Quick Thoughts

Music to Japanese Classic Games

So when I was using Wikipedia to look up Cee-lo (the musician, after the release of his awesome new video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAV0XrbEwNc ), I instead found links to the Cee-lo game, a classic Chinese dice game:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cee-lo

Interesting. I was looking all over the place for the rules (in Japanese, even) for the old Japanese/Yakuza dice gambling game “Shigoroku”. And there it is.

Thoughts on a Monday

* Riding bike to work still, however I did take a few days off last week because the heat index made it 105, a humid 105 at that. I biked to work once, before the real heat kicked in, and it totally kicked my ass: The AM is fine, with temps in the 80 range, nearing 90 as I pull into work. But the ride home is in 95 degree range, heat index pushing it up to 105 or so, and on top of that a constant hot, humid wind blowing in my face the entire ride home. I rode into work the other three days, did some biking at night.

* Haven’t been keeping up with non-bike exercise (yoga, weights, etc) lately. In the middle of some work projects and writing: When they’re done, in about two weeks, I plan on plunging again into fitness, and keep it up this time.

* Tenra Bansho writing is drawing to a close. Editing begins in full this week, with a major hump this weekend. It still looks like I can meet my goal of “done by GenCon”.

* GenCon begins for me in 8 days. Looking forward to it, but wish I had just a little more time to prepare. The time I need to think up scenarios and sample characters will be spent doing last-minute editing.

* As I suspected, insomnia was pretty much directly related to computer use at night. I really need to start disconnecting an hour before I plan to go to sleep, and read a book, listen to music, etc. Only hitch is that this week I’ll be up late each night with prep.

* Thank you, CREE, for all the money. See you again next month for yet another round of covered calls!

* I’ve learned to relax more at work: Keeping my wits about me more, responding calmly to stressful situations, etc. Combination of experience/skill, focus, and emotion. Keeping up my production, with less stress and pressure. I wish I could go back in time about four years with my current mindset.

Thoughts on a Wed^H^H^H Thursday

* Started writing a post yesterday, found myself lacking in time, deferred to today.

* Sleeping schedule messed up again, starting to feel sick, will need to reset again this weekend: Due to some insomnia, I’m only sleeping like 3-4 hours a night, so I go to work and bust ass: After work, though, I’m so drained I can barely think. So I take a nap after work, only planning on sleeping about 30-40 minutes to refresh. 3-4 hours later, I wake up again, feeling tired, trashed, but awake enough to do some follow-up leftover work. Do the work, check some email, crash again. Repeat. This has only been happening this week, but man it’s a bad cycle. Need to stop it. Thinking about dosing on Yerba Mate before I get home so I don’t nap, and just go to bed early. Will be trying this tonight.

* Had to pick up a few new T-Shirts: The old ones were getting… old. And when 3 years ago my company *stopped* giving us free T-Shirts every other week for some small new product release I *was* happy at the reduction of waste, admittedly… but some of those were alright, and now I’m starting to even lack a typical “the company where I work” Tee.

Been looking specifically at religious iconography: Got a cool “OM” shirt, and stumbled across an excellent picture of Ganesha on a shirt. Unfortunately, most such T-shirts are either lame, “funny” (but not really), or just tacky/plain. There’s no Buddhism-themed T-Shirts (yeah I know how weird that sounds, but bear with me) that are interesting. Kinda made me think about going back to some calligraphers and maybe doing up some prints.

* Helping redo the kanji in the margins for John Wick’s Blood and Honor. It’s an interesting process. If you have the game, the Japanese in the margins is (currrently: “some sort of”; soon: “actual”) Japanese traditional proverbs and the like. Gonna aim to do it all up pretty-like, like the cover of Kagematsu.

* On that front, I found some AWESOME resources for classic Japanese proverbs and expressions, which include both the Japanese and English translations. I’ll tell the whole story later, but basically 80% of the proverbs/sayings that are on websites that collect proverbs from around the world and attribute them to Japanese… are bullshit. Turns out they simply don’t exist, or exist in a form so unrelated it should be stricken. But since these expressions/proverbs websites copy content from each other without fact-checking or noting the original Japanese, these fake expressions continue on. More on that later. But for now, the good sites/google books that have true, real proverbs (which honestly are more awesome than the fake ones anyway):

http://www.languagerealm.com/ <– The Japanese proverb section is very well thought out! Tons of great stuff here.

http://books.google.com/books?id=wGb4zNqYj10C&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false <– Tons of classic expressions with complete explanations. I might try to score the original print on Amazon later. The original Japanese is not noted, but the romaji version of the original Japanese IS noted, so that means the proverbs are both Real and Relatively easy to find on Japanese language sites.

http://books.google.com/books?id=qQPWtyEP23kC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false <– Also great, includes original Japanese, romaji and hiragana.

