Archive for January 19th, 2008

Making a Bravo: Lin Chong

2008 Jan 19

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Here are the chapter titles that refer to Lin Chong:

  1. The Leopard Headed unwittingly enters The Hall of White Tigers.
  2. Lin Chong is branded and sent into exile.
  3. Lin Chong overcomes Captain Hung with his staff.
  4. Through wind and snow Lin Chong goes to The Temple Of The Mountain God.
  5. Lin Chong on a snowy night ascends the mountain of the robbers’ lair.
  6. Lin Chong becomes a robber in the Great Lair.
  7. Lin Chong kills a comrade in the robbers’ lair.

Together with the fuller description of Lin Chong from his wikipedia article, we should have enough information to select Lin Chong’s forms. Attractive options include:

  • unwittingly (so honorable that he’s often fooled by trickery);
  • through wind and snow, on a snowy night;
  • in the robbers’ lair;
  • with his staff (he also frequently shown with a spear);
  • with authority (he’s one of the five “tiger generals”);
  • with honor (due to his background as a loyal military instructor);

So, if I end up going with six forms per character, there’s Lin Chong right there. I still want to figure out, though, why Lin Chong is generally depicted with a wine bottle tied to the end of his spear (as in the cutout above). I don’t remember that part of the story. Perhaps he is more drunken than I recall?

Water Margin Forms

2008 Jan 19

Going through the expanded Water Margin oracle that I created yesterday, I made a list of the following, commonly appearing words or phrases which describe the manner in which characters performed actions. Plus marks indicate duplicates.

  1. in headlessness, in a careless instant, through accident;
  2. in drunkenness +++++;
  3. in battle;
  4. by guile +++++++;
  5. with his fists;
  6. alone ++;
  7. secretly +;
  8. lets fly an arrow, with his arrow +++;
  9. without great pains;
  10. in his wrath, in a madness of anger;
  11. by the light of the moon, by night ++++++++;
  12. because of friendship, through great mercy, justly;
  13. disturbs, makes a mighty turmoil, makes a great furor, rouses evil passions ++++++++++++;
  14. captures, seizes, conquers, traps, takes, steals, robs ++++++++++++++++++;
  15. kills ++++++;
  16. attacks +++++;
  17. using his magic;
  18. in the robber’s lair ++++++++++++;
  19. through wind and snow, on a snowy night, upon a snowy day.

It’s only after reading through the chapter titles carefully and verifying them against the original Chinese titles that I see how much the name of Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy, the Cultural Revolution era “model opera,” is drawn from the Water Margin. I mean, if you were “taking tiger mountain by strategy” in this game, you’d roll the dice for Captures (same characters that are translated as “taking”) and By Guile (same characters translated as “by strategy”). Makes me wonder about a “model opera” oracle.

In any case, now I either need to distill this into a list of six or, perhaps, make a longer list and have individual characters have slightly different lists of forms, picking the six that they have. Also, is six forms really the best number? How would a game work if you only had four forms? Would it be more iconic?

A different (and provocative) idea would be to take all the characters explicitly mentioned in the titles, which is only 30-some characters probably, and make the forms for each character the phrases that are explicitly associated with them in the titles. This would give each character more of an individual flavor. Some would be drunken and some would be just or have magic. Hmm…