View Full Version : Tsuchirou to Tatsu - A Japanese Fantasy

07-21-2009, 02:51 AM
It's funny how a map can inspire an entire project, and then the project takes off before the map is even close to finished... I started work on a fantasy modification of Japan (repainted the country, created new province names, etc), and before long, I found myself working out a complete Japanese fantasy setting.

I've never been happy with Oriental Adventures, and from what I've gleaned of Legend of the Five Rings, I wasn't much more impressed. As a fan of Japanese culture, I decided to work out a setting with the following goals in mind:

Import classic roleplaying races like Elves and Dwarves into a Japanese setting and make them natives. Include them in the creation mythos, and give them their own views on religion, cleanliness, respect for kami, arrangement of marriages, ancestor worship, and so forth.
Rework the way classes operate; being a samurai is a social class, while being a swordsman is an adventuring class. Characters can be both a noble and an wizard, or a farmer and an archer, without being treated as 'multiclassing'.
For the sale of depth of role-playing, realistically acknowledge that men and women are not treated entirely as equals, without crippling women as PCs. Women have their own unique social limitations, rights, abilities, protections, and so on that serve as both obstacles and advantages.
Create a more historically accurate... or at least believable ninja. Ninja do not run around in black pajamas.

Though "Tsuchirou to Tatsu" (T&T) may directly translate to "Dungeons and Dragons" in English, I'm trying to avoid making it locked into a single gaming system. Though my official starting point is D&D 3.5e, I'm trying to keep most of the creative material as "system-free" as possible so it can be easily picked up by players of Pinwheels, Anima, D&D 4e, and other systems.

I'd appreciate as much input, helpful criticism, and comments as I can get! If you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know.

Tsuchirou to Tatsu Project Wiki (http://tsuchiroutotatsu.pbworks.com/)

07-21-2009, 03:36 AM
Do you have a sample of the map available somewhere ?=)

07-21-2009, 04:35 AM
Well, it's far from finished, but I've attached a WIP of my map. If it's not clear, Kitajima is the island to the northeast of the other islands, it simply fits better when cut like this.

I've got this map saved in a bunch of layers, and the campy 'colored zones' are just used to show which provinces are which... I can turn off the cities, roads, and province names and colors to show just a terrain map, though I'm not quite ready to show that off yet. A couple of province names have to be changed (I screwed up the names of one or two >_<), but it's a pretty good example of the T&T world... IE, a fantasy Japan.

07-21-2009, 04:56 AM
Looks quite sweet :)

07-21-2009, 05:08 AM
I'm already using the sites you pointed out in the Language Forum, its really helping me out. As I already mentioned I too am working on a fantasy Japan like world. You should check out the various threads I have here on that.

Like you I'm a fan of Oriental Adventures of old, and am less a fan of Legend of the Five Rings - I know right where you're coming from on that point of view.

Unlike you, I'm creating a different world, one that is not Japan, though it emulates much from its history, legends, culture, folklore and ghost stories. I call it and the empire, Kaidan: a Japanese Ghost Story setting.

My setting is won't be published until the Fall of this year, but I have a first of three adventures in a mini-campaign arc scheduled for release next month.

I'd love to mine your setting for ideas for Kaidan. ;)

Looks like you've got lots of work in your project, and ambitious one it seems.

Good luck with your endeavors, looks like you are well on your way.


07-21-2009, 06:00 AM
Well, when it comes to stuff like this, I figure it's better to be really ambitious and lay out a framework for a huge project that only gets partially-finished, than start out with a narrow framework and face difficulties down the road when I try to add stuff on. I want to make sure I remedy issues I've seen with other systems, even superficial ones... As a proprietor of a kimono fashion show, I tend to look at artwork for L5R and OA, and say, "Those aren't kimono, they're silk bathrobes!"

