Monthly Archives: November 2013

Tenra Bansho Zero: The Moon over Iwade

Tenra Bansho Zero: The Moon over Iwade

Hi, my name is Chris Chinn, I’ll be guest posting a bit here on ThoughtCrime with a few other folks to talk about some of the fun gaming we’ve been doing.  (My usual rpg blogging can be found over at Deeper in the Game).

One of the reasons I love roleplaying games is the stories which you make as you play the game – you get all your favorite parts of a genre or series that you’ve always wanted, but just like watching a show or reading a book – you don’t know how it’s going to turn out until it happens.

We started playing a roleplaying game called Tenra Bansho Zero about a week ago – it’s a super anime rpg. Instead of the generic pseudo-Europe fantasy tropes of Dungeons and Dragons, this game is more like sci-fi Japanese Warring States. With power armor. And cyborgs. And magic. And ninjas.

It’s very much like a mix between Ninja Scroll, Giant Robo and Escaflowne.

Our game in progress

In the small state of Iwade, previously having seen peace for many generations, we see just a month after the lord has died, they discover a mine of rare and precious magical ore – which draws the attention of neighboring warlords. The Nijou clan is forced to prepare for battle – with a young untested warlord at the helm and nowhere near enough troops.

Our first player has taken the role of Jahl-Yu, one of the horned Oni people, who has been adopted and raised to adulthood by the human Nijou clan. Though sworn to serve, not everyone in the Nijou are tolerant of the Oni…

The second player plays the expert swordsman Harada Toki, who has recently been defeated by a one-armed swordmaster and now doubting his own ability as a warrior, has agreed to serve General Hatano of Nijou clan, in exchange for a magical transformation which will give him great power… at the cost of his humanity.

Some action highlights just this session:

  • Jahl Yu using his magical powers to snatch assassins into the ground and crush them alive, leaving behind kanji reading “death” in the dirt.
  • Two storms clashing as Harada’s chain sword and a cyborg ronin’s flail arms spin and collide leaving a vortex of death down the street.
  • A village of Oni caught between the two nations, convinced by Harada to go to war… and the unleashing of their magical weapons.

What’s been really fun is that we’re all pretty up on anime tropes, so the genre expectations fall into place very easily, which lets us get into the action and we can all click on the same visual touchstones (“And then I begin attacking them with some crazy low to the ground windmill flair sword style like Samurai Champloo!”).

Although we just finished Act 2 (stories are made of 3 Acts in TBZ), I’m pretty excited to continue on and see where things go next.  I can see a lot of fun growth and character directions for both the characters.

Coming Home: a Metatopia report

Coming Home: a Metatopia report

Metatopia feels like coming home. It’s so amazing to have a place where I can talk and learn about the real work of game design, talk with other people injvolved in it, and in general feel at ease.  I’ve been published, spoken at panels, run blogs, but never really managed to feel like I fit in the industry before coming to Metatopia over the last two years.

There are many reasons I personally have felt like an outsider in RPGs before, but having a place that is so intense yet intimate and relaxed, that also offers me a chance to contribute by running panels and being in people’s playtests helps me feel like I’m in inside.  I felt that both years I’ve attended Metatopia, and it’s a really special feeling. Days after the convention, I’m still smiling!

I got to playtest many of my friend’s games, which were excellent.  I got to test new card games from Tim Rodriguez and Dave Chalker, a world=building game from Laura Simpson (Companion’s Tale) and a game of modern-day ninja from Dev Purkayastha called Shadow Elite.  I got to test the new version of a tabletop Streetfighter game called Gatchafighter. With Tor, Dev and I ran a game jam where people read a short story then built the shells of some really great games. I playtested Five Fires.

I wasn’t quite ready for this.  The playtest was awesome. I had Jeremy Morgan, Elizabeth Sampat, Lilian Cohen-Moore, James Mendes Hodes, Warren Morrison, Dave Chalker and Darren Watts at the table (Tim Rodriguez popped in later), and it was just a really great time. The game was pre-alpha, so I mostly needed to test some mechanics and structures. Everything worked way better than I expected, and after the convention, all of my playtesters told people all about the game.  Soon people I’d never met before were mentioning to me how Five Fires sounded really cool!  It was quite the feeling.  I want to thank all my playtesters for their suggestions and also their evangelism for this little game I’m working on.

So I’m back now. I’ve got a Patreon campaign where you can help back Five Fires and some of my other creations, and I’ll make a return to blogging as well. Metatopia was just what the doctor ordered to revitalize me for more game design work.  Thanks to everyone for your support thus far. Thank you to everyone for the great conversations.  My next posts will be about some of the cool stuff I played and discussed in more detail.