Immerse Yourself In the Legends of Japan
The sun dawns upon the thick canopy of tightly-knit treetops, giving the mist an otherworldly radiance as it wraps lazily around the trunks and underbrush. The only relief from the ocean of green is the road, maintained by the local authorities to ease travel, and the occasional pointed roof of a Shinto shrine. A few travelers are already making their way, trudging along muddy roads that have not yet been set with paving stones, checking to ensure their papers are in order for the border outposts that control traffic between the different feudal lands.
A lone wanderer wipes the morning dew off his thick traveling cloak and spots a small shrine on one side of the road. The man is not particularly religious, but he recognizes to whom the shrine is dedicated. Careful not to incite the wrath of the spirit of the shrine, the traveler stops to leave a small morsel as an offering at the paw of a stone statue of a fox. The man utters a short prayer before quickly walking away.
As soon as the traveler is out of view, the stone statue transforms into a real fox and eats the offering, twisting her four tails in the direction of the traveler to grant the man a small blessing as a way of thanks. The fox then scampers into the underbrush, planning her mischief for the day.
Kitsunemori is a self-contained setting that describes a specific area ? the Yonhosu Valley ? of an otherwise unspecified world. You can insert Kitsunemori into a larger, pre-existing world, expand the setting, or simply limit travel to the four lands detailed within Kitsunemori.
The kitsune themselves were obviously the main inspiration for this book. They are intriguing creatures featured in many Japanese folktales as well as in actual history, and they have been reinterpreted in various ways in modern popular media. Kitsune are bringers of mischief and misery, and so many people are quick to classify them as demons.
But kitsune are also messengers of the god Inari, patron of rice, life, and fertility, and are thus also benevolent beings. In both conceptions, kitsune are described as playful, cunning, charming, and utterly dangerous.
Other staples of Japanese myth included in Kitsunemori are the tanuki, tengu, and kappa, as well as the evil oni and the ambiguous bakemono. In many instances,monster descriptions deviate from those found in traditional folklore; these monsters are presented as fantasy races and as creatures inspired by Japanese folklore rather than strict re-creations. Shinto mingles with Buddhism to create a cosmological backdrop for the setting, but a thorough knowledge of either is not necessary.
Another inspiration for Kitsunemori was the chambara genre as represented in comics and animation, which features heroic samurai and masterless ronin bravely crossing swords for the sake of honor.
Kitsunemori Chapter Preview
Chapter I: Characters contains rules for creating a character in Kitsunemori, including details about the two standard races (human and kitsune) as well as background information to help you flesh out a character's history.
Chapter II: Classes describes how to adapt the standard d20 fantasy classes for use in Kitsunemori. The chapter also introduces two kitsune classes (the myobu and the nogitsune) and a new socially oriented class (the courtier), as well as suggestions on how to multiclass in order to realize popular Japanese concepts such as the samurai, ninja, and Shinto priest.
Chapter III: Character Options presents the concept of prestige as well as a system to calculate how much experience kitsune receive for their trickery. This chapter also discusses the importance of shrines and contains new feats and kitsune racial vulnerabilities.
Chapter IV: Equipment consists of a collection of useful items with a Japanese flavor. Much of this equipment obeys the conventions of myth rather than the laws of physics, and some equipment options blur the boundary between masterwork and magical equipment.
Chapter V: Magic presents geomancy, wards and charms for both humans and kitsune, as well as fox magic, a new system of racial powers that only kitsune can wield.
Chapter VI: Kitsunemori details the Yonhosu Valley, a small region covered by the haunted Fox Forest, where the kitsune lurk in hidden glens and from which they venture into human lands to wreak havoc and convey the favors of the gods. This chapter includes plot hooks for stories based in Kitsunemori and describes the main storyline, which revolves around protecting the whole valley (and possibly the world) from a rising threat. The chapter also includes stats and descriptions of prominent NPC's in the Kitsunemori setting, as well as detailed information on the customs and traditions of the people of the Yonhosu Valley.
Chapters VII - VIII: give background, plot hooks and other information for GM's to run a game in Kitsunemori.
Chapter VII: Forest Denizens offers statistics and descriptions for the many creatures who inhabit the Kitsunemori.. This chapter presents several monsters based on Japanese mythology, from the playful tanuki to several kinds of terrifying demons.
Fully bookmarked with glossary, index and bundled with a text-only .doc file for ease of use, Kitsunemori is an exciting 197-page resource for GM's and players looking for something asian-inspired and different.
Download a 20+ page sample here!