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A high-drama samurai RPG where noble courtiers, devious ninja, heroic ascetics and mighty bushi all clash for the glory of their clan.
A high-drama samurai RPG where noble courtiers, devious ninja, heroic ascetics and mighty bushi all clash for the glory of their clan.
A high-drama samurai RPG where noble courtiers, devious ninja, heroic ascetics and mighty bushi all clash for the glory of their clan.
174 backers pledged $4,072 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Kaigaku, a Samurai RPG

$4,072

174

What is It?

Kaigaku is an OSR retroclone.It's a new, complete game that uses mechanics inspired by classic RPGs to put a new spin on old favorites. It features an original setting inspired by the golden ages of various historical empires, including Japan, China, Korea and the Mongols. While the entire game is currently completely written and available for full download here, it doesn't look nearly as good as the page below, so here we are on Kickstarter to make it as fantastic as it can be

A sample page of layout, art and rules
A sample page of layout, art and rules

Kaigaku delivers samurai drama, from the stateliest daimyo's court to the slums of Kajima, the wilds of the Imperial forests or the fields of battle. You can use the rules in this game to create YOUR saga and tell the tale of YOUR heroes.

The rules are fast and easy to learn, and they support both one-shot games and long-term campaigns. There is a rich setting upon which you can base your tales, but it's presented in broad strokes to keep from constraining your vision.

Here's what others have to say about Kaigaku:

"If I had to say one thing about Kaigaku, it would be this: If I were to convert Jadepunk to d20, I'd start with Kaigaku and hack from there. It's that good!"

-Ryan M. Danks, Jadepunk

Why Kaigaku?

I've been a life-long fan of Asian history, especially that of Japan, ever since I had to write a report on that country in elementary school. I was hooked, I dived in deep, learning about such fascinating samurai as Oda Nobunaga, Date Masamune and Tokugawa Ieyasu. I learned the language, visited the country and basically left reality behind for a fantasy world of cherry blossoms and flashing steel. This is that world.

Right now there is a dearth of actively supported samurai RPGs. With Kaigaku I can bring my vision to you, but I need funds to finish the artwork so that it can be the best possible product.

A Morimoto bushi
A Morimoto bushi

Where is it Now?

Right now Kaigaku is available as a free, no-art, barebones game, which you can download from the link in the first paragraph. Since I released the game I've vastly expanded the manuscript (it's now more than three times as long as the original) and it's been professionally edited multiple times. The premium game also boasts beautiful work from such talented artists as Lord Zsezse Works, Gennifer Bone, Peter Frain and Enmanuel "Lema" Martinez. This is truly my favorite project, and I want it to be the best that it can be.

What's New?

The premium version of Kaigaku features lots of new content, including multiple NPC generators, a mass battle system, rules for using your honor as a weapon, 15 new ryu and more.

What are the Design Principles?

  • Brevity and clear rules
  • Easy enough to learn in a day
  • Setting that fires up your imagination without dominating it
  • Fun above all else
Arms and armor
Arms and armor

Stretch Goals

I intend for Kaigaku to become a full product line. I'm going to follow it up with several support projects. With your help we can fund more of them from this campaign.

$2,000

The project gets funded. I hire Genn Bone to create a gorgeous cover and more character art. You can learn more about her at her Deviantart page.

$3,000

Kaigaku gets a GM screen. It's more than just a pretty picture for the players to enjoy. Both sides have rules references, which helps you to run sessions without having to crack open the book.

$4,000

The Kaigaku Chronicles, a periodical supplement full of fiction, expanded rules and gameplay design articles gets released. Stretch goal supporters get access to at least the first six issues. Some of the extra content from this campaign (such as Lesser Clans from pledges) might appear here instead. This also includes more layout art from Lord Zsezse Works.

$6,000

David Okum, yes, that David Okum, gets to create a set of 12 printable paper miniatures for use in your Kaigaku games (or in one of his excellent products, including the Save the Day! RPG).

$10,000

Another set of 12 minis from David Okum!

$15,000

The Kaigaku Chronicles gets at least 12 issues, and I'll release a compatibility license. This allows people to use content that's normally considered Product Identity (besides the artwork) in their own professionally released content. You'll get a seal of approval and the ability to use the setting of Kaigaku in your own works.

$20,000

The first faction book gets released. Each book is going to focus on a different clan from the corebook. They'll feature an additional ryu for that clan (usually to give the clan its "missing" ryu out of the Ascetic/Bushi/Courtier/Ninja set), NPCs, adventure hooks, locations and more. Each one is likely to have ryu from lesser clans, ronin brother hoods, gaijin factions, gangs and other organizations whose pupose complements the clan featured in the book. Backers get to vote on the release order.

