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Investigate strange occurrences across ancient Japan and bring harmony to an era of spirits and samurai in this all new tabletop RPG
Investigate strange occurrences across ancient Japan and bring harmony to an era of spirits and samurai in this all new tabletop RPG
223 backers pledged $7,880 to help bring this project to life.

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Wander ancient Japan in a time of stories and folktales. You and others like you traverse the land, resolving the conflicts of these tumultuous times. You live in an age strained by the collision of spirit and mortal cultures; where humanity has learned anew that they share their world with creatures and beings once beyond their understanding.

Mysteries of the Yōkai is a tabletop role-playing game set in a lost era of ancient Japan. Strange encounters and supernatural incidents are on the rise. Ghostly yūrei haunt the night, hoping to be laid to rest, wily kitsune exploit the politics of a corrupt Imperial Court, and baku sip the sweet dew of dreams and nightmares. Of all the many denizens of the spiritual world, the yōkai, creatures of countless shapes, sizes, and temperaments, have the greatest effect over our world. Regardless of their capabilities, even yōkai cannot escape the changing tides of power, especially as humanity grows in strength. The innocent, be they yōkai or human, are in danger.

You are the wanderers, warriors, investigators, doctors, priests, and anyone else who has risen to the call. Regardless of your reasons, you find yourself face to face with the unknown. Now you must ask yourself, how will you approach it?

Mysteries of the Yōkai is built from the ground up to support engaging narratives involving the themes, archetypes, and mythological figures that are found in Japanese stories—be they mischievous spirits, strange creatures, tragic ghosts, potent magics, elaborate exorcisms, noble samurai, or supernatural mysteries.

Read more about Mysteries of the Yōkai on our website

  • $12,000 “Ruins of Heian” Sourcebook (est: Fall 2017) - If we go above and beyond the constraints of the core Mysteries of the Yōkai book, we can produce an additional sourcebook, “The Ruins of Heian”. What happened in the former capital that left it deserted by the preceding Emperor? This book will provide information on the city, its mysteries, its residents, and plenty of adventures and hooks, giving you an entire campaign of content. In addition, funding provided by this goal will allow us to continue working on the game, creating new character abilities, new Yōkai, new equipment, and other content for games, even ones that don’t take place in Heian. This book will be provided in PDF form free to any backer at the $9 Investigator tier or higher, and will be available as an additional Physical purchase. The exact delivery date of this book would be determined after the Kickstarter, but a rough estimate would be Fall of 2017.
  • UNLOCKED Content Expansion -This much funding will help us complete everything we want to include in Mysteries of the Yokai. It will cover the art we’ve blocked out for all the yokai, characters, settings and items we want to include for you, as well as cover expenses for additional graphic design and editing for the core book (and now, thanks to our amazing backers, the Bureau Files booklet!). The purpose of this goal is to have the last funding we need to put everything we want into the book, including things that might have to be cut without enough budget for art and additional playtesting. While we’d never remove anything needed to play the game, this last bit of polish will help us create the highest quality book possible.You’ve all taken us above and beyond getting the book published, and we want to give you that extra little bit of shine.
  • UNLOCKED Bonus Zone Diagram included - Everyone who backed at Exorcist Tier ($28) or higher gets a Zone Diagram included with their physical copy of Mysteries of the Yōkai at no additional cost! Zone Diagrams are used to track the position of participants during a Conflict and give you a great excuse to show off any miniatures you have. The diagram will be printed on a glossy cardstock similar to the Morale and Tide tracker and will also be available to all as a digital download for home printing even if this goal is not reached.
  • UNLOCKED “Bureau Files” Adventure Booklet (est. March 2017) - With this much funding, we will be able to produce a short adventure booklet to go along with the main book. The Bureau Files will provide GMs with a few fleshed out adventures and many more plot hooks and content tables to make it easier to explore the world of Mysteries of the Yōkai. This book will be provided in PDF form free to any backer at the $9 Investigator tier or higher, and will be available as an additional Physical purchase. Estimated Delivery date for this book is March 2017.
  • UNLOCKED Conflict Tracker included - Everyone who backed at Exorcist Tier ($28) or higher gets a useful aid for tracking Morale and Tide during encounters included with their physical copy of Mysteries of the Yōkai at no additional cost! The tracker will be printed on a glossy cardstock to ensure that it will be durable enough to survive all your adventures. Because a Morale tracker is invaluable for playing Mysteries of the Yōkai, the tracker will also be available to all as a digital download for home printing even if this goal is not reached.
  • UNLOCKED Art Upgrade - Reaching this stretch goal will allow us to commission additional art for the book. We can add more visuals for the mysterious Yōkai, show you the influential people of the world, and help you visualize the stunning landscapes of supernatural Japan.
  • UNLOCKED Bonus Focus/Ki Tracker Bookmark Included - Everyone who backed at Exorcist Tier ($28) or higher gets a Bookmark included with their physical copy of Mysteries of the Yōkai at no additional cost! The bookmark will have artwork from the game and a diagram for tracking your Focus Points and Ki pool.
There are two primary tiers at which you can back Mysteries of the Yōkai to receive the game, depending on whether you want a Physical copy of the book.  

