Ox I – Chinese Zodiac I

February 13, 2010

So, here I am, sitting in the main lobby of the hotel for DunDraCon, on the last day of the Year of the Ox (my local time).

It was always my intention when I started the astrology series to also do the 12 earth branches, aka 12 animal signs, of Chinese astrology.  Per usual, massive procrastination has led me to my last opportunity to be timely.  And, I only have to do this once a year!

The thing about the 12 animal signs is that they map, to a degree, to Western astrology to where it can be awfully similar to talk about them.  Still, why not?

More specifically, this Ox year is an Earth Ox Year.  For those who don’t know, there are 5 elements – earth, fire, water, metal, wood – that make the Chinese cycle a 60 year cycle.

From The Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes, by Theodora Lau, we get this info for Ox:

Ranking order: Second
Hours:  1AM-3AM
Direction:  North-Northeast
Season and principal month:  Winter, January
Western sign:  Capricorn
Element:  Water
Stem:  Negative

Let’s just say you were looking for inspiration for building a world.  This trivia could inspire you to, for example, create an Oxish society in the North-Northeast part of the world, where ceremonies may be held between 1AM-3AM, a land of snow.

Rather than talk about the Ox generally, let’s quote a passage on the Earth Ox.

“This is an enduring although less creative type of Ox who is always faithful to his duties.  He knows his limitations and realizes his imperfections quite young in life.  He will shine in any career he decides to undertake as he is practical, industrious and prepared to pay the price demanded for success.  He contributes his share willingly and will favor practical and worthy endeavors.  He looks for security and stability and will work efficiently with these two master goals in mind.

Although he may not be sensitive or very emotional by nature, he is capable of sincere and lasting affection and will be loyal and steadfast to his loved ones and his principles.

He fights for constant advancement of his station in life and will endure difficulties and suffering without complaint.  Purposeful and determined, this Ox will go far; it will be hard to push him back because he will never surrender captured ground.  He may be the slowest but is the surest of all the Oxen.”

So, we have workmanlike behavior.  Besides the obvious personality elements for characters, it’s a perfectly valid philosophy when looking for success in such endeavors as boardgames, wargames, or even more creative endeavors such as CCGs.

In terms of how personality can be reflected in character mechanics, we see a good description of someone who would have a relatively higher Constitution and Wisdom, relatively lower Dexterity and Intelligence.  If it were a superhero, the brick archetype would be an obvious one.  If we were thinking of an appropriate mech (aka mecha, battlemech, etc.), we’d be looking at low speed, high armor, lack of flashy or dangerous systems.  Urbanmech from BattleTech would be somewhat along these lines.

According to Theodora, the Ox will get along well with the Rooster, the Rat, and the Snake.  Will not do well with the Dog, Sheep, and Tiger.  This can be used in a variety of ways, everything from rival martial arts schools based around different animals to the personalities of individuals in a unit (military, superhero team, whatever).

As for famous Earth Oxen, we have Nehru, Charlie Chaplin, and Hitler.  Who wouldn’t want a multiple personality character with those personalities?