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


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.



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.



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.



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.


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