Posts Tagged ‘Mountain Witch’

Seven role-playing games that changed my life pt.1

Recently, I saw that someone (Per Fischer, I think) had posted a list of the seven games he had played the most. I contemplated doing the same, but quickly gave it up. First of all, it would be very difficult to properly assess how much I played which games in my younger days. Secondly, it would not be a very interesting list, necessarily. I played a lot of certain games while I was relatively young, but they didn’t have that much of an impact on me. The list would probably include, in some order: Vampire: the Masquerade, Vampire: the Requiem, AD&D, D&D 3rd ed, Warhammer FRP 2nd ed, Call of Cthulhu, Shadowrun. But that would leave out some of the game that I haven’t played a lot, but which has meant a lot to my perception of what role-playing is, and even to the course of my life! And so, here is a list of seven role-playing games that changed my life, organized in (more or less) reverse chronology. I may well try the same with scenarios and/or board games. For some of them, I may mention some games that might almost have taken its place – but I wanted to only include seven, so I had to cut them out.

Spirit of the Century

In my world, Spirit of the Century is close to being the perfect golden mean between sleek, streamlined, mass produced, “traditional” big game company produced role-playing games and the auteurish, experimental, diamond-in-the-rough “indie” games inspired by the Forge. It is a blast to create a character in this game, and allows you to tailor the evening’s session to whoever is going to be present. It is the perfect tool to help you capture the feeling of a pulp hero story. It achieves this in three ways:

1) The book perfectly evokes the genre all the way through, so that by the time I’m through, I can’t wait to jump into adventures with two-fisted heroes like Jet Black and his friends, defeating nefarious foes like Gorilla Kahn and Doctor Methuselah.

2) The system gently, but surely, nudges me towards the kind of game it is designed for. Fate points reward players for enriching the story and providing interesting complications. Henchmen and npc rules make it easy to have the heroes fight off appropriate swarms of nefarious goons, and make the actual villain provide interesting obstacles to the heroes. The character creation rules mean that you could have Tarzan, Zorro, Allan Quartermain and Biggles in the same team – and it wouldn’t feel awkward! In fact, having one hero be a rich heir who’s a science prodigy, while another is a former war-pilot and the third is a big game hunter would make a lot of sense. Not least because…

3) The game master’s guide gives the would-be game master of a game of SotC some very simple tools to make a great game, based on the characters that are going to be in that particular session. It really has one of the best guides on how to be a GM that I have ever seen, and I would advice any new GM to read that guide, even if you have no interest in playing the actual game. It provides three very easy ways to design a story that is going to feel pulpy, based on the participating characters, and has a host of great advice. One great piece of advice that I took from the home-page, and which is good for almost any game is to make a spreadsheet showing which skills each character has, and at which level. If everybody has a skill, they want to test it. If someone has a high rank in a skill, they want to ace it. If only one person has a skill, even at a relatively low level, you can throw spotlight on them by challenging that skill. And if nobody took a skill – well, if your players aren’t interested in a particular kind of challenges, why punish them by testing it. That’s the kind of simple, useful, player-oriented advice this book is chock full off.

All in all, this game has consistently provided me with enjoyable gaming experiences. It doesn’t provide the gritty, visceral stories that might result from games like Apocalypse World, Dogs in the Vineyard or In a Wicked Age – all games that do some of what SotC also does – but the sheer ease and enjoyment of this game just puts it way ahead of them in my mind. Yes, indeed, this might actually be my favoritest role-playing game.

Mountain Witch

I still remember my first game of Mountain Witch (not that I have played it THAT much). It was at Fastaval, and I had joined an indie game introduction. I had never played an indie game before.

We were set upon by two tengu (raven spirits), when I used my “knowledge of the ancestors” (or something similar). I wanted to know how I might defeat the tengu. I looked expectantly up at the GM for an answer – and saw him looking back, equally expectant. That’s when it struck me: the answer was mine to give.

I didn’t give a very good answer. But the incident (which struck the GM – and I think it was Per Fischer, again – enough for him to recount it on The Forge) showed me the power of Story Now. I quickly acquired Mountain Witch, Dogs in the Vineyard and With Great Power…, three games I have read a lot, but unfortunately not played a lot. All three taught me a lot, though. With Great Power… was the one I most wanted to play, but unfortunately, its great ideas have not been honed enough to make a truly brilliant game. As such, I don’t think I’ve ever played a whole game of it. Dogs in the Vineyard packs a lot of punch for its short size, but the bidding mechanic of the game is difficult to do well, and can feel a little mechanic. Mountain Witch is difficult for me to properly prepare for, but is probably the best of the three.

