Thursday, July 25, 2013

MAGIC AND MACHINERY

A slight change of plans.
 
As I mentioned in my previous post, I am going to be easing up on the theme of Anime/Manga gaming and just posting whatever I feel like talking about, including Anime/Manga gaming if indeed the mood strikes me.
 
With the generally lackluster response and interest in the subject however, I am loosing steam and my thoughts are drifting to other ideas. I've mentioned this before, it's how my head works.
 
So for now, I did want to show off one of my favorite Japanese Table Top RPGS. A mix of Dungeons and Dragons and Battletech - Medieval Fantasy crossed with Giant Robots. Lord of the Rings + Pacific Rim =
 
 
WARES BLADE
 
 
 
 
Clockwise from Upper Left;
Wares Blade - 1st Edition Boxed Set (1988),
Wares Blade 'The Renewal' - 2nd Edition Boxed Set (1995-97)
Wares Blade D20 Rulebook (2008), Fan art from one of dozens of Wares Blade blog sites
Wares Blade - Wares 1092 Tactical/Strategy Game for the Playstation (1997)
Wares Blade 'Ryude Knight' Resin Model Kit (2000),
One of the many Wares Blade setting novels (2003)
Center: Wares Blade Fold Out Poster From 'RPG' Magazine (1994)
 


 


The cover of the May, 1991 issue of one of my favorite Japanese gaming magazines, entitled simply and elegantly enough, RPG Magazine. This is probably one of the first issues I ever purchased and it is still in mint condition. The feature article is of course, Wares Blade.

Rules

In its original form the game plays like a modified and slightly streamlined version of the original Battletech game, with PCs handled in a system most closely akin to Call of Cthulhu (Basic Role Playing system) meets D&D.

Magic

Magic is somewhat akin to Ars Magica crossed with Runequest. There are schools of magic, known as 'Gates', that correspond to various elements. The eight Gates are Earth, Fire, Metal, Moon, Sun, Water, Wind and Wood.

Interestingly, the Undead are tied to the Earth Gate, since the dead are buried in the Earth. Dwarves are usually of the Earth or Metal Gate, leading many to distrust them and view them as having contact with Necromancers. Dragons, most of them anyway, are connected to the Fire Gate and Shapeshifters with the Moon.

Mana, known as Renpo in the game, is everywhere and in all things, although the type/Gate of the Renpo is dependant on the thing you are referring to. Mountains contain mainly Earth and Metal Gate Renpo while the Ocean contains mainly Water and perhaps some Wood.

Ware Stones are rare mystical rocks (more minerals than gems or crystals) that contain and focus Renpo. Wizards often wear jewelry and carry foci embedded with these stones to assist  them with spell casting. The stones are required to create any kind of permanent magic item, including the 12-18 foot battle armors known as the Machine Soldiers.




Original Wares Blade illustration by Qu-Ro-Quro
 

Machinery

Machine Soldiers are the giant robots that give this otherwise traditional fantasy game its rather specific twist. There are many kinds of Machine Soldiers and indeed, 'Machine Soldier' is perhaps the least impressive of them. Those that existed in the time of the 'Old Dynasty Empire' were far more amazing than the ones being built in the setting's present (Wares 1092) and are called Ryude Knights. Between the artifact-like Ryude Knights and the cheap, 'modern' copy Machine Soldiers are the Machine Knights, which are either of superior, modern craftsmanship or are partially made from the remains of a damaged Ryude Knight.


Geography and Setting



Map of The Ahanic Western Continent
from The Wares 1092 Artbook and Sourcebook

Modified by me. I removed the Japanese place names
and intend to rewrite them in English.
 

The physical setting is called Ahan, also known as 'The World of Wares' (in reference to the importance of the Renpo stones). Only the Ahanic Western Continent is fully fleshed out in the original game, with the East being a 'land of spirits'. At one point, we do learn of a Human and Elven land whose people resemble the Celts and Gauls mixed together. The land in questions sits on the border between the Western Continent and the Eastern spirit lands. The country itself, 'Farthest Ki'Dein', is somewhat like Ireland or Scotland.

The center of the Western Continent is called Kedamon, a land of demons and monsters that also houses the ruins of the Old Dynasty Empire. It is mainly desert and in some areas borders haunted Jungles and woodlands prone to terrible storms. 

At the continent's Western most edges are the kingdoms most player characters would call home. These include many 'holy sites', places of historical, cultural and spiritual importance to the people of Ahan. There are few if any gods remaining, as apparently most of them were killed in a war between the Old Dynasty Empire and the heavens which resulted in the demon infested wasteland in the middle of the continent. Instead, the people worship spirits and spirtual places. These locations are often fought over by various factions and are one of the key sources of conflict in the Wares Blade setting.

