Weekly Design Blog #42: Rural Rosuto-Shima (all that space between the Cities)

Apologies again for being a day late on this blog! The topic switched midday, and then We Three Bastards all met for 2017 Planning and it ate up my day!

Hello All,

When you look at a map of Rosuto-Shima, you can see the physical landscapes that have been discussed before, and you can see clearly marked all the "Cities" of Rosuto-Shima, but what you might not think about is all that 'empty' space between the cities:

While in the past I've discussed Kara Kora -- The Desert City, Todou -- The Twisted City and Shangti -- The Imperial City, today I want to discuss the heart of "traditional" Rosuto-Shima, the rural lands.

From Shirakawago village in Japan

The city-states are former provinces of the fallen empire that have shifted their borders slightly during the War of States, but largely they remained the same by the point peace was established.

Each of the cities has an extremely storied history, one that is often conflicting and convoluted because with the exception of Kara Kora, they have existed for centuries or even millennia of time and over that stretch they may have served many people, many ways.

But for as important as the cities are and will be in the game, roughly half the population of Rosuto-Shima lives in these "rural" areas (more when you count all populations equally, as the kappa for instance have few true "cities"). While relationship to a city/province is important (with, for instance, those lands around a technocratic city like Shangti more likely to have clockworks and steamworks aiding farming, while those around more traditional cities are less likely to, etc), there is more similarity in the rural lands than there are differences.

Matsumoto Castle in Japan

Even when a city, for instance, uses some alternate form of governance, the countryside still uses a system of essentially feudal lordship, with a daimyo-type leader and their retinue of samurai working from a traditional castle-palace, and protecting the lands around them in exchange for basics needed to maintain a standing army like food, weapons, and supplies. The specifics of what terms are used can vary, as can the nature of whom (i.e. race or class of people, even gender) can be in various roles, but there is essentially always a Lord, their Warriors, and then the Peasant folks. 

Rural Rosuto-Shima is Where Traditional Philosophies Reign

A key planned dynamic of the game will be the replacement/substitution/additional use of a "philosophy" dynamic for characters that is supplementary to standard Pathfinder Roleplaying Game alignment. In the end game, we're hoping to have a vast array of choices, not a simple 9-point replacement, but there will be three basic divisions: Traditional - Technologist - Mixed. And while a very few cities will have variations of Traditional, they will more often be centers of Technologist and Mixed views.

The countryside is the space you'll find many philosophies, but the "warrior class" will most often have a variation of Japanese Bushido.

The Bushidō code is typified by eight virtues:

  1. Righteousness (義 gi)
  2. Courage (勇 yū)
  3. Benevolence (仁 jin)
  4. Respect (礼 rei)
  5. Sincerity (誠 makoto)
  6. Honour (名誉 meiyo)
  7. Loyalty (忠義 chūgi)
  8. Self-Control (自制 jisei)

Additional associated virtues

  • Filial piety (孝 kō)
  • Wisdom (智 chi)
  • Fraternal Respect (悌 tei)

This list is problematic when applied to the real-world history of Japan, but for the fictional work of Steampunk Musha, we'll be able to use and the existing rules for the "Samurai Code for Honor system" to create something quite useful, I expect. Also, if you're reading all that realizing it seems sexist as hell (which it can be), don't worry -- we have room for female samurai-types too!

Ryokan, The Traveler's Delight in Rosuto-Shima

While much of rural Rosuto-Shima will seem like it would be unwelcoming to "city-folk" and possibly hard to travel across, much of the land is in fact dotted with traditional ryokan (of their more affordable minshuku) which are quite comfortable inns that stretch back to days of the empire, when merchants and administrators as well as both shogun and daimyo and their retinues needed to traverse the lands on foot or horseback. 

If you think the Red Dragon Inn is an interesting place to start an adventure...

Modern train travel has worn away some of the money that these inns have made, but even along the new rail system, you will find magnificent places to stay -- with many that are close to port towns specifically appealing to gaijin money looking for "traditional Rosuto-Shima." Its of course a proxy, as these same ryokan are more likely to have clockwork ronin in the kitchen or modern 'conveniences' brought about by steamwork wonders, but throughout the land there are a vast number of these inns for travelers to stay in. In fact, you can expect many an adventure to involve going to, staying in, or leaving from such an establishment if you play outside the cities.

Many with lavish onsen options.

Lucus Palosaari, Editor & Project Manager at Fat Goblin Games (Like us on Facebook!)  

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