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Thread: Far Eastern Wonderland

  1. #1
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    Far Eastern Wonderland

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    This is the thread for the Far Eastern Wonderland setting and stable rules versions. Discussion of scenarios, characters, and rules in progress will be on a separate thread. For a more workshop-like discussion and development of the Far Eastern Wonderland rules, that will currently take place on the blog:

    This first post will discuss the setting in broad terms.

    The intended setting is originally described by the Touhou Project, written by ZUN of Team Shanghai Alice. Far Eastern Wonderland is a derivative work that is not intended to represent itself as or suggest in any way that it is an official part of the original material. In addition, there will be numerous divergences from the original material.

    Similarly, the rules of Far Eastern Wonderland are a set of "homebrew" or "house" rules that are not being developed in mind for any widespread use. They rely on a number of preexisting systems, and as such, are incomplete on their own. They are being developed here to assist players of the game scenarios. Others are free to adopt them, but the desirability of doing so is questionable, and in any case, such rules would be unusable without a supporting framework being devised.

    Far Eastern Wonderland is set in the Land of Fantasy, known to its inhabitants as Gensoukyou. Once part of the known world, the land that became Gensoukyou is the last refuge of supernatural beings who fled there in the face of humanity's rising capacity to defeat them. Eventually, access to and from Gensoukyou became very limited. That point marks the current epoch, one hundred fifteen years before our game's first scenario.

    The vast majority of Gensoukyou's population consists of non-humans, the two major categorizations of which are apparitions and fairies. There are also a number of gods and divine spirits. Humans are few in number, and most of them rarely venture far from their single village. Some non-native entities that defy any of the above categories, such as demons, occasionally appear within Gensoukyou. Finally, there are the rabbits.

    Fairies, or yousei, are arguably the most abundant sentient race of Gensoukyou. They are minor manifestations of various aspects of nature and have an innate magical ability. They are weak in most respects, but there are some exceptional individuals. All fairies possess wings to fly with, but some have the ability to hide them.

    Divine entities are distinguished by reliance on the faith of other sentient beings. This provides them with power. Some divine beings were originally humans or apparitions, and should they lose their worshipers, they would revert back to their former state. Purely divine beings, on the other hand, cease to exist if they cease to be an object of faith. The population of deities in Gensoukyou is difficult to measure, because they are able to travel more freely to and from other realms than most other beings. However, some deities who have ceased being worshiped in the outside world fled to Gensoukyou and are effectively confined there. The Dragon God is often considered to be the greatest among all the divine beings of Gensoukyou and is thought to be an omniscient, omnipotent creator-destroyer deity. As the majority of humans, apparitions, and fairies worship the Dragon, it has the controlling share of faith in the realm.

    Apparitions, also known as youkai, are essentially "monsters." It is nearly a catch-all term for supernatural entities who don't fall into the previous categories. Many types of apparitions are unique or nearly unique. Some, however, have significant populations. Examples of the latter would be the kappa and the tengu of Youkai Mountain. The tengu are also worshipped as the deities of Youkai Mountain and have some access to the divine power of faith, but primarily possess the nature of apparitions.

    Most apparitions are or resemble creatures from Japanese folklore, because the original location of Gensoukyou, before it became removed from the outside world, was in Japan. Since Gensoukyou's establishment, however, many apparitions from other parts of the world have moved in. However, it is interesting to note that some specific types of apparitions are missing, such as oni and hobgoblins. The can be due to a voluntary mass migration, as in the case of the oni, or the fact that no such creatures have yet sought out Gensoukyou, as is the case with the hobgoblins.

    Apparitions share the quality of deities in that other sorts of creatures, and even objects, can become apparitions. Apparitions share the quality of fairies as having an innate power, but tend to possess such power in much greater abundance. Such innate power can be magical, spiritual, or both. Unlike deities, even if an apparition has an innately spiritual power, it is not dependent on the faith of others.

    Of all these sorts of beings, Gensoukyou can rightfully be said to revolve around the apparitions. It represents a sanctuary, some even call it a paradise, where they have come to terms with humans, exert dominion over the fairies, and worship the gods they choose. However, in order to achieve that, many allowances had to be made. The nature of these agreements and compromises lie at the heart of most of the events that comprise Gensoukyou's history. It may be that the common trait of nearly all the fairies, apparitions, and gods in Gensoukyou to have human or human-like visages is due to these agreements.

