In Art of War, there are many stories to be told with the assistance of Tropes to define a heroic path. While you can fill your niche with a Trope angle, what can help guide you is the list of concepts to inspire character creation. We feature two different writing styles to highlight flawed and honorable concepts. Some with a description and others filled with questions to answer to help in background design of the hero. Not all are savory or simple, but are selected to portray a type protagonist. Below is a small sample from that list (some are still in draft format. Forgive our errors).
Acrobat: Flips, tumbles, balance, agility and strength highlight the qualities of an acrobat. Circus acrobats and wandering street urchins have talents that mix well with the lifestyle of a martial artist. Acrobats can be travelers showcasing skills of gymnastics, tightrope walking, dance and graceful movements by day, and use incredible talents to access third floor windows at night.
Drunkard: What happened to you? Or at least that’s what the townsfolk ask. You have fallen on hard times or an inebriated state is the only thing that quiets the voices, or perhaps you really just like booze. Everyone knows who you, but you often go overlooked and forgotten. Alcohol takes a lot of your money, no matter how you come by it. Keep in mind, even those with vices are entitled to redemption.
Hermit: For religious, research, training, or personal reasons you have shunned interaction with society to focus on your individual pursuits or redemption. Isolation can be a path of self discovery allowing a practitioner to understand and gain wisdom from the order of the natural world. How have you spent your time alone? Was it training on a technique, running from your past, or simply to become one with nature? Why have you come down from your mountain?
Soldier: Structured routine, paid accommodations, a term of service and decent salary is a life to look forward to as a soldier. This also means becoming a conscript in war that must be willing to face death. There are many avenues into becoming a soldier: volunteer service, family tradition, alternative sentence to minor crimes. Do you continue to serve in some capacity? Have you become a mercenary using your skills to earn coin? Have you recently ended your term of service and returning to civilian life?
Warrior Monk: Some call you a Sohei for you are a warrior devout in your belief. You do everything possible to maintain an ascetic lifestyle and religious devotion while practicing the martial arts. Even though your temple or sect might frown upon aggressive action, in this world you understand that you must be the warrior so others need not face the burden.
We are the Alphas’ progeny of creation. We are the Umvee, Children of Shanghe.
Hey Everyone: I have been focused on finishing my Kickstarter for our Savage Worlds aka #SWADE campaign setting Art of War. Here are a few tidbits of information.
Shower Thoughts: It is interesting that while I was writing the Umvee, I had them scripted and 100% done. Then one morning while in the shower, they spoke to me. The Umvee were mostly rewritten and then revised as presented below. Instead of being just wild and feral lost kin to kemonomimi, they became something else: Children of the Moon. So with this in tow, inspiration was taken from the Chinese Goddess Chang’e and Changxi. While some scholars debate that they are one in the same.
I have altered the name a little to fit my campaign setting, paying homage from the sources, yet diverting it for religious respect (it might get changed back to one of them; some might view the change is disrespectful to the source material).
Children of Shanghe, Umvee
Those of the Kitsune Clan claim the lineage as the children of Daji. She was the Kitusne Goddess who walked among men and gave birth to the descendants of the Oda family blessing of divine bloodline to rule by. Kemonomimi are our cousins birthed by the celestial emotions of the Kami to keep our brethren, humankind from being alone in the world. Our heritage bares an older and deeper ancestry, beginning as witnesses to an age prior to a Kami crossing over to walk alongside us. We are as old as the orb in the night sky that shines above us. Shanghe, our Pale Mother bore us from her blue rays of light that shine upon the surface of our world. Porcelain skin blankets us as a reminder unchanged, symbolizing our place as the template for those that followed in our footsteps. As the roots of trees in the Wylds, our traditions grow as deep and it is here where our people made their home. We clung to these ancient ways, shepherding the souls of angry Kami, keeping balance of the the natural world as humans feel to the influence of others. We are the Alphas progeny of creation. We are the Umvee.
~Umeki, shaman of the Sunless Clan
With an oral history of their own, the Umvee tell of their existence as the true protectors of the natural world. They were birthed by the light of the moon to balance against human expansion and destruction of the Wylds, while the kemonomimi were born to be the servitors of human culture. This led to a division with their cousins who shunned tribal culture. The Umvee chose to steep themselves in wilderness folklore and primal tradition.
