Steampunk Musha

Bi-Weekly Design Blog #13: Gaijin of Rosuto-Shima - Core Races of Vathak, Part 2

Bi-Weekly Design Blog #13: Gaijin of Rosuto-Shima - Core Races of Vathak, Part 2

Our ongoing fiction, Shattered Vows, continues from last time.

The inside of the izakaya stank of foreign foods and unknown spices. It was crowded with gaikokujin, and even the few locals present were speaking in foreign tongues. As soon as he stepped through the door, Takahiro realized his mistake. Everyone was staring in his direction. He bowed slightly and headed to the counter, aware of the eyes following him.

Sake, okudasai,” he said, asking for rice wine. He took a seat and slowly the din of conversation returned, along with a waitress and the warmed alcohol. She was a bright eyed girl with an easy smile. “You are new here, and not a friend of the gaikokujin that normally come here.”
“No, I am waiting.”
“For a friend? Really, you don’t look like you have many.” She said. Takahiro knew she meant no offense, and that his serious demeanor had betrayed his intent. He gave a wry smile.
“You are very observant, if a little loose tongued. But yes, I am waiting for someone. Bring me some chicken skewers, and pickles.”

She smiled and left him to his drink, giving Takahiro a chance to take in his surroundings with the ease of a man crawling happily inside the bottle.

Most of the foreigners were merchants, not the softer types of the market place, but harder folk used to a life crossing the wide oceans. There were sailors and soldiers too, often indistinguishable from each other. Many had swords resting close to their knee, or firearms tucked into belt loops, the likes of which Takahiro had never seen before. Some had mastered the local tongue to some extent, while others were happy to let someone else translate on their behalf.

One man, a fat businessman in a tailored suit, sat sneering while a craftsman from Kuang-Cho took great pains to impress him with food, drink, and the clockwork creations that had no doubt earned him a great reputation locally. Foreign contracts were a great prize, but they were never easily won.

Who are the gaijin of Steampunk Musha?

Gaijin — foreigners to Rosuto-Shima — could be characters from other Fat Goblin Games settings, such as Shadows over Vathak, or core races drawn from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, or races of your own design pulled from your home campaign.


This week, we’ll look at the remaining core races from the Shadows over Vathak: Player’s Guide to Vathak. For the other races we’ve covered so far, check out the Old Races of Vathak and the Core Races of Vathak.



Svirfneblin

Life in Rosuto-Shima represents the truest promise of freedom for the svirfneblin, as long as one can avoid the established chains of svirfneblin that exist in the major cities. The largest concentration of svirfneblin is in Shangti, and it’s not unheard of for a ruthless yakuza crime syndicates to claim ownership over an entire svirfneblin chain.  


Svirfneblin that manage to maintain their independance find life in Rosuto-Shima to be bitter sweet. Often met with the same disdain as keshou, svirfneblin struggle to integrate with society, but often find firm friends among other travelling natives.


Vindari

Vindari merchants and missionaries were among the first to breach the perilous reefs surrounding Rosuto-Shima. Although they have managed to establish small enclaves of devotees to the Church of the One True God, these have struggled to prosper under the general ban on foreign evangelism that exists in various forms throughout the states of Rosuto-Shima.


Vindari are the most common of all gaikokujin who hail from Vathak. Those who take to exploring Rosuto-Shima must come to terms with being on a similar standing with other foreigners, but those who do soon find the land brimming with opportunity.


Witchwolves

The are no known cabals of witchwolves on Rosuto-Shima, although reported sightings of wolf-like creatures on the verges of ancient forests are as old as the land itself. Students of the esoteric note that the existence of an indigenous witchwolf species is entirely possible, but point to tanuki shapeshifters and inugami spirit possession as other possible explanations for such sightings.


Fleeing persecution or hoping to make a name for themselves, witchwolves set sail for Rosuto-Shima alone or in small packs, hidden amongst other human passengers. There is no respite for a witchwolf immigrant though, as they face much the same persecution as they would in their native lands, if not worsened for the highly superstitious nature of many Rosuto-Shima locals.


Wretched

There are no native wretched living in Rosuto-Shima, but, with advances in clockwork engineering and the augmentation of living flesh, that may change in time.


Wretched leave Vathak for the shores of Rosuto-Shima to flee persecution, but often are met with much the same hostility as in their homeland. Those wretched who wander far inland, however, find a natural companionship with the jinteki-oni, while other races, particularly the kappa, kijo, and sarpa, have little love for the twisted creations from a far away land and are known to actively hunt down wretched gaijin and destroy them.