    At the end, some mention should be made of the rabbits of the Land of Fantasy. Gensoukyou's sizable number of rabbits are innately magical, can assume human forms, and can speak. In terms of strength, they are probably on the same level as fairies. They are not considered to be apparitions; rather, it seems that all natural rabbits in Gensoukyou gain these abilities. Additionally, there is at least one rabbit that is a distinct apparition. It is presently unknown if other beasts in Gensoukyou, such as tanuki or foxes, have similar traits.

    The Land of Fantasy's physical dimensions are rather small, only hundreds of square kilometers in area, but this can be deceiving, as it lies on the boundaries of more realms than simply the outside world, and itself houses various pocket worlds and anomalies of space. It is a hilly, wooded, temperate country. Those who are able to fly can traverse the land within a day. Those who cannot rarely venture far from their homes.

    People and items still make their way to (and more rarely, from) Gensoukyou, especially those that are obsolete in the outside world. Occasionally, some very advanced items are put in use, usually with the addition of magic to make up for the lack of a high tech infrastructure. At other times, magic is used to copy concepts people hear about from the outside. Most human residents of Gensoukyou, however, possess little or no magic, so they rarely benefit from this.

    A portion of the Sanzu River, which may or may not be the same as the River Styx, but serves the same function, flows through Gensoukyou. The Hakurei Shrine on the country's eastern border maintains the Great Barrier which keeps Gensoukyou separate from the outside world. Within Gensoukyou, which is landlocked, there are a number of lakes, rivers, hills, forests (one of them a large bamboo forest), and valleys. Its largest peak is known as Youkai Mountain, Youkai no Yama, or the Mountain of Apparitions.

    There is only one population center of humans, known appropriately enough as the "Humans' Village," or Ningen no Sato. It has no proper name, but is sometimes casually called Hitozato. Apparitions are allowed to venture into the village, as long as they don't cause trouble or consternation among the human inhabitants. Generally, this means that those apparitions who look less than perfectly human tend to only appear under the cover of night. The same applies to fairies and most other non-humans. The village is an important center of manufacturing for humans and apparitions alike.

    The tengu and kappa of Mount Youkai are known for the advanced state of their societies. Both are, however, extremely reclusive, and very few goods or services make their way down the mountain. The major exception to this is the Tengu's newspaper service. Two rival tengu newspapers, the Bunbunmaru and the Kakashi Spirit News, enjoy circulations throughout Gensoukyou. They are read by humans, apparitions, gods, and fairies alike. They are probably read by the rabbits, too.

    Here and there, one can find individual buildings standing like follies in the wilderness. A rare few are abandoned. Many more only seem to be. Most of the inhabitants of such places are apparitions, but one can occasionally find the eccentric human. Such humans might set up shops far from the village because of their dealings with magic and/or apparitions, while others are on the path to becoming apparitions themselves, or sometimes even divine beings. Fairies' dwellings are usually well-hidden, simple affairs that are not grouped together. If there exist larger communities of fairies, no one has bothered to report it.

    The one common tongue of Gensoukyou is Japanese, and everyone speaks it. In terms of vocabulary, many archaic words are still in use, but so are many contemporary terms and loan words. In game terms, the main point is that there is no language barrier between characters.

    Apparitions and humans maintain two separate currency systems. Humans use yen, but a Gensoukyou yen is worth about 10,000 yen in the contemporary outside world. As this is a bit much to deal with, the yen is subdivided into sen and rin. One hundred sen make up one yen, and ten rin make up one sen. Humans trade in copper coins with denominations of 1 rin, 5 rin, 1 sen, and 2 sen; silver coins worth 5 sen, 10 sen, 20 sen, 50 sen, and 1 yen; and rare gold coins of 1 yen, 2 yen, 5 yen, 10 yen, and 20 yen.

