Saturday, March 22, 2014

Is 47 Ronin an Homage to Asian Themed RPGs

Over the past week, I was able to sit down and watch 47Ronin—the one with Keanu Reeves starring as a Tengu-raised hero turned samurai. While watching the movie, I could not help but thinking how much the story reminded me of a roleplaying game adventure. I do not apologize for the spoilers I am about to throw out there. Instead, I only warn that they are coming.


We start with a young hero from a mysterious past. He has no family to speak of and people believe he is at least part demon. He is adopted into an honorable samurai clan where his skills cannot be ignored, however, he is not of the samurai bloodline and is thus treated almost as a non-person. We see the kitsune/witch working with the enemy, Lord Kira. The would-be heroes are firsts tripped of title, rank, and dignity. During a year’s exile in a filthy pit, Oishi meditates and comes to a new understanding on the world and everyone’s place in it. He seeks out Kai, who has apparently levelled up a few times since we last saw him. The two go through a sword swinging, high leaping, random fire burning chase through an island of pirates and thieves before returning to the mainland and gathering and inspiring the rest of their forces. Watch the final battle and see how several pieces all work in conjunction with one another for it to work. In fact, it ignites most when someone just barely misses their roll on an archery check. We have magic. We have swords. We have larger than life heroes with a little bit of witty banter and a soul-wrenching ending. How is it not a roleplaying game set in Feudal Japan?

Okay, the legends may have been a little off. The armor and style of dress may have been overly contrived. Bottom line: there may have been some details that were less than 100% accurate. This doesn’t really change the enjoyment factor and only serves to make it more like an Oriental Adventures setting. One such campaign world I have only barely gotten to try out and look forward to playing more of is Heroes of the Jade Oath.

Rite Publishing Heroes of the Jade Oath