* Market has been interesting for the past few days. Pulled out all my ESPP shares, putting that money back into the market (75%) and a new screened-in porch (25%). I need to follow up on that last post re CREE in July: That was an interesting play, and it paid off, but I’m still following the rollercoaster that’s been happening on that stock the past few days.

* GenCon is six weeks away. Yikes! Gotta buy plane tickets. Let me know if you’re going, we’ll meet up.

* Mark Causey is an awesome human being. He stepped up to help me out with last minute doc changes on Tenra. We’ve got a weekend set aside as a failsafe; “If I don’t have any time to do this work between now and then, we’ll have a marathon session and get it all done then.” That’s exactly what I needed.

* Watched two time travel/comedy movies from Japan recently, both were funny and fun (the latter being more “scientific-ish” than the former): “Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust”: About a girl sent back in time to the year 1990 through a time-travelling washing machine by the minister of finance, on a goal to A) find her mom, who went a few days previous but hasn’t returned, and B) stop the Japanese economic bubble of the early 90s from ending so catastrophically (imagine our S&L scandal on top of our housing bubble, multiply that by 10, and that’s what happened in Japan in the early/mid 90s). Lots of funny “this is what the 90s were like” moments, charming story, fun all around. The other  is “Summer Time Machine Blues”, a more “time travel/paradox realistic” yet still as silly/laid back movie about a bunch of boys in this school “SF club” who happen upon a time machine and initially try to use it to get back a broken air conditioner remote control. The results are basically Primer-level paradox-upon-paradox which eventually all  have to get resolved by the end. Without melting your brain, even.

I highly recommend both: Bubble Fiction is more for the anachronism lols, Summer Time Machine Blues is the better SF movie yet still wrapped around a fun, youthful plot.

* Money goal: If this investing continues to pay off, I’m thinking about going back to school specifically for Japanese study. Not even for a career change or anything, just because it’s something I love and want more time/resources to dedicate to getting better at it.

* d20 cuff-links on etsy: Bought.

Weird Twist of Fate at the Game Store

Had to drop off the Honda Fit for service near Southpoint. When I was done, I took a detour up to the SciFi Genre game store in Durham, my favorite local place to pick up boardgames and the like. I wandered around for a bit, when I came to the “Discount Shelf Area”. There, for the marked down price of one single dollar, was my favorite Japanese tabletop RPG: Doublecross (2nd edtition), in perfect condition. Even the “Scene Player” card and survey form was intact. I asked the employee when I bought it what the deal was, but while he was aware of it (“I was waiting to see who would pick that up!”), he had no idea how it got there.

Now it’s mine. That’s fate kicking me in the pants, saying “Finish up Tenra, then run a Doublecross campaign for your friends.”

Random Wednesday Thoughts:

* Moved all my investing/Scottrade cash over to OptionsFirst (“options.scottrade.com”), and have begun experimenting with various option platforms. Currently have a few contracts of CREE, Jan 2011 expiry, a call with a strike of 30. Next, from now until then, I plan to lease it out by making covered calls against it. We’ll see how that does. It’s definitely interesting to make the same amount of money with only a fraction of the overhead of owning the stock in full.

* P90X: Day 3. Tightness kicking in. Totally wiped out after the *warmups* for Plyometrics, but it’s solid. And amazingly enough, it’s pretty fun too. I didn’t expect the fun part…

* PS3: Picked up Riddick: Dark Athena and God of War III. GoW is… well, not surprising at all. But the graphics are really, REALLY pretty, plus the reconceptualization of the Greek Gods is pretty cool.

* Currently reading “Gakuen Kakumei-den Mitsurugi” (“Mitsurugi: Tale of the School Revolution”). It’s probably my current favorite comedy manga (Saint Niisan in a close second place), I’m really enjoying the mini stories. If you read Japanese and dig surreal/human comedy (not so much slapstick, but watching twisted people make bad decisions over and over), I highly recommend this series. Plus, the art is gorgeous.