But no matter its relative flaws and merits, Mountain Witch will forever stand as my first ever indie RPG. And those two hours alone earn it a place on this list.

Alternity

Alternity is a very peculiar game, and one that holds a special place in my heart. It was TSR’s attempt to make a game that might do for Space Opera what AD&D had done for Fantasy: provide one system that could work with a host of different worlds. While the game never gained much of a following, I think it succeeded in this mission far more than D&D ever did.

The game borrows a lot from its older brother: The d20, the six stats, the classes. But the whole feeling of the game is completely different. The game is skill based, and while levelling up makes you better at things, you don’t get that much better at resisting damage. This underlines that this is not a fighting game. But what is it?

Well, it can be many things. It is a universal science fiction game, and it is geared towards providing more or less realistic visions of a future among the stars. A number of settings came out for the game, including Star*Drive, the “main” setting of the game, and Dark Matter, an X-files inspired setting of paranormal investigation with extraterrestrials and extradimensionals and ghosts and what have we.

So why is this game on this list? Well, Alternity is a game that I never saw much outside of my own bookshelf, even though I thought it was so great. It is also one of a number of games which taught me something that I’m almost embarrassed to tell you that I needed to be taught: that it is interesting to play ordinary people, that it can be fun to be weak and vulnerable…. vincible? It also taught me that Science Fiction doesn’t have to be Star Trek, Star Wars, Terminator or Judge Dredd – it can also be Alien or Blade Runner, all about regular, vulnerable people in toned down surroundings.

A couple of games vied for this place: Warhammer FRP taught me the same thing about fantasy, and showed me why Dark Fantasy was great, and why it can be cool to play a rat catcher. And Call of Cthulhu taught me something similar about a more realistic setting – and it taught me that tragedy can be a blast. You can have your cake and be eaten too.

Till next time

And that’s it for now. I’ve been gushing far more than I thought I would. I’ll post the remaining four at a later time, and I’ll try to gush a bit less. Until then, please tell me what you think of these games – and do tell me which games changed your world.

 

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[Mountain Witch] Second Session

Tonight, we played the second of four sessions of Mountain Witch. On the whole, it went pretty well, even though we had a few kinks to work out – my players were slow to start using their Fates, and they need to get accustomed to narrating successes. On my part, I haven’t been good enough at setting good scenes, and I’ve been “fishing” far too little. It’s getting a bit late, but I’ll need to do it a lot the next two times.

The Game

We continued where we left off last time. Hitayoshi was on one side of a chasm with Pig Man, the guardian of the bridge, while the rest of the group was on the other.
The big group decided to try finding a way around the chasm. I sent an icy storm their way. They decided to try finding a cave to hide out in. One of them suggested she could use her tracking to find a trail leading to a cave. So, when they had a marginal failure (or was it a tie? I know I got to narrate, so it was one or the other), I used that to say that they found a set of badger trails leading into a cave, thus introducing my character the Badger. However, just as they found the cave, they suddenly hear a rumbling noise: an avalanche, coming to bar their way.
The avalanche was an attempt on my part to split them up, in order to use the so-called “Break and Rejoin” technique: splitting them up, sowing discord, then putting them back together. And it worked beautifully. They all tried to get to the cave before the avalanche struck. Their rolls varied, with Hayashi getting a mixed success, Kato and Futasawa getting partials or ties, and me getting mixed successes against Hidaka and Kurosawa. Hayashi narrated barely getting into the cave (he got a mixed success, and narrated my partial as a flesh wound), Kato and Futasawa ended up right outside the cave, and the last two were swept along on the avalanche, getting thrown off near a little house in the mountains.

