We have been playing Winter’s Blossom, a mini-campaign of what we offhandedly refer to as Samurai World. As you can guess, Samurai World is an Apocalypse World hack of the amazing Legend of the Five Rings setting. It’s made by Brennan Taylor for his own home group. I’m not sure if he thought anyone else would ever play it!
Jan and me have been playing in Rokugan for over five years now with Game Daimyo Kris who knows the setting very intimately. We have been wanting to follow in his footsteps, but tackling the entire L5R system and setting seemed very challenging. Samurai World allowed us to combine a setting we love with a method of play that we love exactly as much, and feel very comfortable with. So thanks, Brennan! Much love to you! <3
What’s awesome about Samurai World?
Powerful rules-light moves
I really like how the characteristics of the clans and stations of Rokugan have been put into Apocalypse World moves. It works especially well for the soft skills of courtiers, that we’ve been winging and playing rules-less for so long. It’s really nice to have some bite to them.
See, for instance, my main Doji move. The Doji family is known for skilled diplomacy and tying people to them by means of the perfect gift.
Doji Courtier Rank 1: The perfect gift. You always know what gift will be most appropriate, roll+elegant. On a 10+, give a gift worth up to 2-wealth. On a 7-9, give a gift worth up to 1-wealth. If the recipient is an NPC and accepts the gift, they owe you 1-favor. You do not need to spend any of your session wealth to give these gifts.
Anyone who’s played Apocalypse World will be unfazed but this is a new change for Rokugan, and I quite like it. I means you can get to the drama very quickly.
The other wonderful addition to the game is the mechanizing of Tragic Love. Every PC has someone they love, and that love will never have a happy ending. It will be your brother’s wife, your servant, your sworn enemy. Your duty and your love will always be at odds.
When confronted with your love, you make a love roll and have a chance of disgracing yourself and losing control. Samurai losing control = good times!
We had a lot of fun with the Love rolls. They brought a ton of drama and human interaction to the game and make for the most beautiful, most painful scenes.
We played a five-session campaign of Samurai World, taking place a in Winter Court.
Our cast of characters:
- Akodo Daisuke, Akodo bad boy. Gruff warrior who has been fighting the Crane for longer than he can remember. Smitten with his servant, Kita Kachiko.
- Doji Inoue, court darling, played by yours truly. Inoue is a classic Doji beauty who has her ambitious mind set on a fairytale wedding between her and the Akodo heir to seal the peace between the two clans (and net her a lot of glory as well). Tragically, she has fallen badly for Akodo Daisuke, the Akodo heir’s younger, brasher brother.
- Mori Arisa, talented duelist, played by Andrea. Arisa is from a vassal family to the Doji. A vassal family that seems to be involved in the death of Akyama Shiori’s mother somehow (probably through her super-creepy dad!). Her true love is Doji Kyoshi, who is married to her closest childhood friend (and Inoue’s brother).
- Akiyama Shiori and Oshiro Shoya, sisters. Their father was murdered, and though they suspect the Arisa family they were never able to prove it in court. Shiori has become friends with Arisa anyway, but Shoya relentlessly sticks to her suspicions.
Playing Doji Inoue
I would never dare to play a beautiful, ambitious, manipulative courtier in our home game with all of our expert players. I’m much more comfortable with underdog fuck up’s. It was really fun! I blinked my eyes cutely all the time, talked in a girly voice, and waved my fan around no matter how much Rich would complain about the effect it had on the recording quality of our video ;)
I had a fun time getting in everyone’s business, doing favors, being manipulative and trying to come out on top everywhere. I enlisted Akodo Daisuke’s help into getting a meeting with his eldest brother – pushing down my true feelings for him. He was so rude and brash and totally dreamy! She was a creature of ambition, though, and bit down on those feelings until she drew blood.
The plans were working quite well until my my perfect gift (dowry) to the Akodo heir was stolen by my childhood friend Shosuro Yumi. The Scorpion were trying to put a stop to the impending Crane-Lion peace. She appealed to their friendship and their childhood dreams. It worked, but it got Yumi to commit seppuku in addition to giving back the helmet. Woah.
In the last session, when it was clear my true love, Akodo Daisuke, would never love me and I lost my cool, disgraced myself and we lost some allies due to my lack of diplomacy. But in the end, after the Oni were defeated and the smoke cleared, there was a hell of a wedding party and if you squint real well, my new husband, the Akodo heir, looks just like Akodo Daisuke…