Thursday, May 5, 2016

Magnificent Samurai: Session 0

I ran a session this past Sunday, but it ended up being a pre-campaign character generation session.  We normally try to have everyone's character ready before a session but sometimes things keep that from happening.

This campaign will be set in the Yu ("Jade") Empire, my gameworld's equivalent of China.  The empire is currently between dynasties in an era inspired by the Three Kingdoms, which I had just read.  This has required some world-building on my part, as I have an idea of what's in the region but until now I never mapped it out in detail.  I enjoy the worldbuilding anyway and it's nice to have a chance to flesh things out.  On the names, I tend to be bad at naming things so I used Google Translate to come up with something in most cases unless I have prior notes; none of us speak any of the languages anyway so it works fine, though a native Chinese speaker would probably spend too much time giggling to pay attention.  So it goes.

The local nations are the Yu Empire, currently broken up into the kingdoms of Wu, Weishan ("false"), and Jiaotang ("chapel"), and the campaign will be taking part in the White River Valley in Weishan.  The Korea-esque land is called Koryo, which is relatively peaceful at the moment.  Northwest of it, and between Yu and Koryo is Gabrook, the Green Kingdom, "Gabrook" being a name that comes from Yrth and in my games is the original homeland of the Goblins of Banestorm.  There is, of course, a Japan-like land called  Kazanjima ("volcanic island") so ninjas can have a place to ninj.  The barbarian lands of Meng ("mongol") have horse-nomads, including the only Orcs in the region, unique in my gameworld as being horse-riders; Western Orcs see horses as meals on hooves.

This is an all-fighters game by the request of the players.  It's 250 points, and cinematic in tone.  The PCs who've been completed so far are:

  • Augustus Scitiori - A former centurion from the Ladine Republic, heavily armored and a dual-weapon master of shortswords;
  • Elliot de la Frau - A Saber-master and pirate who's a bit farther from the coast than he would prefer;
  • Erland - a Jotun (northern Giant) wrestler who dearly wants to rip someone's arm off and beat them with it (and possibly could at that);
  • Markus - A Hobgoblin Paladin of Athar, Western God of Chivalry and a holdover from the last campaign, as he was 236 points and well-equipped;
  • Melek - a Nephilim (half-angel) greatswordsman and user of Imbuements.  Another PC from the last campaign, he was only 150 points and had only been played as-is in one session so I let his player bump him to 250, as his equipment was still more-or-less starting quality.
  • Tonokai - a Kazanjiman horse-archer and pretty darn good at it, I estimate.

This leaves 2 PCs to be created and, which I find amusing, ONE PC so far who's native to the area.


  1. Neat stuff! I had some design work for a short setting based in Japan, and a different one set in China, but I haven't come back to them in a while. Your China setting seems like it has a similar inspiration to mine (warring states period), though mine was a much lower fantasy level. Might have to return to those projects sometime in the future. Best of luck on the game!

    1. I tend to take my inspiration in world-building from Robert E. Howard more than anything else, plus the gameworld is inherited from my 1st Edition AD&D DM days so there's quite a bit of magic no matter where you are on it. I'm hoping the game will be pretty fun, and all the players have bought into it with little groaning so that's half the battle right there.

    2. I have actually run a campaign in the REH Hyborian Age setting. Was quite into it for a while some years back, though I've not done anything with it for a few years now.

  2. That's how it goes.

    "Let's play a game about European knights!"
    "Great! I'm a viking berserker!"
    "And I'll be a Russian peasant woman who does magic."
    "I'm a ninja who fled to Europe from Japan. Also, he's half Mongolian and a pagan."
    "And I'll actually be a knight - but it's actually a satanist woman in disguise as a knight who is a double agent for the pope and who dual-wields rapiers a few hundred years early and hates wearing armor and isn't noble at all."

    The only time I had a "let's play a game about X" game have mostly X was a pirate game - and because I strictly enforced a pick-list of backgrounds that fit the setting. You could go off-list a little, for one character (they had a few each), tops, and even then needed a good excuse.

    It's almost better to say, "Let's play a game where you go to a place with X, and mostly encounter X" and then just let the gonzo renegade half-Mongolian ninja chips fall where they may. Then you don't get your hopes up about the PCs fitting in.

    1. Oh, yeah, I'm used to it. I just think it's funny, especially here since the players are the ones who wanted a game in the East in the first place. I have limited origins more in some campaigns but that's rare. I like seeing how the wackadoodle PCs will fit in with each other and the place they happen to occupy.

    2. Yeah, that's one of my least favorite bits about new (to the group) players. It's why I tend to be super conservative about who I let in; had my share of Half-Dragon Sorcerers in my supposedly Migration-Period Low Fantasy settings.

      I remember a former player of mine talking about a d20 game he tried to run set somewhere in Fantasy Holy Roman Empire, and his one target player handed over a Samurai Cat-Fox Hybrid.

      Chris seems to have done a good job pre-empting these by having a more open world map. I'd expect 250 point types to get around more than my usual target of 50-100 point people, anyways!