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  • By Arnold Cassell
    Oct 15, 2009
    "True Comic-Style Roleplaying" I am nothing but impressed. I started out with a copy of the old Gold Rush version of this game, which was very fast and loose, and occasionally funny or frightening. Sanguine's other works include Jadeclaw and Ironclaw, which have a great deal of depth, but also a good deal of difficulty. I was a little worried it might change the tone or the pacing of the adventures. My presumptions were happily shattered. The system they developed for Usagi Yojimbo is a much leaner version of their core mechanic, and the fight sequences are just as lethal as they were in the original and in the comics themselves. Players can customize their characters with a wide variety of techniques, some of them useful for mob fighting, and some of them highly specialized for tough opponents. For instance, Gen and Usagi can learn to get extra attacks when they roll well or shrug off smaller wounds. This way, when they are attacked by a swarm of less competent... More > opponents, they can take them all on at once with little trouble. And they can also learn more complicated maneuvers such as the Full Moon Strike or the Horse Cut Technique which are meant to take on one powerful foe. These techniques can only be used once in a scene, and are exhausted until the character has rested. Since the basic exchange of sword-play can be very deadly, fights against trained opponents (such as Jei against Usagi) will most likely end when their advanced techniques have been exhausted, rather than when damage is dealt. Even Usagi wouldn't pursue Jei unless he had a few tricks left up his sleeve, because one well placed strike could put him out for months of medical attention. There is no magical healing. And I like that, personally. I think it gives the players a better sense of the costs of battle, and it allows time to pass between adventures, accented by the stark change of seasons in Japan. At any rate, the book is well laid out, and very well indexed, with a good number of the common charts repeated in the back of the book for easy reference. It includes a dozen sample characters in the back, including younger versions of Usagi, Tomoe, Gen, and other favorites. It is peppered with Sakai's original artwork, and the first section of the book details the specific time-line of Sakai's universe, as well as the provinces and regions of Usagi's Japan. The combat mechanic is fast and pretty easy to understand, allowing characters the option to counter-attack (which speeds things up a great deal.) Instead of rolling just one die for a given task, players will get to combine dice into a pool. So for an attack roll Usagi would take his Body (d8) plus his skill with his katana (d12 from personal study, and an additional d6 because of his career) and roll them all. (d12, d8, d6) Only the highest number is important, and instead of adding confusing situational modifiers or penalties, there will be bonus dice or penalty dice. Such as an additional d20 for damage against a "Wounded" opponent, or an additional d12 for defense if your are in "Cover." And the difficulty to achieve a task is a dice roll, not a fixed number. When a player attempts something, they roll the dice for their skill just like usual, but the Game Master rolls dice as well. The player compares their highest die with the Game Master's highest die. So anything is possible (if unlikely.) Even a Legendary task is 4d12 (roll four, twelve sided dice, only the highest stands.) There are optional rules to make difficulties into fixed numbers if you want to, but keeping them as rolls instead adds a lot of flavor. I'm almost out of characters! I can't say enough good about this book; it's a great game.< Less
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Product Details

Autumn Moon Edition
Sanguine Productions
November 27, 2007
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
0.96 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
6.63 wide x 10.25 tall
Product ID
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