What makes a Samurai?

If we ignore birth into the right family, what are the attributes of a Samurai Bushi that make him so distinct from other Japanese in the period?

Strip away the romanticism and what do you have? A steely-eyed killer? A dutiful servant? A legendary sword with a man on one end?


Tell us in a single sentence what you see in the Samurai. Haikus are acceptable as well 😉

Daishō Design Notes – 24th April 2014

As you already know, Charles and I decided to press ahead with a project we had both been considering for some time, namely Daishō.

So the first thing we had to do was settle on the design brief. This sets boundaries on our efforts and stop us wasting time chasing Bakemono down rabbit holes. It is particularly important as I am very much an ideas man. I have a thousand a day and am very easily distracted… now where was I? Oh yes, the design brief.

We are keen to show that the core rules of IHMN are not a single genre thing. We believe that, with appropriate modifications, they could be adapted and used for many genres. However, this would not be a simple matter of changing the weapons tables and deciding it was good to go. If you are going to do a genre justice you really have to ensure that each rule is relevant and works within the theme. So, as we travel together on this journey there may be some subtle (and not-so-subtle) changes to the core rules.

That said we do have an excellent template to work with and we feel that it’s important for existing players of IHMN to be able to pick up this new genre as easily as possible.

So, the design brief:
1. First and foremost is the principle we held to throughout the development and writing of IHMN and its supplements – Keep it Short & Simple [KISS]. As one kindly reviewer said of IHMN: “it does what it says on the tin”; we feel this is one of the cornerstones of its success. Everything we do in Daishō will have to pass this test.
2. Like IHMN, Daishō will be a skirmish game involving forces of roughly 5-15 figures. This is a manageable number for a short game in a reasonable space.
3. We both enjoyed playing the Bushido roleplaying game back in the 1980’s. Despite Bob Charrette’s layout being quite byzantine the game it produced was soaked in the heady brew that was mythical Nippon. Neither of us have forgotten that experience. Thus part of the design brief for Daishō is to create a game in which we recreate medieval Japan in all its glory, with the integration of those mythical elements that make its stories and legends so enchanting.
4. Dynamic combat. As has been seen, IHMN’s ranged and close combat systems do lead to some excellent narrative results with heroic combats and moderately ‘realistic’ results. We will continue this in Daishō – and improve on it if we can.
5. Honour. What decent samurai game could exist without addressing the issue of honour? If we do this well it will change the dynamic regarding the achievement of objectives by making the way you achieve them as important as the achievement itself.
6. Freedom to Adapt. As with IHMN we will once again be placing the power to create new things and adapt the game to your own preferences with you. Our points systems shall be open source and fully explained.
7. High quality layout. Having a clarity of style can be the difference between a set of rules that people can easily get into and a hideous, illegible mess. We have all seen the over-produced mega-books that some companies put out which are almost impossible to read. The OWG series have achieved this clarity to an extent but we believe that it can be improved upon. In addition good artwork and photographs can often give a better sense of a genre than mere words, so we shall be paying careful attention to this as well.

So there you have it , this is what we want to achieve, and we have set ourselves the target of year end 2014 to do it.

No pressure….

From humble beginnings

This is the beginning of the adventure. Today Charles and I launch this blog which will chart the development and eventual publication of a new medieval, mystical Japanese skirmish game – Daishō.

We are currently mapping out the project and defining the terms we shall use. It is my intention to try and publish a weekly design post so you have an idea of just how much effort goes into one of these here things.

Although Daishō shall have many similarities to its older brother, In Her Majesty’s Name, we are determined to start from the ground up and ensure that it is not just a clone but a fully-featured game in its own right with its foundations deep in Japanese soil.

As it stands we are looking to have Daishō ready by the end of the year. This will include playtesting (form an orderly queue boys) and getting the artwork and photos we shall need and finally doing the layout.