The book is now available in PDF format! The book (both softcover and limited edition hardcover) are now available for pre-order as well. The books are set to arrive in April-May, and supplemental PDF-only DLC will be available for purchase and free download in the following months after that.
Soon the game will be available from your local gaming store.
You don't need to know anything about Japan or its history to play, but a general interest in Japan or other asian cultures will help out! The core book will contain great deal of information about the setting and what life was like in the Sengoku period, which this game emulates.
Class-based refers to popular role-playing games where you are expected to choose a type of character and "gain levels". "4th level Fighter", "6th level Thief", etc.
In TBZ, there are certainly "archetypes" geared towards fast and easy play, but you are free to make up your own kind of character, by combining multiple existing Archetypes together (Oni template + Samurai template + Punk template = A Punk Oni Samurai). It is recommended that you stick to playing one of the dozens of ready-to-play chracters for your first game of TBZ before you try creating your own character from scratch using archetypes.
Traditional RPG questions like this kinda lose meaning in TBZ. First off, almost any character archetype can "kick ass" in some form or other (martial arts, ninja skills, magic, worm use, sword styles, etc), but the heart of the game is not "How many enemies can my character kill?", but rather "What will my character have to do to meet and overcome her Destiny?" To do "better" in this game, to get more dice to overcome opponents, you have to get bonus chits from your friends, the other players. You can only get these bonus points by acting in character, and entertaining the other players by coming up with cool lines, getting into character, and doing cool deeds in play.
Therefore, the most powerful character in the game, at whatever level of skill, is the one that is being used by the player who puts the most effort into acting in character and entertaining the other players. Bonus points lead to Focus, and Focus grants your character power in play: You can use Focus to roll more dice, temporarily improve your skill level, permanently increase your attribute or skill levels and the like..
Every RPG has a gimmick: Some games have "realistic combat" or "exotic setting and background". Others "emulate high-action movies" or "are universal". Tenra Bansho Zero's gimmick appears to be its unique "Hyper Asian Fantasy" (to quote the author of the game) setting. However, its real gimmick, what the game is built around, are its rules that reflect Acting and Drama.
Future playtest demos will make these rules clear, but you gain "Kiai points " which you spend for more dice, to gain powers and skills, or to do incredible feats, all are given to you when you give it your best to act out your character in a scene- When you make your other players say "Wow- That was awesome!", or laugh, or react to something you say or do, you get a bonus chit (called "Aiki"). These bonus chits are cashed out for Focus points.
You don't have to be a stage actor to play the game, though. It's assumed that the group is going to judge your acting by yourself, not by the best actor. If you are a quiet player who comes out of your shell a little, that's good enough. If you try your best to entertain your friends, your friends will recognize this and reward you. Eventually, by playing the game enough, you just might develop some interesting role-playing skills!
Tenra Bansho is a play on the poetic phrase "Shin Ra Ban Sho", which means "Everything in Earth and Heaven", or "All of Nature". The name of the planet that this game takes place in is called "Tenra". A poetic transliteration of the title into English might be "Tenra : Heaven and Earth"
Tenra Bansho was the original name of the game, released back in 1997. In 2000, the second edition, complete with revised rules, was released. For this version, the name "Zero" was adopted, representing among other things "The Beginning", both of a new century and millenium, but a new beginning for a new kind of roleplaying. It is this version that we are translating, so we are sticking with the "Zero". Besides, it sounds kind of cool.
Yes. However, we are not planning on starting up a "supplement treadmill", an endless supply of supplements to flesh out the setting. At this point, there are only minor downloadable supplements ("DLC") planned. Later, once the game has been in print for over a year, we plan on making a supplement with even more practical play advice.
However, most of the original game's supplemental material, plus several extremely limited edition mail-order-only supplements, was actually folded back into the core game for the English release: So you're already going to have about $145 (given 2012 exchange rates) worth of additional rules and content already in the core book set!