* So, aside from getting in shape, I’m also (stupidly enough) also getting better at making Parisian Macarons. I bought the “I Love Macarons” book from Amazon that I originally borrowed at the library, which started my descent into this party frenzy. I already have ideas of what to do for my next batch: Basically strong vanilla/vanilla-bean macaron shell, and buttercream in several flavors including Grand Mariner Orange, Vanilla, Matcha, and Ligonberry. While at the same time being careful not to eat too many, as I’m simultaneously dieting/exercising. This kinda feels like Greek Hell, but far more delicious.

chobisleep

Chobi: 1997-2010

What a great run. 13 years, FIV positive cat. We had to put him to sleep tonight due to some really bad lymphoma. He was the last of the three cats we brought to America with us from Japan in 2000.

When he was born, his bent tail meant that he wasn’t picked from the litter, so Orie kept him. He was a runt, so he was named Chobi (ちょび), kind of a play on “small” in Japanese. Man, he turned out huge and strong, though. His bent tail basically led him on an adventure that had him come to America from Japan at age three, where he lived the rest of his life here.

Yeah, it’s sad, but he had a great run for a cat I think.

-Andy

Tuesday Thoughts

* Been going to the work gym at lunch lately. Been a while, I didn’t know they had a new use-and-toss towel system. Feels good, but I really wish there were more free weights: The Smith machine for straight up-down lifts only gets you so far…

* I love all that I’m reading/seeing of the game “Sleep is Death”. Unfortunately, due to the two-punch combo of old Linksys router (no UPnP) and Vonage router, I can’t broadcast/receive on the port required to host a game, I can only play. I’ll have to look into that later.

* Pulled out of options this month on basic Scottrade while I basically move my cash over to Scottrade’s Options First getup. I like the services it provides, but it’s not as second-to-second accurate as Think-or-Swim: So I’ll probably need to use Options First to actually set my spreads, but ToS to do the planning.

* I’ve started practicing kanji again, doing about 10 a day: Mostly ones that I already know how to read, but either never learned (or forgot how) to write. Last night I went through 路,機,関,到,局,故,発 and a few others: All ones I could easily recognize or read, but totally forgot the stroke count, or would draw a blank when trying to write. Also, 機 (machine) I realized I never learned to write properly, so that was good practice. I’m going through the best books in the biz for learning kanji, the Basic Kanji Book (vol 2), Intermediate Kanji Book, both sets by Chieko Kano/Bonjinsha.

* Watching classic Shaw Brothers movies recently: The “Dragon Dynasty” studio has been remastering and re-releasing them recently, and they’re doing an incredible job: Most of them are so cleared up that they look like they were filmed last year, camerawork anachronisms aside. Watched Heroes of the East (ninjas in a kung fu movie!), My Young Auntie (silly parts are silly, but otherwise a phenomenal work with tons of budding kung fu legends) from Netflix, and I went out and purchased the remastered Five Deadly Venoms (五毒).

I realized after watching Five Deadly Venoms again – this was THE movie that got my young child brain interested in martial arts and The East – that it was much slower than I remember. It also has a far more solid, intricate plot that I expected, including an entire suspense/mystery/conspiracy. The characters are memorable even outside their animal stances (particularly “Toad’ and “Lizard”), and I found myself even sympathizing with “Cobra”.  Must have been the first “movie twist” that my eyes ever saw. And I figured out that, while there’s not as much constant kung-fu action as other Shaw Brothers flicks, the dress, mannerisms, styles and “powers” of the 5 leads take them from “kung fu badasses” and puts them into the category of “superheroes”. On the playground back in Baton Rouge in kindergarten and first grade, the boys didn’t play Cops and Robbers or Superheroes, we played “Five Deadly Venoms” (“No *I* want to be Centipede!”). Even after all these years and a wash of nostalgia, the remastered/Dragon Dynasty version of this flick is excellent.

* All my shoes are suddenly getting old. Or better yet it’s probably more appropriate to say that I finally am noticing that all my shoes are getting old. So I’m buying sneakers, hiking boots and sandals all at the same time. Ordered some sneakers to try from Zappos; traded in my ECCOs (which I love, but the size was never quite right for hiking socks) for Merrell/Vibram waterproof hikers; tried on several pairs of sandals (my ECCOs are wearing out, the velcro straps coming apart) from Teva but nothing fit quite right, instead picked up a pair of Sanuk flip-flops for work. Kinda expensive, but I tend to keep shoes for like 6+ years a pair, depending on wear, so I just have to suck it up.

