Apr 172014
 

Back in early February, I penned this post, which describes initial skill selection and skill advancement. Much of the information on that post is still valid and part of the Vagabonds roleplaying game. For example, we are still avoiding the most basic forms of linear skill advancement (i.e., skill points, success/failure stacks, etc.). However, we have changed the rules for training methods.

On that post, I outlined three specific training methods: 1) Training with a master/sensei, 2) Self-taught, or 3) Supernatural. These options are sound, but necessitating a choice between them is limiting. What if you are bound to a master, but find a strange, hidden scroll with dark secrets from the past? Are you just going to ignore it and dutifully continue your training? Sure, that’s an option. But it shouldn’t be the only one.

Instead of sticking to that trio of training methods, we are doing something else. It looks like this:

growth-label-2

When you have decided which skill you want to advance, you fill the first blank with the name of that skill. The second blank is where you place the various resources and methods you are using to advance that skill.

Now, it’s important to note that the second blank does not need to be a single word or phrase. It can be an entire list, if it fits better with what your character is doing. Your character can choose to soak up knowledge like a sponge, or pick and choose what she feels is important.

This results in skill advancement sentences that range from,

I’m working on Death Rituals by studying ancient texts given to me by a mysterious priest at Ise Shrine,

to something like,

I’m working on Craftsmanship – Gears by tinkering with machines whenever I can, meticulously copying Tanaka Hisashige’s mechanical doll designs, and visiting my mentor Tadayoshi-sensei whenever possible.

The methods and resources used to advance a skill can affect, inspire, or complicate the story. They can even define what ways a character might later adopt for that skill. A character’s education, no matter where it comes from, defines who she is. Is she tempted by the eerie prescience offered by the kitsune in the forest, or does she opt for the purifying wisdom of the priests at the mountaintop shrine?

So, while we continue to encourage some sort of narrative connection between the character and the skill, we also encourage players to diversify that connection.

Avoiding Minutiae

In the real world, practice makes perfect — we get better at tasks the more we do them. However, this is a roleplaying game, not a real-life simulation. As we’ve mentioned in previous posts regarding skill advancement, you don’t need to roleplay every little bit of your training. Nor do you need to “use” the skill you are working on in a traditional sense.

We don’t want you to feel trapped by the skill your character is working on, so much so that you feel pressured to use it in circumstances where another solution might result in a more interesting story. Perhaps your character is working on Weapons – Swords by meditating under a waterfall every night. Therefore, combat use of the Weapons skill is not necessarily required to advance it. If you think about it, this idea fits well with Japanese swordplay tropes — for example, the master swordsman who only draws his sword when it is absolutely necessary.

That being said, you can of course jot down practicing on my enemies as a training method (for the previous paragraph’s example), if that’s how you want your skill advancement to be seen in the fiction. It’s often wise for the GM to run a session at least keeping in mind what the PCs are working on, so its conceivable that scenes, environments, confrontations, and/or situations will be crafted accordingly. Even though a session almost never goes according to “plan” (nor should it), the GM should still have at least a basic understanding of your character’s desired advancement path.

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Mar 312014
 

When it comes to ghostly narratives, the Hour of the Ox can be a wicked plot device. The Hour of the Ox (ushi no koku, 1am to 3am) is “witching hour” in Japan. Evil spirits and restless ghosts are said to be especially active during this time.

Where are the PCs during this hour? Are they resting in the halls of a dusty Buddhist temple? Sneaking around the forest to avoid a shogunal checkpoint? Enjoying a cup of sake at the roadside sakaya? Of course, randomly introducing a spirit to the game every single night is probably not the best way to run a game. However, if ghostly happenings are relevant to your campaign, the Hour of the Ox can be a powerful narrative tool.

This doesn’t mean that ghostly activity only occurs within the Hour of the Ox. Nighttime hours leading up to the Hour of the Ox are likewise prominently featured in many ghost stories. Very often, as time progresses and the Hour of the Ox approaches, mishaps and ghostly incidents increase in frequency and severity.

The Sound of Clocks

Time-telling devices can help build the tension in a ghostly scene. On mechanical clocks, which are fairly common during this time period, eight strikes at night signify the start of the Hour of the Ox.

The sound of the ticking pendulum on such clocks is often used to represent the eerie silence of the scene. Additionally, some temples may ring a bell to signify the hour.

