Saturday, January 11, 2014

Adjusting the classes in Chanbara

At the moment, here is my thinking on what classes to include in the game:

Budoka (Martial Artist): expert at weaponless hand-to-hand combat, will be customizable to emulate karate, jujitsu, aikido, sumo, or whatever.  Will have access to some weapons, probably no armor.  Special Abilities: a mix of Maneuvers and Tricks.  Spells: none.

Bushi (Warrior): all around combat expert class, can be a samurai, ronin, peasant hero, or what have you.  Will have access to all weapons and armor.  Special Abilities: lots of Maneuvers.  Spells: none.

Kagemusha (Shadow Warrior): stealthy warrior with some mystical training, for the ninjas who want cool magical powers.  Will have access to some weapons and light armor.  Special Abilities: a mix of Tricks and Secrets.  Spells: none.

Kensei (Weapon Master): combat specialist devoted to a single weapon.  This could be a melee weapon, ranged weapon, or even unarmed combat.  Will have access to a small number of weapons, no armor.  Special Abilities: only Maneuvers, fewer than the Bushi but with faster advancement for the specialized weapon (probably).  Spells: none.

Ninja (Spy): an expert at espionage, sabotage, and infiltration.  This will be the more traditional "gadget" oriented ninja class.  Will have access to all weapons and light armor.  Special Abilities: lots of Tricks.  Spells: none.

Onmyoji (Exorcist): diviners and experts trained in combating spirits and demons.  Will have access to all weapons and no (maybe light) armor.  Special Abilities: a mix of Maneuvers and Secrets.  Spells: yes.

Sohei (Warrior Monk): religiously trained fighters with some mystical abilities.  Will have access to most weapons and all armor.  Special Abilities: a mix of Maneuvers and Secrets.  Spells: probably none, maybe a few.

Soryo (Priest/Monk): religious figures who have a knack for dealing with social situations.  Can be used to emulate mendicant monks, shrine maidens, etc.  Access to limited weapons and limited armor.  Special Abilities: a mix of Tricks and Secrets.  Spells: yes.

Yamabushi (Mystic): religious hermits who practice asceticism to gain physical endurance and magic powers.  Access to limited weapons and limited armor.  Special Abilities: lots of Secrets.  Spells: yes.

As always, Maneuvers are combat related abilities, Tricks are for exploration and interaction, and Secrets are magical abilities.


  1. Looking good, but here are my two cents:

    Onmyoji - Except for ceremonial swords, bows and battle fans, the Onmyoji of the novels and movies never used other weapons. I would have them limited to these as long as they are magical or silver.

    Budoka - Budoka is a fairly recent word. If you're going back beyond the Edo period for inspiration, the Samurai used yawara, which was pulling, throwing, and joint locks. Bandits used kusa sumo (lit. grass sumo) basically derived from Mongolian wrestling. The striking arts (karate, kung fu, etc) were largely attributed to foreign villains in literature, who were called Tode (lit. Chinese hand), while for the game Kakutoka (lit. fighting artists) might be a better term with less of the moral weight of 'budo'.

    I also think the Kagemusha is AWESOME! That's the kind of innovation that has historical associations but also cool modern game vibes.

  2. On the Onmyoji, actually I was thinking a bit more of the Korean movie "Jeon Woochi" where the hero is both a spellcaster and a competent warrior. Still, nothing wrong with limiting the weapons they can use.

    I know Budoka is not period correct, but if I go with Kakutoka then I've got three "K" classes. One reason I'm going with Bushi over Samurai is to limit the number of "S" classes.

    As for Kagemush, I was reading a website (probably bunk, but maybe not) saying that the Iga ninja were known for using all sorts of tools and equipment while the Koga were known for using magic. The movie "Owl's Castle" also had the Koga ninja dude be versed in magic while the Iga were more about the tools. And yes, then it gives the game a class that can emulate Naruto or Ninja Scroll.

    Thanks, Ted!

    1. That is so funny you should mention Koga - I've been to their Ninja Village a few times. It looks like a run down 70s style junior forest ranger park with overflowing WCs and a cheezy giftshop. Still, 'ninja' has become such a catch all that you delineation of tool user Ninja vs Shadow Warrior is dead on.

      Hmmm, if Kakutoka is too many Ks (and it is actually a fairly recent word), how about Myoubuteka? The characters are literally 妙武手家, or 'Wielder of Strange Martial Hand'. It is the name of a rare old karate kata, and has a nice ring if used to describe non-yawara kicking and punching arts with a bit of evil martial magic thrown in there.

      Either way your game will rock, mwahahahahahaha!

  3. Myoubuteka is a good one, but a bit of a mouthful. Playing around with a dictionary last night, I came up with the rather direct Taijutsuka, and the more poetic Masurao (Hero/Bravo/Warrior) and Wanryokusha (Strong-arm), the last also being a bit of a mouthful.

    I may just end up using the English names in the end, like I did with Flying Swordsmen. But since many of the Japanese names are already known to most gamers, I'll probably got with that.

    On my first trip to Japan, I visited a friend from college who grew up in Iga-Ueno. We visited the "ninja museum" there, and there was the more historical place that mostly just had collections of weapons and ninja gear displayed in cases like the weapon/armor collections in most castles. The other building was I guess for kids, as it was just a series of optical illusions and "magic science" tricks. I don't remember the state of the toilets or the gift shop...

  4. Second the special weapons list for Onmyoji. I'm watching the Shinobi movies by K Tanigaki and all the clans seem to be made of of LE bastards. I'd almost say to put ninja (like old skool drow) in the roster of enemies, based off this and many anime.

  5. When I went through the original OA, I already did that with Yakuza. Sure, there are some movies where the hero is a mobster, but usually they're the baddies. Ninja, however, have a lot more hero role models in fiction.

    Ninja clans and organizations do make for good enemies, and there's nothing wrong with a ninja war as fodder for gaming!