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To start off the weekend, we played my second game of Kagematsu.

I thought up a Kagematsu in the car. One that would get ‘promoted’ to a little village with pump and ceremony, just so he would stop vying for power in the capital. A bitter Kagematsu, annoyed at being banished to this stupid little place.

As luck would have it, the players thought up a Silk Farm village, so it worked out well: Kagematsu got the honorary position of overseeing the silk harvest. Which was about to be destroyed by a Kappa fated to come around every 30 years. Ah, Japan and its weird monster culture.

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Despite the silly Kappa premise, we managed to have a very dramatic game. In my previous game, the players used Kage almost as a framing device to really delve into their women’s lives, here the game was a bit more focused on the romance and manipulation aspect.

  • Jan played Yukiko, the young Innkeeper’s daughter.
  • Tâm played Fubuki, a slightly older keeper of the pawnshop.
  • Kris played Narumi, the young daughter of the Teahouse keeper.

I still love what tight stories Kagematsu creates. The threat showed up twice. Once when we were inspecting a ravished silk worm field, and once during an equally appropriate scene in the village. Both times it made perfect sense – and the second time it was so close to the end that we framed the rest of the scenes in the resulting chaos.

Kris wrote a session report (wow!) for RPGGeek here.

Especially the end was very dramatic. Yukiko had begged Kagematsu for safety and he had given her a prayer stone he’d gotten from a monk in the capital. In the end scene, she rushed forward, convinced the stone would protect her. The Kappa’s shears snapped her in two.

Equally tragic was Narumi, a young, very impressionable teen, who had received a confession of love from Kagematsu. When Kagematu’s most love turned out to be Fubuki instead of her, she went to her favorite place, the local river, and committed suicide.

Finally, Fubuki never liked Kagematsu much to start off with, and blamed him for the other girls’ deaths. Tragedy all round!

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I’d forgotten to mentally prepare people for the fact that Kagematsu is not a very interactive roleplay game. It’s a collection of scenes you are occasionally in. In a way, it most feels like the euro game of roleplay games: everyone plays in turn, no one interacts. I think you get a lot back for that ‘sacrifice’: a really tight story and a lot of opportunity for characterisation. But it’s good to let people know beforehand what they are getting into.

We also played a rule wrong. I allowed people to keep all desperation moves involved in a succesful scene, whereas you only get to keep the desperation move that makes the scene succesful.

Other than that everything else ran fairly smoothly. Tâm and Kris are always great at pick-up story games, but always have to mention how much they prefer to have regular campaigns instead. Like you have to choose!

I really like this game. Playing it again on friday with all male players. Still, after that session I will put on the shelf for a while unless I can convince another woman to play Kagematsu. RPG Geek Andrea was up for it, so another VOIP game might be a definite possibility.

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