Forward, the book, and introducions. Also titties
Original SA post
Kagematsu - A roleplaying game by Danielle Lewon. Part 1: Forward, the book, and introducions. Also titties
Hello, I’m druggeddwarf, and I am not a great writer. My spelling is atrocious, I have the grammar of a twelve year old, and I will be writing this while heavily under the influence (of orange juice). I have a terrible habit of taking everything personally, and I make rash judgements based on first impressions about people and things that are usually wrong. And my first impression of this game, is that I hate it. I hate it with a passion. However, that isn’t what you people want to come here and read about. You aren’t blazing through this just to hear some random guy on the internet rant on about how this book deserves to burn in hell (which it does by the way). You people want a fair and simple analysis of the rules system, the setting, and the crazy amount of dice involved.
So I am going to do my best to give you that. I will try my fullest to write up an almost non-judgemental review of what my friends like to call ‘the roleplaying game where you fuck a man to save a village’. I will throw all my anger aside and try and give you what you want.
And I will probably fail. But at least I warned you.
What is Kagematsu
So diving straight into the physical book itself, let’s take a look at the back
From the blurb of the book posted:
Iis Japan 1572, the end of the Senguko period of history. Like many transitions of power the country is filled with strife, warring factions pulling any able bodied men into war, leaving villages populated by only women, children and old men.
Now a small, nearly indefensible village is living under the horror of a dangerous threat that casts its long shadow over the village. Without a defender, its people are almost certainly doomed.
Enter Kagematsu, a wayward ronin fleeing a troubled past. Here is a defender for the village, if only he can be swayed from his meandering course. So it is that several young women conspire among themselves to win his affections and steer him to their cause
Kagematsu is a game for three to six players who will do their very best to seduce or charm a lonely wandering ronin into saving their village from a ‘Threat’ by either showing him their boobs or saying Kawaii a lot. The system, at first glance, sounds like a fun, silly, anime-tastic romp through a unique era in Japan’s history, but do not be fooled. By the time you’ve seen the Introduction of the book, you will know that Danielle Lewon means serious Japanese village girl business.
The book itself is, paper-wise, fairly good quality
All images stolen from Cream Alien Games, the publishers
Although only 40 pages long, it seems to be fairly sturdy, and the soft cover feels like something textbooks are made out of. The artwork, (which I implore you to take note that it doesn’t have the english version of the title), on the cover is quite pretty, if a little misleading. Especially as even though this is a game made for english roleplayers, it translates the title into funky japanese text just to fuck with you, Or so your friends can feek super hip when you go to the game store and they say: “Oh, you don’t know what this is? This is Kagematsu, it’s very indie dear, you’ve probably never heard of it.”
What kind of senseless designer would do something so damn irritating on the front cover of this bloody...
[/quote=From the first page]
Cover design by Luke Crane[/quote]
Someday, sometime in the future, I will review Burning Wheel, the pre-cursor to Mouseguard, and you will truly see the darkness that is Luke Crane.
Back to the book, it comes with a sweet little silklike string attached to it, that connects it with the games own version of a GM screen
Also stolen from Cream Alien Games
For running the game, it’s bloody essential. True the book is only 40 pages, but with a neat little board in front of you telling you which one of the village women to bang or not to bang, you can concentrate less on the rules and more about how much you hate this stupid ga-
Oh, sorry. I went off on one there. Back in room DD, back in the room.
The silk tie can easily be removed (or kept as a bookmark if you’re into that sort of thing) or turned into part of a headdress to make all your friends jealous. Now that is style I can live with.
The art of the book is sparse, but a welcome addition. There’s a cool katana in the corners of some pages, and more of the japanese writing (is it Kanji? I’m not very well versed and don’t want to embarrass myself) scattered about. Layout wise, the book is stupidly easy and pleasant to read and the examples of play really help give the player a sense of what they are getting themselves into. Whether they WANT to get into it is another matter entirely.
Don’t be fooled, this guy is an asshole
Right. Time to jump in head first. Let’s see what the fuss is about
Introduction, Setting, and Gameplay
Now, I am not going to say this book is pretentious (well, I’m going to try not to), but sometimes, just sometimes, I’m not quite sure what it is that it’s asking of me. Maybe if you guys took at look at the contents of the first page, you’ll be able to give it a better judgement than I ever could:
Literally the first words you read posted:
Shame. Honour. Love.
