Spring and Autumn Period

The "Spring and Autumn Period" lasted from 722 to 481 B.C. During this time, China was blessed - some say plagued - with martial artists known as the xia (see box). The period was one of central rule, but most areas were the jurisdiction of local governors appointed by a distant bureaucracy. Some governors were just and fair; others, corrupt or cruel. Overall, the period was one of stability, and China faced no major menace from abroad. Bandits, local injustice, and corruption thrived, however, and the xia felt they must intervene.

The xia were essentially Chinese knights-errant. Unlike the knights of feudal Europe, though, they were neither members of the aristocracy nor required to uphold the social order. Instead, they were wanderers who used their martial skills to maintain justice and right wrongs according to their personal philosophy.

Xia were as much like Robin Hood as like Lancelot ... in fact, the Chinese regard Robin Hood as a xia! They weren't always popular with the bureaucracy. They could be useful, but the powerful typically saw them as one of society's plagues. The xia were often as dangerous, scruffy, and poor as the bandits and evildoers they battled, but regardless of their conduct - which at times included gambling, womanizing, and drinking - they fought for the common good. Tales of their exploits formed the basis of the wuxia genre of films.

In a historical game, xia PCs should take Code of Honor (Xia) (p. 53). Without it, they aren't xia -they're the ruffians and bandits the xia oppose!

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