It is the sixteenth century. All Japan is at war. Feudal warlords called “big names,” rising from the knight caste, have carved the nation into warring states. Chivalric virtue, Buddhist moderation, friendship, and loyalty fade and fall before the hunger for conquest and glory.
The grand prize? None other than Japan’s unification under a single master. And then? Perhaps all Asia is next. Thousand Arrows is the story of the Japanese Warring States Period’s leaders—knight-commanders, Buddhist teachers, spymasters, peasant revolutionaries, even the gods and spirits themselves—as they establish themselves and direct the course of history.
Thousand Arrows is a tabletop role-playing game, in which three to six players assume the personae of commanding figures in a fictional Japan parallel to our historical one. Another player, Tenchi, describes the world and supporting cast around them as the main characters’ players describe their struggles and successes. A set of rules informed by the roll of six-sided dice helps guide the storytelling conversation, keeping outcomes unpredictable. The story you tell will be worthy of historical narratives like the Tale of the Heike, period dramas like Kurosawa Akira’s films, or comic books like Path of the Assassin.
The action of Thousand Arrows balances human drama and passion with power politics and samurai warfare. Right from character creation, you might be the spymaster, general, or court wizard of a warrior clan; but your success at court or on the battlefield relies on the bonds you’ve forged with other characters through romance, friendship, or rivalry.
Thousand Arrows is Powered by the Apocalypse, inspired by Vincent Baker and Meguey Baker's Apocalypse World. It uses the core engine and all-new moves. You'll lead troops into battle, fight duels, and bare your raw emotions to sway the decisions of other characters. Martial arts styles, weapon specialties, and sections of troops under your command all affect how you engage with enemies. But your character’s most important resources are their Attachments; that define their inner passions and feelings towards other characters, from romantic love to bitter rivalry. As an Attachment grows stronger, your character grows better able to draw on their inner fire or to help or hinder other characters, but they find it harder and harder to resist obsessing over them.
Thousand Arrows is designed specifically to help you engage with unfamiliar cultures and settings—not only in Warring States Japan, but also in other role-playing games. The game teaches you to portray Asian characters with respect and confidence, while at the same time introducing you to the setting with a gentle learning curve and a forgiving attitude. It also focuses on basic battlefield concepts easily accessible to civilians (like the author and editor!), rather than advanced strategy or tactics. Pay close attention, and the habits you’ll develop will strengthen your ability to take on characters or even design games far from your own experience.
The game was featured in a full actual play podcast, the Critshow, so to get a feel for how the game works please listen to the the episodes below.
James Mendez Hodes is an ENnie Award-winning game designer and cultural consultant whom you might know from 7th Sea 2nd Edition, Scion 2nd Edition, or Monsterhearts 2. He has a master’s degree in Asian classics and a black belt in Bujinkan budō taijutsu, a traditional Japanese martial art. If he were a Thousand Arrows character, he would be a Kuki Clan secret agent. His favorite weapon is the glaive.
Brennan Taylor is a game publisher and designer, working since the mid-90s on game design. You might know him from his work on Bulldogs!, Mortal Coil, or How We Came to Live Here. He is an owner of Galileo Games and was a co-founder of Indie Press Revolution, a game store and fulfillment company.
Art Direction is coming from Rachel Quinlan, a Michigan based fantasy artist and illustrator. Her style is heavily influenced by illustrators from the Golden Age of Illustration. She is inspired by nature, folk & fairy tales, and anything strange or unusual.
Cover art is by Yoshi Yoshitani, who has always been inspired by cultures, histories, mythologies and patterns from around the world. She uses this inspiration to fuel her concepts and Illustrations.
The digital edition of the game text will be delivered as a PDF via DriveThruRPG. With this reward you also get a digital ashcan edition of the game rules immediately so you can start playing right away!
The print edition of Thousand Arrows will be a hardcover book, that we're estimating will come out to somewhere in the realm of 200 pages. This tier also includes a PDF copy via DriveThruRPG and the digital ashcan edition.
Spoils of War
To the victor go the spoils. We can't offer you supreme leadership of medieval Japan, but we can offer you some swag! In this tier, you get a sheet of physical stickers with the symbols for the allegiances, a poster version of the beautiful cover art, a set of bookmarks with a quick guide to the rings on the back, and a digital app that will let you attach virtual versions of the stickers as well. Plus, the stretch goals unlock additional spoils!
We love you, retailers, and we want you to be able to get in on the Kickstarter goodness! This tier offers five copies of the final book at retail discounts, delivered at the same time as backers receive their copies. You will also get a cool promotional poster for your store and some free bookmarks to give away to your customers.
When we reach $17,500, we'll upgrade the book for everyone. We also unlock an enamel pin and custom dice to be added to the Spoils of War reward level. The pin will represent one of the character archetypes and show off some of our wonderful art.
We will also create a new reward level: the digital deluxe edition which will include the sticker app and the digital wallpapers for your phone and computer.
This unlocks color art for the interior of the book. We will also make a custom patch that will get added to the Spoils of War reward level. In addition, a whole new backer level, the Big Name, will be added, including all of the Spoils of War, another patch to show your allegiance and wrap it all in a tenugui (a traditional Japanese cloth), along with a gorgeous cloth scroll map of 16th century Japan, crafted by our friends at Heart of the Deernicorn (makers of Fall of Magic)!
When we get $25,000, we will unlock a whole new game as an add-on electronic reward for all backer levels: Street Samurai vs. Code Ninja, a cyberpunk take on Thousand Arrows.
We have unlocked a new character template: the Fox! This mischievous spirit delights in pursuing plots that confound and confuse their mortal companions. You can preview the Fox when you back the project, it has been added to the ashcan files.
At 600 backers we unlock a whole set of new archetypes: the Corsair, the Artisan, and the Merchant. These archetypes will substantially change the scope of your campaign and were not included in the core book for that reason, but for advanced players they open up additional options.
The Dragon King's Gambit, a Great Imjin War expansion, covers Japan's invasions of Korea as a scenario setting, including new allegiances and archetypes to add to your core game.
We've got more amazing rewards plotted, but those shall remain a mystery... for now.
Risks and challenges
Galileo Games has been making and delivering games for over twenty years. We're very familiar with all of the intricacies of making a book and the other rewards involved. And due to recent growth, we have more resources at our disposal than ever.
Potential challenges include final rules revisions, printing trouble, or delays in art delivery. All of these fall under the "delays" rather than "catastrophic project ending" category.
We have two authors on the project, so in the unlikely event one is incapacitated, the other will be able to finish the final revisions. We will also be prepared to switch printers if needed, but this is unlikely, as we have worked with our printer in the past with no troubles.
Shipping for all physical products will be charged separately at the conclusion of the Kickstarter campaign to most accurately reflect current costs.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter