The Tenra Bansho Kickstarter is live!

This page will serve as a reference for all the information that I can't comfortably squeeze into the Kickstarter page.

I'll go over the Stretch Goals, and down towards the bottom of the page I'll go into details on the DLC rewards that appear in the Kickstarter backer levels.

NOTE: All DLC (except for the Director's Cut Book, which is a KS exclusive) and most of the stretch goal content will eventually be available together a physical Tenra Bansho Zero supplement book approximately six months after the last DLC drops: So approximately the end of 2013/beginning of 2014. I will be notifying all backers when it becomes available. I'll be offering a deep discount on it to physical backers, especially for higher-level backers. I would love to sell it for "free, but you pay shipping" to all higher tier physical backers, but it will ultimately depend on the price of printing. I'll cut as close to cost as possible.

*** Deep Dive into the Kickstarter Stretch Goal Rewards ***

Why Stretch Goals? It dumbfounded me when we blew through the initial Kickstarter goal in the first few hours, and doubled the goal amount within twelve hours of the campaign. So I began to put together some stretch goals. Basically, goals that encourage more people to donate even though the game is funded, goals that would encourage people to get involved now rather than wait until the game is out in stores. Goals that I was perhaps going to "maybe do at some point in the future", things that deep down I wanted to accomplish but put on the far backburner, things that I wanted to see happen with Tenra. Now that I can raise the money--and energy--to do them, I'm doing them!

However, I'm not going to do the stretch goal dance to draw more money out of contributors in an unreasonable way. I'm setting a hard stop, a final stretch goal. If we meet and exceed it, awesome. If we don't, I might one day come back to it later on. But I have to say "this is the final goal", else my time/energy won't be enough to focus on the completion of the rest of these goals!


> STRETCH GOAL ONE: At $29,000 (FUNDED 8.19!): I will finally do what I've been meaning to put together for years. In Japanese RPG gaming culture there's a phenomenon called "Replays", or entire game sessions recorded, then transcribed in screenplay format, complete with footnotes and explanations.Replays are a blueprint for how to run the game successfully, and you get to see the rules at work as they happen! This will also feature several full-sized pieces of art (characters, actual play events) by American manga artist Jake Richmond of Modest Medusa!

Why this goal is awesome: Sure, in the west we've had little "examples of play" in books stretching all the way back to Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. But one unique aspect of Japanese RPG gaming culture is the creation and popularity of full "Replays" of gaming sessions. Replays are important, far more important than "scenarios". Anyone can come up with a cool scenario given enough time. But a replay bridges the gap between the rules in the book and the action at the table: By reading an actual, real account of another gaming group's successful, fun session, you'll basically have a blueprint for how to make your own games successful. You'll also actually see the rules being used as they're supposed to be. This is important, because I can't count the number of times I've gotten a tabletop RPG but then it took a few months to get to play it just because it was so hard to "digest" the rules without learning them through actual play (I'm a very visual and tactile learner, so just reading a book is not nearly as effective for me as learning it through actual play from someone else). A replay is like watching over the shoulder of a good group, to see how they tackle the game; you'll see how the rules and role-play happens in-game, and that really crystalizes everything.

I blab a lot about this, but IMO it's the stretch goal that I'm the most proud of.

Availability: It'll take some time to craft, probably a full 4-6 months after the release of the game. I'll try to step up my game, though. It will be in PDF form, and it will be available to all Kickstarter backers for free, and later on to others as a PDF supplement at a small fee.

> STRETCH GOAL TWO: At $33,000 (FUNDED 8.20!): Everyone who backs the game at the physical level will get five postcards with their copy of the book. Each of four postcards will feature a piece of art on one side, and on the back side be the rules cheat sheet for how Aiki Chits and Kiai Points work in play (this is the single-most referenced rule in the game for players). The fifth postcard will have the "Emotion Matrix Grid" (a social rule system in the game) for table reference.

Why this goal is awesome: Not only will they serve as bookmarks (which is what I was originall considering), they'll have the most used rules printed on them for easy reference: The Aiki/Kiai system rules, which tell the player how they can spend the points they gained through role-playing to do wild stunts and epic feats. Plus, once you memorize the rules, you can just give them to friends as a memento of the game.

