiserate, and dream. Some of those dreams meant opening up family traditions of martial arts practices typically passed from lower class fathers to sons. With the nation’s historical disparagement of martial skill by the ruling classes and learned elite (out of self-serving preservation), these skills remained in greatest number among those who could be pressed to service. If a father wished a son to survive such service, or to feel like a man among his peers he would teach them himself. Now in the 30s, in a land stolen out from under them, such skills need to be preserved and passed on to anyone who could be trusted to fight by your side. Such men gathered along the railways at work sites, and city centers, begging each other for new insights of knowledge, skill, or edges over their oppressors. It won’t ever be enough, but this history of rolling along the rails, setting up and seeking out training groups will continue for decades after freedom is finally won.

One thing that makes these men stand apart from others when in the fire of youthful idealism is the idea of the integrity of the fighting man. What are empty platitudes for most men, and will become so for these men in their later lives when fear and a need for a warm bed and meals begin to cool the fires of rebellion, is a raging fire that keeps them warm on freezing nights in box cars and cold streets. They seek the way to find honour for themselves and ultimately their country. They make friends quickly, and if that friendship proves true, will keep it for life. Their life for yours, your life for theirs.

In the growing darkness of the post-annexation Korea, no one wants to believe that friends that will turn the tide will never be found.

Hwang Young-Sul

A charismatic and dedicated seeker of scraps of martial lore, Young-Sul is a physical prodigy capable of intuiting the mechanics of motion much faster than even the most athletic men. It is said he can see a technique once and become its master. While not true, those who labour to learn by his side would swear that it is. Known originally for his powerful kicks and ability to direct his attacks from unexpected quarters, Young-Sul is now trying to develop his body’s endurance, resistance to pain, and to learn the secrets of using a man’s nerves and joints against him. He will never stop searching for new things to learn.

Broad of shoulder and long of arm and leg, his well-proportioned physique moves with the fitness earned from a lifetime of hard, physical labour and a simple, but filling diet. He is unconcerned with his appearance, but has a good head of hair, intelligent eyes. strong teeth, and a palpable force of personality. He is noticed wherever he goes, and as such is often a target for bullies in the forces of the oppressor. His skills get much practice. He does not win every fight, but he has kept himself out of captivity thus far.

“Sometimes the smart man will accept a beating he does not deserve in order to deliver a defeat to the man who does.”


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