[Note: Comprehensive information on the Japanese zodiac, calendar, and clock will be featured in the Vagabonds sourcebook. However, I will mention here that one hour on the old Japanese clock is equal to two hours on present-day clocks.]

A Kuniyoshi print depicting the Ushi no Koku Mairi ritual.

A Kuniyoshi print depicting the Ushi no Koku Mairi ritual.

Visiting a Shrine During the Hour of the Ox

The PCs are walking through a narrow path at night, when they pass the local shrine. They hear a faint pounding, as if someone is driving nails into wood.

There exists a twisted ritual in Japanese folklore called Ushi no Koku Mairi – a shrine visit during the Hour of the Ox. This ritual involves nailing an effigy of an individual into a shrine’s shinboku, or sacred tree, so as to curse that individual. There are dozens of different versions of this ritual, many of which have evolved over the ages. The following is a general description of the ritual, though your game world can certainly have home-brewed variations. In game, this ritual is associated with the Death Rituals skill.

The curse itself can be: 1) Sickness, pain, and misfortune, 2) A personal haunting by a vengeful spirit, and/or 3) Death. When a PC is attempting to perform this ritual in the game, the result of the curse should be based on the effectiveness of the Death Rituals skill use (whether or not the result is a success or a critical success). If the skill use is a complete failure, there should be severe complications. Perhaps the curse rebounds, or an evil spirit begins to follow the PC. Even in the event of a success, there should be side effects — like a trail of eeriness that follows the character.

It’s important to note that Ushi no Koku Mairi should be done in secrecy. So, while the PC describes the ritual, the other PCs should not be physically present in the scene. If an NPC spots the ritual in progress, that NPC must be killed so as to prevent the curse from backfiring.

Sometimes this ritual is done in a single night, with stakes being driven into the arms, legs, head, and chest of the effigy. Other times, the ritual must take place over three, five, or seven nights (one iron stake per night).

The difficulty level of Ushi no Koku Mairi should be dependent on the security of the shrine and the completeness of the iconic costume. Additionally, the importance of the target NPC should be taken into account when determining how many nights the practitioner must return to the shrine to maintain the use of the Death Rituals skill.

Of course, Ushi no Koku Mairi can also be practiced by NPCs.

The Iconic Ushi no Koku Mairi Costume

To curse an enemy, one must appear as a spirit. A white kimono tied with a white obi is preferable. Painting one’s skin a pale white likewise contributes to a ghostly image. Another quirk of the costume is to wear a mirror around one’s neck, as the mirror is a Shinto symbol of spiritual reflection.

In many Edo period artworks depicting Ushi no Koku Mairi, the ritual practitioner also wears an upside-down trivet, with a lit candle stabbed into each of the trivet’s legs (so, three candles total). Additionally, many of these depictions show the practitioner with a comb in the mouth, so as to encourage silence when sneaking into the shrine at such an hour.

These depictions also commonly show the practitioner wearing “tengu geta,” or tall, single-toothed, wooden clogs. Imagine trying to walk with these clogs while a heavy piece of iron wobbles atop your head. No one said the ritual would be easy, and really, that’s the point!

Finally, and most importantly, the practitioner needs a doll made of bound straw, which must include an organic piece of the target (woven-in hair, for example, or a splash of the person’s blood). This doll is called a waraningyō. Using long, iron stakes and a wooden mallet, the doll is nailed into the sacred tree of the shrine.

* * * * *

The text of this blog post is an excerpt taken straight from the current, pre-edited draft of the Vagabonds sourcebook chapter “The Strange & the Supernatural” (we may end up with more creative chapter titles). Whether you’re stumbling upon this blog for the first time, or have been following Vagabonds since we started the blog, I hope you will spread the word about our little project here. Thanks for reading!

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Mar 252014
 

This is the third entry of a series of posts in which I create character outlines for “famous vagabonds” in history and popular culture. The characters outlined here are rather far along in their development, and are described using the current iteration of the Vagabonds rulebook. In Vagabonds, players create their own characters; these outlines are meant to provide fun examples and a look into Vagabonds character creation.

* * * * *

TanakaHisashigeDid you know that Toshiba, the huge multinational electronics conglomerate, has roots in the Edo period? Well, sort of. I refer, of course, to a man named Tanaka Hisashige, tinkerer and inventor extraordinaire. The company he founded in 1875 would later become one of the main ingredients in the merger that created Tokyo Shibaura Electric K.K. in 1939. In 1978, that company changed its name to Toshiba.

