One of my all time favorite Japanese Tabletop RPGs is Wares Blade.
First published in 1988, Wares Blade is a Fantasy Role Playing Game in which the components and tropes of Medieval Fantasy are merged with those of the Giant Robot/Mecha genre popular throughout the world but [arguably] originating in Japan.
Unlike many other examples of the Fantasy and Mecha combination, the mechs of Wares Blade are not purely technological or steampunk but magical artifacts. It isn't Magic and Technology but it is Magic and Machinery. The machinery in this world is powered and created by enchantments and sorcery.
Years ago when I was regularly gaming with my old New Jersey group, I found out that some of the gang's favorite Anime and Manga included such titles as Aura Battler Dunbine, Panzer World Galient, and (one I love myself) Rune Masquer. What do all these have in common? They are all in the vein of Giant Robot Fantasy.
Realizing this, I decided to give a Wares Blade campaign with the group (including my ex-wife Selina) the old college try. The results were...well...magical.
Character: Everyn Wolfshadow
AKA: The Forest Witch, The Wolf Woman of the Remote North
Player: Selina Wong
System: Mekton II - Modified with Houserules and Elements of Wares Blade, 1st Edition.
Campaign: The World of Magic and Machinery
Gamemaster: Adam Dickstein
Sadly this campaign only went about five sessions before scheduling became too difficult to continue. Not being able to continue this game with this group is one of my great RPG gaming regrets.
Origins: In addition to the reasons given above, one of the things I really wanted to do around this time was introduce my girlfriend of the time (later my wife) to gaming with a group. We had already been playing RPGs together just the two of us; her as the main character and me as Gamemaster and a cast of thousands. She had yet to play an ongoing game with a large group and so I developed a portion of this game to facilitate that.
In addition to the setting - which incidentally looks and feels like Medieval Europe has been crossed with Arabian and North African cultures and civilizations - and of course the pre-requisite Japanese Mecha battles, I really wanted the game to be about the Player Characters. I wanted their personal stories, goals, and obstacles to be paramount.
Selina has always been uniquely well-suited for this type of game; equally capable of engaging in edge-of-your-seat, visceral combat and gut-wrenching, emotional trials and tribulations. There is a reason we initially bonded over our mutual love of Anime.
Backstory: When we first meet Everyn Wolfshadow she is traveling through the Southern Lands of the continent of Ahan. She seemed almost lost but later revealed that she spirits of the Water had told her this was where she needed to be. Her only companion was Rowan, a rather large wolf.
It was later be revealed that Everyn was blind, the result of a curse placed upon her for falling in love with a young man who severed as one of her nations' Hunters and Rangers. The group of Witches she had trained to become were forbidden from having such relationships. Luckily she found Rowan or he her and her mystical powers allowed her to 'see' through his keen wolf senses.
What she did not know was that Rowan had been cursed as well and was once the young Hunter with whom she had shared her heart.
Overview: I had either forgotten or didn't quite absorb the detail that Everyn was blind. I think I thought her curse was more of a banishment; i.e. she was 'cursed' to never again walk the verdant forests of the Elves or something like that.
None of the other players or PCs knew of her handicap either until at one point in the second or third session when the group planned to uncover an ancient magical mech which legends say slept beneath the city of Flare. The party would split into three groups - One would search the great Library of the Flare for a old tome that would help pinpoint the Ryude Knight's location. Another would speak with the Duke and Duchess of Flare to convince them to stay a visiting noble they believed sought out the mech as well [on behalf of an enemy nation]. Finally, the last group would infiltrate the headquarters of the Thieves Guild, as they had recently stolen a key needed to activate the mech.
Everyn was chosen to search the Library given her high intellect, affinity for water magic (Flare was built on bridges over a river and tales said the Mecha might be in or near the river), and the presence of an Elf in the city might make other nervous [never mind the wolf]. Everyn was find with this as long as one other PC accompanied her. Jarod Steele, knightly 'half-Elf' agreed to go but remarked that she has shown she could take care of herself. Plus there was Rowan! She smiled and said politely, "Yes but I can not read the pages without assistance."
Someone started muttering something about language when all of a sudden our friend Lynn exclaimed, "Wait! Everyn is blind!" The room fell silent for a moment, followed by a symphony of hands slapping foreheads. All the clues had been there and yet no one had realized it.
Selina, playing as Everyn, never looked directly at myself (as GM) or any other player when speaking to a PC or NPC. She instead leaned in with her ear angled slightly in the other persons direction. She mimed feeling around before pretending to grab an object, including drawing her dagger. She always established a link of sorts with Rowan as her first action in combat, especially before casting any spells. Best of all, she had been doing all that since the first session and the rest of us were just then putting it together.
Best Actress in a Dramatic Medieval Mecha Fantasy Campaign goes to...
Aside from the big reveal mentioned above, there was a fantastic sequence when the PCs finally discovered the Ryude of Flare, a red, winged Mecha which had been buried deep beneath the riverbed far below the elegant city. Of all those with magical abilities, only Everyn had access to the domain or 'Gate' of Water. This meant she was the only one who could her people safely to the gigantic robot.
She ends up one of the two pilots, with our Warrior Prince controlling the mech's movements and physical combat and Everyn supplying Mana to activate the machine's special abilities. Unfortunately the group's fortunes reversed - the Ryude Knight had wings but Everyn's Gates were Sun, Tree, and Water! Unable to fly or use the robot's Fire based enchantments, the two PC's nonetheless managed a bold if awkward escape, aided by the rest of the team. When in the light of the Sun, Everyn transferred as much Mana to the Mecha as she could and it did indeed take to the air to cheers from the whole group.
So beloved was the character by the other players that, as you can see, two separate people decided to do illustrations of her. Both Lynn Morton (Left Side Drawing) and Keith Conroy (Right Side Drawing) - without discussing it with each other - surprised Selina with these drawings around session five. I love both for different reasons.
I have Everyn Wolfshadow's original Character Sheet from the game but since I used a hybrid system merging Mekton II with what few translations I could find of Wares Blade 1st Edition, I can't really make heads or tales of it. Heh. *Anime Sweat Drop*
I can tell you that her Physical and Social Stats were about average, her Mental and Magical Stats quite good, and her skill at Sorcery and Spellcasting especially high. Wolfshadow is knowledgeable about Plants and Beasts, has a Keen Sense of Hearing and Smell even without connecting with Rowan, and is capable of Blind-Fighting with her Quarterstaff. She can also play the flute, though she isn't very good at it. At all.
She has a magical item known as the Bracer of the Clear Path - worn on the wrist and forearm, the Bracer tugs you towards of the path or direction with the fewest and/or easiest to overcome obstacles. The perfect thing for a blind Elf moving through unfamiliar country.
I hope to run a long campaign of Wares Blade someday and if I do, I'd like to think that Everyn Wolfshadow and Rowan might call upon the PCs to help her lift her curse and return her sweetheart to his rightful form.
Hey, you there bumping gums. Yeah, you! We're trying to make tracks before the coppers get here see, so don't be a pill. Don't worry, we're on our way to go see FRANKIE THE FERRET so relax and don't flip your wig.