Bi-Weekly Design Blog #2: Honorably Stepping On Toes

Hello and konnichiwa!

One of my favorite Irish bands isn’t even Irish. They’re Serbian.

The Orthodox Celts mostly play traditional Irish songs with an up tempo rock element. They might not be everyone's “mug of Guinness,” but I discovered them when I was first exploring Irish music, and for me they fit nicely alongside Flogging Molly and Dropkick Murphys.

What has this got to do with Steampunk Musha?

It’s all about cultural appreciation.

Culture is “adopted” all the time. People find something they love and make it their own. Fantasy roleplaying is an excellent example of this, with all manner of inspiration drawn from other cultures. As we adopt something we like, we change it too.

Food is a great example. The chicken chow mein I had in New York is nothing like the chicken chow mein I get in South Africa, which is nothing like the chicken chow mein I ate in Beijing or Tokyo. Tastes differ around the world and chefs cater to those different tastes. The fact that we can enjoy Irish music performed by a Serbian band shows the international appeal of Irish music.

Steampunk Musha is a lot like a Serbian band playing a weird blend of K-Pop and J-Pop. None of us are of Asian descent, and even though we know enough Japanese between ourselves to get into trouble, we could never claim to have a full and complete understanding of the cultures that inspire us, although we do have huge respect for, and a desire to learn about, those cultures.

And that’s okay, and something I’m proud about. Like the chow mein chefs and the Serbian Irish band, we’re making something we’re passionate about accessible to a wider audience, an audience that is a lot like us; otaku, Asian history geeks, Steampunk connoisseurs, martial arts fans, roleplayers, and gamers.

We’ve set out to be as respectful to the source material and the cultures we’ve drawn inspiration from as we can be, while at the same time understanding that this is fantasy, and Rosuto-Shima is a very different world.

In our next installment, coming on the 21st, I’ll talk about how our Serbian Irish band sells “Irish” using cues, and the sort of cues you can use to create a believable Steampunk Musha for your players.

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

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