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Author Topic: Writing Rules for Feudal Japan  (Read 895 times)
mmcv
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« on: 12 October 2020, 09:28:20 AM »

Something I've had rattling about my head for the past year or so is a ruleset for feudal Japan and adapting existing rules vs making own to cover larger scale battles between mixed arms clan units. Had a bit of an interest in rule writing and homebrewing so got stuck in with writing my own.

In this first post, I cover some of the background and initial ideas and experiments. I suspect this will be of somewhat niche interest to gamers who prefer the more "traditional" approach of the separate armed units that you would see making up these mixed armed clan units, for which there are many rules available, including an upcoming set in the Commander series, wheras my aim is getting more into the "Grand Tactical" area and taking a zoomed out approach of each clan unit as a whole.

You can read it here:

https://mmcvhistory.home.blog/2020/10/11/rules-for-the-sengoku-jidai/

There will hopefully be a follow-up post soon going a little more into the mechanics and how the games will flow. As all my hobby stuff is currently packed away, the test games have all been pencil and paper, but it's actually worked quite well and let me experiment with rule tweaks and play out different potential scenarios.

Thoughts and experiences others may have with this style of thing are always welcome.
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Chris Pringle
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« Reply #1 on: 12 October 2020, 12:05:57 PM »

Hi Matt,

Knowing next to nothing about feudal Japan, and never having played 'Twilight of the Sun King', from this position of profound ignorance I nevertheless boldly suggest you take a look at Twiglet's morale mechanism. From what little I have read of it, it sounds clever and intriguing and might fit your needs. Eg you could pour archery and musketry onto an enemy clan for a while, it could accumulate some 'been shot at' markers, but you wouldn't know how effective the fire had been until you actually impose a morale test by charging in. That makes it a bit more of a gamble than in rulesets where you work out the results of fire immediately, and might suit the spirit of what you're after?

Good luck with your rule-writing!

Chris

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mmcv
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« Reply #2 on: 12 October 2020, 12:52:27 PM »

Interesting, that actually sounds not too far off what I'd been toying with, where ranged exchanges would impact the  status and that would impact the ability to charge based on a morale check, meaning you could chip away and weaken an enemy but would be rare to outright destroy them unless they were in bad shape already.

I have heard of Twilight a few time and been intrigued, must find out more on it.

Thanks.
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Nick the Lemming
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« Reply #3 on: 12 October 2020, 01:11:37 PM »

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with mmcv. I was going to recommend Tenkatoitsu and tenkafubu's blog, but I see they're both already on your radar. Hopefully whatever you come up with won't just be using squares (otherwise why not simply stick with Tenkatoitsu?).
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mmcv
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« Reply #4 on: 12 October 2020, 01:52:27 PM »

Thanks Nick. The squares are mostly just for ease of movement in the test games to try out core mechanics. It does work okay with squares (and by extension probably hexes) but I'm generally writing the rules with measurements as the main driver as maneuver is an important aspect of it, and that part feels a little clunky with squares. Also the gridded notepad was the only one I had to hand without going up to the roofspace again, but all being well the house selling will be sorted this week and I can start getting the hobby stuff down again and try out some games with bases on a table!

I would quite like to get my hands on a copy of Tenkatoitsu but any copies I've seen online have been pretty pricy as it's mostly sold out. I do check occasionally to see if there's any available at a reasonable price, but no joy yet. Interested to see how they handle messengers and orders as that's something I've been tweaking a fair bit.

I'm not opposed to gridded movement and if I find a way to make it work well I may include it, but would likely require a lot of squares to give the manuever space required, which is a pain to set up on table without special mats, and would make the movement and formations a bit less fluid.

I've around 30 pages worth of rules, ideas, thoughts and notes written up, thought almost at the point of having the core rules ironed out down to 5 or 6 pages as I'd want to keep things reasonably streamlined, so I'll hopefully elabourate on those a bit more in the next post.
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DaveH
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« Reply #5 on: 12 October 2020, 03:15:21 PM »

Interesting to see your thoughts on this. I've been looking to use Battles in the Age of War as it addresses most of your points.

  • Mixed ashigaru units with spear and shooting troops
  • Clan generals commanding their parts of the army
  • Buckets of dice - a common factor in RFCM rules
  • Markers using figures so they look good on table rather than distracting

I looked around for Tenkaoitsu like you, but haven't been willing to pay what the few copies I've seen available for are being priced at.
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mmcv
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« Reply #6 on: 12 October 2020, 04:01:02 PM »

I think I'll definitely consider BAW for a certain scale of battle, my understanding of it was that it was targetted at a clan per division, or Kumi level as I think of it. I almost bought the pdf the other night but then read the convoluted instructions for how to go about purchasing it from the website and was put off! Will pick it up at some point though.
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Ithoriel
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« Reply #7 on: 12 October 2020, 04:13:03 PM »

My own rules are puttering along very slowly.