$30,000

Revealed after passing $20,000.

What Does the Money Do?

It pays for the art! Extra money gives me the ability to advertise and promote the game, to reach out to more gamers and to pay for expenses so I can devote the time needed to make Kaigaku and its expansions as good as they can be.

For instance, when you pledge at the Legendary Founder level the map gets drawn by the amazing Guillame Tavernier, whose work always leaves me inspired. Check out his Artstation profile, and make sure to support him on Patreon.

An example of Guillame's work
An example of Guillame's work

How Do the Books Get Made?

I'm using DrivethruRPG as the distribution channel. Electronic rewards get sent by means of a code that allows for a free download. The download gets credited to your Drivethru account so you can download it any time.

Print copies are sent the same way. What happens is that you pledge a partial amount now and then get a code that lets you purchase a hardcopy for just the cost of printing and shipping. This is a huge money saver for you because you don't end up paying for me to ship the order to me and then package it and send it out to you. It also lowers your initial investment. Win-win!

Print fulfillment model
Print fulfillment model

 

Risks and challenges

This is my first Kickstarter, so everything is a learning curve. That said, the risk is much smaller than you'd expect because I've been studying how to successfully run a campaign for years. I'm following the model set up by Kevin Crawford, where everything is written and edited before the campaign starts. Part of it is already in layout. I'm not going to have the entire book laid out until the end of the campaign, which makes it easier to set up the table of contents and index, since there might be more to add, thanks to content from high reward tiers and stretch goals.

The biggest risk that I can think is that I might get struck by a meteor. which would be a big blow. Other than that, I don't anticipate any problems.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Core PDF

    At this level you get a PDF of the core book, delivered via DrivethruRPG.com.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    Core PDF and Stretch Goals

    You get the PDF of the core book, plus PDFs of all digital stretch goals offered through this campaign. The core book drops first, followed by the various stretch goals.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Print Core Book

    You get an at-cost voucher for a print copy of the Kaigaku core rulebook, plus a PDF and all electronic stretch goals.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Print Book and Stretch Goals

    You get the at-cost print voucher for the core book, plus at-cost print vouchers for all stretch goals with print options. This tier also comes with a PDF of the core book and all digital stretch goals.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Clan Founder

    You get to work with the author to create a lesser clan to appear within the Kaigaku canon. This clan gets a writeup, ryu and illustration of an iconic member. Subject to some editorial for continuity and setting. Includes everything from the Print Book and Stretch Goals tier. See the Campaign section for more on where this content gets published.

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    Pledge $110 or more About $110

    Clan Founder, Phase II

    As Clan Founder, just without the early-bird savings. Make your mark on Kaigaku's history!

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    Limited 3 backers
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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Legendary Founder

    Comes with everything included with Clan Founder, but we can also hire an artist to create a gorgeous full-color illustration of the clan's stronghold (illustrated by Guillame Tavernier!), plus a more detailed writeup. See the Campaign section for more on where this content gets published.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    First-Run Adventurer: Underworld

    You and a group of up to four of your friends all get to run the first iteration of adventures before they're published. Your PCs are going to figure into the story, once it's published, as NPCs. This adventure focuses on samurai magistrates dealing with the seedy underbelly of Kajima. You also get at-cost print vouchers and digital copies of the core book and all stretch goals.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    First-Run Adventurer: Beast Hunter

    You and a group of up to four of your friends all get to run the first iteration of adventures before they're published. Your PCs are going to figure into the story, once it's published, as NPCs. This adventure focuses on heroes fighting mutated beasts arising from the ashes of a fallen meteor. You also get at-cost print vouchers and digital copies of the core book and all stretch goals.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    First-Run Adventurer: Shinobi

    You and a group of up to four of your friends all get to run the first iteration of adventures before they're published. Your PCs are going to figure into the story, once it's published, as NPCs. This adventure focuses on ninja infiltrating the most secure palace in the Empire. You also get at-cost print vouchers and digital copies of the core book and all stretch goals.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    First-Run Adventurer: Power of Court

    You and a group of up to four of your friends all get to run the first iteration of adventures before they're published. Your PCs are going to figure into the story, once it's published, as NPCs. This adventure focuses on the devious machinations of the court of the governor of Kajima. You also get at-cost print vouchers and digital copies of the core book and all stretch goals.

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Funding period

- (30 days)