Teatime all around

Meanwhile, Hitayoshi was left with an angry Pig Man. Pig Man scoffed at him, calling him a cheat, then turning around to go home, mumbling something about tea. Hitayoshi politely asked whether he might be allowed to buy a cup, to which the pig grudgingly consented.
They arrived at the house, with someone inside asking what Pig Man was doing back so early. Hitayoshi asked me who was standing there, and I asked him to tell me.
He explained that it was his old master, Musachi, who had been thought dead. In reality, he had been dying after the battle. He had lost an arm, and was fading quickly. Then, O-Yanma approached him, offering to heal him in return for his service. And so, now he was serving the Witch.
Hitayoshi then explained that he was there with a group of Ronin, hired to go after the Witch. He said he got along well with all of them, except one.
“What is his name,” Musachi asked.
“Kurosawa,” Hitayoshi replied.
“Kurosawa… that name is familiar to me.”
“Yes. He was the one who killed my family.”
Awesome! I hadn’t expected them to be so blunt about their Fates so early, but it was great to see their reactions: they all cast glances at Kurosawa, who looked a little unsure of how to react.
Hitayoshi and Musachi agreed that Hitayoshi should go offer his services to the Witch the next day.
In the other end of the mountain, Hayashi got his breath back inside the cave. Suddenly, he realised that there was light coming down the tunnel. Intrigued, he started going down towards the light.
Here, he saw a curtain setting a cave apart from the rest of the tunnel. Inside someone was moving around.
He politely introduced himself, seeing a man in a great big coat walking around inside. In a slip of the tounge, I called him “the Badger,” which was generally well received – my attempts at describing a badger-like person worked better, I think, now they all knew what I was getting at.
The Badger invited him for tea, while he explained his business. He said he’d been pretending to be on a mission to kill the Witch, while really, he was in O-Yanma’s employ, doing something for the witch in return for being helped away from Japan.
He was offered a place to stay the night, and the next day, the Badger agreed to take him up the tunnels to the Castle, in return for a small favour.
Next up were Hidaka and Kurosawa. They went up the path to the little house. Just as they were approaching the house, the door opened, and a woman in the door offered them to come in. Inside, the table was set for tea for three.
“Were you expecting visitors… other than us?” Hidaka wanted to know.
“We are three, and the table is set for three, is it not?” said the Fox (whom, of course, it was).
The Fox started to open negotiations for favours with the two, but Hidaka, having apparently been spooked by their host, closed down the talks immediately. She was only interested in being shown a way up to the castle.
I did use this opportunity to get Kurosawa to agree to owing her a favour. She then pointed to what had appeared to be a dense bush, through which a path now ran.

Snow Battles

Kato and Futasawa turned out to be the least lucky of the bunch. Instead of getting served tea, they were left out in the snow. At first, they tried digging through the snow to get to the cave, but they quickly gave that up. Instead they started up the slope towards the castle.
Blocking their way, however, was a group of snow spirits, dancing some weird kind of dance (I hadn’t thought of these in advance, so they weren’t very well thought out. But, ah well – they worked). Futasawa had “Meld with shadows” as an ability, so he tried sneaking past them. He got stuck along the way. Meanwhile, Kato wanted to sneak past them by going from tree to tree, but soon discovered (after a tied roll) that there weren’t enough trees.
Futasawa then tried diverting their attention by using a stone from his sling shot. I won, so I ruled that the snow spirits surrounded him, but that he wounded one of them with a stone.
Seeing that the snow spirits were occupied, Kato tried sprinting up the road. One of the spirits heard her, and ran after, leaving its two companions to deal with Futasawa.
Which they did in spades. He rolled a 1, deducted 1 from a wound, and ended up with 0. Meanwhile, I rolled a 6. A critical success – enough to take out a PC.
Futasawa had been swinging his sling when he was cornered. Now he let the stone fly, and hit one of the spirits on the cheek. It roared in pain. This started a snow-slide, dumping a ton or more of snow on top of Futasawa. Kato left him behind, presuming him dead. He will return next time – either he wakes up to take part in the game as a full part of the party, or he’s found by some patrol and brought into the castle to be tended, where some of his companions will doubtlessly run into him.
Kato ran up the path, away from the snow spirit. But suddenly, a big wall with a small gate in it blocked the way. She knocked on the door but no one answered, and the snow spirit caught up with her. She drew her sword and ran it through, killing it easily.
Hidaka and Kurosawa were walking up the path, when they suddenly heard someone coming up the path. They quickly hid in a bush. The soldiers, however, stopped right in front of their bush to rest, so the samurai threw a stone to distract them, then ran out with swords blazing. Hidaka grabbed a soldier from behind, taking off his head, while Kurosawa hit the other on the arm. The wounded soldier was enraged, trying to trample Kurosawa, who managed to wound it, before he was knocked to the ground. Hidaka killed the third soldier, then turned around and killed the last one.
The two then proceeded up the path, running into Kato just as the remaining two snow spirits came running up the path. They finished them easily, Hidaka (or Kato?) even getting a Double success. She explained that when she stuck her sword into the spirit, it melted, leaving behind a key to the locked gate that I had been refusing to have someone answer. They went back to look for Futasawa, but ended up leaving him for dead under the snow (I think I may have been “GMing” them into dropping their search, but I thought it far better to leave him under the snow than to have them drag him around).