There is a lot more I can tell you but for now this will do.

I am disappointed in the turn out for this month but at the same time, I realize not everyone is going to get jazzed about something so foreign (pun intended) to their experience.


Next up...I'm not sure.

AD
Barking Alien



 

13 comments:

  1. I'd like to see more of these Japanese rpgs. I know a little about the gaming culture over there but I don't understand the language so my investigations can only go so far. Do keep exploring on our behalf!

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  2. Don't get disappointed, most of us simply don't have much to say about japanese RPGs because of our lack of knowledge XD. I, for example, am not into manga and anime, so there is little I can comment about the style of these games.

    However, I can mention another Anime and Manga style western RPG that has had some impact: Anima: Beyond Fantasy. You probably won't like it much (I don't, either), since it is loosely based on Rolemaster, but the art is wonderful and has spawned miniature, card and computer games. Plus, it is one of the very few spanish roleplaying games translated to english (I think it is indeed the first, but I'm not sure).

    What I find very interesting is the habits of the japanese themselves regarding roleplaying. We had a wonderful article in the fanzine I write for which explained that, due to some aspects of their way of life (small houses and limited free time), they often rent locales (such as karaoke rooms) to play and they rarely engage in campaigns. This last bit reflects in their games. Thay also seem to enjoy reading "replays" (game transcriptions) as much as playing, but you will probably touch that when you talk about Record of The Lodoss War ;)

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    Replies
    1. Agreed on the habits of Eastern vs. Western RPGamers. While I did want to talk about that, my knowledge is limited to friends who are Japanese, American friends who've spent time there and the word of others. I haven't really experienced it myself and there are many sources of much more hands on information.

      That doesn't make it any less interesting to me as well.

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  3. This actually looks really good. I've often thought a cool "Dune with giant robots" would be an awesome game to run.

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  4. This does look cool. I'm surprised people have licensed some of the other Japanese games you've mentioned but no one has tried this.

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  5. @Blacksteel - Agreed. Believe it or not, a friend in the industry actual said it was too mundane. It would essentially have to compete against D&D and Battletech in the USA and frankly, it probably couldn't alter the minds of either of those two die hard camps.

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  6. Have you played/seen any of the console Wares games? I have this one here in the box set with the mask and beads:

    http://www.shopncsx.com/seikoku1092.aspx

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    1. Yes indeed. If you'll look at the picture at the top of the post, in the bottom right hand corner, you will see a PlayStation game. The cover art looks very much like the one in your link.

      Thanks for stopping by, and for the interest.

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  7. Having plyed a session or two of this system, I can honestly say, it was quite imaginative and VERY easy to get into. I'll admit my biggest regret aout the whole thing was never finishing the campaign. But still I look at it with VERY fond memories, and he hopes of playing again one day.

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    1. Thanks for the comment Shepherd and for stopping by.

      I've recently been inspired to bring this baby back for one of my current gaming groups. I'm in a Space Adventure/Exploration mood though, so I haven't decided which way to go as of yet.

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  8. Hello, I recently found your blog due to seeming having the most English coverage of "Wares Blade" on the internet. I only learned of Wares Blade through the starter set books becoming official available for free on the internet. However, I've found little to no detailed English information regarding specific rules and character creation. I think it's great that you post of the niche RPG systems that you've played, especially since most old Japanese systems are unknown internationally. While those posts aren't made as frequently, I look forward to hearing more.

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    1. I am...that is I was..unfamiliar with the existence of an official English translation of the starter set. I will have to look for that indeed!

      I was able to translate and play it only do to the efforts of friends who were Japanese natives, or Americans well versed in the language. There were also (at one time) a number of websites dedicated to the game that had formed a webring. Sadly I don't believe that ring, or the majority of its member sites, still exists.

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    2. Sorry, I actually meant officially available for free in Japanese. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be an official English translation.
      http://www.mangaz.com/title/?query=%E3%83%AF%E3%83%BC%E3%82%B9%E3%83%96%E3%83%AC%E3%82%A4%E3%83%89&submit=
      Since this is directly referenced on the official Wares Blade website, the 1st edition books may have become public domain. Similarly, that website also has Ryuutama, Tenra, Metal Head, and others.

      It is too bad that English documentation related to Ware Blade has pretty much been lost with web communities of that nature, but the PDFs being freely available make rudimentary translations with google translate an option for anyone with time and patience.

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