Ok, so sure, Tanaka Hisashige didn’t actually create his company until 1875, a few years into the Meiji period. But, Tanaka began his career in the early 1800s, and crafted his first mechanical automaton by the age of 20. Tanaka Hisashige may not be your typical vagabond, but I thought he’d be a good historical figure to highlight. And indeed, in his era, he did contend with some hefty socio-political complications. With this profile, I’m momentarily highlighting the fun scientific possibilities of Vagabonds.

Designs for a tea-serving karakuri ningyō, or mechanical doll.

Designs for a tea-serving karakuri ningyō, or mechanical doll.

Before I lay out the character outline, let’s look at the time period and the essence of Vagabonds itself. The game is set in early modern Japan. Contrary to popular belief, the country was not closed off and stuck in a time void. Scientific theories and practices from the West became more and more accessible as the era progressed. This led many Japanese academics to explore and interpret Western studies in relation to their own ideas. As a result, many Edo period inventions were remarkably original, serving as fantastic displays of academic resourcefulness. These inventions ranged from intricate clocks to entertaining automata.

It’s fun to imagine mechanical devices in the weird and supernatural game world of Vagabonds. I’m not necessarily thinking all-out “Edo period steampunk,” though some of you might want to go that route in your game, and that’s totally fine. Some subtle and realistic applications: mechanical traps, firearms, binoculars, telescopes, wind-up dolls, theatre stage tricks, and steam engines. Some fun and strange applications: possessed wind-up dolls, haunted clocks, and static discharge apparatuses. Beyond mechanical inventions, there are herbal medicines and mysterious concoctions.

The Vagabonds game world thus contains a wealth of scientific curiosities to play with. Currently, we have “Mechanics” as an optional focus of the Craftsmanship skill. There is also the Academia skill, and its various focuses, as well as the Medicine skill. Generally speaking, the Vagabonds framework is well-suited for mad scientists and itinerant inventors.

Anyway… onto the character outline for Tanaka Hisashige. Keep in mind that I am: 1) Embellishing his profile a bit, and 2) Placing him in the context of a supernatural Japan.

Ahead of My Time (vagrancy)
Perk: Genius of Mechanical Wonders
- Obsessed with the way things work
- New ideas and curious devices
- Science and business go hand in hand
Hangup: Political Foes & Spiritual Woes
- “Western science has no place in Japan”
- Scorned by those who revere the Emperor
- Science can’t solve a spiritual conundrum

Talents: Craftsmanship [Mechanics] (2), Craftsmanship [basic] (1), Academia [Astronomy] (1), Academia [basic] (1), Weapons [Firearms] (1)

Presentation (physique / style): Hunched, but Healthy / Beard of Wisdom
Persona (posture / truth): Innovation Solves Everything / Terrified by the Inexplicable

Skills: Craftsmanship [Mechanics] (6/Legend), Craftsmanship [basic] (5/Master), Academia [Astronomy] (4/Expert), Academia [basic] (3/Competent), Weapons [Firearms] (3/Competent), Prestige (3/Competent), Commerce (2/Novice)

Ways:
* Nature’s Limits: Craftsmanship [Mechanics] can be used in place of Athletics when attempting to overcome physical trials that involve natural obstacles.
* Gearwork Performance: Craftsmanship [Mechanics] can be used instead of Performing Arts to change the ambience of a human-populated scene.
* Scientific Reasoning: When engaged in ghostly confrontations, Academia is treated as Harmony, thus buffering the mental scale.

Tanaka Hisashige's famous Mannen Jimeishou ("myriad year clock"), a remarkably sophisticated and complex mechanical clock that is designated as an Important Cultural Asset by the Japanese government.

Tanaka Hisashige’s famous Mannen Jimeishou (“myriad year clock”), a remarkably sophisticated and complex mechanical clock that is designated an Important Cultural Asset by the Japanese government.

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Mar 192014
 

I’m sure many of you have heard it before: “Japan is a superstitious society.” And indeed, while this phrase is an over-simplification, it is essentially true. Go to a specific type of shrine, and you can wish for success in business or school. You can even bless your newly purchased automobile, so as to have safe travels. These are pointed and purposeful charms and blessings — living, breathing social rituals.