Entering the castle

Next morning, all of them prepared to go into the castle. Hitayoshi was going with Musachi and Pig Man, who was going to report the destruction of the bridge, Hayashi was led by the Badger to a place right outside the main gate, and the remaining three were going in through the side gate.
Outside the main gate, the guards were unwilling to let a stranger like Hitayoshi in. Hayashi heard this, and came to his aid, explaining that O-Yanma would want to see Hitayoshi. A friendly relationship started forming between these two ronin, who were, at least seemingly, siding with the Witch.
Inside the castle, they met the frightful captain of the Watch, who smelled the dead Gaki on Hitayoshi. He defended himself, saying that he hadn’t wanted to kill the Gaki, but had to go along with his companions.
In another part of the castle, three other ronin came sneaking in through a side gate. They came into a courtyard, where many creatures seemed to be walking. They saw a patrol come walking towards them, when Kato suddenly narrated hearing someone hissing her name. The woman led them all into a little hut in the courtyard. Kato explained that this was her old accomplice, Oshiro, who had once before helped her.
And with that, we ended.

Thoughts

I haven’t been a good enough “fisherman,” only once getting something useful out of fishing. It’s a bit late now, but I’ll have to do something about it.
My players’ reactions to the way this game is run differs immensely. Some take to it, while at least one is trying hard to reject it. I’ll have to do an extra effort to get that last person to buy into the game. I’ll try luring her into starting her own Dark Fate – I think that’ll help her.
I could certainly run the rules better in many ways – but I think my main issue at the moment is forgetting to set clear stakes, and forgetting to set counter stakes to the players’. This means it’s often difficult to narrate a mixed successes, or any of my successes really, because it’s not clear what is a success for me. I think I’ll tell my players to help me out – I get too preoccupied with managing the flow of the game, making me forget setting stakes. If I can make them remember it for me, it would take a task away from me, and give them more of a buy-in in the rules, I think.
Something interesting is happening with Trust. The person giving out the most trust (Kato) is giving out 14, the least trustful (Hitayoshi) only 7. The players are spread throughout the spectrum with people giving out 7, 8, 9, 13, 13 and 14 trust. That seems like quite a span! Clearly, someone is getting along well with people while some are being distrustful.
The trust is really well spread out, however, with people getting 9, 10, 10, 11, 11 and 13 trust. Interestingly, Hitayoshi is the one getting the most trust. I think there may be a stance issue here: only one of them have spent time with him in the game, and so they think: “Well, my character has no reason to trust him less,” while they, as players, know what he’s been up to. Hopefully, he’ll use it against them.

Next time

I have a much better idea about what’s going to happen next time than I did last week. I want to split up Hidaka and Kato – they’ve been inseparable since the beginning; unfortunately, Oshiro can’t get them into the inner castle all together – how troublesome, eh?
Hitayoshi will go before the Witch or one of his minions, who will ask him to go back to the other under cover, ready to help the Witch against them. He’ll have to work together with Kurosawa. I may show them both a family being executed by the Witch’s minions, to ramp up the tension.
Kurosawa will be approached by the Fox, who will want him to make good on the favour he owes her. The favour will of course set him on a course to collide with one or more of his companions.
Hayashi, likewise will be badgered by the Badger, who wants him to do something for it. I am a bit unsure about Hayashi – what he’s said so far could indicate that his Fate might be both Unholy Pact and True Motives. I want to give him a bit of playing field to expand his Fate, before I decide where to ram in the knife.
Kato has dug her own grave. ‘Cause you can sure bet that Oshiro has agendas of her own – and she’ll expect Kato to help her out.
I am considering giving my NPCs actual goals they try to achieve. I know I want the Fox and the Badger to have a rivalry, sending the PCs to do their dirty work. I think I’ll adopt the Dream Hunters storyline, and make them fight over a monk who is in the Witch’s dungeon.
Apart from that, they are going to hear much more about the dead Gaki. Oh, am I going to press that for all it’s worth. Overall, loyalty to the Witch is starting to become a theme here – the Fox and the Badger both made half-hearted statements to the fact that the Witch is the lord here, while Musachi and Pig Man both fervently declared their loyalty to O-Yanma. I’ll do my best to make them doubt the Witch – is he a strict, but benevolent, ruler, or a capricious and cruel tyrant?
All in all, I’m satisfied enough with tonight. We’re too many, and we were missing one, which will be a problem next week as well if he shows up. But we are having fun, and I can see the potential in the game. I’ll want to play it with four or five players who are more accustomed to indie, and I’ll make them read the book in advance, so they have a better idea of what this game is about. I think it will help this game a lot to have players who have read the rules themselves, instead of depending on their GMs haphazard explanations.

