Welcome to the Dungeon
Yamada Yuuki is an ordinary Japanese college student with an extraordinary hobby: the classical martial art of Kukishin-ryu. One evening, a demon rips through the fabric of space-time, abducts everyone in his dojo, and transports them to another world. To return home, Yamada and his friends must join forces with other abductees to conquer the dungeon that runs through the heart of the world.
Standing in their way are endless hordes of bloodthirsty monsters, treacherous traps, invisible clouds of poison gas, and unfathomable horrors lurking in the lightless depths. Armed only with steel, faith and sheer guts, they must battle their way through the winding catacombs and confront the demon waiting at the bottom floor.
Yamada was once a student. Now he must become a samurai.
Dungeon Samurai is a trilogy of military fantasy novels running to about 65,000 words per book. It is the story of a harrowing campaign into the unlighted depths of a monster-filled dungeon. No pity, no mercy, no room for error.
If you ever wondered what old-school Dungeons & Dragons would look like if it were run like a military campaign, Dungeon Samurai is for you.
In the words of Matthew P. Schmidt, author of The City and the Dungeon:
"Like if Tom Clancy had written an isekai, this action-packed trilogy will blow your mind with its loving dedication to martial arts detail and grim, heroic violence. Faith, courage, and honor are weapons as well in this magnificently crafted world of dungeons and demons. Banzai!"
Who Is the Story For?
If you love the following, you'll love Dungeon Samurai:
- Dungeon crawlers
- OSR Dungeons & Dragons
- Darkest Dungeon
- Historical military fantasy
- Sword and sorcery
- Weird Tales in the vein of Robert E Howard
- Classical martial arts
A Taste of War
Want to know you're in for? Check out the sample below.
The world was an illusion. The sweat-stained gi plastered to his back, the armor weighing on his bones, the hot air trapped within his full-face helmet, the fatigue sinking into his muscles, they were all meaningless. There was only him, his sword, and his opponent.
Yamada Yuuki raised his weapon.
The other man began circling to Yamada’s right. Yamada followed, slowly sneaking his feet forward, closing the distance between them. His opponent did the same. Yamada bided his time, stepping closer, closer, closer, seeking the proper ma-ai, the perfect combination of space and timing, to strike.
“EEEEEEEEEEEE!” Yamada yelled, stepping in with a powerful slash.
The other man shifted just so, and Yamada’s sword whooshed through empty air.
Yamada swung again.
His opponent vanished.
A heavy blunt force thudded into his breastplate.
Yamada stumbled away. His opponent had slipped out of his field of view and delivered the blow. Already the man had cleared the ma-ai, sword ready for the next exchange.
“Good hit,” Yamada admitted.
This was randori. Free play, not combat. His sword was a shinai made of flexible bamboo, not a katana built of live steel. Hiroshi Matsuo was his best friend, his childhood friend, not an enemy.
Still, getting hit sucked.
But Hiroshi was just a tad too close.
“Let’s go,” Hiroshi said.
Yamada charged in, swinging at Hiroshi’s neck. Hiroshi parried. Yamada arced the shinai around, going for the other side of his neck. Hiroshi blocked.
“HO!” Yamada yelled, bringing his shinai down.
Hiroshi yielded, swinging his sword through a tight circle. Yamada’s arms dropped through empty space—and Hiroshi’s sword rapped his exposed wrists.
“Daijoubu?” Hiroshi asked. Are you alright?
“Hai,” Yamada replied. Yes.
Hiroshi had supreme control. He had struck Yamada with just enough force to make him feel the blow without bruising anything more than his pride.
Again and again, the men clashed. Again and again, Hiroshi’s blade struck true, while Yamada’s found only air. Hiroshi had been studying the koryu longer than Yamada, and it showed.
Still, Yamada had to land a blow. No matter what. This was his first randori. He had to show Sensei he had learned something.
Yamada readied his shinai. Hiroshi did the same. Warily, the men approached each other. Yamada breathed in. Out. In.
Stepped and cut—
Bamboo slapped against Yamada’s forearms.
They reset. Advanced again. Yamada stepped in, closer, closer, his sword probing at Hiroshi’s, shielding his relentless advance while responding to Hiroshi’s maneuvers. The shinai circled and thrust and bounced off each other, testing strength, finding weakness, seeking a moment of opportunity.
Hiroshi’s sword batted down Yamada’s. Yamada flowed with the energy, circling his shinai back up and bringing it crashing down—
Hiroshi stepped aside and cut his arm.
Yamada stepped aside. He hated being hit so many times. But this time, he saw Hiroshi move. He was learning. Next time, he could land a hit. Yamada raised his shinai and—
Hiroshi stepped in and thrust at his throat.
Yamada was doing something wrong. Hiroshi was a defensive fighter. He had the timing and the reflexes for it. Yamada did not. He had to do something else. He had to use his brain, to use what Sensei called heiho. Strategy.
What was it Sensei had said last week? There is an opening in every stance, and by skillfully positioning your weapon you could lure the enemy into a trap. But it wasn’t enough to simply pretend to lower your guard. You had to convince the enemy it wasn’t a trap. Selling the technique required a proper set-up.
They closed again, each feeling the other out. Yamada launched a barrage of slashes at Hiroshi’s neck, keeping him on the defensive, giving him no time to respond. One last cut and Yamada abruptly dropped his sword, as though fatigued, just enough to expose his head.
“EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” Yamada yelled, rearing up and pulling his sword low.
Hiroshi slashed at Yamada’s head.
Yamada exploded into a rising cut, his shinai colliding with Hiroshi’s left arm. The arm went slack, but the sword continued to arc towards Yamada’s head.
