Bushido is a classic FGU game that really helped set the tone of “Oriental Adventures” styled games. It’s a typical FGU boxed set with only two books inside it – a player book with most of the rules and a GM book with setting information, bad guys, and a sample adventure. It’s by the team of Bob Charrette and Paul Hume, the same guys behind Daredevils, which I was talking about last week. Much to my surprise, these are also the same guys behind the original Shadowrun RPG!
Yes indeed, back to my FGU Classics Nostalgia series. To my surprise, this time I’m actually putting together a character for one of the games on my Top 5 FGU Games list. As with many of the FGU games, I bought Bushido because of the ads in Dragon magazine back in the 80’s.
One of the first things that strikes me on opening Bushido is the old school wargamer formatting. Every rule has a number. Rule 1041.1 is what the attribute ranges are and how to generate them; rule 1075.2 is ki powers of the yakuza; and so on. The game uses 6 ability scores rated from 1 to 40, and each character is given 60 points to spend on them. The game states specifically that the average man (or classic man) has 10 points in each stat (rule 1041.3 if you have to know). Right off the bat we get the feeling that the game differs drastically from most modern RPGs – the player characters are not heroes with skills above those of the average character. Everyone in the world starts off on fairly equal footing.
Typical of the era, the game is class-based with six classes to choose from – Bushi, Budoka, Shugenja, Gashuko, Yakuza and Ninja. I love the Shugenja in L5R, and of course what blogger doesn’t have a mad love of ninjas? So my primary focus is on those two classes.
First thing for character creation, of course for a Japanese-themed RPG, is your birth caste. Here we find out that the character has been born to a middle-rank Samurai. This starts him with 30 On, and 4 money dice. Right off the bat this eliminates my desire to be a ninja, as the character has too high of a social rank… and he’ll lose half his starting On if he decides to be a Shugenja. But Shugenja it will be. Not having much experience with Japanese names (my girlfriend could probably fix this, she’s a total japanophile, but is at work right now), I head over the the Fantasy Name Generator to name our anonymous Shugenja and settle on Asao Iwakuro.
As a Shugenja, Iwakuro will get -5 Strength, +10 Wit and +15 Will. Since his starting magical power points is based on his Will, I short change his Speed and slightly shortchange his other physical stats to give him a pretty astounding Will, just shy of human maximum. A whole pile of secondary abilities are calculated based on the main stats as well as the saves from the main stats (being the stat / 3). A lot of these are used in the very detailed combat phase system which is quite ornate.
Being of the Buke (Samurai) caste, Iwakuro starts with a selection of Samurai-esque skills (Katakana, Hiragana, Kenjutsu, Court Dance, Fine Art and Kanji). He gets a collection of artistic skills and some magical training for being a Shugenja, and the combination of class and social standing dictates his starting equipment.
In the end, Asao Iwakuro is a weak combatant with a few spells of note, but decent combat skills if he is forced into a fight. I see him as a pretty frail man known for his quick wit and strong, wise presence. I think he needs a very long mustache.
Birth Rank: Middle Rank Samurai
Personal Status: 25
Strength: 5 (BS 3)
Deftness: 5 (BS 3)
Speed: 5 (BS 3)
Health: 8 (BS 4)
Wit: 20 (BS 8 )
Will: 35 (BS 13)
[ENC CAP] Encumberance Capacity: 10 lbs unencumbered / 20 lbs partially / 30 lbs fully
Damage Bonus: -1
[BAP] Base Action Points: 2
[MNA] Maximum Number of Actions: 1
[BMA] Base Movement Allowance: 2
[HPT] Hit Points: 10
[HR] Healing Rate: 2
[FIS] Freely Improvable Skills: 20
[LR] Learning Rate: 2
Skills with a * are bonus skills and character level has been added to BCS
*Katakana 120% (BCS 25)
*Hiragana 120% (BCS 25)
Kenjutsu 50% (BCS 10)
Iaijutsu 45% (BCS 9)
*Court Dance 30% (BCS 7)
*Kanji 80% (BCS 16)
*Calligraphy 45% (BCS 10)
Bajutsu (Horsemanship) 75% (BCS 15)
*Japanese Classics 40% (BCS 9)
*Go 55% (BCS 12)
*School of Magic: Wood 20% (BCS 5)
*School of Magic: Soil 20% (BCS 5)
Magic BCS: 12
Legerdemain (cost 0)
Light (cost 1)
Exorcism (cost 1 / level of spell)
Magic Resistance (cost 0)
Spell Parry (cost varies)
Magic Detection (cost 0)
Magic Analysis (cost 1)
Counter Magic (cost varies)
Astral Sense (cost varies)
Stout Staff (Bo)
Dai-Sho – (both swords of Good quality – +1 BCS, +1 Damage)
Good Samurai Garb
Good Winter Garb
Light Samurai Armor (AC4, Class B)
7 gold coins
14 silver coins
190 copper coins