While their method may be crude, savage and seen as uncivilized, Umvee are well-structured societies with rich warrior ecologies, not unlike the three Clans. In the beginning, many chose to live by hunting, herding, and harvesting only the necessities. Refusing modern conveniences, they were seen as the ghost of the Wylds for centuries.
Humans stayed away from the western wylds and the Umvee only involved themselves with the rare interactions with kemonomimi who lived on the edge of the Hanxia Plains. West of the wylds the Umvee flourished with monoliths, simple cities, and grand temples unseen by human and kemonomimi eyes. Rolling hills and open fields allowed the moon children to prosper, negotiating trade relations with the Naga Nation, and establishing contact with the feral berzerker clans to the west. This would change near the end of the last Dynasty.
While the humans waged war against each other, the Umvee fought against the tide of devastation that began from the feral lands. As giants of fire and lightning descended upon the sacred lands, the moon children stood against dire wolves and fur covered rabid men. Standing as the only wall of defense between the hordes and the San Empire, over a third of Umvee culture would disappear from the pages of history. With great losses, only the direct intervention of a war manifestation of Shanghe was able to push the adversaries into retreating from which they came.
Then the Oni came. With half of the Umvee blinded from animalistic rage from invoking of beasital spirits against the berzerker wave were they able to survive. Once more the tribes of the moon children prevailed, but with the cost of losing Lunar, the war avatar of Shanghe.
Umvee families pulled away from ancestral lands traveling through the wilderness, only to arrive upon the doorstep of the Hanxia Plains. The Umvee immigration was welcomed by bordering kemonomimi villages. But tensions were weary at first, both sides hesitant with distrust until an official Imperial envoy arrived.
After initial trials and tribulations, agreements between the falling nation and budding Empire settled on the Silver Accord, giving rise to rapid growth and exchange of culture of disenfranchised cousins.
Some detest the Accords, hunting deep in the Wylds trying to reestablish homelands, while younger and curious generations have taken strongly to the new ideas. The youth wander towards major cities, acting as scouts, wilderness survivalist or guards to merchant caravans.
Umvee appear do not differ from humans of the Empire in terms of sizes and shapes, however they are a pale skinned hairless individuals, with a slight tapering at the top of the ear. Warriors and shamans of the Umvee (or the younger generation) support thick and elaborate tribal tattoos highlighting shades of black, purple, red, or blue. Adorning one’s body with piercings, tattoos, and to a lesser extent scarification, are ritual practice for Umvee. With every new major life event, it is common for one to don another accoutrements to their body. It is just as common for an Umvee to ignore this tradition and maintaining the pure blank canvas of skin.
The kickstarter for our anime inspired setting for Savage Worlds is going well. I do want it to be more successful, but successful is where it’s at. The backers that have chipped in to make this dream one step closer are the best backers yet. Little do they know, Amora Game is working on a few extra goodies for them post funding. Like an action card deck and campaign map poster.
I digress: Today’s entry is to focus one type of Oni for Art of War.
Oni come in different forms, shapes and types. The most common Oni are those that take the shape of animals, either by an Ogre oni courting them to possess them in physical form, an angry demented spirit manifesting as an animal, or an Ogre oni having spawned through unnatural relations with a non-oni. These are referred to by Kui as XO (shee-oh), but the rest of the populace call them Oni X. Where “X” is the name or mutated animal form that it has taken. For example an Oni Scorpion is a larger version of a large scorpion.
XO share base physical traits that an observer can see with the proper eye. All XO appear slightly larger than their natural cousins. Some can be hyper-realistic in proportions, which can be stronger strength in a particular area of it’s body. If large or hyper-realistic all over, it can identify the XO as an elder.
Game Mechanic Trait: Flesh Eater
All Oni (name might be changed to Ogre, to neutralize cultural references), in Art of War possess an trait called “flesh eater” that allows for an incapacitated or bound individual to be eaten. Resulting in the oni recovering wounds. This also causes serious injury to the individual.
Flesh Eater: Oni creatures heal wounds by consuming flesh. For every 2 lbs. of flesh eaten, an Oni recovers one wound or fatigue wound. This takes a full turn. At the end of the turn, the victim rolls once on the injury table.
This makes the artistically deadly and can make for some terrifying descriptions that the GM can use to set the seen of an Oni encounter. This is the simplest way to tack on the Oni subtype to a current creature on an existing animal.
Aged Oni Template:
For those that result in the hyper-realistic aspect to show age, should feel free to increase the size of the creature with the template: Aged.