I'm not trying to duplicate Japan, but I figured if I start with the geography of Japan, then I can't screw up on technical things like climate, layout of mountains and rivers, etc... I'm still just a beginner cartographer afterall, and I tend to prefer house-level as opposed to overland maps. ^^ I'm hoping to be able to post some more maps soon, of shinden-zukuri estates. I love Heian architecture~!

And as for mining my setting for ideas, that's what it's there for! Hopefully I'll have more "frills" stuff up soon like magical items, clothing and fashion, plot seeds, etc. ^^

Steel General
07-21-2009, 06:18 AM
Very nice so far, reminds me a bit of a game board for something like RISK or something similar.

08-03-2009, 08:40 PM
This is very interesting, very interesting indeed. While I happen to be a rather big fan of the Emerald Empire (thats Legend of the Five Rings), I do see where you are coming from here. L5R is heavily Japanese based, but also draws upon several other cultures to make up its world. Having a strictly Japanese based setting would be very cool, and I eagerly await to hear more!

Oh, and I like that you want to have elves and dwarves along with the fact that you recognize that M&M were weaponsmiths not the weapons themselves!

08-04-2009, 05:21 PM
Hehe, thanks! Yeah, some friends and I have had a few "moan and complain" sessions about misconceptions of Japanese culture and history. For me, "geisha are prostitutes" is the big pet peeve, but I've picked up on some friends' peeves like "Muramasa and Masamune aren't weapons" and "Ninja don't wear black suits and sneak around all the time, that was an invention of kabuki theater".

I'm really having a -lot- of fun writing the elves and dwarves. The dwarves are actually a big mix of Ainu and Okinawan cultures, neither of which are technically Japanese as we think of them, but are both close enough to Japanese to be familiar and yet different enough to set them apart from humans and elves. Furthermore, Ainu culture is practically extinct and Okinawan culture has become permeated with Japanese culture, to the point that the influences won't stick out like a sore thumb in the setting the same way Chinese or Korean influences would.

Elves, meanwhile, take on heavy influences of Buddhism in comparison to humans and dwarves. In particular, the end of an elf's natural life was inspired by Dashi-Dorzho Itigilov (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dashi-Dorzho_Itigelov), the Buddhist lama who asked that the other lamas began his funeral rites, at which point he meditated until he stopped breathing. He was then buried, and many years later, was exhumed to find that his body had not decayed. The end of an elf's life is a similar practice, and they are not seen as dead, but simply in a state of meditation in which they have achieved paradise and their soul has entered the pure land (the highest heavenly plane).

08-04-2009, 07:46 PM
Hehe, thanks! Yeah, some friends and I have had a few "moan and complain" sessions about misconceptions of Japanese culture and history. For me, "geisha are prostitutes" is the big pet peeve, but I've picked up on some friends' peeves like "Muramasa and Masamune aren't weapons" and "Ninja don't wear black suits and sneak around all the time, that was an invention of kabuki theater".

Don't stress yourself over those things: there are a whole lot of innocuous misconceptions out there that don't get really affect games and are often rooted in real ambiguity. "Geisha" did refer to prostitutes during some periods and escorts during others, and a "masamune blade" is a valid term--its not worth worrying about too much. Go with what you like and what makes for the best story, and only worry about not being racist!

That said: Nice map, great project, ambitious work, keep it up and show us more!

Edited cause too long + no one cares!

08-04-2009, 11:34 PM
I wouldn't say I stress over them, I just prefer to research them and give some slightly more accurate depictions. Generally tends to annoy less people. As for geisha, the only real representations of geisha as prostitutes in history were hotsprings geisha (not real geisha, more like tourist attractions) and the 'geesha girls' of WW2 who told GIs they were geisha because they thought it was a good way of trying to call themselves 'entertainers'. The GIs, who didn't know what a geisha was to start with, thought geisha = prostitute. That's not to say geisha never engaged in more intimate practices, or even that money never crossed hands, but that's more of an individual basis. "Geisha" as a whole are talented singers, dancers, musicians, comedians, conversationalists, and walking images of traditional Japanese art.