Launch Estimated January 1, 2014. Sign up now!

Launch postponed indefinitely due to the unanticipated survival of other games. Watch this space for updates!

The Setting

Our setting is historical but not necessarily factual. It is the sixteenth century. The Emperor of Japan is an eight year old boy called the Son of Heaven. The island Honshu is divided among many warring lords, each hoping to rise above the rest to become Shogun.

The people of Japan follow different paths of religion. Some are Shinto. Some are Buddhists. Some are Catholics. A very few are Protestants.

In addition to Lords and their Samurai, merchants and sailors, there are Jesuits (who are mainly Portuguese—but a few are Japanese) and shipwrecked foreigners. Europeans have no place in Japanese society, unless some lord gives them a place, and can expect a swift death unless they prove useful to the local baron (knowledge of European weapons is a start).

Our setting is not necessarily mundane. Sixteenth century Japan is a land of sorcerers and demons. Travelers would fear the roads not only because of brigands and robbers, but would also be wary of fox spirits disguised as lonely maidens walking at dusk.

Japanese do not bury their dead. Instead, the carcass is left on the roof of a tower or in a tree for the birds to pick. I didn’t make that up.

Play

First read the rules. Done? Good. Now our particulars:

Samurai is a powerful forte. It can stand for fencing, archery, etiquette or poetry. If you’d rather not be beholden to a liege lord, take Ronin instead. Wealth or Estate would probably include Horsemanship, and a horse. Possible Allies include consort, retainer (squire), lackey or acolyte. Lord is off-limits to PCs, but daimyo (baron) is fine. Another allowed forte is Army. You cannot use an Army forte to duel in single-combat, though leading an army might dissuade challengers in matters of honor (and then again, it might not). Army fortes are for large-scale land battles. Gunship or Caravel fortes allow battles at sea.

Technology

Gunpowder was introduced to Japan from China before it reached Europe. Nevertheless, Europeans have better equipment and training when it comes to modern arms, especially cannons. The pistol and crossbow are popular personal weapons; neither of these can match the efficiency of the Japanese longbow, but unlike bows they do not require a specific forte to use.

Influences

The Japan of Clavell’s Shogun is a strange combination of sexually libertine and socially straightjacketed. In Kurosawa’s Samurai films, money, material and morale matter more than manners or mores. The stories told by the 16th century Japanese themselves were a lighthearted mix of simple piety and low-brow humor of the bathroom and bedroom sort. “Which” Japan we play in depends upon the decisions you make.

NPCs

The NPCs shown are only for examples and flavor. You do not have to interact with them. The GM will introduce NPCs only as and when needed. The PCs are encouraged to generate NPCs using their style dice to move the story along.

The World of Dew is The World of Dew

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