  • Investigator Tier [$9]- At this tier, you will receive a PDF copy of the Mysteries of the Yōkai game. Because we have unlocked the $6200 Stretch Goal, you will also receive the Bureau Files adventure booklet in PDF format.
  •  Exorcist Tier [$28]- The Exorcist tier includes a physical copy of the game, the PDFs included in the Investigator Tier, and the physical stretch goal rewards (Bookmark/Resource Tracker, Conflict Tracker, and Zone Diagram).

The higher Tiers allow you to work with us at Warding Circle to create various things as part of the game. Each of these design tiers include everything in the Exorcist Tier. If you’re still considering which design tier interests you the most, check out the following diagrams:

Full Tier List:

US shipping is included for all physical tiers add $15 USD to ship to Canada, add $25 USD for anywhere else in the world
[$1]Villager Tier - Thank you for your support! Everyone who backs Mysteries of the Yōkai is added to our game’s credits and as a citizen of the town of Tsuyoshi.
[$9] Investigator Tier - Investigator Tier - A Full-Color PDF copy of Mysteries of the Yōkai for you to investigate to your heart’s content. This tier also gives you access to all digital stretch goal rewards.
[$28] Exorcist Tier - A physical copy of Mysteries of the Yōkai (paperback), plus a free PDF copy! This tier also gives you access to all physical and digital stretch goal rewards. 
[$45] Scholar Tier - Our designers will work with you to name a character, NPC, artifact, or place in Mysteries of the Yōkai. Includes everything in the Exorcist tier. 
[$75] Clan Leader Tier - Our designers will work with you to create your own clan that will appear in Mysteries of the Yōkai, including a short description of the history of the clan and an emblem to represent them. Also includes everything in the Exorcist tier. 
[$90]Trickster Tier - Our designers will work with you to create a Tsukumogami- an inanimate object that has come to life as a Yōkai. You can pick the object that has come to life and, if you like, come up with a special ability for it, and/or a short explanation of how it came to life. All Tsukumogami will appear in a group illustration and in the Bestiary section. Also includes everything in the Exorcist tier. 
[$125] Shapeshifter Tier - Our designers will work with you to create your very own Yōkai to appear in the bestiary section of Mysteries of the Yōkai. Also includes everything in the Exorcist tier. 
 [$150] Explorer Tier - Our designers will work with you to create a location of great power in the game world. This will be developed into an asset for Game Masters to use in adventures, and will include plot ideas and characters of importance in the area. Also includes everything in the Exorcist tier. 
[$250] Shogun Tier - Our designers will work with you to create a short (1-3 session) "Bureau File" adventure for Mysteries of the Yōkai. You will receive a physical printed copy of all Bureau files (all other backers will receive digital copies of any backer-created Bureau files). Also includes everything in the Exorcist tier. 
[$500] Kami Tier - Our designers will work with you to create a longer (3-5 session) "Bureau File" adventure for Mysteries of the Yōkai. You will receive a physical printed copy of all Bureau files (all other backers will receive digital copies of any backer-created Bureau files). Also includes everything in the Exorcist tier. 
[$1000] Legend Tier - Create a legendary character who has shaped the past and drives the future of Mysteries of the Yōkai. We will work with you to create a custom legend, including a character illustration and backstory. Readers will see the world through the eyes of one of the greatest adventurers ever: You! Also includes everything in the Exorcist tier.