    The apparitions have a more antiquated system where the primary unit of currency is one ryou. A ryou is worth 4 bu, 16 shu, or 4000 mon. However, there is no such thing as a ryou coin in Gensoukyou. A huge gold coin called an ooban is worth 10 ryou. An oblong gold ingot called a koban is worth 1 ryou. A smaller gold plate called a nibuban is worth 2 bu. There are gold as well as silver plates called ichibuban, all worth 1 bu. The nishuban and isshuban are also gold or silver plates worth 2 shu and 1 shu, respectively. Finally, the mon is a small, bronze coin with a square hole in the center so that several can be strung together. It is common to make string necklaces of 50, 100, 200, or 250 mon. The last is worth 1 shu.

    In order to provide a point of comparison for all these currencies, let's arbitrarily give the 4e D&D gold piece a buying power of roughly US $10 in 2010, and assign it a value of 10 sen or 50 mon. This means that one ryou is worth 8 yen, 80 gp, or US $800. The relationships between coins are shown in the following three lists.

    Human Currency
    • 1 yen is worth
    • 100 sen, or
    • 1000 rin

    Apparition Currency
    • 1 ooban (worth 10 ryou), is worth
    • 10 koban, or
    • 20 nibuban, or
    • 40 ichibuban, or
    • 80 nishuban, or
    • 160 isshuban, or
    • 40,000 mon

    Master List
    • 1 ooban (apparition currency - a huge gold coin) = 10 ryou = 80 yen = 800 gp = $8000
    • 1 koban (apparition currency - an oblong gold ingot) = 1 ryou = 4 bu = 8 yen = 80 gp = $800
    • 1 nibuban (apparition currency - a rectangular gold plate) = 2 bu = 8 shu = 4 yen = 40 gp = $400
    • 1 ichibuban (apparition currency - a rectangular gold or silver plate) = 1 bu = 4 shu = 2 yen = 20 gp = $200
    • 1 yen (human currency - a silver coin worth 1 yen, or a gold coin that is available in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, or 20 yen) = 100 sen = 2 shu = 10 gp = $100
    • 1 nishuban (apparition currency - a rectangular gold or silver plate) = 2 shu = 500 mon = 1 yen = 10 gp = $100
    • 1 isshuban (apparition currency - a rectangular gold or silver plate) = 1 shu = 250 mon = 50 sen = 5 gp = $50
    • 1 sen (human currency - copper coins in denominations of 1 sen or 2 sen, and silver coins in denominations of 5 sen, 10 sen, 20 sen, or 50 sen) = 10 rin = 5 mon = 1 sp = $1.00
    • 1 mon (apparition currency - a bronze coin that can be strung together, commonly in groups of 50, 100, 200, or 250) = 2 rin = $0.20
    • 1 rin (human currency - copper coins in denominations of 1 rin or 5 rin) = $0.10

    A century ago, near the beginning of the present era, there were banknotes from the outside world circulated by humans in various denominations of sen or yen, but lacking the technology to print more of their own, the bills wore away, and any that exist today are collectors' items. The coins are longer-lasting than banknotes, and they get reissued from time to time under mysterious circumstances. It is said that the kappa, or perhaps the tengu, are looking into reintroducing paper currency, but nothing has happened to date. Apparition currency has always been in the form of coinage, and they use enchantments to protect their coins from weathering.

    Most humans, especially the villagers, only accept human currency, with the exception of those who deal in magic. The kappa, when they can be found, also conduct most of their business in human currency, while the tengu disdain it unless it is for a newspaper subscription. Fairies rarely have anything worth buying and rabbits never do. As for the other sorts of apparitions, they try to pay in their own currency when they can, as that's what they tend to have on hand, but usually aren't picky about accepting payments in human currency.

    As noted before, some beings rely on religious faith for their very existence. Also, some of these beings are integral to the well-being of Gensoukyou as whole. Therefore, it's no surprise that religion plays a major role in the Land of Fantasy.

    The major religions of Gensoukyou are Shintoism and Buddhism. Shintoism is overtly the dominant religion, and is practiced by nearly everyone, but most humans and many other beings maintain dual beliefs in Shinto and Buddhism. There are also some followers of Taoism, but it is rare compared to the other two.

