Subtitle: A Game of Samurai Tragedy
From the introduction:
I’m a big fan of samurai. I love the ideas of honor and loyalty and the conflict of human emotions in extreme conditions. Grace under pressure.
A long time ago, I designed a game about samurai. You may have heard of it. This game is a little different. That was a game about fantastic samurai. This is a game about samurai tragedy, both historical and fantastical.
Now, before we go any further, I’ve got to say something right up front. This is not a history book. It is also not a reference book. There are plenty of books available to you if you want to know more about Japan. Even some great gaming books. Look at Gurps: Japan, for example. Also, Sengoku. And, of course, if you’re looking for something really fantastic, go check out that Legend of the Five Rings book everybody’s been talking about.
The purpose of this book is to provide rules for playing samurai in Old Japan, not give you a detailed essay on samurai culture, etiquette and history. I am not a historian nor am I an anthropologist. I’m a game designer. I’ll give you a ton of references at the end of this book to learn more about samurai and their world. Those sources are a lot more reliable than an amateur like myself.
Also, I’ve taken a few liberties with "historic" Japan and I ask all you purists for forgiveness. I’ve done so to make the game a bit more accessible to a Western audience--and frankly--to downplay a few of the more ugly aspects of Feudal Japan. I’m not picking on the culture specifically: I can demonstrate a whole lot of ugliness in Feudal Europe as well. (And, when given the chance, I did the same thing to Restoration Europe by editing out the uglier aspects of my own ancestors’ history.) Despite my changes, I hope readers find my version of Old Japan retains its authenticity even if it sacrifices a bit of its historical accuracy.
This is a game about warring Clans. In samurai literature, the heroes are fragile. Always four feet from death. They die to serve the Clan. Every decision a samurai makes is about his Clan. To reflect that attitude, you’ll find characters in this game are just like their literary counterparts: they are fragile. Don’t get into a fight unless you know you can win. Also, the mechanics reflect the sentiment that the characters are all bit parts in a much larger machine. Identity is almost smothered by duty. Not entirely- and certainly less than if this was a historical game- but players will find that their characters are truly tiny parts of a larger machine. Your character’s personal identity is far less important than his role in the Clan.
Character creation takes a few moments of consideration. Clan creation, on the other hand, is something the entire group should consider carefully.
Finally, a friendly warning.
Samurai literature is filled with stories of men and women forced to choose between love and duty, duty and honor, honor and honesty. These are the kinds of choices you will find in this game. If you’d rather play a game where your character always makes the right choice, always increases his skills, always comes out smelling like a rose...
PUT THIS BOOK DOWN RIGHT NOW AND BUY SOMETHING ELSE.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. After all, it’s my name on the spine.
You should know what you are getting into.