Developer’s Journal 1: Art of War

In this tentacle’s free time it makes RPG supplements or hires freelancers to do so under the company name that you can find in the widget to the right of your screen (click the logo).  Now we have made several different type of products, mostly focusing on the Pathfinder Compatible system. This tentacle originally wanted to create an Asian fusion campaign world inspired by anime, Three Kingdoms of China and the Warring States of Japan.

This project was originally called Project BuXia and was to be developed for the Pathfinder d20 system, but as things went along the mechanics didn’t feel proper for world setting. So we started to look at other gaming systems. One was Savage Worlds, which offers a free from character development and would be fast and easy to jump right in. The issue was multiple types of dice. This tentacle wanted to keep the system simple. Multiple dice served their function for the system of Savage Worlds really well, but we didn’t want players worrying about having to keep track of different dice.

We looked at OVA: the Anime Roleplaying System from Wise Turtle Games. It uses a d6 base and already has rules centered around anime fun. This tentacle loves this system, and everyone has d6s lying around from either Monopoly or Yahtzee. However trying to squeeze the world we wanted into this system felt forced. So we tried again.

We looked back at past systems to find Big Eyes, Small Mouth 3rd Edition. A classic system using an updated rules from the Tri-Stat System which we loved using growing up. Again it had everything we wanted and the game is designed for the Anime/Manga RPG fans alike. Expanded skill sets for customization of characters and templates for anime influenced build outs. The ability to scale the dice to the power level you wanted is great from GMs and Players alike. Our issue was the point build numbers were to large and as this tentacle fleshed out the world it wanted to create, we realized this was too anime. Our flavor text and world merging ended up more based on the martial arts films and samurai tragedies of the movies.

This shifted our focus to drop the anime feel and focus on a rich dynamic setting. We wanted to keep the original goal in mind of having a simple system using the same die type and no more than a handful of them. The game mechanics should be simple, open, and easy to  understand while offering enough character customization to have in depth backgrounds. So we looked at the base rule set of the standard Tri-Stat system and found our answer.

A simple 2d10 base mechanic system with a modified point build structure for character and rules. We came up with a house ruled system we call BuXia. This gave rise to the writing the introduction to the book (soon to be kickstarter) Art of War. The opening (unedited) text is below. It includes a brief introduction, theme & tone, along with what we call BuXia Code, similar to the Bushido or Wuxia code.

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Welcome to the world of The San Empire.

Art of War is a world setting where bushido meets wuxia. Martial arts, katas, and Chi are as commonplace to the farmer as it is to the Emperor. Youxia wander the lands protecting its people from burdening lords, as the samurai hold their ground against the Oni warlord armies. Feats of wushu masters running up bamboo trees and punching holes into walls, while a ninja clan moves swiftly along the moon clad roads skirting patrols as they infiltrate a castle. Elemental benders of the village summoned by the council to intercept and negotiate with the demon possessed monks that torment local farmers, all while avoiding hungry ghost of the forest.

Join me for an evening of listening to the guqin and shamisen. If we are lucky, we might see a geisha dance this time.

Theme and Tone

The Art of War takes place on the continent of XX, which is home to many bright cultures and traditions. Art of War focuses only one of these empires, the San Empire that is made up of three states joined under the current reign of the Emperor Wu Zhang. Under the Mandate of Heaven, he directs the sacred lands of the people controlled by the three Great Clans: Kitsune, Tiger, and Serpent.

What is the Art of War influences?

Art of War is a 32mm narrative miniatures skirmish game that pulls its inspiration from parts of Eastern History. The first being the Spring and Autumn Period of Chinese history that took place between the end of the Eastern Han and beginning of the Jin Dynasty. This period is often referenced as the Three Kingdoms period of Wei, Wu, and Shu.

The second influence comes from the warring states of Japan, known as the Sengoku period. Before the unification by the Tokugawa shogunate, the years of these warring states spans from the beginning of the Onin War and ending with Siege of Osaka. This setting also pulls elements from the Nara and Kamakura periods of Japan’s history.