I have settled on opposed rolls. I realise this may make things run a little slower but I'm probably going to be playing solo and being well and truly retired the one thing I have lots of is time! A ruleset for aficionados of the grace and languor of the Tea Ceremony, perhaps!

Each of the sonae have 5 points to allocate to three stats. 1 point must go to Ashigaru, 1 to Samurai, 0-2 to Teppo and the remainder may be added to Ashigaru and/or Samurai. The Daimyo's sonae adds one to their Samurai rating.

Melee Combat is done one unit at a time. In combat each unit rolls it's Samurai dice in it's own turn and it's Ashigaru dice if it is the opposing players turn. Die rolls are matched highest roll to highest roll and so on down. Higher roll wins, unopposed rolls succeed on a 3+, draws are no effect unless one side has a higher Advantage total. Higher Advantage wins ties.

Each sonae has 5 "heads," famous samurai, who are the heart of the sonae. Each winning Melee die roll let's the winner take a head. When a sonae loses it's last "head" it is eliminated. The Daimyo adds a sixth head to his sonae. If that 6th head is lost, the army collapses and the battle is over. A unit may rally, replacing lost "heads" with lesser Samurai rising to the occasion. 1 "head" is added on a 4+.  

Points may be spent to give a sonae a single special ability by sacrificing one or more sonae.

Some under consideration are:

Head-takers - each 6 rolled by their Samurai dice is a head taken, if the roll wins or ties.

Inspirational Leader - once per combat you may flip a dice to it's other side. 1 becomes 6, 2 becomes 5, 3 becomes 4. Doesn't change the die's position in the dice "ladder."

Leading From The Front - make any single die in combat a 4. Doesn't change the die's position in the dice "ladder."

Sonae may have one of the following Stances

Attack - must move towards the enemy and Fire or Melee

Defend - may change facing but not move otherwise. Teppo may fire at nearest enemy in range. +1 Advantage

Move - may move twice. May not move within a normal move distance of enemy sonae. -1 Advantage in Melee.

Redeploy -  May move a half move directly to it's rear without changing facing or may change facing. The sonae rallies.

If any of these ideas are of interest I encourage you to plagiarise them Smiley

The Tenkatoitsu rules were available as a download somewhere. The companies website, I think.
« Last Edit: 12 October 2020, 04:14:52 PM by Ithoriel » Logged

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mmcv
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« Reply #8 on: 12 October 2020, 04:58:52 PM »

Thanks for your thoughts, actually sounds like we've some similar approaches.

My own rules are puttering along very slowly.

I have settled on opposed rolls. I realise this may make things run a little slower but I'm probably going to be playing solo and being well and truly retired the one thing I have lots of is time! A ruleset for aficionados of the grace and languor of the Tea Ceremony, perhaps!

Each of the sonae have 5 points to allocate to three stats. 1 point must go to Ashigaru, 1 to Samurai, 0-2 to Teppo and the remainder may be added to Ashigaru and/or Samurai. The Daimyo's sonae adds one to their Samurai rating.

I am liking the opposed rolls approach as it leads to a more engaging game, though I am playing solo so not sure if there's different considerations when multiple participants to consider. Given most games involve some sort of saving action anyway, I don't think it's too onerous.


Melee Combat is done one unit at a time. In combat each unit rolls it's Samurai dice in it's own turn and it's Ashigaru dice if it is the opposing players turn. Die rolls are matched highest roll to highest roll and so on down. Higher roll wins, unopposed rolls succeed on a 3+, draws are no effect unless one side has a higher Advantage total. Higher Advantage wins ties.

I am splitting up Ashigaru and Samurai some what (though a little more abstracted than you mention) by splitting combat into a Melee (generally Ashigaru) and Shock (generally Samurai) phases. Melee is an opposed roll with modifiers then if someone wins it they roll an unopposed Shock. Still experimenting with this bit, not sure if winning Melee will be binary, or if winning by a lot confers a greater advantage.


Each sonae has 5 "heads," famous samurai, who are the heart of the sonae. Each winning Melee die roll let's the winner take a head. When a sonae loses it's last "head" it is eliminated. The Daimyo adds a sixth head to his sonae. If that 6th head is lost, the army collapses and the battle is over. A unit may rally, replacing lost "heads" with lesser Samurai rising to the occasion. 1 "head" is added on a 4+.  

Points may be spent to give a sonae a single special ability by sacrificing one or more sonae.

Some under consideration are:

Head-takers - each 6 rolled by their Samurai dice is a head taken, if the roll wins or ties.

Inspirational Leader - once per combat you may flip a dice to it's other side. 1 becomes 6, 2 becomes 5, 3 becomes 4. Doesn't change the die's position in the dice "ladder."