Individually defined human emotions. Intangible human
forces that can direct our lives. You might be able to recite
the dictionary definition of any of these words but what do
they really mean to you?
I believe that everyone truly has their own way of defining
them, expressed in their own actions and reactions to others.
Why can’t I feel comfortable like so many other women in a
low-cut shirt? Is it my personal honor or shame at my
Why do I see my best friend as shameful when she leaves
engagement ring ads lying around so her boyfriend sees
them? Does a ring on her finger mean love to her?
Why do people stay in abusive relationships? Is “because he
loves me” a good enough reason?
Think about the first question again, how do you define
shame, honor and love in your life?
This is the principle behind Kagematsu.
These words will either make you go out and buy the game right the fuck now, or shutdown your computer and crawl into your bed, wallowing at the death of roleplaying as you know it. That’s one thing Kagematsu has going for it - It knows its audience.
It goes on to explain that the game is a place where you ‘explore’ your raw feelings of shame, honour, and love, with some culturally ingrained restraint and a sense of chivalry (their words, not mine, I’m not that verbose). So it picks an era of history where women were subservient to their men and tells you to have fun with that. Thanks Ms Lewon.
The setting is pretty much the blurb with an extra line stating that its a fast paced game for 4 to six players, and that it’s a one shot. Far more importantly is what they say for everyone’s fabled section, ‘What is a roleplaying game’.
What is a roleplaying game? posted:
et aside assumptions you may have about role-playing
games. Don’t second guess yourself. Place your trust in the
text and rules in this book and you’ll have a good time
creating a dramatic and memorable story of feudal Japan
with your friends over the course of a few hours
You know, I could talk till the cows come home about what I hate about this game, but kudos to them for just basically saying ‘This Is Not DnD Stop Thinking Like That And Just Have Fun’. There’s no long twelve page spread about the ins and outs of Elfgame, nor is there a sense that they’re trying to be super edgy. Just read the rules, and play. It’s quite refreshing.
Gameplay section time! the game has three parts: the Courtship (oh god), the Confrontation (where you meet the Monster of the Week) and the Conclusion (where everyone pretends they enjoyed being useless). You spend the courtship trying to basically charm Kagematsu using their wily womanly ways so he helps them beat the Monster of the week in the Confrontation stage. Because Kagematsu, the ladies’ best chance at getting though the threat alive, pretty much doesn’t give a shit.
By occasionally cleaning his feet and flashing his boobs, you convince Kagematsu that he wants to save the village, and will go kick the living shit out of whatever it was that was getting in their way. He will return, declare which one of the women he wants to bang the most, and they will have a happily ever after scene together. How romantic.
At the beginning of the game, the players will create the vilage as they see it - giving it a river, maybe a wall, put it at the bottom of a snowy mountain, its up to them. The same thing carries with creating the Threat - it can be supernatural, like a water demon or the Great Sage Equal To Heaven being a dick, or it can be bandits, wolves, an approaching army, that sort of thing. As long as it keeps with the setting, it’s all gravy.
I think I will take a break for now, stop it all here. See you guys next week for when I go into character creation, and how utterly silly the dice mechanic in this game is.
Oh, and I almost forgot. There is one golden rule in every single game of Kagematsu:
He must be played by a woman.
Women just love me for my sword
Original SA post
Kagematsu part 2: Women just love me for my sword
For this review, we are going to pretend you somehow managed to find a girl that won’t be creeped out by guys hitting on her as women, and guys who don't all want to create fuck-ninjas trying to out-do each other.
Alright, so, character creation time - as Kagematsu (who as I noted before) must be played by a woman, you don’t exactly have any real written down stats to start with. Most of what you are is entirely up to you, and you write it down at the bottom of the character sheet. Disgraced samurai? Note it down. General on his way to a war? Note it down. Got a sweet sword that can cut up demons and make the best sushi of all time? Put it right in there.
What is of note on your sheet however, is the dice difficulty, and the Love/Pity tracker, that I will get into a little later.
