Shinjudo is a campaign setting and game system that is being organically developed for many years. It is centered around the Maiho, a culture based on Japan's Tokugawa era, and the events that unfold as war and supernatural activity act as harbingers of forgotten horrors.
Players may take on the roles of samurai warriors belonging to the Eight Great Clans that uphold a millennial dynasty – each one with their own traditions and martial arts. They may also play with a wide range of characters from that world, such as monks, mystics, soldiers, sellswords, martial artists and others, whose fates are tied to those of the Maihojin.
The game mechanics was designed with great care. The goal was to make it as minimalistic as possible, without jeopardizing the wealth and depth that are expected from a game of narrative. While the game system provides the customization players demand, and provides robust combat rules, it strives to be secondary to narrative and subjectivity, both crucial and inherent aspects of RPGs.
Although Shinjudo has been under development for quite some time, all material must be revised before it is made finally available. Added to that the ever changing nature of the project, you'll find that only parts of the game are currently available. More material will certainly be added, so stay tuned.
How to play the game
Although Shinjudo uses simple mechanics, the game is not yet recommend for first time RPG players. That is mainly because chapters that explain what an RPG is and how players and storytellers behave are not ready yet – and they are a low priority task.
That said, Shinjudo requires a few character sheets, some dice (actually any token will do, even coins), but mainly a great deal of creativity to fill in the blanks in the setting – both the intentional as well as the accidental ones. The game is best played with one storyteller and about three players, and it is not intended to be used with figures or grids. It is a game of narrative not a wargame.
The Campaign Setting
“For over two centuries the Kokuto, our beloved Empire, has been under a watchful peace – a tense peace. In one hand the Emperor has managed to keep the rebellious lords at bay and in line, using powerful warrior clans as shields of the Throne. On the other, the warrior caste has itself seized great power and keeps the Emperor in a golden cage.
The rebellious outer lords are scheming, hiring mercenaries and striking outposts. The barbaric neighboring nations and their brutal gods are always hungry for war and power. The Emperor keeps expanding his army, aiming for a progressive future forged with steel and sulfur. The vile rot from a decadent nobility threatens the nation from within, endangering its soul and its arts.
But what most troubles me are the shadow and the whisper. The things that long have lurked in the dark waiting for the strength of the Maiho to fail. They are waiting no longer.”
The Campaign Setting is divided in the following sections: Myths of a Living World, History of Kokuto, Lands and People, Clans and Traditions, Lands Beyond and Within.
The Game System
Shinjudo's game system was designed to be very simple, easy to learn and to use. Rules for character creation and skill checks are almost minimalistic, while merits and abilities allow for a rich character customization.
The system was designed tied to the campaign setting, so it would be foolish not to address cultural aspects when explaining the mechanics. And that is a great thing, because it makes system sections much more interesting.
The Game System is divided in the following sections: Game Mechanics, Character Creation, Skills and Abilities, Tools and Weapons, Gods and Beasts.
Shinjudo Game Mechanics role is to serve as a guidance of which actions a character would be inclined to perform given his skill set.