Leading From The Front - make any single die in combat a 4. Doesn't change the die's position in the dice "ladder."


I have been pondering head hunting in recent days and how to fit it in, though I suspect it'll be mostly abstracted. I may have a special "No Head Hunting" rule that gives a bonus to close combat at the detriment of morale, but I'm not getting too side tracked by special rules at this point. I do have a few pages worth of ideas for special character and clan traits to add a bit of flavour when needed, but they're fairly loose at this point and I haven't "costed" any of them until I can test them out and nail down the core mechanics. It will give some special rules for particularly charasmatic leaders, great strategists, or clans famed for their bowmenship, or discipline, etc. Then there's the warrior monks and the like to consider. At some point I'll likely have some form of campaign system as well and have the ability for units to gain experience and lose strength. I am treating commander loss though as collapse of the entire division/army as that seemed to be pretty common in the period and leads to a nice balance of protecting your commander while they may also often be the most powerful sonae around.


Sonae may have one of the following Stances

Attack - must move towards the enemy and Fire or Melee

Defend - may change facing but not move otherwise. Teppo may fire at nearest enemy in range. +1 Advantage

Move - may move twice. May not move within a normal move distance of enemy sonae. -1 Advantage in Melee.

Redeploy -  May move a half move directly to it's rear without changing facing or may change facing. The sonae rallies.

If any of these ideas are of interest I encourage you to plagiarise them Smiley


Intersting, I really like that stances idea. One of the bits I've still to flesh out is how formations affect actions, both within the sonae themselves and across the entire army. I'm tempted to a "Fixed Formations" rule option that allows the adoption of a particular formation for certain bonuses, but applies restrictions to what can be done for the game, as once a formation is set I imagine it wasn't something easy to change in the midst of battle. Need more thought on that to avoid it getting stodgy. Stances is an interesting approach though and something similar to what I may consider for sonae formations. I don't want to end up with too many special modifiers though, I generally favour having most units be roughtly similar stats with just a few special units here and there.


The Tenkatoitsu rules were available as a download somewhere. The companies website, I think.


So they are! Thanks, I'll have to have a read through them. I had watched some video playthroughs so had a bit of a sense of how they worked but it didn't cover too much of the mechanics.
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Ithoriel
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« Reply #9 on: 12 October 2020, 06:28:17 PM »

One thing I forgot to include was the idea of army level strategies.

Players choose one strategy before the game starts.

Once per game a player may trigger the strategy to

Set all sonae to Attack stance

Set all sonae to Defend stance

Set half of all sonae to Attack stance and half to Defend stance (odds set to owners choice).

All sonae may Rally (but may do nothing else if they do) but retain current stance.

Various others I have tried and discarded.
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mmcv
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« Reply #10 on: 12 October 2020, 06:43:43 PM »

Interesting. Part of me is thinking that for the army wide formations they should "just work" as if the simulation of the battles is right then the formations should naturally confer advantages without the need for additional modification. But your ideas make sense in terms of strategic directives which is probably all that can be done in real battle scenario.

One thing I'm working with is a messengers system to allow the army general to confer some advantages on a particular commander. I'd initially done this as a unit that would move across the battlefield but it woukd be difficult to remember who they were meant to go to in the chaos of battle so have abstracted it out to a die roll, opposed if there are any enemy in the vicinity.

This will then add the Generals command value to the commander's, allowing them to perform extra actions.
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DaveH
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« Reply #11 on: 13 October 2020, 02:35:44 PM »

Battles in the Age of War has rules for the different formations with where units can deploy being restricted by them.
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mmcv
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« Reply #12 on: 14 October 2020, 12:37:45 AM »

Ordered a copy of BAW so will review when it arrives.

Did a bit more reading on the Twilight rules as well, definitely interesting, though not sure if they'd quite fit what I was looking for. If (when...) I do a LoA, WSS or TYW project though I'll likely pick them up as it is an interesting system.
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Waremblem
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« Reply #13 on: 18 October 2020, 04:23:41 AM »

I read two of your WordPress blog entries on this topic. Impressive level of detail. My compliments, sir. What word processing format are you writing the rules in?
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mmcv
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« Reply #14 on: 18 October 2020, 09:36:56 AM »

I read two of your WordPress blog entries on this topic. Impressive level of detail. My compliments, sir. What word processing format are you writing the rules in?

Thank you kindly. At the moment I'm just writing it up in Google Docs as easy to tweak and modify and refine. At this point the rules are just for me as a fun process, but I may release them more fully into the wild at some point down the line.

Once I'm reasonably happy with the playability I'll likely use a desktop publishing software like Scribus to improve layout as a PDF and make QRS material. Both Google Docs and Scribus are free so work well for me!
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