    Of the gods who are native to Gensoukyou, few have any sizable following save for the chief deity of the land, the Dragon God. The tengu are collectively enshrined as the gods of Youkai Mountain, but are mainly supplicated, not worshipped. One god of Gensoukyou worth mentioning is Shiki Eiki the Yamaxanadu. She is the Judge of Hell who presides over the souls of those in the Land of Fantasy, and is extremely well known because it is her habit to physically appear before each and every sinner in Gensoukyou at some point in their lives to deliver a sermon about their shortcomings. As a result, she has few if any worshipers, but everyone has perfect faith in her existence.

    The most important religious structure in Gensoukyou is the Hakurei Jinja. In contrast to its overall significance, it is a modestly-sized, desolate shrine. Even the name of the god enshrined there is unknown; Hakurei is the name of the family entrusted with maintaining the shrine, whose only surviving member, an impoverished shrine maiden, is the sole human inhabitant of the place. It is an unpopular destination for humans because it lies in the remote, eastern border of Gensoukyou and is frequently haunted by apparitions. Its importance lies in the fact that the shrine is the focal point of the Great Hakurei Barrier, or Hakurei Daikekkai, the metaphysical boundary that separates the Land of Fantasy from the reality of the outside world. As such, objects or beings traveling from one realm to the other often pass through this shrine at some point during their journey.

    The Land of Fantasy is not subject to any single governing organization. Each community has its own form of government, and those who dwell in the wilderness are bound by little other than custom. The Dragon God, who has the power over creation and destruction, would be highest authority, but hasn't been seen since the present epoch. Following this chain of reasoning, since the destruction of the Great Hakurei Barrier would be disastrous for most of the inhabitants, this gives sovereign power to the Hakurei shrine maiden, who is the only person capable of maintaining the barrier. Although she had seemed to be unaware of this logic, she has in fact exercised her authority for the very first time, and only within this past year, to effect a metaphysical change in the natural laws of Gensoukyou that has no historical precedent in its scope: the creation of the "naming duel." The details of this will be discussed in a subsequent post.

    Details of the kappa and tengu settlements are not well known, as they are visited by few outsiders. From hints in the newspapers, the tengu are supposedly ruled over by a tutelary deity known as Tenma, who has established a compartmentalized bureaucracy. The human village has a single leader.

    Gods, of course, submit to the authority of whatever religious pantheon they inhabit. Rabbits and other sentient beasts obey the authority of the most powerful among them, who have become apparitions. Fairies might similarly obey the more powerful of their number in a certain region, but such arrangements are always temporary, as most tend to forget what they were supposed to be doing after a few hours, especially if the instructions were confusing. It is more often the case that fairies get organized by apparitions, who always keep them within arm's reach if anything is going to get accomplished. Otherwise, a certain area might be governed by its most powerful apparition, but such creatures rarely have authority that extends beyond their own domicile.
    Last edited by Umiushi; 03-27-2014 at 06:21 AM.

  2. #2
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    Naming Duels

    "Let it be known that apparitions can easily cause disasters; that humans can easily resolve disasters; that deciding the victor based on strength alone will not be accepted; that nothing lies superior to elegance and intellect." - from an early draft of the Naming Duel Law, as recorded in Perfect Memento in [the] Strict Sense

    On New Year's Day of the 115th year, the laws of reality in Gensoukyou changed. This was not an unforeseen event. For several weeks before, the impending alterations were the subject of intense negotiations between a multitude of powerful apparitions, some gods, and one human: the Hakurei shrine maiden.

    The details of the events leading up to the promulgation of the Law of the Naming Duel are unclear, but must be related to the recent mass predation of humans by vampires, powerful new arrivals to the land. Other apparitions were no match for the vampires, to say nothing of humans, fairies, and the rest. Even the gods seemed stymied by some power the vampires held. When it looked like the only option left would be to let the Great Hakurei Barrier fall and flee to the outside world, the vampire menace abruptly ceased. This happened last winter.

    The dropping of the Great Barrier is the perpetual threat that the Hakurei shrine maiden wields against all things supernatural, Gensoukyou's nuclear option. It's a less than zero sum game: either the losers lose and everyone else stays the same; or the winners lose a lot and everyone else gets annihilated. It seems that this is no longer the case.