These examples are true for contemporary Japan, but they are also relevant to early modern Japan. In fact, Edo period Japan saw a huge influx of superstitious activity when compared to the bloody previous era (the Sengoku jidai, or warring states period). Why? Well, first, shrines and temples were under new bureaucratic pressures to become regulated, documented, and made official. As such, many of these institutions began to devote their resources to specific practices or themes, and subsequently became famous for those practices. Additionally, a rising middle class resulted in a populist form of spirituality that explored issues relevant to people beyond the samurai class.

Yoroi-bashi, where the moving water was said to be sacred -- and, in some instances, even haunted.

Yoroi-bashi, where the moving water was said to be sacred — and, in some instances, even haunted.

This wasn’t a new thing per se, but a lack of widespread war meant that other concerns could come to the foreground of society. Fire, famine, sickness … specific shrines or areas of a city became dedicated to confronting these terrors. There even evolved faddish kami dedicated to the treatment of warts, blindness, and other incredibly specific ailments. In Vagabonds, we group Edo era faddish kami with other types of popular kami. The resulting term is folk kami. I previously mentioned folk kami in this post.

* * * * *
Folk kami, or hayarigami, don’t even need a name. They can be identified by the ailment of issue they confront, treat, or prevent, as well as the location in which they are found. Just to highlight some historical folk kami (or hayarigami), here are a few fun examples:
  • Have a terrible cough? Visit the stone shaped like a woman in Kobiki-chō, an area that also houses popular kabuki venues (modern-day Tsukiji, for those of you who have visited Tokyo).
  • Experiencing numbness or pain from the waist down? Visit a small shrine near the Tokugawa family’s temple Zōjō-ji.
  • Suffering from smallpox? There are a few places you can go. Try the popular bridge Ryōgoku-bashi, where sumo tournaments take place. There’s a small kami inhabiting the area. You could also try Yoroi-bashi, where a kami is said to reside in the water surrounding the river’s famous ferries.
  • Want to protect against burglary or thieves? Visit the Kumagai Inari Shrine in Honpōji. The priests there can provide you with an ofuda (a charm to be put in a house or location) or an omamori (a personal charm that can be carried around).
  • Have a pounding headache? Visit the famous Nihon-bashi, where it is said that a headache-healing kami resides in the railing and posts.
In Vagabonds, we mention these examples. More importantly, we provide the basis for the examples, so players can invent their own folk kami. What purpose do folk kami serve in the game, beyond setting detail? Well, in the context of kami rituals, they could create powerful, albeit highly specific, allies. A character skilled in kami rituals might create a talisman (omamori) to protect against injury. A player could then use this as justification for rolling an additional d6 when confronted with an Athletics trial in a natural environment. Or, perhaps the player could even use this as justification for temporarily increasing the character’s Vigor skill level.
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Lack of war also meant more travel. And depending on what kind of campaign you run, travel can be really, really important in Vagabonds. During the Edo period, an expansion of major thoroughfares resulted in a huge influx of foot traffic, and thus, amulets for safe travels, charms against evil spirits, and other such objects became widely popular. More travel also meant more chances for people to make pilgrimages to specific religious sites. This, in turn, provided those religious sites with increased traffic and popular renown. In this era of fast-spreading word of mouth, it was easy for a shrine to become famous for a particular type of blessing.

There was likewise a resurgence of onmyōdō, the yin-yang art of divination, which was officially regulated by a single family (the Tsuchimikado family). The shogunate even created an office of astrology to work with authorized diviners, resulting in a bureaucratization of something as vague and superstitious as reading the stars and predicting future events. This contributed to the establishment of a standardized calendar, as promoted by major shrines and religious/divination institutions. On the other side of this, there were, of course, “illegal” street fortunetellers, back-alley diviners, and desperate faith peddlers. Fun! In Vagabonds, abilities commonly associated with onmyōdō are included in the Divination skill.

Blessings vs. Fortune

So we’ve talked about all the instances in which individuals are able to, theoretically, “control” their luck. They can pray at a shrine, carry a talisman, learn the art of divination, etc., all with the aim of improving their odds. All of these instances represent an active attempt to improve one’s luck.

In Vagabonds, this kind of luck is very simply represented by skill levels and actions. We label them as Blessings, rather than fortune. This includes blessings from nature, specific kami, fellow PCs, NPCs, creatures, etc. All of those folk kami above are examples of entities that provide blessings to characters. The idea here is that the character actively seeks out a supernatural or spiritual force that will improve luck. Blessings are thus attached to and affect a specific skill or character element.