[Mountain Witch] First Session

I just finished my first session of Mountain Witch. I’d expected to be playing with three players, but after a snap decision, I ended up with seven. Which is a lot, in particular for Mountain Witch.

Character creation took longer than I’d thought, but we ended up with a decent set of characters, as far as I could tell. Then, I explained the rules – too long-windedly – and we set off.

I first led my players into Aokigahara, the suicide woods at the foot of mount Fuji. Here, I tried – and failed – the “Mountain Witch trick,” also known as “fishing:” I said to one of them “You encounter a skeleton in the remains of a suit of armour. It bears the colours of a warlord – which one?” It didn’t get the response I hoped for. Most likely because the offer was too narrow and without enough emotion: I was being very specific about what I was angling for. Also, I chose one of the less experienced players, who, I think, was somewhat shell-shocked by being put in the spotlight. Ah, well – next time, I’ll try it again with something more suitable.

After that, they progressed down the path. Here, they encountered a wailing man with blood running down his kimono. He explained that he had tried committing suicide, but that O-Yanma (the Witch) had sent Gaki (ghouls) to take the heart, thus preventing him from dying properly, leaving him as a ghost like creature, unable to get the relief of death. After a brief argument (a couple wanted to press on – I liked the fact that they were already quarreling) they went up the path towards the Gaki lair.

They found the lair amidst a pile of bones and rotting corpses. Inside, the Gaki were dancing around, singing while eating their rotting feast. The players entered, and one of them ran immediately for one of the Gaki. He was thrown back, however, and the Gaki demanded to know why they were there. The players told them, and the Gaki mocked the man, explaining that he was a thief who’d stolen from O-Yanma and then tried to commit suicide rather than being captured. Having his heart stolen was his punishment, preventing him from an honorable death.

Here, things got delightfully out of hand. Some of the players attacked, while others held back and two actually rolled against the others (I hesitate to say they “helped” the Gaki – their goal was to prevent their comrades from attacking*). In the end, they slew the Gaki and put a sword through the still-beating heart they found in a bucket nearby. They then went back to the junction where they’d met the wailing man, and found a bloodstained kimono and an amulet. One of them took the amulet, then they trudged up the mountainside.

Next, they came upon a bridge with a huge pig-man guarding it.

“What’s your name, pig-man?” they asked.

“Pig Man,” he answered.**

He demanded to know who they were and what their business was. He was hesitant to let them pass, and in the end refused to let them. One of them challenged him to a blind-walking duel (he had blind walking as an ability). This, we did as a duel. I charged him after the second roll and got a Double Success. I described how the samurai got cocky and tried cheating by pushing Pig Man over the side. Pig Man was unbalanced, and bumped into the Ronin, knocking him over the side of the bridge, just being able to grab hold of the bridge (my stake). Besides, the weight of Pig Man falling over broke the bridge. Pig Man just managed to grab hold of the Ronin and drag him to the opposite side before the bridge collapsed, leaving six ronin on the lower side of the crevasse, and one ronin and Pig Man on the other.

*: Next time, I think I may want to play out something like this as a separate conflict – first, they must get through their friends, then they can attack the Gaki. That would have lessened the confusion, and underlined the strife amongst the ronin.

**: Pig Man is inspired by the character “Pigsy” from the old Chinese novel “Journey to the West.”

Next time:

  • I will  have someone confront the ronin about the fact that they ruthlessly slaughtered the Gaki on behalf of a gutless traitor.
  • I will try to split the Ronin up into smaller groups more than this time. Having seven ronin in a conflict is rather unwieldy. Besides, that way I’ll be better able to put spotlight on them
  • I must do my utmost to make them focus on their Fates a lot.
  • I will make the lone ronin meet someone from his past at the Witch’s outpost that Pig Man takes him to.

Things to reintroduce:

  • The necklace.
  • Pig Man
  • The slaughter of the Gaki.

Generally, I thought it went ok. But I am a bit nervous about having so many Dark Fates play out. I may want to kill off one or two of the characters relatively early.