The Kingdom of Joseon of Korea, the Tru’ng Sisters of Vietnam, the Tibetan Empire, and many other parts of history have inspired the tapestry in the creation of this imaginary world.

This is an imaginary world pulled and created from many aspects of history, but is in no way a representation or a perfect mirror of these rich cultures. It is a make believe place that is a mesh of ideas, thoughts, and historical aspects sewn together to created this project.

What is the BuXia Code?

BuXia takes its names from both the Bushido Code of the samurai and the Wuxia Code of the martial arts. Combining these two codes and infusing it with a mix of anime inspiration, kung-fu epics, and ronin sagas we create the world of Art of War. A world where individual members from one of the major clans come together to prove their might against each other to earn honor through experience or to face a good death. The following are the prominent tenets of BuXia.

1.     Benevolence: Those who follow the Path of BuXia look to help others whenever possible. It is a warrior’s duty to protect and guide those in need. In its simplest form, benevolence teaches that offering military protection against bandits, tending to the poor, helping farmers mill the fields when drought or sickness overwhelms them, and helping friends when in need. This tenet is the most prominent and widely respected of the all codes of the Path.

2.     Courage: The tenet of courage to a warrior is the willingness to confront hardship, pain, danger, intimidation and and the uncertainty of death to do what must be done. In BuXia, courage sometimes meets conflict on the battlefield for some warriors. Samurai concept hold courage as a central focus of their belief and are more prepared to fight and die without hesitation, be it by orders or from an unavoidable situation. However one of the shinobi concept will recognize that having a path to retreat takes courage when backed into a corner and fighting against unfavorable odds. A youxia recognize surrendering and accepting defeat in a duel takes more courage than losing face by not standing back up when knocked down.

3.     Harmony: Balance in the world, everyday living, between the body and mind are notable ideals that are not always obtained. Perfect Harmony is the highest state of enlightenment that very few have achieved in the world that surrounds the warrior and is is difficult to achieve. The practice of a kata but never wanting to use it if possible is the most common struggle for a warrior given that they are drawn to seek justice, which often lends to violence.

Those along the Path seek to achieve at least one aspect of their life to be in balance. A fortune and glory hunter will often lean heavily on their following of the Benevolence code handing their riches ones that need it. A swordsman may master deadly chi techniques, yet only use non-lethal force on others of lower skillsets.

The kingdom as a whole will balance their living with that of nature by incorporating gardens into their cities and only expanding when they need to for population purposes. The empire builds roads around thick woods to preserve a species of bird, and will knead the soil of the plains to cultivate farm land. Daily life supports the give and take needed to have harmony.

4.     Honor: Honor teaches that every warrior stands in judgment over himself at all times regardless of the circumstances. A warrior cannot truly follow the Path of BuXia if he acts as one expects, and not as his own sense of honor dictates. A warrior with true honor will follow the philosophy of BuXia even as every aspect of society around him falls corrupt. He will act justly even if he is commanded to behave dishonorably by a superior.

5.     Respect and Courtesy: The showing of admiration to wise elders, peers that battle alongside a warrior, or even those that may be less skilled but strive to be great are worthy of some respect. This virtue is a trademark of the Code in the San Empire. Concept Warriors are civilized heroes and are unlike the savage barbarians.  Respect and courtesy with proper manners at all times sets concept warriors apart from animals. A warrior who shows excess undue emotion and rudeness not only violates this code but can result in losing face, while respecting those around them and shaming himself.

Respect is a virtue that mixes with honor and plays a vital role in court. A warrior who suffers a failure of respect from those of higher status, demonstrates honor by enduring provocations and avoids drawing attention to other’s failures. In order to maintain face, many make a point to shun those that engage in uncouth spectacles and improper behavior, since to draw attention to discourteous behaviors can make matters worse.

 

Author: Tentacle Greg

Game Designer. Watcher of Anime. Lover of Kung-fu Movies.

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