But what about fortune that cannot be sought out? What about the kind that is inexplicably tied to a character, and not part of any one skill or character element? What about fate? What about all those stories we hear of, where the mysterious hands of fortune reached out and carried a hero to safety amidst grave danger?

Introducing Shichi Fukujin, The Seven Gods of Fortune. I could write an entire blog post (or seven) just on these important figures of Japanese lore.

Introducing Shichi Fukujin, The Seven Gods of Fortune. I could write an entire blog post (or seven) just on these important figures of Japanese lore.

The Concept of Fortune

The spiritual scene of the Edo period is a perfect fit for the concepts we are trying to capture with Vagabonds — both in terms of setting and mechanics. Our inclusion of a fortune statistic for each player-character is not simply a neat feature we threw in for the heck of it. Rather, fortune is our conscious representation of the idea that vagabonds are characters inhabiting a superstitious, Japanese game world. Of course, in Vagabonds, we can’t really call it superstition. For all intents and purposes, good fortune provides a tangible benefit.

Sure, we could group fortune in with kami rituals, or even make it a skill. But, that wouldn’t quite capture the nuances of fortune. Fortune ought be something mysterious and unobtainable, in contrast to blessings. It should be out of a character’s reach.

Skills can be improved over time, including kami rituals. Blessings can be obtained by actively seeking them out and appropriately securing them. Fortune, however, is enigmatic and entirely external.

Uses for Fortune

While blessings affect specific attributes or skills of a character, fortune can be used in a much broader way. In the current iteration of the rules, fortune is primarily used to: 1) Prevent physical, mental, or social harm, 2) Increase action roll outcomes, 3) Decrease NPC action roll outcomes, 4) Sharpen a character’s senses, 5) Diminish an NPC’s senses, 6) Help a character avoid being pulled by the GM via hangups, and 7) Negate a misfortune found in the scene.

The caveat here is a necessity for narration (as with many facets of Vagabonds gameplay). Players don’t just spend fortune and call it a day. A player needs to narrate a highly unlikely situation — success despite the odds. Fortune is thus useful in tense situations, or trials in which a negative outcome seemed unavoidable.

Determining Fortune

At the beginning of a game session, each player rolls 1d6. The resulting number is the number of fortune the player has during the session. Fortune never refreshes. The number you roll is the number you will have for the entire session. As such, fortune is a currency that should be carefully spent. We want fortune to be a precious resource, not something that can supplement every other action. Having relatively low numbers of fortune encourages players to use it when it really matters.

In many ways, fortune can be seen as a shield of points surrounding a character. It can protect a character when activated, and is gradually used up during a session. Unspent fortune does not carry over to the next session.

* * * * *

Note: The mechanics of fortune described here haven’t been completely finalized. We’re still playtesting, though the small numbers produced by a 1d6 have been more successful and meaningful than past iterations.

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Mar 022014
 
A print of the haiku poet Basho talking to two farmers celebrating the autumn moon. By Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Part of his Tsuki Hyakushi series (100 Views of the Moon).

A print of the wandering haiku poet Bashō speaking with two farmers celebrating the autumn moon. By Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Part of his Tsuki Hyakushi series (100 Views of the Moon). Perhaps Bashō has the way Inspirational Conversation, which gives him +1 to Prestige when transient features of nature are significant to a scene or environment.

Today I’m going to talk about Ways, the term we use for special abilities in Vagabonds.

The Essentials

Ways are always related to a character’s skills. However, ways embody non-traditional “uses” of the skill(s), which is why they’re called “special abilities.” It isn’t enough for Maho to be an expert at Stealth. He wants to be better at using Stealth in wooded areas. Maho’s player creates the way, Shrouded by Leaves, which stipulates that Maho can be stealthy in thick foliage / wooded areas. If the PCs find themselves in a winter forest, he’ll be out of luck. This brings us to the 3 central points of ways:

1) Ways must have a condition or multiple conditions. *1
2) Ways must develop based on character experiences so far in the game, or must be related to the character’s presentation, persona, or vagrancies. *2
3) Ways are narratively expressed / phrased, but contain varying degrees of mechanical function. *3

Conditions

* 1) Like stunts, tricks, or other special abilities in a variety of other roleplaying games and systems, ways cannot be used all the time. Ways individualize a character’s ability, allowing that character to get a boost in a specific situation or environment. Here is a list of example conditions:

  • + in a specific terrain (i.e., leafy forests, snowy areas, dense urban, high ground)
  • + in a specific type of situation (i.e., outnumbered, severely wounded, darkness, supernatural)
  • + in a specific type of interaction (i.e., nobility/samurai, merchants, yakuza, actors)

Relevance

* 2) A character doesn’t just magically learn a way that is not related to what they have encountered or experienced in the game or in their life prior to the game. Ways must have some relationship to the character! This is absolutely necessary. Sachi doesn’t just suddenly get good at fighting in the snow. She must’ve been born in Aomori, or the group must have already spent a portion of their adventure in the cold north. So yes, when creating presentation, persona, and vagrancies, you should consider how those attributes might add to your character in the long run.