Yamada twirled the shinai around, cutting Hiroshi’s weapon arm and bashing it aside. Hiroshi staggered back, and Yamada closed.
The shinai struck Hiroshi’s helmet.
Elation flowed through Yamada. He’d finally did it.
“Good one,” Hiroshi said.
Yamada smiled. “Thanks.”
Three loud claps reverberated in the dojo.
Randori was over.
Yamada unfastened and removed his helmet. The night air was cool against his face. He was soaked in sweat, his muscles burned, but he felt good. He felt right. Sure, he’d taken a beating and then some, at the hands of Hiroshi and at the other senior students, but he’d survived. He’d even managed to land a few hits. That counted for something.
The students gathered around Sensei. Sensei Sasaki Makoto was a slight, short man, coming up only to Yamada’s mouth. Sensei’s short hair had run to white, dark spots speckled across his skin, and his lined face seemed cast in weathered stone. But under his loose gi were muscles hard as iron and nerves trained to perfection, and when he stood his posture was perfectly balanced, ready to spring into action. Everywhere he went he radiated intensity of focus, and woe betide anyone who dared cross him.
“Everyone, well done,” Sensei said, his voice deceptively gentle. “What have we learned today?”
Sensei always ended classes with a brief recap of the day’s lessons, beginning with principles and techniques, concluding with general observations and mistakes.
As he wrapped up, he turned his gaze on Yamada.
“Aggression is, of course, necessary in combat. However, it must also be tempered with wisdom, with timing, with heiho. Blind courage merely leads to your death.”
Yamada nodded. He had to remember that.
His closing remarks finished, Sensei closed the class with meditation. Yamada knelt on the hard wooden floor, ignoring the pain in his joints and muscles, straightening his back and resting his butt on his heels. This was seiza, the traditional way of sitting.
Yamada closed his eyes. Breathed in. Breathed out. Let the world fall away. Let every thought disappear. Let everything he had learned today sink into his body, his mind, his heart.
“You have been chosen.”
His eyes flew open.
Where had the voice come from?
Looking around, Yamada saw that a few others had broken meditative discipline. Including Hiroshi.
Sensei scanned the room. Returned to seiza. And closed his eyes.
Hiroshi followed. So did Yamada.
Yamada breathed. Maybe that was nothing. Or perhaps some idiot was playing a prank. If so, Sensei would ensure it would never happen again. It wasn’t his problem. He just had to focus. To breathe.
Two claps brought him back to reality.
The students bowed.
“Thank you for teaching us!” they recited.
Sensei bowed back. “Thank you for teaching me.”
A deep, gleeful, alien voice filled the room.
“And thank you for being my food.”
“Eh?” Yamada said.
Strange, intricate designs covered the floor, the ceiling, the walls and windows, filling the dojo with crimson light. Chains of interlocking circles, of circles within circles, branching off into spirals and horns and semisolid cubes composed of tiny interlocking pyramids whose sides melted and flowed into each other. Impossible shapes danced at the edges of Yamada’s sight, his brain almost but not quite recognizing the forms. Harsh voices whispered and cackled and gibbered, speaking in nonsense tongues that clawed at Yamada’s ears.
“Masaka!” someone exclaimed. Impossible!
Yamada covered his ears and gnashed his teeth. He snapped his head from side to side, and everywhere he looked he saw more circles, more alien geometries, more things that should not be. Men screamed and stumbled and lashed out at the things, Sensei himself was wobbling about, barely able to stand.
This was impossible. But he had to act or perish.
Men sprang to their feet, seizing weapons and scanning the room, barking observations and orders. Yamada clawed at a complex arrangement of triangles and lines with his fingers, but all he felt was solid wood.
“Everybody run!” Hiroshi shouted.
But there was nowhere to run. The windows were gone, the door engulfed in the disorienting designs.
“Find an exit!” Sensei ordered.
A student ran his hands along the wall, feeling for the doorknob, but found nothing. He slammed his palms against the walls to no avail. Other men pounded at the places where the windows used to be, but they were all gone, replaced by walls crawling with monstrous shapes.
The darkness grew deeper, the scarlet light brighter, the voices louder. Thunder boomed in Yamada’s ears. Cursing, Yamada dropped to his knees. A sudden chill shot through his bones, so cold he gasped in pain. He clawed at the closest design on the floor, a string of miniature globes that seemed both two-dimensional and three-dimensional at once, and electricity ripped through his fingers, his palms, his arms, his chest, blazing up into his brain.
An atomic bomb exploded in his skull.
Of course, this is only the beginning. Blood and death, fire and steel, sorrow and courage, they are all waiting in the deeps.
About the Author
I'm Singapore's first Hugo and Dragon Award nominated writer, specialising in science fiction and fantasy. As Kai Wai Cheah, I wrote the Dragon Award-nominated novel No Gods, Only Daimons and its sequel Hammer of the Witches, published by Castalia House. I am also a contributing author to Silver Empire's Heroes Unleashed universe through my Song of Karma series, to be published soon.
With the name Kit Sun Cheah, I will be embarking on a new career in self-published pulp-style fiction, beginning with the Dungeon Samurai trilogy.
What Your Pledges Support
This campaign is to pay for cover art, printing fees and shipping costs. The novels are already written, edited and formatted. All that's left is to hire professional artists to create the covers, both digital and paperback.
- SGD 5000: The Dungeon Samurai trilogy will be recorded in audiobook format!
- ????: Unlock the audiobook goal to find out!
Risks and challenges
The books are already written. The only possible risks lie in potential delays with the cover art or with shipping, which have been accounted for in the estimated delivery dates. Should my preferred cover artist be unavailable, I have others lined up. There is absolutely no risk in backing this project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)