Memories of Gunkanjima

Gunkanjima, Nagasaki

Photo by Christoph Klemmt

I’ve just finished moved into my in-law’s place in the suburbs of Nagoya and have been preparing to start work on Friday.  In the next month or so, I’ll be moving again into our own apartment in the city of Nagoya near the port.  As usual, things are busier than I had expected, but I’ve still managed to read through some books and play a few games before I left the US.  In fact, one such game I played in San Diego was the most awesome game of Shinobigami and one of the most exciting I’ve ever played.  I’ll share the documents and hand outs I used to run the game, as well as a few tips on how I ran it.

First, I should explain Enigmas.  These are introduced in the 3rd book in the Shinobigami series.  They are something like environmental secrets that have mechanical effects, usually on the last boss of the scenario.  They consist of the ruse, its true form and effect, and the way to cancel it.  Enigmas start off unknown, with only the ruse uncovered, and the rest must be uncovered like a Secret, and only then can it be canceled.  For example, in a scenario with a boss and 4 underlings, an Enigma might be that “4 generals protect the boss’s weak spot” with the effect being that during a battle, the boss will never suffer the effects of any fumbles he rolls.  In order to cancel that effect, the players must defeat all 4 underlings during the Main Phase.  Enigmas bring a lot to the game, giving the game even more flexibility and gives the GM even more tools to make interesting and mysterious scenarios.

This time around, then, I got my friends Jessica, Kyle and Ben together for a farewell game before I left for Japan.  We unanimously decided that Gunkanjima would be the perfect location for the game, so I let them know that the game would involve Dejima and Outsiders (more on these and the Shinobigami storyline in a different post).  I gave out the Secrets and player set ups a few days in advance, and I actually had players that were 80-90% prepared for the game.  I was floored!  We made a video of the entire game, and if I can figure out how, I’d like to make a video podcast of it.

Before I do a write up of the game, I’ll give you the Secrets, Missions, Enigmas and special Scene Charts that I translated and made specifically for the game.  Then I think I’ll figure out whether or not to do a podcast and based on that, maybe post the write up.

Dejima/Gunkanjima Scene Chart

Gunkanjima Enigma Handouts

Gunkanjima first secrets

Gunkanjima second secrets

The PC set ups and information that I sent to the players went like this:

Player 1 – Clan (any):
The last transmission you got from her was from Gunkanjima. They tried to stop you from following her, but you managed to get here despite their attempts. Nobody is going to keep you from finding her…
Mission: Find Mariya and escape together

Player 2 – Clan (any):
The mail was addressed to you, no doubt. It can only have been his handwriting. Finally, the day you can exact vengeance is at hand. But, why Gunkanjima..?
Mission: Exact vengeance on Buriki.

Player 3 – Clan (any):
When you woke up, you were in a strange grey room. The walls crumbled when you touched them and the door fell off its hinges when you tried to open it. Nobody’s set foot in here in decades, and yet, it seems familiar…
Mission: FInd out who you are.

Special rules (tentative):
-Before rolling on the Scene Chart, each player must roll to see if they roll on the (odds) Dejima Scene Chart or the (evens) Gunkanjima Scene Chart
-Each player will start with 15 experience.
-Enigmas will appear in the game. These are like Secrets that belong to certain aspects of the scenario that have effects that occur when they are uncovered and solved. For example: An Enigma that makes the boss immune to any attacks using a Body skill, but it can be canceled by defeating his 4 underlings.

The way that I ran the game was that I only gave everyone their first secrets when they made their characters.  They thought going in that the game was going to be a sort of Silent Hill game, especially as I started the game off with Gunkanjima full of fog.  Quickly, though, they became interested in a Black Cat character that followed each of them around during the Intro Phase, and the very first thing that they did was look at the cat’s Secret.  This unleashed the Enigmas, and the rest of the game ran itself.  They then looked at each other’s Secrets and made bonds, and every once in a while looked at the Enigmas, but ignored the cat’s.  By the 3rd cycle, they realized that they had to defeat Mariya after unlocked the Gatekeeper Enigma, and by doing so, I gave them another 2 cycles.  In the 4th cycle, they finally unlocked their 2nd memories, which totally turned the game upside down, and the already complicated relationships between the characters became even more interesting.

The Climax Phase started off with 2 battered PCs against 1 PC mostly at full health, a mostly fresh NPC, and the boss.  I had the Boss mysterious sit out until the NPC was knocked out, then held back until the end.  It actually fit, as I sort of saw Locus as just the conductor of fate, or some such nonsense.  Anyway, the game was incredible fun.  I can’t wait to play the game with some Japanese players and see how it differs.

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~ by mattgsanchez on March 28, 2011.

One Response to “Memories of Gunkanjima”

  1. Hell yeah dude! My mission quickly got away from me as the information gathering aspect surrounding this mysterious setting took my main focus. Well done, sir! Very tough decisions to make. I can only hope to better my improvising skills and perhaps, someday, be at least half the GM you are!

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