Thursday, September 26, 2013

Chanbara - possible change of plans

This one starts a bit longwinded, skip to the bolded text a few paragraphs down if you're just interested in the "what" not the "why" of my new plan for Chanbara.

Well, when I'm putting off doing my grad school readings (and not wasting time on Facebook/G+, playing smartphone games, or reading old comics), I've started tinkering with my Chanbara stuff again.

Only I'm considering revamping the whole thing.  Funny, since I think the rules are done.  I just need to finish fleshing out the campaign world section, edit/proofread, and then format it.  Well, play testing would be a good idea, too, but over the summer I just didn't have the will to get a game of it going.  Having to teach a pretty much entire new system to the players was daunting, along with trying to come up with an interesting scenario for them to play through that would allow me to test the important rules (combat, how magic works, and the skill/stunt system).

Anyway, that failure, along with my current gaming situation, has got me thinking.  I'm currently running a slightly house ruled version of BX/BECMI D&D in the Megadungeon.  Vaults of Ur is a house ruled Labyrinth Lord/Stars Without Number mashup.  And I'm happy with those games.  They're familiar; comfortable.

And I like that comfort.  I think, despite coming up with the rules myself and being happy with them, that the Chanbara stuff just isn't in my comfort zone for running games.  Odd, isn't it?

OK, so here's the meat of the post.

Redo the Chanbara and Flying Swordsmen classes for Labyrinth Lord.  Get rid of the fancy schmancy Chainmail inspired magic system.  Stick with good old fashioned Vancian.  Skip the smorgasbord of special abilities (Maneuvers/Tricks/Secrets) and just assign each class certain special abilities as they level up. 

Race and Class.  Human, Jing Ling (Spirit Folk), Airen (Dwarves/Korobokuru), Yokai (Hengeyokai from OA/my Kappa, Tengu and Kitsune from Chanbara).

12 Classes, each under the Cleric, Fighter, Magic-User or Thief heading (so basically variants of each main LL class). 

Cleric: Shaman (from FS), Sohei (from Chanbara), Yamabushi (from Chanbara)
Fighter: Xia (from FS), Samurai (from Chanbara), Kensei (from both)
Magic-User: Taoist (from FS), Onmyoji (from Chanbara), Elementalist (sorta new)
Thief: Ninja (from Chanbara), Vagabond (from FS), Ghost Hunter (from FS)

Combine monsters from both FS and Chanbara, simplified to LL standards. 

Add in some higher level spells.

Create some actual treasure tables for magical treasures.

Hopefully this would be something roughly compatible with baseline LL or LL/AEC, or playable on its own.  Meaning I'll probably borrow a lot of "running the game" stuff from LL, and make sure all the options like PC hit dice have toned down options for straight LL, or slightly souped up versions for stand-alone or AEC play.

So instead of its own game, it'll be my version of OA for LL.

Good idea? Bad?  Who knows.  But I'm thinking it will be something I can actually get motivated to run, and get players to try out.


  1. What I hate to see are interesting abilities chained to a rank within one class. Flavorful restrictions in small amounts are ok, but I don't want to be locked out of "Tiger Vault" because I'm not a such-n-such. In other words, make the sub class differences positive and stylistic, not portioned servings bound by retro rules.

  2. Don't worry, Lee, I'm still planning to put out Chanbara, in all it's customizable glory. This is just another idea percolating in my brain for using my FS/Chanbara stuff with more mainstream fantasy stuff. This project likely won't be for you, but Chanbara should scratch your itch.

  3. I'm with Lee, While I wish you well with your choice it was the fact that FS/Chanbara was different from mainstream OSR that interested me.

    I am glad to hear you are still planning to put out Chanbara in its current form before you convert it to LL.

  4. Anything that gets you out of the infinite musing cycle to putting ideas on paper is a good idea. Although I am not enamored of the old school defining all abilities by class, the more classes one has, the more flexibility players have to come up with unique characters. Just make sure one class does not have significant advantages over the rest of them. Also try and avoid class specific rules that break the rest of the game (assassination table in original D&D is the classic example of what to avoid).