* The new season of Japanese Dramas is here with a vengeance: I’m downloading left and right, will take a few days to watch the first 1-2 eps of each and separate the wheat from the chaff. For now, I’m kinda both looking forward to and at the same time dreading “Keibuho Yabe Kenzo” (Kenzo Yabe of the Police Department’s Public Safety Wing). It’s a spinoff of one of the side-characters from one of my favorite dramas (one of the most popular in the last decade), “TRICK”, which is a bizarre, surreal murder-mystery drama. Yabe Kenzo is the bumbling detective/comic relief, so while I appreciate the TRICK connection, I’m not sure if the series can stand on its own. We’ll see, I guess.

* Movies: Red Cliff (epic!), When the Last Sword is Drawn (totally awesome, but kinda long in a few places), Kick Ass (very fun), Hot Tub Time Machine (loved it), Time Crimes (cool time travel movie; poor girl), I Love You Man (cute).

Brief: Stockplay! Gaming! And Writing!

Praxis: Back in the saddle on writing: Did two pages of translation last night, it felt plain good.

Gaming/Japanese Translation: Shinobigami: Wow, whatta game. I’m only about 20% understanding how it works based on the replays and rules text (for me it’s got a high time vs return rate than other recent books, still it’s not that long so its just a matter of time). I like how fights end the first time anyone takes damage. I also like the

Gaming: Owl Hoot Trail: The simplicity of the classes (hearkening back to Red Box Hack) and system, plus the anachronism of the setting, kept things really interesting. I loved diving into character without keeping track of Angst points and Innuendo Scenes.

Gaming: PS3: Just Cause 2 and Resonance of Fate are on their way from Amazon now. Not a lot of time to dedicate to either right now (they’ll mostly keep me busy during summer downtimes). But after playing the JC2 demo about 20 times, I figured it’s prudent to get the real deal.

Fitness: Wow. So not in shape, and not even due to all that gaming stuff above: Mostly poor meal choices at work and being sick/lethargic. Spring is now kicking my butt, though, so I’ve been doing more. Just need to do more MORE.

Stocks/Options/Other: So a bit ago I talked briefly about the option types I was playing around with: Namely diagonal spreads (avg goal: 10% gain/month) and riskier vertical spreads (avg goal: 20% gain/month, with spikes up to 35%). I forgot to mention that I fell in with the new wonky-trade branch of Scottrade, “Options First” (options.scottrade.com). What’s cool about this site is that like some other sites, you can create an account, put no “real” money in it (or associate it with any real money accounts), and simply practice your trades with “play money” for some time to become familiar with the system. I started last month with $10,000 in “play money”, and now have $11,500. %15 in one month, pretty nice! (this was from a one year/two month diagonal against APOL, and a two-month vertical against CREE) These are slightly riskier than owning stock and putting options against it, or making put/call orders when real stock is on the line, which basically means “I need to check my account for about 1-2 minutes every day or two”.

But otherwise, I’m liking what I see here. Unless the market totally crashes and we star buying up shotgun shells and dog food, I figure that I can maintain a zero-tau against my mortgage, house utilities and food with a starting pool of $20k… just need to get to that level first.

Orie: Kicking ass and taking names at CCCC. She’s near the top of her class at one of the hardest veterinary tech programs in the country, and she doesn’t even speak English as her first language. CCCC is a kind of mixed bag: They want to be taken seriously, but they try too hard. A lot of the professors just plain suck at teaching, handing out “busywork” as assignments. Still, Orie’s mauling the program like a wild animal.

Interesting story: So, while she’s kicking ass, she’s putting a lot of extra effort in due to the language issue. When she was in the registrar’s office, she mentioned to the admissions advisor something like that, like “Sometimes it’s really hard though: I bet I’m the first international student you’ve ever had here in your vet tech program.” The registrar/admissions advisor said, “Oh, no, not at all! We’ve actually had three international students go through the program, yessiree! Two of them were from England, and one was from Australia…”

Orie couldn’t think of anything to say in reply.

Tuesday Thoughts

Exercise: Haven’t been to the gym but once in the last week.  Need to change that. When I go to the gym, I’m motivated to do more, make more gains, eat less bullshit, keep on the game. Got caught up in a cycle at work where I was tired, so I didn’t go to the gym, so I ate crap, and became tired, so I didn’t go to the gym… Going again tonight. Even a few minutes makes a huge difference.

BIG-XX this Fall: Looking forward to it. I didn’t go to my high school(s) reunions, college reunions, but damn I won’t miss my social group’s reunion. I hear the campus has changed a lot, will have to see that with my own head-orbs…

Spring is Here: I can tell because I have a sore throat and my nose won’t stop running.