Resources for Mountain Witch

I was first exposed to the wonder of Indie games at a presentation of indie games, hosted by Per Fischer at Fastaval in 2006. And as far as I recall, the first game I played at that presentation was Mountain Witch (the second was Dogs in the Vineyard).

For me, discovering the wonderful realm of indie games was quite a revelation. Luckily, it turned into a memorable occasion for someone else. The person running the game (I keep telling myself it was Per Fischer, but I may only have played Dogs with him; some research indicates that the GM may have been Peter Dyring-Olsen) posted an after-play report at The Forge, including the following paragraph:

But the best part of the day came, when one player asked if he could use his ”Unholy Lore” to test if he knew anything he could use against the tengu he was facing. We rolled dice and he got a success (I think it was a critical, but I’m not sure). He then looked at me, clearly expecting me to look up the monster in the book and tell him some details. But when I asked HIM to narrate, he got this weird expression – a mix between abject horror at not knowing what to say and pure bliss at the thought of the extreme freedom and co-authoring of The Mountain Witch. I could hardly keep my arms down. This was THE best moment playing tMW yet!

Yeah, that was me. I remember it distinctly. The confusion, the mixed horror and delight as I realized that it was up to me to describe what I figured out. I also remember not being satisfied with what I found out – I was still thinking so much in traditional RPG terms to tell a proper success. Besides, I think even today, a “knowledge roll” in an indie game is a tricky thing – because you’re basically throwing up the ball for future action, instead of narrating action. But I digress.

The result of that day was that I went home and ordered a bunch of games from Indie Press Revolution: With Great Power…, Dogs in the Vineyard, and Mountain Witch. Now, I’ve played a fair bit of Dogs (more, I think, than I’ve played of any other Indie game), I’ve played a few half-sessions of WGP… – but I only ever played half a session of Mountain Witch. But Tuesday, that’s going to change.

For my final game with my group at the Ungdomsskole, I’m going to run Mountain Witch with a small group of three of them. It’s a good group, all three having been part of my IaWA group. But still, I’m a little nervous. How is it going to go, I wonder? I’m far from certain I’ve got the feel for how a game of MW is supposed to go, and there will be many new techniques to try out, for me and for them. Also, I fear my players won’t properly grab on to the Dark Fates, thus leaving a tale of samurai trudging up a mountain to kill a demon, instead of a tale of treachery and tragedy, as the ideal MW I see in the text.

Alright, enough idle chatter. I told myself I’d write a brief post that would be mostly to myself, as a way to save the links to the resources for the game I’ve found around the web. Well, mission mostly failed as far as the brief is concerned, but I guess I can still gather the links I’ve found, sharing them with the world and my future self. Also, any additional links and pieces of advice you have will be greatly appreciated.

Taming the Tengu: a collection of helpful links

The official homepage of Mountain Witch: apparently, Timothy Kleinert has had some problems with hosting and suchlike for his homepage for timfire publishing. But this page contains what you might need in the way of character sheets, pre-made characters and a startup scenario, as well as printable zodiac and Dark Fate cards. There is also a text from Kleinert explaining techniques and tricks he uses when running the game.

A couple of threads from story-games.com contain useful advice:

Six questions, the answers to which were very helpful.

A long list of tips and tricks. Most are referenced at the top of the thread, but timfire gives  a lot of useful advice during the whole thread.

A number of resources on Japanese mythology

The Wikipedia article on Tengu: Apparently quite a versatile creature. I’m sure to be using it in my game.

The Wikipedia article on Aokigahara: There is apparently a forest at the foot of Mount Fuji which is a popular place to commit suicide. Mood evoking? Ooh, yeah!

An encyclopedia on Japanese mythology: Someone on a forum (Story Games, probably) recommended this. It doesn’t seem to be too visual, which would be nice, and many of the entries seem a bit brief. But, what the hell – if nothing else, it’s something to Google.

A collection of Japanese mythological beasts, with pictures. I don’t particularly like the style, but they’re something to work from. The page is not all that easy to navigate, but it’s got a “random” button, which I’m sure can come in handy if you need a beast in a hurry.

And that’s it for now. An unstable internet connection meant I had to recreate some of it, so some of it is a bit briefer than I’d have liked. Ah, well.

I may post my bangs later. I’m not quite sure how to do them – I always thought bangs were all about a “hard choice” (to save my brother, or to get my revenge), but in MW, it seems to be all sort of things the GM can introduce – including monsters and puzzles.

One thing I know: I’ll be adapting the fox and the badger from Neil Gaiman’s “Dreamhunters” to use as npc’s in the game.