That concludes our look at the races of Vathak. Join me in two weeks for more from the lands of Rosuto-Shima.


Rodney Sloan, Line developer for Steampunk Musha at Fat Goblin Games.
Read more →

Bi-Weekly Design Blog #12: Gaijin of Rosuto-Shima - Core Races of Vathak, Part 1

Bi-Weekly Design Blog #12: Gaijin of Rosuto-Shima - Core Races of Vathak, Part 1

Our ongoing fiction, Shattered Vows, continues from last time.

The shallow boat swept along, passing by clouds of paper lanterns illuminating the dark, silent waters of the canal. Ahead, the gaijin’s boat disappeared into the darkness beneath a stone bridge, then emerged on the other side, before pulling up against a short wooden dock on the bank. Takahiro slowed his boat and drifted into the shadows of an overhanging izakaya. Even from the other side of the bridge, the loud, jarring voices of a group of gaijin could be heard, greeting their friend as he disembarked.

Takahiro waited until they had moved up into the street before following. He had no need to stick to the shadows—he looked just like any other local—but he kept his gaze down all the same. The gaijin, on the other hand, were attracting all manner of attention with their loud chatter and disregard for basic etiquette. Following them would be easy.

 

Who are the gaijin of Steampunk Musha?

Gaijin — foreigners to Rosuto-Shima — could be characters from other Fat Goblin Games settings, such as Shadows over Vathak, or core races drawn from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, or races of your own design pulled from your home campaign.

This week, we’ll look at the first five core races from the Shadows over Vathak: Player’s Guide to Vathak. (Thanks again Landon, for letting me play with your toys.)

Shadows over Vathak; Player's Guide to Vathak

 

Bhriota

Very few of Vathak’s native race have reached the island of Rosuto-Shima, but those who have have left their mark on the island. Facing nothing of the stigma rife in their homeland, bhriota enjoy a place among equals alongside other gaijin.

Bhriota set sail for Rosuto-Shima for much the same reasons that they explore their own lands—to flee the corrupting religion of the Old Ones, or to gain power.

 

Cambion

The true number of cambions living in Rosuto-Shima will never truly be known, but some scholars estimate their population to be significant, though dispersed.

Cambions flock to Rosuto-Shima in the hope of a new life. With the vast diversity thronging the street of any of the major port cities, a cambion is assured some level of anonymity. However, the rural and outlying lands may be less inviting, and more than one cambion has met a disastrous end, mistaken for an oni.

 

Dhampir

While dhampir take every precaution to hide their tainted heritage, those who have been discovered have found a level of acceptance among the natives of Rosuto-Shima unheard of in Vathak. While a person’s heritage influences who they are, the locals say, it is what they do with that heritage that makes them who they are.  

 

Hauntlings

As in Vathak, hauntlings are rare, although those found in Rosuto-Shima are seldom seen for what they truly are, and enjoy the same status as other gaijin of their parent race. Scholars from Vathak though, have noted that it is quite possible that native hauntlings exist in Rosuto-Shima.

 

Romni

Romni take naturally to a life of adventure, and are easily at home on the open roads of Rosuto-Shima. Inevitably, the independent romni spirit knocks up against a complicated morass of strict social laws and the structured hierarchy that governs the patchwork territories of the island.

 

Until next time, keep your head down and carry a sharp blade.

Rodney Sloan, Line developer for Steampunk Musha at Fat Goblin Games.

Read more →

Bi-Weekly Design Blog #11: Gaijin of Rosuto-Shima - Old Races of Vathak

Bi-Weekly Design Blog #11: Gaijin of Rosuto-Shima - Old Races of Vathak

Our ongoing fiction, Shattered Vows, continues from last time.

The slow hiss of steam was, to Akiko, worse than the death rattle of what had been her master’s bloody, ruined windpipe. Yet, her sensei lived. Now an amalgamation of iron rods and copper valves replaced his neck, his lungs, his lower jaw. Only the unnatural part of him moved, driving air into his lungs with ingeniously designed pistons, but his heart still beat.