Investing: The next game is getting an account at options.scottrade.com, and start applying what I’ve been learning about Diagonal and Vertical Spreads. Low-risk calls making 10-25% a month? (30% if I’m more aggressive, risky?) Yes, please. I turned $2500 into $10,000+ last year as a hobby/messing around, I wonder what I can do this year starting with that 10k… Only problem is that these take more research and control than regular options trades, so I have to be that much more careful.

Gaming: Been a slow month. Haven’t done actual role-playing games in a few weeks, as my main group has been between campaigns, playing Rock Band, boardgames and the like. Tomorrow we start up with Mouseguard, and will go from there…

Robot Unicorn Attack is far more fun that it should be at a glance. Very addictive. Also, Erasure. Woah.

The Wii Life, Monday thoughts

*Thanks to Mark C, been a busy beaver. Well, an unbusy beaver with things I should be working on, but busy with leisure:

** Fatal Frame 4: CLEARED. This game is not coming out into English because Nintendo is stupid: They are forcing TECMO to implement some sort of changes or bugfixes that TECMO doesn’t have the money to do, and thus everyone loses. And yet, while the game was overall pretty ok (gameplay) to great (story), it could be that Nintendo is protecting western audiences from the MOST ANNOYING BOSS BATTLE IN YEARS.

** Oboro Muramasa: The Demon Blade: Cleared 3 of 6 endings, watched the other three on Youtube. Incredible game. If you’re learning Japanese, this game is basically Level 10 of your learning cycle. It is endless awesome of middle-ages spoken royal grammar, with both keigo and low speech cranked up to “11″, and tooooons of references to classic Buddhist references: Various Boddhisotvas (Acala/Fudoh-Myou-oh? Shinra-Bansho/The Universe? Sweet). It’s 3 kin of Japanese culture in a 380 monme bag.

** Fragile/Goodbye Ruins of the Moon: I mentioned before that this is like a Feelgood Anime Fallout 3. Gotta revise that: It is better described as “Sorrow and Loneliness: The Roleplaying Game”. If you like unique experiences in console games, you GOTTA check this game out. Admittedly, there’s some boring bits with long empty hallways,  and the inventory system is a little shady at times in the length of menu switch times, etc.  But overall: Holy crap, got choked up a few times.

Why? We don’t know what the incident is, the game doesn’t talk about it at all and is likely not to. But at some point most of humanity dies, billions and billions of people. And the thing is, they all knew it was coming and had time to prepare themselves. So you encounter these artifacts, toys and books and items and stuff, and when you pick them up you hear the story of their owners: Abstract pictures appear while the narrator tells a small story:

- A wedding ring. A father in law talks to his daughter in law, welcoming her into their family. Later, you find another item where it’s the father in law railing about the sorrow that his son and new daughter will never have a chance.

- A dog collar. The dog narrates, licking his master’s face as he cries.

- A school class picture, and a kid laments that he loves those school days, and is afraid of dying alone.

It’s a very similar overall theme to Fallout 3, but man the emotional punch this game packs is both brutal and exhilarating, far more than Fallout. It’s hard to reconcile that with the fact that the game looks and feels so anime sickly-sweet.

Anyway, I count it as a *must-play*. If you’re into light console RPGs. And gut-punching sorrow.

Japanese Fantasy RPGs, A Brief History of Disappointment

So I’m aiming to at one point run a medium-length Dungeons and Dragons 3/3.5e game set in a fantasical asian-themed setting using the excellent E6 hack (max character level = 6) by Ryan S. To that end, I picked up the Rokugan sourcebook for about $2 at some sale or other, and recently finally acquired the Oriental Adventures handbook for 3e as well.

I earlier ran a modified Legend of the Five Rings game, removing some aspects of the setting I didn’t like, and adding others in (namely religion, and names that don’t sound dumb). It worked ok, but since it was based on L5R’s d10-pool system, combat had no real tactical crunch: It all comes down to “roll some dice, look for “10s”; if you don’t have at least one 10, you fail (as all the PCs were “from the Crab clan”, they have these outrageous armor bonuses and the like).

