Feng Shui storyline vs. Shadowfist storyline
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[posted 25 Feb 2003; updated 20 May 2005]
I picked up the Feng Shui roleplaying game when Daedalus released it in 1996 because I was very interested in learning about the story behind the game. That, and Daedalus really did a top-notch job with the rulebook printing, so slick that they must have lost money on the print run. I was a bit disappointed to see the disclaimer inside that the Feng Shui universe wouldn't necessarily parallel the Shadowfist world, even though they were based on the same source material. Bearing that in mind, I still find the Daedalus and Atlas books to be very interesting background reading for Shadowfist. Not that it will have any effect on your games, but who knows, maybe it will inspire you to make a theme deck :)
As I understand it, Robin Laws and Jose Garcia developed the background material first. They had planned to make an RPG, but since card games were very hot at the time, they launched a CCG first. You can read Robin's posting on Usenet here [google.com, 20 May 2005], or take a look at this article by Allen Varney on his site. [allenvarney.com, 20 May 2005]
The main difference between the two storylines is that Feng Shui's storyline is frozen just after Operation Killdeer (Limited Edition, in CCG terms). The Molten Heart (Netherworld, in CCG terms) is mentioned in Daedalus' supplement Back For Seconds, but is only briefly touched on in the Atlas supplements, so I'm not positive if it's supposed to have happened yet in the Feng Shui timeline. Flashpoint (and anything after it) definitely hasn't happened yet, and the Purists and Seven Masters aren't mentioned anywhere.
There are a significant number of minor differences too, mostly in the angle that the RPG takes on some of the major characters. Some are simple, like Jack Donovan being renamed to Jake Donovan but otherwise being the maverick cop you'd expect; others are more complex, like the Golden Gunman being cast as an ex-terrorist (I left out his religious inclination for fear of this website then being tagged in someone's database :) with no reason given to explain his resource in the CCG.
Z-Man has a good relationship with Atlas Games, even though they aren't in a business deal. Atlas was kind enough to provide advance writeups of the new supplements like Elevator to the Netherworld so Z-Man could check continuity before printing Throne War and Year of the Dragon (and we did make a couple of changes to card titles because of it!). Z-Man has incorporated a fair number of elements/characters from the Atlas supplements as cards. Atlas did not reciprocate until 2003, when the Jammer sourcebook, Gorilla Warfare, included characters that appeared first as Z-Man cards (e.g., Major Hottie, Titanium Johnson). John Seavey, the author, confirmed this was due to his interest in both lines rather than a master plan by Z-Man and Atlas. And it wasn't a one-way exchange, either - John shared the rough draft with Z-Man, and due to a long publication delay, cards based on John's characters (Funky Monkey, for example) showed up before the book did :)