Aged Oni have the following Special Qualities:
Size (+1): Oni this size are older and have out grown their cousin.
Superior: Oni that have lived this long have an awareness other animals do not. They have one die step higher than the animal counter part in Smarts, yet they are minor intelligence. They also have their Strength and Vigor increased by one step.
Well that’s it for this discussion and preview. Till next time
By combining Anime, Films, & RPGs, I created Art of War.
Just past the 80% mark of the Art of War Kickstarter relaunch and we are almost to the final stretch. Just over $200 more till the original estimated goal is meet. As I take a Sunday to get caught up on a 20+ shows in queue from the Fall 2017 season to present I wanted to reflect on why this project is a heart project.
The a core foundation idea behind Art of War is transcribing the elements of the classic Big Eyes, Small Mouth (3rd Edition) Anime Roleplaying Game into the Savage Worlds system. Much like the Savage Worlds Superpowers Companion, I wanted to create an Anime Companion. The thing that governs BESM is that it covers all Anime: Kaiju, giant Mecha, Sci-fi bounty hunters. While I do want to create an open Anime Companion for Savage Worlds still, I wanted to focus more on the fantasy or period pieces. While not the extreme tech-fantasy like Final Fantasy (which can be argued as a Sci-Fi), I wanted Samurai Champloo feel with more martial arts.
I also wanted to concentrate on the meshing of my favorite movie genres: Samurai Sagas (bushido) & Martial Art Epics (wuxia). To me, this is a combination of Japanese and Chinese “warlord eras”. Sengoku & Three Kingdoms. The perfect example of this mash up can be found in the movie: Heroes of the East.
Or something along the lines of Jet Li’s Fearless. The one issue with these examples, and you must forgive me, is that they have a Chinese bent. They are Hong Kong action style films starring Chinese Actors, with one being specifically designed as a propaganda film. But it shows the premise of the CvJ genre I wanted to incorporate.
The difference between these ideas and what I have created is a inclusive environment compared to a versus environment. These two movie examples do recognize a joining of culture near the end of each film, but I wanted Art of War to have a completed narrative.
The world of Art of War is a combined influence of aspects inspired by these to beautiful and elegant cultures.
How does Anime and Films tie together?
By combining aspects of these three core basics: Anime, Films, & RPGs, I was able to play in a sandbox that would allow me to create a world that can use all three.
Take the new anime Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs, the title alone screams Ecchi. Hmmm. Probably not the best example, but work with me on this.
Here you have the main protagonist, Kogarashi Fuyuzora, who could very well fit into our hungry-ghosting- hunting exorcist Trope we call a Kui.
Sagiri Ameno is a good example of our Shinobi Trope.
Yaya Fushiguro is an example of a Nekomimi race from our setting, probably a Hero Trope.
Nonko Arahabaki – well maybe an external focused Buxist (drinking being the “trappings” of her Trance ability) or a Youxia Trope. She could easily fall into a Hero trope. Now we do not have an Ogre race in this game… It makes me think that I should. Oni are an enemy to the Empire in my game, but maybe something in a future supplement.
Where are you going with this blog entry?
Well getting the ramblings all together, I’m trying to say you do not have to play the default setting for Art of War. The Tropes and Chi system found in the book can lend itself to any anime or martial arts inspired setting.
@Timothy asked: With Savage Worlds Black on the horizon, do you plan to do a rule update after its release?
A: We are slated for a print run of December this year. That is somewhat on purpose. Shane Hensley(creator of Savage Worlds) mentioned in a few places that Project “Savage Worlds Black” is scheduled to kickstart in the Fall of 2018, post GenCon.
We plan to have it incorporated into the book before we publish. We have that foot path already in place. We just need to pave over it, once the material is released.
In addition, using Flash Gordan as an example, since it already has material that has been confirmed will be in the next iteration. Such the Athletic skill. This new skill justified our need for a separate Acrobatic skill.
Some Chi Techniques might need to be revised, but we do anticipate that.
If by chance things do not line up the way they should but our ducks are in a row, we are ready to hit the print button. . . we will.
This means a conversion document will be released for free, in a printable PDF format for hard copy users. We plan to update the PDF versions to accommodate all that have purchased it.
OR if it is radically different, all backers will receive an additional “Savage Black” version of Art of War via PDF. Print backers will receive an “at cost” print-on-demand coupon.
I hope I answered your question on that one. If anyone has any others, ask away.