Supporting Cast

Johnny Law

for GURPS and Feng Shui

by Jesse Lowe

Full Name: John Jiheng Law

Concept: Chinese-American chi-using gunslinging private investigator for a cinematic pulp adventure setting.

Quote: "If the gentle persuasion of a reasonable man fails, I find my little buddy is a pretty persuasive speaker on his own terms."

Description: An average-looking Chinese American male, about 25 years old, with brown eyes and black hair. Usually dressed in a cheap suit with a tan trench coat and fedora. Wears a small amulet with the Chinese character for peace on it below his shirt. Born February 17, 1911 in San Francisco.

Weapons: Carries a pair of Colt 1911s in shoulder holsters. Also has a 2-shot derringer up his left sleeve and a switchblade up his right.

Other equipment: spare ammunition for the Colts, half a dozen bullets for the derringer, wallet, some cash, some matches, a PI badge, notebook and pencil stub.


Born of a mixed-race couple in San Fancisco, Johnny has always been a bit of an outcast from both cultures. In his childhood, he found solace reading the Westerns that his Chinese mother, Liu Zhenxian, left around the house. Though only a passable student, he excelled at sports and found some acceptance at school on the baseball team. He still throws a mean fastball.This fairly mundane existence was cut short at age 13 when his father, Eric Law, was shot, an innocent bystander in a gang war between the Triads and the Mafia. Johnny and his mother went to live with her parents in Chinatown, where he began to learn the ancient wisdom of the East thanks to his grandfather, Liu Aoli. Aoli saw that Johnny had great potential chi, but could not control due to the emotional trauma of his father's death. A master of Wudong (p. MA106), he decided that his final work in this life would be to train his grandson to harness his chi and ascend beyond his demeaning Western origins.

Johnny, however, didn't like the idea of learning "Chinese mumbo-jumbo" (he feared it would make him even less acceptable to his white friends), and spent more and more time reading Westerns and going to cowboy movies. Aoli, no fool, noticed Johnny's preoccupation with the Old West. That summer, he presented Johnny with a brand new Colt 1911 pistol and began taking him to a local shooting range.

For the next eight years, Johnny learned to shoot like nobody else, advancing his education both mystic and secular, and picking up some Wudong on the way. Unfortunately, the money his family had been surviving on (Eric Law's savings) was slowly dwindling, and by his twenty-first year, it was painfully obvious that he would need to find gainful employment. His knack for detail and uncanny shooting ability had caught the eye of Albert Weisenberg, a respected private investigator who practiced at the same shooting range as Johnny and Aoli. When he heard that Johnny needed a job, Weisenberg was quick to offer him a junior partnership in his detective agency. Johnny's abilities complemented Weisenberg's knowledge of the streets and the criminal mind wonderfully.

Soon, the agency prospered and Johnny began to seriously learn the ropes of private investigation. He and Weisenberg became close friends, and Johnny even attended Weisenberg's grandson's bar mitzvah. Then they got involved in the Red Dagger caper. Hired by a strange little German man to find the Red Dagger (a weird Tibetan knife) in the San Francisco underworld, the two detectives found themselves in way over their heads. After a firefight May 31st, 1935, with a bunch of Italian thugs, Weisenberg was dead and Johnny was in a coma. He woke in July to find that his grandfather had been taking care of the detective agency in his absence.

Now Johnny's trying to get over the loss of Weisenberg by plunging himself into his work, while at the same time keeping his mother safe and his grandfather out of trouble. It's a full plate of problems, but hey -- it's better than a pair of cement overshoes and an intimate acquaintance with the Golden Gate.

Adventure Seeds

High Weirdness/Secret Magic

The little German man was Hans Steiner, an occultist and rabid Aryan supremacist. He set Johnny and Weisenberg up, hoping to kill them just after they had secured the Red Dagger for him. Unfortunately, in the confusion, Steiner was wounded and lost the dagger. He assumes that Johnny has it, and is preparing a vast and deadly plot to take his revenge and finally obtain the Red Dagger (a Tibetan phurba imbued with the power of Shambhala, or simply a bad fake, depending on the GM's mood).