Ours is a time of both wonder and strife. The celestial bridges have been opened, connecting our world to places unknown. Once distant, the realms of mortals and spirits are now closely intertwined. We live in lands where spirits flourish in the ancient trees and where the soul of a sword can be as important as that of its wielder.

As the lines between worlds continue to blur, those who walk in both the realms of mortals and spirits have become more commonplace. In this era of change, those with power, mystical or mundane, live with ever increasing responsibilities. Yet ordinary folk still treat them with apprehension. Their fears are justified, such power can be used to oppress those in need just as easily it can be used to protect them.

In a move that would begin the downfall of the Heian era, the capital of Japan was moved to the fictional province of Seihara. Soon after, the Emperor vanished and a great change swept the land. Spirits began to appear in the mortal world at an increasing rate. After years without an emperor to lead the nation, young Akitsu has ascended to the throne. 

Yōkai appearances, once a rarity only observed in remote areas, have become almost everyday occurrences. Centered on places of great spiritual power, entire swaths of land from the spirit realm have appeared, bringing their denizens with them. The cultures of humans and spirits have begun to clash. In the interest of keeping the peace between humans and spirits, Emperor Akitsu has established The Bureau of Spiritual Affairs to monitor supernatural activity. Woefully understaffed, The Bureau has turned to contracting freelance investigators, warriors, and exorcists in hopes of controlling the explosion of spiritual incidents across the land.

Our setting is well informed by Japan’s cultural traditions, but it also draws great inspiration from modern stories that explore such mythology. If you are a fan of works like Princess Mononoke, Mushi-shi, Inuyasha, or Avatar: The Last Airbender, then you may find our game perfect for exploring similar themes of harmony, spirituality, and the challenges of approaching the unknown with an open mind.

At some point in your life you have come into contact with the supernatural and it changed you. You are no ordinary person, your skills and upbringing have lead you to your new existence in between the mundane and spirit worlds. You’ve learned to handle yourself in these times filled with the supernatural. Regardless of how you feel about them, there is no way you can escape the influences they are exerting upon your world.

How you approach each conflict is up to you—Will you use passionate speech, honed blades, or mystical rituals? Perhaps a combination of all three? Or through diligent investigation and careful application of knowledge, will you find a solution that’s uniquely your own?

When faced with obstacles, how will you respond? In Mysteries of the Yōkai you are encouraged to approach challenges according to your character concepts and the situations that arise during role-play. From character creation to the actions your character takes in the heat of a climactic encounter, not only do your decisions have narrative weight, they also have a mechanical significance.

Simple Checks: Just about every action in the game is resolved with a 3d6 roll, in fact you play our game using only six-sided dice.  

Create any kind of character: Want to be a Blacksmith half-yōkai who dabbles in Ancient Lore on the side? Or an Investigator who studied martial arts? Use skill packages called Katas to build familiar Japanese archetypes and more, then customize them using the point-buy Potential system. Or forgo packages all together to create a truly unique character.

Flavor your skills: How your skills work is up to you. Does your gift for strategy come from divine signs sent by your clan kami? Use the Tactics skill with Insight instead of Intelligence. Are your fanatical beliefs what frightens people most? You can use your Intimidate skill with Zeal instead of Strength or Intelligence. The flexible skill system allows narrative to have mechanical support without requiring an individual rule for every situation.

Resolve conflicts on your terms: Defeating your rivals in a battle of blades could be the only way to bring them to your side. Maybe a dangerous haunting can only be stopped by helping a ghost through its unfinished business. Perhaps your party believes the only way to serve justice to a villain is to prove their guilt in court. Mysteries of the Yōkai allows you to resolve all these pivotal encounters and more using the Tide and Morale system.

Mysteries of the Yōkai features a flexible conflict resolution system that might be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before in a tabletop RPG.

