Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chanbara Update

I got some more work done on my chanbara (samurai/ninja) expansion for Flying Swordsmen done today.  Working title is simply "Chanbara."

It's become quite distinct from Flying Swordsmen, actually.  I've devised some different mechanics that seem to fit the genre (and on paper at least the math looks good), and would actually also work in wuxia, so assuming the Ph.D. program I'm about to enter doesn't force me to give up gaming altogether, I'll eventually get around to re-doing Flying Swordsmen into what will truly be my own game, rather than a "retro-clone turned up to 11" which is what it is right now.

Anyway, I've narrowed down the classes (Kensei is now folded into Samurai, as the only real distinctions were in class special abilities, so it's a sub-class option).

There are four class groups: Bushi (warriors), Shinobi (rogues), Maho-tsukai (magicians) and Yokai (demi-humans).  Three classes each (plus the Kensei sub-class option), so 12 classes.

There are three sets of Skill Dice (replace the generic Stunt Dice of Flying Swordsmen), Combat Skills, Training Skills, and Magic Skills.  Each class gets a selection of six skill dice that they can raise as they gain levels.  As with Flying Swordsmen, Skill Dice replace the static bonuses of high ability scores in D&D, but you can only use one die at a time (some higher level characters can use two or even three).

There are three sets of special maneuvers, still selected from a "Vancian" progression as in Flying Swordsmen.  There are Combat Maneuvers, Training Tricks, and Magic Spells (each divided into five levels of power).

Bushi Classes (XP as Fighter in D&D):
Samurai/Kensei: only Combat Skill Dice and Maneuvers
Ronin: mix of mostly Combat with some Training Dice/Tricks
Sohei: mix of mostly Combat with some Magic Dice/Spells

Shinobi Classes (XP as Cleric in D&D):
Ninja: only Training Skill Dice and Tricks
Kagemusha: mix of mostly Training with some Combat Dice/Maneuvers
Gorotsuki: mix of mostly Training with some Magic Dice/Spells

Maho-Tsukai Classes (XP as M-U in D&D):
Yamabushi: only Magic Skill Dice and Spells
Shinsen: mix of mostly Magic with some Combat Dice/Maneuvers
Onmyoji: mix of mostly Magic with some Training Dice/Tricks

Yokai Classes (XP as Elf in D&D):
Kappa: even mix of Combat and Training
Kitsune: even mix of Training and Magic
Tengu: even mix of Combat and Magic

The Yokai classes receive all skill dice of both of their fields, but have fewer Raises than the Human classes, fewer set class abilities, and advance slower.  They still get the same Level 10 cap as the Human classes.

I've got the spell lists done, but not spell descriptions.  Casting works on a modified Chainmail casting roll, but Magic Skill Dice can be used to do different things like increase the chance to hit if the spell requires a hit roll, damage/healing provided, increase number of targets or area of effect, etc.  I'll discuss the spells more later.

I've got a tentative list of creatures.  Need to complete a list of weapons and equipment.  Haven't done much besides ponder about the campaign setting details.  Still a lot of work to do, but it's moving forward.


  1. What do you think of the 1979/1980 "Bushido" roleplaying game? I never played it, but there was a lively game thereof at my university gaming club in the early 1980s.

  2. Just downloaded it yesterday so I've only just begun to look at it.

  3. for ninja reference if you haven't seen it:

    Instead of a D&D flying magic items, there must be man sized ninja kites and spinning umbrellas!

  4. Thanks, Lee! Awesome site. I had the kites down for inclusion. I'll have to remember the umbrellas as well.