In the half light of the room, at her teacher’s side, the tears rolled silently down her face. Although she had saved him, Akiko felt like a traitor. All her life she had focused her energies on improving her mind, body, and soul. The contraption was an abomination of everything she believed, of everything she stood for, and of every value her sensei had instilled in her through years of rigorous training. While there were many limitations to human achievement, those limitations could be shifted by hard work and mental focus. But not death. Death was immovable, absolute, assured. Now she had played her part in cheating death, and that was unforgivable.

Clockwork Ronin

This week I’m off to ICON, South Africa’s largest games and comic book convention. This year ICON celebrates its 25th year running, and, as always, will be jam packed with gaming events. This year, we’re lucky to have a special guest attending, Paizo’s own James L Sutter!

I’ll be running Pathfinder Roleplaying Game demos on Friday, along with “We Be Goblins” on behalf of the Pathfinder Society on Sunday. If you’re around, please come say hi!

 

Now, back to our regular broadcast...

Who are the gaijin of Steampunk Musha?

Gaijin — foreigners to Rosuto-Shima — could be characters from other Fat Goblin Games settings, such as Shadows over Vathak, or core races drawn from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, or races of your own design pulled from your home campaign.

This week, we’ll look at the old races from the Shadows over Vathak: Player’s Guide to Vathak. (Hehe, I get to play with Landon’s toys.)

Shadows over Vathak: Player's Guide to Vathak

Dwarves

Rare in Vathak, dwarves seldom venture as far as the island of Rosuto-Shima. Those who do are often seasoned adventurers who have found no place in Vathak to call their own or who have grown too accustomed to a life of travel to ever settle down.

For those who do make the journey, their efforts are often rewarded, as many of the island’s natives appreciate dwarvish craftsmanship and innate sense of honor.

 

Elves

Few elves set voyage to the lands of Rosuto-Shima, and those who do travel in tight detachments, and are sure to obfuscate their comings and goings, wary of revealing themselves to native humans.

Elven expeditions to the island seek out knowledge, particularly arcane knowledge pertaining to the oni and the volcanic Jigoku. Some, wise to the elven incursions, believe them to be seeking some connection to the Old Ones.

 

Gnomes

Small gnomish enclaves can be found in Shangti, Chinan, and Talu. Chengti, the city of faiths, has the largest population of gnomes, but even these are restricted to a few clans within the larger orphanages in the town, where they play out their charade with careful efficiency.

Gnomish explorers are comparatively more common in the lands of Rosuto-Shima, and those who hit the road drop their childlike appearance, showing themselves for what they truly are. They find no less acceptance than any other foreign race, though sometimes might be mistaken for keshou by those with a deep hatred for the old slave race, or poor eyesight.

 

Halflings

The halflings that travel to Rosuto-Shima often do so in attendance of vindari trade delegations, or as messengers on behalf of their human masters.

Halfling adventurers might be those who have broken away from their old allegiances, or those who continue in their old role, perhaps as scouts for a wealthy merchant.

 

Half-Elves and Half-Orcs

While half-elves and half-orcs have never naturally existed in Vathak, members of these races have certainly travelled to Rosuto-Shima, and some have found a place to call home within the ghettos of Shangti or further afield. Half-orcs get along favorably with jinteki-oni, while half-elves gravitate towards the kijo, and both races have been known to integrate with those respective races, though inevitably it is never for an extended period of time, and will inevitably take to a life of adventure.

 

In two weeks time we’ll take a look at the core races of Shadows over Vathak. Till then, good gaming!

Rodney Sloan, Line developer for Steampunk Musha at Fat Goblin Games.

 

Read more →

Bi-Weekly Design Blog #10: Quick and Dirty Steampunked Weapons

Bi-Weekly Design Blog #10: Quick and Dirty Steampunked Weapons

The low ceiling and narrow halls compounded the claustrophobic feeling of the junk filled rooms. They moved through three such rooms before anyone appeared, and when they did, it was with drawn weapons. The keshou were small and squat, with goblin like faces under their tight top-knots.

"We've come for your help," doctor Kuroiwa said, raising an empty hand to show he came in peace. "His neck..."

"Who or what did this?" said a voice at the back of the room, from somewhere behind a heap of metal trunks overflowing with parts. The other keshou moved aside and lowered their weapons. From the darkness a small goblin like creature emerged, white wisps of hair and sackcloth robes stained with machine oil.

"Please," Akiko said, helping to lay her master down before bowing, forehead to the floor, in the deepest show of respect and humility.

