There is a Secret War going on in which 7 unique factions vie for control of the world's Feng Shui sites. These sites control the flow of chi energy in the world. The more chi you have, the better things go for you- this is manifest directly in the world as good fortune in all aspects of life- life is good, business is good, and your aim is good.
These factions come from scattered periods of history. They travel between the periods (also known as "junctures") through portals that allow passage between our world and the Netherworld.
As a player of Shadowfist, your role is that of a behind-the-scenes political leader as you attempt to use your influence on your various contacts to control specific Feng Shui sites.
The goal of the game is to control 6 Feng Shui sites. When you reach this point, you control enough sites to bend history to your liking and cause your opponents to never be born. In a 3+ player game, you only need 5.
Everything is represented by cards. You have cards that symbolize characters, sites, and other tangible resources. When you start off, you have nothing in play. You can make contacts by playing Foundation characters. In addition to whatever simple abilities these characters may have, they provide resources. These resources are used to influence higher-up operatives of that faction, and to get them to join you. In a similar fashion, you can play Feng Shui sites. As you get more sites in play, you generate more power points each turn. Power is another measure of how strong you are, and you spend these points to play more sites, characters, etc.
But wait- where does the action come in? Well, you aren't just laying these guys down on the table. Each character has the ability to beat up on your opponent's characters. Not only that, but you can also beat up on his sites. This simulates raids you make on his resources in an attempt to strengthen your position, weaken his, or both. If you do enough damage, you can seize the site- you now have control of it and it generates power for you. Or, you can burn it. In real-world terms, this means that you destroy the site in a way that prevents anyone from getting future use out of it. In the process, you get a benefit- you either get one site closer to winning, or you get a great boost of power to use on your following turns.
©1999-2001, Tony Hafner