I can't seem to get back to mass combat... I always mean to, but then I end up posting about something else.
Anyway, this is one of those times.
I'm running "Spirit of the Fist" at OrcCon in Los Angeles over President's Day Weekend (which, it should be noted, is also Valentine's Day Weekend, so... a word of warning: Start earning brownie points now). I ran it a couple weeks ago for three guys in my weekly group, and it was a ton of fun. I got one of the players to sketch a few character portraits, which I then appropriated for some character sheets, so... here are two of those, both students of the Heavenly Lion Clan.
Shining Yu Shu, saber-swinging son of the sifu
Silver Crane, knight-errant in disguise
Actually, they're just the first page; all but one of the five phases is written for each character (Xiao - Filial Piety, Xia - Justice, Jen - Benevolence, and Li - Propriety), but I've left one (Zhong - Loyalty) for them to write themselves, along with its aspect. The idea is for the Loyalty phase to be a very short story about a time when the character helped another character in the party -- or was helped by them. Either way.
Anyway, the other characters are two more students (a drunken boxer and a big staff fighter), the sifu's daughter, and Ghost Doctor. No explanation on Ghost Doctor; I think the name, though wildly inaccurate, speaks for itself. As soon as I get some more sketches, I'll post the other character sheets.
Oh -- one more thing. Almost forgot. After our 4E D&D group suffered through its second TPK (which... I mean... a TPK in 4E?), it was pretty universally decided (that is, by everyone but the DM) to try something different. After some discussion and brainstorming, I'm running a one-shot of "Spirit of the West" on Sunday. They made characters last night, and while they're all fun (a Buffalo Soldier deserter, a dynamite-throwing maniac, a disgruntled proto-mail carrier, and Calamity Jane's sister), I think one of the best things about the character creation process was that we never cracked a book.
All right, we did look at the SotC SRD online for the skill list, and I did replace the entire stunt sub-system with three generic stand-ins (+1 to a skill with a broad category, +2 to a skill in a specific circumstance, or use one skill in place of another in a specific circumstance -- you get three of these in any combination -- a scaled-down version of what I posted about last time), but still, being able to make characters just by saying things like "Write about what you were doing during the Civil War" or "So what role did you play in Montana's first novel?" was awesome. I like 4E fine, but... what a breath of fresh air.