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3 September 2009

Today’s Tabbloid

ROGUE FEED Nonweapon Proficiencies: Bonus: Animal Lore and Hunting (see
below). Recommended: Bowyer/Fletcher, Set Snares, Endurance,
[Lost Works] The Hunter Cooking, Direction Sense, Camouflage, Alterness

Character Kit Armor/Equipment: Hunters must have a long bow, and can wear only
SEP 02, 2009 03:55P.M. leather armor. Hunter’s also use only sheaf arrows.

This was written back in the mid 90s and appeared in a game club Species Enemy: standard
newsletter. That is all I got on this.
Followers: any
The hunter is a character kit designed for the Ranger character class. It
was designed using the guidelines presented in The Complete Ranger Special Benefits: Stealth-hunters gain a +5% bonus to Hide in
Handbook. Like all character kits, the hunter, is optional. Shadows and Move Silently rolls; Hunting-hunters gain the Hunting
proficiency free of charge. This skill improves by +1 every three level the
The Hunter ranger earns.

Description: When a noble wants to have a day of hunting, he does not Special Hindrances: The hunter is the protector of the woods and he
simply gather his friends and other nobles, and trek into the woods. takes his role very seriously. He is often seen as a zealot when it comes to
Instead he calls on a hunter to find suitable game, and to flush it out for over hunting areas, and slaying monsters. Because a hunter works for a
the noble to kill. liege, he must seek permission to go adventuring.

A hunter is skilled in the ways of the animals. Unlike what the name Notes: The hunters takes himself very seriously, and he feels that he is
implies, the hunter works to keep the game population manageable. the only one able to watch the woods. He will always stop poachers, and
They do not over hunt, and they seek to stop others from doing that. It is will always seek to put an end to over hunting. Over hunting also
not only the hunter’s job to find the perfect deer, but too keep the woods includes putting an end to hunting predators (wolves and the like).
safe from poachers, bandits, and monsters.
Why would a hunter seek to stop the hunting of predators? The answer is
Hunters are quite and careful, and prefer to spend their days in the balance. If there are no predator left in the woods, then an over
woods, and their nights drinking and boasting. They live by their own population of deer, mouse and the like will incur. The hunter always
code, and answer only to themselves. seeks to keep everything in a balance, and he will pursue anyone who
seeks to overturn that balance.
Requirements: Standard
Posted in Games, thoughts Tagged: AD&D 2E, Gaming, Lost Works,
Primary Terrain: Forest
thoughts, writing
Role: The Hunter is the quite watcher of the woods. It is his job to watch
his liege’s land and manage his game herds. Hunters insure that the
game herds are manageable, and that overpopulation does not harm the
balance of the forest environment.

Besides animal control, the Hunter tracks down and slays any creature of
evil that invades the forests. It is his duty to insure that the forces of evil
do not reign unchecked in the woods.

Secondary Skills: Forester, Hunter, Trapper/Furrier

Weapon Proficiencies: Required: Long Bow. Recommended: Hand

Axe, Knife, Short Sword, Sling.

Today’s Tabbloid PERSONAL NEWS FOR 3 September 2009

ROGUE FEED What a shame.

Ritual Purity
SEP 02, 2009 09:25A.M.
So the latest issue of Fight On! is out — probably the best one to date —
and all everyone’s talking about is a four-page editorial cum Retrospective: Bushido
advertisement by Ron Edwards, intellectual godfather of The Forge (and, SEP 02, 2009 08:12A.M.
I am reliably told by telepaths on the Internet, my secret ally in plotting
the destruction of old school gaming).

On one level, the reaction to Edwards’s article is unsurprising. He’s

generally been no ally of those of us who prefer older games and older
styles of play. Nor does he, by his own admission, have much experience
playing D&D, which is (at present anyway) the cornerstone of most
discussions of old school gaming. The actual contents of his piece range
from the interesting (his reminiscences of the gaming scene in 1970s
California) to the laughable (his unsubstantiated assertion that either
Geoffrey McKinney or Jim Raggi — or indeed anyone in the old school
renaissance — bowed to “Victorian societal values” in their offerings).