So I thought about using D&D 4e: Soon in the PHB3 there will be Samurai and “Oriental” (yeah, I said it because I mean it) classes and rules hacks (“Ki!”) and the like. However, my experiences with 4e have been mixed between “better than OK” to “man, combat is *awesome*, but anything that isn’t combat feels contrived and silly”. I’m still gonna get Dark Sun when it’s released, and it’s idea of Kit-style “bolt-on/template classes” is exactly what I think a “Samurai” or “Ninja” needs to be. But honestly, core 4e supports orientalized-Japan pretty well: Tough warriors, samurai, mountain bushi are Fighters. Glamorous or skilled swordsmen are Rangers (with 2-weapon style, but simply have them fight with one katana simply making 2 attacks with it). Ninjas are Rogues. Taoist Sorcerers (Onmyoji) can be Wizards, Sorcerers or Warlocks depending on how you describe your character. And so on.

Anyway, since I’ve had a lot of luck running and playing 3e with the E6 hack, I figured I’d take a stab at buying the 3e Oriental Adventures/Rokugan material, and hacking it into something that I think could be some awesome Japanese-themed fantasy.

So I was reading through it last night, and man while I still think the core conceits of the Rokugan/L5R setting are pretty cool, there’s still a lot of just plain can’t-get-around-it *stinky* in there. I can’t work with this stuff. A lot of OA is recycled crap from 1st edition that didn’t work then.

Anyway, It started my mind chugging along, though. A hack. Oh yes, a hack. Possibly D&D 3.5e with some modifications, ruleswise. But more importantly, a setting hack: Something that feels a bit historic, a lot fantastic, builds off of core Japan/Chinese myth but evolves it as well.

The main inspirations for this direction were the anime 12 Kingdoms (classical Chinese monsters, basically giant normal animals, made scary; plus, all that culture); the Wii video game I’m playing now called Oboro Muramasa, which incidentally is awesome; and elements that rang true from my last L5R campaign. There’s definitely some Tenra Bansho Zero influence in there (it’s hard to distinguish anymore which parts of my inspiration were lifted from TBZ and which ones weren’t), but I was thinking something that was more fantastical, less extreme…

This is a project which I’ll engage in after TBZ is done from my end, but I’ve come up with a foundation and guidelines:

* Genuine setting material, complete with unique lands and people.

* No “non-human” characters, or at least very few (“spirit folk” would be about it).

* Rules for combat: 3e/4e/burning wheel-style tactics, not L5R style “stand toe to toe, roll a bunch of dice and get high numbers until the other guy falls over”

* Rules for social stuff: Unknown.

* Rules for CULTURE. This was a point of inspiration last night. GUMSHOE/Trail of Cthulhu style culture skills (instead of investigation skills); including things like Calligraphy, tea ceremony, painting, haiku/composition, music/instrument, yuujyou/makura-jutsu/”pillow arts”, buddhist/sutra lore, shinto lore, cooking, war history, craftsmanship, and so on. Every adventure would involve one or more of the above, and when the appropriate culture element came up, the person with that skill on their sheet (every member of the group would have at least one of these in a small amount) would step forward and strut their stuff, getting the clue, talking to the lord (“Oh, your tea ceremony style is unconventional! Please, show me again how you do that…”), and so on. While seeming to require its own system, this hack can easily be grafted into classic 3e/4e.

* Monsters: Monsters are cool and fun to hunt and defeat. Unfortunately, every attempt at western RPGs bringing in Japanese-themed monsters has failed IMO. Either they use stuff that doesn’t make sense (Rakshasa), or they use stuff straight out of the Japanese lore-book: Which might have been scary 300 years ago, but by our modern standards sounds lame or dumb (“a woman with a LONG NECK, OH SHIT!!!” “a WALL SEGMENT that is REALLY REALLY WET!!!” “An umbrella, but it’s one one eye and one leg and it hops around!!!” “A wooden wheel, on fire, with a mouth on it OMG!”). Every game I’ve seen, from D&D to Sengoku to L5R has basically taken these monsters, kept them as-is, and stapled hit points on them. I thought for a time that there was nothing to be done about this, but Awesome Video Games proved that wrong:

- Ookami re-invents classical monsters in a really stylized, cool form.

- Oboro Muramasa does the same, and on top of that it also creates a new type of monster that both pulls from classical mythology but layers modern sensibilities on top of it. THIS was the true visual inspiration that told me “This can be done: It is possible to create new monsters for a Japanese-themed fantasy game, keep them rooted in the classical mythology, but reinvent them so that they are scary and cool and not just archaic and lame-sounding.” For example:

Anyway, just some thoughts that were rolling around in my head. I’ll be digging deeper once TBZ is done. Likely this will turn into an open setting project compatible with any game, with stats for a few.

-Andy