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Friday, 18 March 2011

A rack of cloud across the light of evening

All next week we'll be running a scenario from way back in the days of White Dwarf. I mean the days when it used to feature material for D&D, RuneQuest, Traveler and other systems - in this case Bushido, a medieval Japanese RPG that had a burst of cult popularity in the early 1980s.

My own preference is for Heian Japan, a good five or six hundred years earlier than games like Bushido are set. No samurai to speak of then. No seppuku or dai-sho. And certainly no sneaky fellers in black pyjamas spending their days practicing on tiptoe over squeaky floors. I ran a campaign set around the events of The Tales of the Heike using Paul Mason's Water Margin rules, but when it came to Bushido we probably played one or two sessions at most.

"Kwaidan" got written because Oliver Johnson and I were asked to come up with a scenario to help sell Bushido, copies of which must have been lying too long in the Games Workshop window, curling and sun bleached. We had recently seen the movie of the same name at the National Film Theatre and Oliver had bought me Royall Tyler's excellent book of Japanese folktales, so we settled down at our two typewriters with a supply of green tea on hand and bashed out the scenario in an afternoon. Essentially it's an exercise in how to cram as many classic Japanese horror-fantasy elements as possible into one adventure. Not likely to make it into "The Best of Morris & Johnson" then, and most definitely not the kind of roleplaying we were doing in those days or now, but of interest to collectors, perhaps.

I'm going to leave the Bushido stats in. I can't remember now what all those MNAs ("maximum number of actions"?) and BAPs (a type of bread roll?) were all about, but it should be pretty easy to convert to your system of choice. Or you could use Tetsubo - rather apt, that, since it too was written primarily to help sell GW/Citadel products.

Now a footnote. I queued this series of posts up a month ago, but in light of the recent appalling events in Japan I can't let the coincidence of timing pass unnoticed. So I'm going to ask everyone who plans on using the Bushido scenario, or indeed who regularly drops in and enjoys this blog, to please pay for that enjoyment. Normally we believe in giving stuff away for free. But have you played the Heart of Ice gamebook? Or read Jamie's Fabled Lands comic book? Or downloaded Tetsubo? Then I'm asking you now to reach into your pocket on behalf of the people in Japan who need our help. Here's where: the Japanese Red Cross c/o Google Crisis Response. Doing it that way gets aid directly to where it is needed. And please contribute something now, this minute, before you do anything else today.


  1. Thanks for the reminder and done.

  2. Thanks, Rudd. Even if it's just us, every little bit counts!

  3. Done. Maybe this permits me to atone, in part, for downloading those Blood Sword PDFs.

  4. We'll never mention it again, Paul :-)

  5. densetsu no chi no ryu sensi6 May 2011 at 05:51

    Hello,I'm a Japanese and sorry for my bad english.

    First,I can never thank you enough as a Japanese.

    Thank you for the kwaidan!
    I want to see the scenario at this very moment.
    And I'm looking forward to the Fabled Lands core rule book and the new Dragon Warriors books!

  6. Thanks for posting this. I love the film Kwaidan and the Bushido RPG - so this is just the sweetspot for me.

    1. You're welcome, Brian. And thanks for reminding me that it's been too long since I saw the movie... must add that to my Lovefilm list.