The butterfly is there to make you feel better after you reject some village girl’s advances because her teeth are rotting too much
It is advised that you make notes about how you feel about each of the towns women, that way, you don’t accidentally bang the wrong girl when she tries it on with you in the hot springs later in the game.
I will note that at this stage, the only line that says ‘why’ you must play a woman is because it puts a female in a traditional masculine role, meting out love and pity as they see it. The consequences for this are beyond jarring, but once again, I will get to that part later.
The village women have quite a bit more work to do. You state your name, a brief sentence describing your background, family, or situation. The appendix at the back has a few cultural references and examples in case you’ve never seen an anime in your life or something.
You pick your favourite thing, person, or place, and inform the rest of the group of what you have so Kagematsu knows where to get you at your most vulnerable.
Then come the stats.
Yes.. that does say pregnant
So. To start off with, characters have seven points to put in either innocence(“Oh Kagematsu, aren’t the sakura trees so beautiful this year?”) or charm (“Oh my, my kimono seems to have come loose and I have forgotten to wear any underwear this morning, what an utter coincidence!”). The points can be divided any which way they want.
They also have a start called fear that starts from 8 to 10 depending on how many players are in the game, which they attempt to reduce by gaining more and more of Kagematsu’s affections. The more they seduce him, the better their chances are that they and him will survive the Threat of the game. Not that it matters much, as by this stage, I am sure you have all worked out that each of the women are competing with each other to charm Kagematsu first, and damn with the consequences.
What makes up the bulk of the sheet are what is described as ‘affections’. This is the chart of things they can call for to win Kagematsu’s love (and save them from the threat). Pretty self explanatory - when you want to go for a specific action, you roll the number of d6 dice in that particular stat. and Kagematsu rolls the written number on the affection against you. We’ll go into it a bit more down the road after I explain how courtship works.
Okay. Boring stats are out of the way, let’s get our freak on.
After village is described, the characters are described, and Kagematsu announces his entrance to the village, the women take turns to win his favour. You pick an affection, Kagematsu describes a scene based on any character’s background and the characters roleplay it out until Kagematsu calls for a roll. Note though, that the book puts emphasis on a point that Kagematsu MAY call for a roll. If you go overboard on your Secret Told roleplay, or you just generally start saying ‘Sugoi’ over and over to the point of irritation, he can pretty much end the scene and not give you anything.
Let’s take a bit of a tangent here. So you’ve got this girl playing Kagematsu a buff samurai who with a mean sword, and you dudes are doing your best to play a subservient woman of the orient (which, depending on your roleplay talents, can be a little out of your league. I know it’s out of mine). You can get really, really,
awkward real fast. Not because of accidental kimono drops, but because part of you is showing Kagematsu how you think girls seduce boys with only the affections to work on. There’s no affection for ‘Show kagematsu how strong willed you are’ or ‘be light-hearted and funny without bowing to his will’. Maybe it’s a bit of a personal thing, I dunno. Having a woman play Kagematsu is what keeps this in check as you are trying to be generally straightforward while struggling not to portray yourself as a misogynistic asshole.
Okay back to game.
The Affections posted:
A stolen glance (2, Charm)
A smile (2, Innocence)
A kind word (3, Innocence)
A compliment (3, Charm)
A lasting impression (4, Charm)
A shared moment (4, Innocence)
An introduction (5, Charm or Innocence)
A secret told (6, Innocence)
A touch (6, Charm)
A gift (7, Innocence)
A kiss (7, Charm)
A confession of love (8, Innocence)
A roll in the hay (8, Charm)
A promise made (9, Innocence or Charm)
When he does decide what you have roleplayed that Lasting Impression enough, he rewards you with a die roll: you roll the equivalent stat of charm or innocence, and he rolls the number next to the affection. The one with the highest die wins. If the woman gets it, she lowers her fear score as apparently having Kagematsu smile at you in a bar makes the water demon eating your children seem quite boring. If Kagematsu wins, he ends the scene (usually quite harshly like the asshole that he is), and you move on to the next girl.
After you win an affection, you are more than welcome to go for another one in the same scene, but be warned! Failing an affection during a chain will bring back all the fear you got rid off previously.