Takahiro stared in disbelief, then, at a short sharp hiss from Akiko, fell to the dirty floor too, his forehead pressed hard to the ground. "Please, our master has no other hope."

Kuroiwa knelt beside the body, his ear to the sensei's mouth. "It is too late, he breathes no more."

"No, he is merely broken,” said the wizened keshou, “but he can be rebuilt."

I was paging through the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Technology Guide the other day, which has a wealth of gear that could, with a little creative re-skinning, easily fit into a Steampunk Musha game. Let’s look at a few weapon examples, but take note, this is my quick and dirty re-purposing, and in no way is it official Steampunk Musha content.

Arc pistol and rifle: pretty much unaltered, although it might be powered by a miniature Tesla coil.

Autograpnel: Bat-Man needs a one-handed version of this, but we can take it as is. We’ll just say it’s steam powered.

Chainsaw: Make it steam powered too.

Dart Gun: Remove the bit about nanotechnology and instead have it use air pressure to fire. Take the range down by 10 ft.

Flare Gun: Use as is.

Laser Torch: Let’s just call it a blow torch and be done with it.

Nuclear Resonator: Call it the Sonic Resonator and you’re there. The same goes for the Sonic Pistol and Sonic Rifle.

"Say hello to my little friend!"

Rocket Launcher: This is our first candidate for some heavy modification. Change the capacity to 1, but make it re-loadable (a full round action).

Stun Baton: Good as is, but limit the number of charges it can carry. Comes in a dandy walking cane format too.

 There’s plenty more in the Technology Guide that's worth a look. Can you think of any other weapons you’d like to see in Steampunk Musha? What gear do you consider essential for your adventures in Rosuto-Shima? Let us know in the comments below.

Rodney Sloan, Line developer for Steampunk Musha at Fat Goblin Games.

Read more →

Bi-Weekly Design Blog #9: Outsiders

Bi-Weekly Design Blog #9: Outsiders

"He's dying. Hurry," the woman said.

"There is little I can do for him, Akiko,” the doctor said, “his windpipe is crushed. No. Worse! It is shattered."
"There
must be a way," Akiko said. She was never one to take ‘no’ for an answer.
"There is a way, but your sensei will not like it. He is much too rooted in the old ways."
"What is this ‘way’ you speak of? Get to the point," Takahiro said.
"Follow me, quickly." The doctor turned and beckoned for the others to follow.
Together the two disciples lifted the mat carrying their gasping master. His slow death rattle was weakening as the life drained from his lungs.

Doctor Kuroiwa brought them to a low house on the edge of the village. It was too small for a human residence.
"No, not them." Takahiro spat.
"The keshou are the only ones who can help you now," Kuroiwa said.
"What choice do we have?" Akiko asked, "Sensei draws his last as you stand there like a fool."
"
Sumimasen. But they are worth less than slaves."
"Then let us hope they show us more compassion than our ancestors showed them,
come!"

The silent whisper haunts you, reminding you that you don’t belong, not here, not anywhere. It has become so familiar that you wear it like a cloak. You’re proud of your disassociation, your "otherness". Perhaps it’s what led you to travel the vast oceans to the little-known island of Rosuto-Shima.

And in Rosuto-Shima you realized you were even more of an outsider. Even the monstrous jinteki-oni and goblinoid keshou have a place, but not you, you are “gaijin,” a foreigner, an outsider that doesn’t belong.

The term “gaijin,” in the real world, means “foreigner, outsider, or non-Japanese person”, and it isn’t a word you’ll hear often. Not in polite conversation anyway.

In Steampunk Musha the word “gaijin” takes on a whole new meaning.

 

What it Means to be a Gaijin

To the outside world, Rosuto-Shima is a land of mystery, adventure, and promise. A new frontier ripe for the picking, it has seen an influx of foreigners eager to make a name for themselves, or to discover fortunes yet unknown to the rest of the world. Many of these visitors have been disappointed, their efforts frustrated by the powerful societies and loyalties refined during an age of war.

Throughout Rosuto-Shima a gaijin might enjoy every kindness and hospitality usually shown to a visitor, but it is a surface politeness only. Native Rosuto-Shimans reserve their true thoughts and feelings for those of the same circle, be it a family, a clan, or a close group of friends. Gaijin naturally fall outside this confidence, and must go above and beyond to prove themselves trustworthy, sincere, and loyal.

Rodney Sloan, Line developer for Steampunk Musha at Fat Goblin Games.
Read more →