The game provides numerous examples of ways, but more importantly, we provide the means for players to create their own. This is crucial, as each vagabond should be unique. Ultimately, the best ways should be player-created, group-endorsed, and GM-approved.

Skill Advancement

This post touched upon skill advancement. In it, three ways a character can advance a skill were defined: 1) by learning from a master, 2) by teaching herself, and 3) by obtaining the skill via supernatural means. Relevance is important here, as the way your character learns a skill is considered part of her experience and life. Ways developed by a character who has learned from a master have the potential to be quite different from ways developed by a character who is self-taught.

kitsune spirit festival

Function

* 3) But what can ways actually do? What does that “+” sign represent? Here is a list of some benefits that ways can provide when the character fulfills the condition to use that way:

  • Create an alternative skill feature, or even seemingly mesh one skill with another.

For example, Adashino is an expert in Nature. Adashino’s way associated with his Nature skill is Tongue of a Kitsune (a supernaturally obtained way), which allows him to consult with foxes, asking them about their territory/forest.

This is a highly specific skill feature that Adashino’s player has invented, though it is exceptionally useful within the stipulated condition (a kitsune must be present). It does two things: 1) Tacks a new skill feature onto Nature, and 2) Provides Adashino with a supernatural skill feature.

  • Increase a skill’s level in a particular situation. With only 6 core difficulty levels (there are potentially more if your characters reach exceptionally high skill levels), an increase in skill by a single level can be a huge boon for your character. In the above instance, Adashino can actually talk to kitsune. What if we simplified his way a little bit?

Adashino’s way associated with his Nature skill is Tangled Insight, which provides him with +1 to Nature trials when he is seeking geographic or directional knowledge of a forest.

Notice that when receiving a +1 to skill level, the way’s use becomes narrower. Tongue of a Kitsune would allow Adashino to actually speak to foxes with his Nature skill, but without a bonus to skill level. Meanwhile, Tangled Insight would provide him with a specific bonus, but only when he is seeking geographic knowledge of a forest. It’s the difference of, “Can I do this at all?” versus, “Can I do this better?” Tangled Insight would likely be used more frequently, but Tongue of a Kitsune would be an exceptional ability when used.

  • Here is another example:

Yahei is a Master of Manipulation. Having grown up in a prominent samurai household in Kyushu, he has perfected the art of charming bureaucrats. Yahei’s way is Bureaucratic Acquiescence, which provides him with +1 to his Manipulation skill level when he uses it on seemingly uptight government officials.

Again, we have a pretty specific skill use here, but one that will still come up often in play.

  • Provide a bonus during combat/confrontations. [Increase the offensive capability of the character. / Increase defensive capability of the character. / Improve the precision of the character's maneuver. / Impose a drawback on an enemy, or provide a benefit to an ally.]

For example, the group has spent a good deal of time in harsh, rocky environments, as they have been searching for a daimyo’s daughter in the Hida Mountains. During this time, Kagura has adopted the way Footing of a Serow in relation to her Grappling skill. This way stipulates that Kagura can receive +1 to her physical defenses if she is grappling with an enemy in rocky terrain.

Philosophy

Presentation, persona, vagrancies, skills, ways… all of these components of your character can mesh together in innumerable combinations. This is the philosophy behind the vagabonds roleplaying system. If you want to be a blind swordsman, there isn’t only one combination that results in such a character. There are several ways you can customize that type of character to your specific roleplaying needs and ideas. And as with any other game, the GM should always pay attention to the characters of the group by designing the game world and its action around the strengths and weaknesses of those characters.

Additionally, we want players to tell a coherent story together and to have a great time doing it. Special abilities can feel disconnected from the game when they have absolutely nothing to do with your character. Ways are designed to avoid this issue. We’ve had a lot of fun designing ways for our own vagabonds, based on their backgrounds and experiences.

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