Once you get beyond that — and I admit that my first reaction was
incredulity too — what’s the big deal? Fight On! is the flagship
publication of the old school movement and, as such, has always been a
very “big tent.” It’s included articles by all sorts of people, many of whom
disagree with one another quite vehemently. I’ll readily admit that I’ve When gamers talk about “medieval” or “feudal” Japan, they’re usually
not cared for many of its submissions. Heck, I’ll go farther and state that referring to the Sengoku or “Warring States” period of the mid-fifteenth
I’m not actually a fan of big tent philosophies in the first place, but, through the beginning of the seventeenth centuries. This was a period of
again, so what? There are still 120 other pages in issue 6 and many of decentralization and destabilization, as power shifted away from the
them, particularly the two awesome dungeon levels by David “Sham” shogunate to local daimyos, bringing with it lots of military conflict and
Bowman and Tony “Wheggi” Rosten. In what way did Edwards’s article, political intrigue. This makes it well nigh perfect for the kinds of
foolishly provocative and blatantly self-promoting though it was, take mayhem characters in RPGs create, which probably explains the appeal
away from the rest of the issue’s amazing contents? of the era — well, that and the ninjas.

The real “crime” here is that Edwards’s editorial was a missed The difficulty with Sengoku era Japan is that it takes place not only in
opportunity. Despite all the hue and cry, there are a lot of similarities the past but also in a foreign country. Most gamers haven’t the foggiest
between the indie RPG movement and the old school renaissance, notion about Japanese culture beyond what’s been popularized (typically
starting with the wholesale rejection of the corporate model of RPG inaccurately) through comics, movies, and TV shows. To create a RPG
design and the embrace of new methods of distribution. There’s a lot we set in the era that hits all the right notes is thus a difficult task. Many
could learn from each other. Moreover, I consider Ron Edwards’s gamers want their historical games to be “authentic,” but don’t
Sorcerer & Sword to be a fascinating examination of the swords-and- necessarily want them to be “realistic.” That is, they’re not content with
sorcery genre. My many quibbles with that book aside, Edwards is clearly games that get socio-cultural details wrong, even as they’re not so keen
a thoughtful writer and a fan of many of the same literary sources the old for those details to get in the way of creating the cool character of their
school loves so dearly. dreams.

His Fight On! piece could have been so much better than it was. He It’s a tough line to walk and, in my experience, very few RPGs of this sort
could have drawn on his early gaming memories, his love of S&S stories, ever succeed completely. One of the rare exceptions is 1981’s Bushido.
and his wealth of experience in shepherding the indie RPG movement to Published by Fantasy Games Unlimited and written Paul Hume and Bob
offer some useful insights to us in the old school revival. What we got Charette (who’d go on to lasting fame with their game Shadowrun),
instead was a bit of agitprop riddled with factual errors and used to Bushido opted for a what might be better called a “mythic” approach to
promote his new game. It’s all so disappointingly pedestrian. Edwards’s the Sengoku period. That is, the game’s setting, Nippon, is historical
piece isn’t a bad piece because it was written by Ron Edwards; it’s a bad Japan — the place names and geography are the same — but it’s not
piece because it’s so poorly written and nakedly self-serving. strictly historical, since it’s filled with ahistorical NPCs, events, and, in
some cases, supernatural beings. It’s a bit like the Ars Magica approach
to medieval Europe, albeit subtler, since Nippon is much more “realistic”

Today’s Tabbloid PERSONAL NEWS FOR 3 September 2009

overall than AM‘s Mythic Europe. Consequently, Nippon somehow

doesn’t come across as nearly as intimidating as it might if it were
presented simply as historical Japan, thereby making it a far better RPG
setting in the process.

As a game, Bushido is very interesting. Its rules are complex, although

not as complex as one might expect from an FGU product. Much detail is
given to combat, which is both expected for an RPG of the era and for
one set in medieval Japan. Of course, Bushido has rules for far more
than combat, including skills, ki powers, and magic. As one would
expect, the game also treats questions such as honor and status within
Nipponese society, as well as how one acquires and loses them. It’s here,
I think, that Bushido really shines, at least if my experiences with the
game are any indication. Players quickly acclimate themselves to the
rhythms and values of Nipponese life once they see that many of the
usual RPG problem-solving tactics will get them killed or, worse,
ostracized. There’s something truly glorious in observing this
transformation in one’s players and it’s a testament to good game design
that such a transformation is even possible, let alone likely.

I have a lot of fond memories of Bushido, which always struck me as

more “serious” than any of its competitors, including TSR’s late entry
Oriental Adventures. I often call Bushido the “Japanese Pendragon” and
I think it’s apt: both games treat their subject matter with respect,
adopting an approach that’s neither too historical nor too fantastical, a
middle road that encourages good roleplaying in a culture whose values
are often at odds with those of contemporary Western society. That’s an
impressive achievement in any era. That it was achieved more than 25
years ago is all the more remarkable.

Plus, you’ve got to love any game whose random encounter table
includes almost as many different types of “rude peasants” as the
Dungeon Masters Guide does harlots.