Conflict vs Combat: We’ve created a conflict system that can handle any kind of conflict, not just physical battles (though it handles that well too). Our conflict system can represent just about anything, from a team of ninja assassins infiltrating a heavily guarded castle, to a game of go against an ancient spirit, to a sumo tournament against a gang of tanuki. Any scene important to your game can use the conflict system if you choose.

Tracking Success: Most tabletop RPGs use health and damage to track success in battle. In order to support the wide variety of conflicts we want, our system uses a different approach. We track the Morale of each side of the conflict. As characters take actions to help their comrades or hurt their opponents, they move the Tide of Battle back and forth. At the end of each round, the side that the Tide of Battle is against loses some morale, representing them getting closer to losing. As the morale gets lower, characters begin to leave the conflict, whether that represents succumbing to injuries, losing the will to fight, or fleeing to regroup.

Roleplay in Combat: We give narrative decisions mechanical support in combat, improvised role-playing has its own weight in the Tide and Morale system. A talented shakuhachi player may not have the skills to fight on the battlefield, but their flute performance can sway the Tide of Battle by emboldening his friends and captivating their enemies. A pacifist might spend an encounter imploring his opponents to reconsider their antagonism, draining their will to fight.

Comrades in Arms: All actions favoring your side benefit everyone in a tangible way even if your character is off on their own agenda. The samurai only focused on defeating his rival, the thief preoccupied with the sizeable treasure cache, the doctor who wants to ensure the wounded survive, all of these people can affect the tide positively for their party while still doing the things that matter most to their characters. 

Everything players and game masters need to prepare, run, and play sessions will be included in the core rulebook of Mysteries of the Yōkai. When released, game will be available as both a digital PDF and as a physical book. All versions of the rulebook will feature professional editing and layout work, as well as fully colored illustrations, and graphic design.

The finished book will contain the following sections:

Core Rules: Mysteries of the Yōkai features its own setting and rules systems. In this section, players will be able to familiarize themselves with the game’s systems, finding all the information they need to build and play their characters.

Setting Guide: Mysteries of the Yōkai has a unique setting with equal parts history, mythology, and original material combined in a way you may not have seen before in tabletop RPGs. Readers looking for a more informed experience will be able to find tools and inspiration to build authentic adventures, characters and even settings of their own.

Gamemaster and Player Guides: These guides focus on how to apply the foundational knowledge found in the Core Rules and Setting Guide towards crafting great roleplaying experiences in Mysteries of the Yōkai and in general. You’ll find tips for running games, creating fun encounters, and bringing characters to life with role playing.

Bestiary: Japanese folklore is full of strange creatures, powerful beings, and supernatural occurrences, many of which fall under the label of Yōkai. Those looking for ideas for scenario encounters will find details about the backgrounds, characteristics, stats, abilities, and examples of many yōkai in the Bestiary section.

Glossary, Detailed Example Characters, and Scenarios: We will provide our players with ample examples, suggestions, and advice to give Mysteries of the Yōkai players a great place to start their adventures. This includes providing them with a glossary of both game terminology, important Japanese concepts, and common names for people and places.

 We’ve been working on Mysteries of the Yokai for the last year and a half paying for company expenses out of pocket as we’ve gone along.

The funding from this Kickstarter project will allow us to pay the bills going forward, so we can give our full attention to the final steps of completing the game and getting it published. A good RPG manual is well polished, organized, and inspires the imagination of its readers. Because we want to ensure the book we release is a high-quality product, a large portion of our funding will go towards art, graphic design, printing, and production.

  • 45% Art, Layout and Editing  
  • 30% Printing and Shipping
  • 15% Taxes & fees
  • 10% Development costs

We are Warding Circle. A team of three people who started an indie tabletop company. We built a strong friendship and respect for each other while studying game development at the Digipen Institute of Technology. After Digipen, we kept in contact while going our separate ways, occasionally meeting up for game nights and RPG campaigns. Often, we’d spend hours discussing ideas and prototypes for games we wanted to make. When we finally had the time and means to make some of our tabletop game ideas into more than ideas, we decided to form a company so we could devote some serious effort into bringing our designs to life.