Steiner is doubly dangerous because he is very wealthy, has many friends in the occult, theosophist and especially ariosophist communities, and will eventually become a member of the SS Ahnenerbe, the occult branch of the SS. He is utterly ruthless and may have dark powers, gained from green-gloved mystics (see the Suppressed Transmiission It's Not Easy Being Green -- and Evil!) or through ancient Nordic rituals.

Kung Fu Action

The PCs are approached by a mysterious old man who offers them a sum of money, or, if they are inclined towards the martial arts, teaching, to ambush Johnny. They are given strict instructions in how, where and when to attack him -- a small laundry in the middle of Chinatown. They are to attack him one at a time, and to let no one interfere.

Assuming the PCs do ambush Johnny, or show up at the laundry in order to warn him, they and he are attacked mid-scene by hatchet wielding Triad assassins; Johnny recently busted a Triad operation and they're out for blood. Should the PCs appear to be losing to the Triad assassins, the old man will appear out of nowhere and join in. After the fight he will reveal that he is Liu Aoli, and had decided that it was time to test his grandson to see if he was fit for further training. He is mildly annoyed at the Triad's interference, but will give the PCs the agreed upon payment. Johnny is more than a little annoyed at his grandfather's trick, and reconciling the two may present some story opportunities. The PCs have also angered the Triads, of course, and the Triads have a long memory.

Other Genres and Times

Johnny can easily be adapted to any time period with guns and martial arts; he would probably work particularly well in the Old West and the 1850 juncture for Feng Shui campaigns.

GURPS Stats [250 pts.]

Attributes [115]:
ST 11 [10], DX 14 [45], IQ 13 [30], HT 13 [30]
Speed: 6.75, Move: 6, Dodge: 7, Parry: 10 (unarmed)

Advantages [130]:
Ally (Grandfather Liu Aoli, 250 points, appears on a 9 or less) [20], Ambidexterity [10], Combat Reflexes [15], Sharpshooter [45], Trained By A Master [40].

Disadvantages [-54]:
Dependent (Mother Liu Zhenxian, 25 points, appears on a 12 or less) [-24], Enemy (Hans Steiner, 150+, 6 or less) [-10], Impulsiveness [-10], Sense of Duty (Family) [-5], Social Stigma (half-breed, -1 on reaction rolls) [-5]

Quirks [-5]:
Always wears peace amulet, meditates over his pistols every evening, carries cigarettes but doesn't smoke, shaves only every other week (and it doesn't show…), refuses to wear white.

Skills [41]:
Accounting-11 [1], Acting-12 [1], Area Knowledge: San Francisco-15 [4], Cooking-13 [1], Detect Lies-12 [2], Driving: Automobile-13 [1], Fast-talk-14 [4], Guns/TL6: Pistol-19 [8], Guns/TL6: Shotgun-16 [1], Holdout-14 [4], Knife-14 [1], Law-11 [1], Games (Mah Jongg)-13 [1], Photography/TL6-13 [2], Research-12 [1], Shadowing-13 [2], Sports (Baseball)-13 [1], Stealth-14 [2], Streetwise-13 [2], Savoir-Faire-13 [1]

Languages [2]:
Cantonese-13 [0], English-13 [0], Mandarin-13 [2] (Cantonese and English are both his native languages)

Martial Arts (Wudong) [21]:

Acrobatics-14 [4], Breath Control-12 [4], Judo-14 [4], Karate-14 [4], Karate Art-14 [4]

Arm Lock-15 [0.5], Back Kick-12 [1], Elbow Strike-13 [0.5], Hook Kick-13 [1], Jump Kick-12 [1], Kicking-13 [1], Knee Strike-15 [1], Spin Kick-13 [1]

Feng Shui Stats

Bod 6
Chi 2 (Fu 4)
Mnd 5
Ref 7 (Dex 9)

Eyes of the Snake
The Fox's Retreat
Lightning Reload
Both Guns Blazing
Eagle Eye

Guns +10 [19]
Martial Arts +5 [12]
Info/San Francisco +3 [8]
Info/Chinese Culture +3 [8]

Wealth level: Working Stiff

Article publication date: June 1, 2001

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