Monday, April 29, 2013

Tenra Bansho Zero Pre-Orders Have Gone Live

I have had amazing luck discovering Kickstarters for games long after they ended. The latest in this series is Tenra Bansho Zero. Now, you probably noticed all of the images in this post long before and can easily guess this is an ROG in an Asian setting. And you would be right. So what separates this from Legend of the Five Rings or anime inspired games like Big Eyes Small Mouth? A lot of things.

The publication of this game will mark the first time an RPG that originated in Japan will be translated into English. That's right: this is not a game created by Westerners who have built their conception of the Far East on Anime, Samurai movies, and Manga. This is a game created by the Japanese for the Japanese.

The game is a collage of elements that will be familiar to anyone who has consumed some Asian media. The world of Tenra is a kind of Samurai-Steampunk setting. There are Mecha, demons, angels, samurai, magic. What makes this not seem like it's going to be a hot mess is the care that was taken with the translation. Andy Kitkowski spent several years living in Japan, during which time he discovered this game. For the last four years he has been painstakingly translating the text. He mentions the care taken in regards to the Buddhist concepts, which often had him pouring over religious texts to make sure he got it right. Having studied Buddhism in a formal setting and done translation work myself, it is exactly this kind of care necessary to not bastardized the text.

I did, it appears, happen to discover this game at precisely the right moment. Pre-orders for Tenra Bansho Zerp have just gone live. If nothing else, you should grab the PDF. This could be the start of a massive import of RPGs from Asia.


  1. Thanks for the review!

    You noted:
    "This could be the start of a massive import of RPGs from Asia."

    ...oh god yes. There's one right now on Kickstarter by my friend Ewen ("Golden Sky Stories", a really awesome no-combat feelgood RPG), in August once Tenra is fulfilled we start the Ryuutama campaign ("Hayao Miyazaki's Oregon Trail") , and early next year is Shinobigami ( ). That's just us, when it comes to other folks, there is one other great game almost for sale on PoD soon (Double Cross 3rd Edition), and another currently in the contract stages.

  2. Oh, also, later for sale I'll have the "Tenra Director's Notes Book" in PDF (and maybe a few left over in print). It's basically a collection of notes about all the back-end stuff I went through in the creation of the game. Plus dumb stuff like recipes and vignettes about living/traveling in Japan, etc. Keep an eye out for that.