Now two things happen regardless of win or fail - the affection you used is marked off, and cannot be used again. No more rolls in the hay after the first one - Kagematsu is a one night stand kinda guy. Secondly, after a roll, Kagematsu gets to decide whether to put a point in your Love or Pity category according to how he viewed the interaction. Don’t sell a scene, or sell a scene too well, and he’ll just put you in there, making whatever you tried to do quite pointless. Let me give you some advice for free here - Kagematsu doesn’t like slags. Doesn’t matter who is playing him. You come up and show tittes, you’re always going to get that pity mark. It does nothing to the game, and is pretty much there for bragging rights at the end.
The love stat, however, is extremely useful for manipulating Kagematsu into doing what he wants - with every roll, he subtracts the Love stat of the person he’s talking to from the total. Not that it matters when he’s rolling close to 6 dice against your pathetic 3, but it’s the thought that counts.
All the Sixes!
Speaking of dice - dear old Danielle came up with a fantastic way to never have to worry about them scoring high dice ever again!
So, for each roll you make, if you get any sixes, you have to add them to the shadow tracker. If both of you roll your dice and there are three or more sixes, the Threat interrupts your affection and the scene immediately ends. So you might be trying to confess your love to Kagematsu, and an arrow from a bandit will come flying in between your lips and push you all apart.
The good news is, (thanks to a shit ton of play-test complaints), rolling 3 sixes does not use the affection up, which is a blessing. The bad news is, when you reach the higher tier affections, expect this to happen like ALL THE TIME. It’s bad enough that you can’t rely on a good high roll to get you that Gift affection, now every time you attempt to get a confession of love the bloody invading army sends YET ANOTHER FREAKING SCOUT to get in your way.
So.. you thought you would be smart and divide your points evenly between charm and innocence. Now you’re nearing endgame and you just can’t get anything done because the dice are horribly stacked against you. Meanwhile, Slutty-obasan over there went full charm and has kagematsu eating out of the palm of her hand, while Oshin-chan to your right is showing him how to pick flowers from the meadow and eat wild rice or something.
You know you can get him to pay attention to your Lasting Impression if you just had
one more freaking dice
, and that’s where Desperation comes in! WOO!
So, for every successful affection you make, you gain access to its desperation dice. After a roll is made and said to be a failure (kagematsu doesn’t tell you how much he rolled, or that would be cheating), you can add an extra line of dialogue or action and roll one of the desperation dice for it.
Success incurs no penalty the first time you use a desperation, and can be used for subsequent scenes after, but failing then means it’s marked off for the rest of the game. Getting naked so he can give you a confession of love can only work so well. Oh and also, if you fill the shadow tracker while using desperation, it’s gone forever as well. Just pointing that out.
Bribe Kagematsu (available from beginning)
Threaten Kagematsu with violence (available from beginning)
Get naked (only available after you win ”A compliment”)
Show Kagematsu disdain (only available after you win ”A kind word”)
Beg and plead with Kagematsu (only available after you win ”A shared moment”)
Throw yourself upon Kagematsu (only available after you win “A lasting impression”)
Question Kagematsu’s honor (only available after you win ”An introduction”)
Challenge Kagematsu’s manhood (only available after you win ”A kiss”)
Accuse Kagematsu of impropriety (only available after you win ”A touch”)
Hold for ransom something precious to Kagematsu (only available after you win ”A gift”)
Threaten to reveal a secret of Kagematsu’s (only available after you win ”A secret told”)
Tell Kagematsu you’re pregnant with his child (only available after you win ”A roll in the hay”)
Threaten suicide (only available after you win ”A confession of love”)
Brace yourself players, this is where the game shows you its true colours (especially late-game). I have seen games where people have told him they were pregnant just to get a smile. Where players have threatened suicide for a compliment. “Oh Kagematsu you’re not a real man, now give me something fucking pretty!”
So, in order to end the courtship phase, all one has to do, is go for the A Promise Made (9 charm or innocence) Affection and succeed. So if you split your points between two stats, good fucking luck to you trying to beat his 9 dice and avoiding the shadow tracker with all your desperation dice. Once someone suceeds at that, the game goes into the Confrontation phase. If no one does, Kagematsu just ups and leaves the village, and you all basically die. The end.
Next up, Confrontation, Conclusion, and the appendix. Hopefully also to be my last entry.