    The Law of the Spell Card and Naming Duel
    Recorded on youkai paper, and granted the absolute force of natural and supernatural law, the shrine maiden has made provisions for how conflict will be governed throughout the Land of Fantasy. If this was designed to solve the vampire incident, it goes much further than that. It allows any being who can participate in a naming duel the chance to win, even if it's a small one, regardless of their strength or weakness relative to the opponent. It also allows the formerly inviolable shrine maiden to suffer defeat at the hands of the apparitions, repeatedly.

    The ritualized conflict is called a naming duel, because it is fought using spell cards, which give meaning and intent to one's attacks. A spell card is a supernatural contract that every would-be participant makes with the shrine maiden. Each allows a combatant to use any one of their powers, in a way that's deemed fit for the duel, which prioritizes grace and aesthetics. Whether it's a magical spell, a legendary sword, the recitation of a holy sutra, or the manifestation of one's supernatural strength, the spell card allows it to manifest in a way that can attack or counter any opponent, but can in turn be countered in the same way. Since meaning drives the power of the spell card, each card should be given a name that captures the reasoning of the spell.

    The most "beautiful" attacks will triumph. There seems to be a lot of layers to this statement. At a minimum, it means no dirty tricks, things like ambushes, handicapping an opponent outside of a fight, sniping from a distance, assassinating someone in their sleep, all the myriad ways of murder have been done away with. It also means no ugly fighting: no brawls or melees or fights in the dirt. Finally, it means that the most impressively ornate attacks are the ones that are rewarded: a solid crushing wall of magic or an invisible disintegration ray that might have spelled a sure kill in the past will hardly affect an enemy now. They'll instead fall to a shower of a thousand tri-colored sparks.

    Since different creatures can have far different amounts of raw power, victory in the fight is measured by the participants' physical and mental capacity to continue casting spell cards. An opponent no longer capable of doing so must concede defeat, even if they still have reserves of strength. Another way to look at it is if an opponent can defeat all the spell card attacks employed against them, they are victorious. The nature of the spell card is it transforms attacks from weak to strong, but also from overwhelming to survivable.

    There are a number of periphery rules related to duels.
    • Spell cards must be named when they are employed. The card contracts may also be presented, but this is optional.
    • The duel cannot end with the death of any participant who is not able to revive.
    • The duel cannot end with permanent or serious injury to a participant.
    • The reward for victory must be agreed to in advance of the duel.
    • A duel can be refused, if the two participants cannot come to reasonable terms.
    • In general, the loser must grant one request to the winner.
      • The request cannot be relief from further duels.
      • The request cannot be for harm to the loser or to others.
      • The request cannot be for the loser's possessions, with the exception of a single sheet of a spell card contract. This may be blank or filled, but if it is filled, it cannot be the loser's sole copy.
      • The request cannot be for any long-term service, including imprisonment.

    • Any of the above terms can be waived with the consent of the vanquished. (This means, if one has recklessly demanded a forbidden reward, the defeated combatant has the right to refuse to consent even if they previously agreed to it, but they may yet acquiesce to the demand under their own volition.)
    • It is permissible, and in fact required, to break one's oath or duty to fulfill a victor's request, because the naming duel is absolute. For example, a vanquished guard must give way to the victor. Since it is possible for any participant to win such a duel, if the guard was to stay true to her duty, she should have prevailed in the fight.
    • The loser cannot seek revenge upon the winner.
    • However, in return for this consideration, the winner must entertain the loser's request for a rematch.

    In the six months since this reality shift occurred, both humans and apparitions have become bolder. More dare to venture into the human village, and at the same time, a number of humans are seeking training in order to be able to be granted the use of spell cards. Not everyone is qualified to fight in such duels, however, because you must at least have enough mobility to evade a spell card attack, or you will lose immediately. At a minimum, this means being able to fly.

    The fairies have grown increasingly agitated by the excitement, and are now attacking everyone they meet recklessly, despite the fact that hardly any of them can properly use a spell card. This means they are dying in droves, but fairies quickly come back to life after having been killed off. The rabbits, on the other hand, are still rabbits, and show no signs of wanting anything to do with any of this, despite having enough magic to possibly be able to participate.

    One gets the feeling that the gods are watching all this with bemusement and consternation, but one or two of the more adventurous ones have descended from the heavens to join in on the fun.


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