The Team

Andrew Sudangnoi: Lead designer, setting and story writer

Andrew has been building worlds inside his head ever since he was little. After working countless days to gain the skills required to consistently produce complete and fun games, Andrew now hopes to finally be able to share his worlds with others. Andrew can often be found cooking up new recipes in the kitchen or getting the absolute minimum value on every dice roll he makes.

Matt Trussell: Content and Systems designer  

Having designed and played many rulesets across multiple genres and media, Matt brings a System Design philosophy to Warding Circle that creates powerful and flexible systems, without requiring spreadsheets or mathhammer. When not working on Yokai, Matt is currently building and painting a new army for wargames he never seems to find time to play.

Richard Martija: Producer and Editor

With several years of professional game development experience, Richard has a strong grasp on task and project management, allowing him to keep the team on schedule. He’s currently working on fixing his tendency to “let the inmates run the asylum” while GMing.

Risks and challenges

Printing and shipping - Printing and shipping are big challengers for all small publishers. We’ve done extensive research and priced out multiple possibilities in order to ensure that the process will go as smoothly as possible.

Art - We still have a good bit of art to commission, approve, and get into layout. If this takes too long or we can’t find enough artists it has the potential to delay printing of the finished book. To mitigate this we’ve already formed relationships with several artists who have proven to be reliable. With our contacts among Seattle’s gamedev community, we can easily find additional artists should they be required.

Completion - The core rules of the game are done, in the next few months we plan to run additional playtesting to tune the existing content and create and balance new content we need to add. Our development schedule has been carefully planned out to ensure we can hit our print date.

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    Pledge US$ 1 or more About US$ 1.00

    Villager Tier - Thank you for your support! Everyone who backs Mysteries of the Yōkai is added to our game’s credits as a citizen of the town of Tsuyoshi.

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    Investigator Tier - A Full-Color PDF copy of Mysteries of the Yōkai for you to investigate to your heart’s content. This tier also gives you access to all digital stretch goal rewards.

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    Exorcist Tier - A physical copy of Mysteries of the Yōkai (paperback), plus a free PDF copy! This tier also gives you access to all physical and digital stretch goal rewards.

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    Scholar Tier - Our designers will work with you to name a character, NPC, artifact, or place in Mysteries of the Yōkai. Includes everything in the Exorcist tier.

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    Clan Leader Tier - Our designers will work with you to create your own clan that will appear in Mysteries of the Yōkai, including a short description of the history of the clan and an emblem to represent them. Also includes everything in the Exorcist tier.

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    Trickster Tier - Our designers will work with you to create a Tsukumogami- an inanimate object that has come to life as a Yōkai. You can pick the object that has come to life and, if you like, come up with a special ability for it, and/or a short explanation of how it came to life. All Tsukumogami will appear in a group illustration and in the Bestiary section. Also includes everything in the Exorcist tier. (Limit 10)

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    Shapeshifter Tier - Our designers will work with you to create your very own Yōkai to appear in the bestiary section of Mysteries of the Yōkai. Also includes everything in the Exorcist tier.

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    Explorer Tier - Our designers will work with you to create a location of great power in the game world. This will be developed into an asset for Game Masters to use in adventures, and will include plot ideas and characters of importance in the area. Also includes everything in the Exorcist tier. (Limit 3)

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    Shogun Tier - Our designers will work with you to create a short (1-3 session) "Bureau File" adventure for Mysteries of the Yōkai. You will receive a physical printed copy of all Bureau files (all other backers will receive digital copies of any backer-created Bureau files). Also includes everything in the Exorcist tier.

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    Kami Tier - Our designers will work with you to create a longer (3-5 session) "Bureau File" adventure for Mysteries of the Yōkai. You will receive a physical printed copy of all Bureau files (all other backers will receive digital copies of any backer-created Bureau files). Also includes everything in the Exorcist tier.

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    Legend Tier - Create a legendary character who has shaped the past and drives the future of Mysteries of the Yōkai. We will work with you to create a custom legend, including a character illustration and backstory. Readers will see the world through the eyes of one of the greatest adventures ever: You! Also includes everything in the Exorcist tier.

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Funding period

- (31 days)