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Friday, 16 November 2018

Tetsubo is coming

We've signed the contract. After thirty years, it's finally going to happen. It --

I should really start at the beginning, shouldn't I?

Tetsubo is a Japanese role-playing game that Jamie and I wrote back in the '80s to supplement Games Workshop's Warhammer RPG.

We had a blast researching it. We've always been big fans of directors like Kurosawa and Mizoguchi, so we got to rewatch a bunch of classic movies. And we loved steeping ourselves in the folklore of medieval Japan, with whopping great books like Henri L Joly's Legend in Japanese Art.

One of the things we wanted to capture in Tetsubo is the rural folk tradition in Japanese myth. Monsters are fabulous and strange, like something out of a dream, out of the Land of Roots. For the medieval Japanese the invisible world was never far away and it was the subject of fascination as well as dread. Tetsubo tries to capture that sense of energy and danger and weirdness. It's very far from being D&D with Oriental names.


But the project was not to be. The very week we were going to send Tetsubo over to Games Workshop, our contact there, Paul Cockburn, quit the company. Nobody else was particularly keen to pursue the idea of a Japanese WFRP book, so eventually we returned the advance (that was three pints of beer apiece we had to pay for ourselves, then) and recovered our manuscript. I think I had some vague plan of converting it to Dragon Warriors. But other projects got in the way, Tetsubo went back in the attic, and there it stayed until a few months ago when we got a message from Daniel Fox, founder of Grim & Perilous Studios.

Daniel is the designer and publisher of Zweihänder, a gritty roleplaying game for settings like the Witcher, Game of Thrones, Solomon Kane, and the Black Company. In short, the entire genre of fantasy spawned by Michael Moorcock's Von Bek stories.

Daniel sent us a copy of the Zweihänder rulebook, a truly mighty tome that fully justifies the name. He'd seen the Tetsubo PDF that we used to offer for free -- not the full work, that, just the pages we had in digital form. (Well, it was the 1980s. A lot of it was written on typewriters or stored on floppy disks.)

Would we, Daniel asked, be willing to consider...?

There was no need to say more. A second lease of life for our labour of love? And as a companion book to a great modern RPG like Zweihänder? It was worth the thirty-year war -- er, I mean the thirty-year wait -- to get here. Watch for more info over the next few months, and take a look too at the official announcement on the Grim & Perilous site. There's also an interview here with Daniel Fox that answers some of the questions I hope you're eager to put to us. Obviously there's some work to be done. I've dug out the complete manuscript and have been scanning the chapters that we hadn't stored digitally. And the entire book needs to be edited and converted to the Zweihänder rules system. But within a year we hope to get this thing out into the world. All it took was a little patience.


Friday, 9 November 2018

Summoned back from oblivion


A little while back I mentioned the Citadel Miniatures box of demonic critters based on the "Dealing With Demons" articles I wrote for White Dwarf, and the tactical battle game I wrote to go in that box. (Purely as a charitable gesture to help out Citadel's struggling finances, you understand; I certainly never saw anything as exotic as a royalty statement.) I assumed that scenario was lost in the mists of time.

But nothing's forgotten, as any Robin of Sherwood fan knows, and so I shouldn't have been surprised when Lee Barklam got in touch to tell me he'd found "The Best Laid Plans" scenario out there on the internet. Steve Casey, the author of the blog where it was posted, described it as "well-written, gripping, and smattered with dark humour." Which seems a far kinder comment that it deserved in my memory, but then I hadn't seen it in thirty years.

Lee has converted the scenario to Dragon Warriors rules (thanks, Lee!) and you can find it among other Legend scenarios on the Cobwebbed Forest site here, or follow the direct download link to get the PDF here.