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Introducing "Sengoku Punk" by Warsong 2E

Warsong 2e by Ray Machuga of Higher Grounds Publishing leads off with a freshly minted term, “Sengoku Punk." What is Sengoku Punk?

“Sengoku: a period in Japanese history of bloody internal conflict, clans fighting clans, warlords, etc. And then the punk part is people questioning their leaders, rising up against injustice. The […] setting is kind of like Afro Samurai: high tech gear coexists with spear and sword fights, that kind of thing. Motorcycles and donkey-pulled caravans. Boom boxes and gottans.” Boiled down, cyberpunk social rebellion (and tech) in ancient Asia. The Warsong 2e core edition is 362 pages of Fate Core-fueled tabletop RPG.

Warsong 2e spends about a third of its pages on the setting, explaining Sengoku Punk, and how this world works. You step into a pseudo ancient Asia where the past and future meet in a juxtaposition of future and past technologies, robots and swords and magic against the undead, lycanthropes, and vampires that feel more traditionally European over the Asian variety, mixed with rival clans - Crab Clan, Crane Clan, Dragon Clan, Monkey Clan, Scorpion Clan, Snake Clan, and Tiger Clan. To be clear, these are human clans that took animal names as opposed to some type of anthropomorphic critters. Mechanically, the clans provide specific “styles” that are like additional stunts. The depth of character options is staggering, ranging from normal person on the street to living dead to a robot while attempting some degree of balance. You’ll need that amount of depth to battle the variety of monsters and navigate the politics of the setting. That’s the secret of this world, you might face the vampires in a haunted mansion or you could go a more subtle, political route to decide who will lead the city.

This is Fate with some tweaks to the rules to allow a world of politics, swords, sorcery, and laser guns. If you’re unfamiliar with Fate, for any action, roll 4d6 (or four Fate dice) that will raise or lower your skill score by -4 to +4 plus some other modifiers then compare the result to a target number (or an opponent’s roll). It’s a fast system yet has a great deal of versatility. What’s tweaked? Minor changes like an increase to your character’s Stress (hit points).

The setting is interesting and the ruleset fits it will, but where Warsong 2e could use some polish is the layout. The art is a mix of stock art and some pieces that, at first blush, are original works for this publication. Reusing art would not be worth mentioning – What indy does not find it better to do that than to produce a lackluster text file? – but the art takes up a great deal of the book’s space including a thick art border at the top and bottom of each page. There are instances where the writing overlaps that border and it can be distracting. Is it the end of the game? By no means, but a bit of alignment could improve the work. This is not taking anything away from Warsong 2e as the writing and ideas are worth building upon.

What works here? The system combined with the setting prove to be a good combination. Are there minor items that could use some tweaks? The layout, and to bring this back around to the opening, the title, Warsong, is not as iconic as “Sengoku Punk." But, neither the layout nor the title impact how this system and setting make the world come alive, and they do. If you need cyberpunk in feudal Asia, it’s Warsong 2e.

This article was contributed by Egg Embry as part of ENWorld's User-Generated Content (UGC) program. Please note that Egg is a participant in the OneBookShelf Affiliate Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to DriveThruRPG. We are always on the lookout for freelance columnists! If you have a pitch, please contact us!
Egg Embry


Paragon Lost

Terminally Lost
Very interesting game world. Also the Fate system is really starting to draw my interest. So much so that I just ordered the Dresden Files Accelerated rpg just to take a look see at the stream lined Fate system rules.

Egg Embry

So, I guess Bajie survives the Season 2 finale!

I'm a Netflix Badlands-watcher. :)
You know, until you mentioned it, I hadn't realized season 3 had aired. Now I need to catch up. As for Bajie, I was spoiled on that in a preview at some point (which, now connecting dots, should have alerted me about season 3).

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