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.
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 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.
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.
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.