Availability: As alluded to above, these will be printed up in the next month or two, and will go out when your books are shipped to you.

> STRETCH GOAL THREE: At $38,000 (FUNDED 8.21!): I will put together a full ready-to-play scenario and characters in PDF format, ready to go by the time the finalized PDF is sent out in October.

Why this goal is awesome: You'll be able to play almost out of the box when you get your finalized PDF. This goal is likely going to bury me (I'll have to put a lot of polish into it), but my aim is to have something cool for you, that slowly takes you through the game little by little, and that also "Reeks of Tenra". The first draft will peobably be a simple text document without a lot of pretty layout, but then in time will be laid out better.

Availability: This will be in PDF format, to all backers of the Kickstarter.

> STRETCH GOAL FOUR: At $43,000 (FUNDED 8.22!): Print copies of all of the DLC. I'll likely have to ask a little more money above the $70 level to actually receive it in physical form (it will all likely go out at separate times, and thus be rather expensive for shipping), but I'll go ahead and start producing copies for availability.

Why this goal is awesome: You asked, I provided. A lot of folks are rightly interested in the game in only its physical form. Not everyone has iPads or screens that won't blind you after a few minutes.

However, this is going to be tricky. I need to determine--way before I even complete the DLC (and other rewards above)--about how much this is going to cost. Reason being, I want to consider the possibility (NOT A GIVEN!) that I might be able to add a piece of printed DLC to high level ($70+) backers. Another thought I'm entertaining is to simply eventually fold all of this DLC I'm creating into a traditional RPG-style "supplement book". So rather than craft a few hundred small booklets of 6-20 pages each, instead group them into one big release book and sell that at some point (perhaps offering a discount to high-end backers). If this latter option happens, though, it'll be happening perhaps up to a year after the book is released: It will take some time to group them together and lay it out.

It's a hard decision, so I'll need more time to consider it and get some printing quotes. I expect to have an answer one week before the Kickstarter closes, Sunday the 10th of September. I'll post the results. I'll also have an account of which stretch goals will also be physically printed.

> STRETCH GOAL FIVE: At $55,000: (FUNDED 8.30!) Two goals!

1- MYTHOS HUNTERS ZERO. This is a reskin of the Tenra Bansho Zero rules and setting. It takes place in a darker version of our contemporary world, in a setting inspired by Call of Cthulhu and Hellboy. Annelidists, Buddhist Priests, Shinobi, Kijin and more are reskinned into agents of an ancient and secret society who protect people by using dark, cruel and forbidden lore and arts to fight the horrors of the night. Tenra's Karma and Zero systems come alive as secretive agents have to learn to trust each other and overcome their own inner darkness to protect the people of the world. This version of Tenra has already been run at several conventions and is a hit with the players! Also comes with a set of pre-made characters and a ready-to-go campaign to get you started.

2- SETTING MAPS! Currently the additional campaign setting reward "Ruined Empire" is a simple text document. At this goal, I will commission art for this setting, including one cover piece (artist pending), and a few internal speculative maps of the land, commissioned from legendary "dungeon artist" Tony Dowler (his work is also featured in the core TBZ set). It will really add on to this setting!

Tony's maps already included in the core game for TS Luikart's "Against the Tide" setting will also be released on the Tenra Bansho Zero website as creative commons at this level, to use as you see fit!

Why this goal is awesome: Mark Causey's Mythos Hunters Zero is an incredible hack of TBZ. It comes ready-to-go, with starting characters and the scenario pretty much all lined up and ready to use. He reskinned the game to contain Sanity mechanics, which work surprisingly well. If you were ever interested in seeing what you can do by stretching this game's framework, this is it. The setting maps are going to be great as well. Tony contributed some awesome, evocative maps for the setting included in the book, and I can't wait to see his style for the Ruined Empire campaign!

Availability: The MHZ will be available in PDF for all Kickstarter backers, and later will be available to non-backers for a small fee. The Setting maps will only be avaialble to kickstarter backers of the Ruined Empire DLC ($30 level; $70 level or higher)

> STRETCH GOAL SIX: At $60,000: (FUNDED!) Two goals!
1- EXTENDED SAMPLE CHARACTERS: There are currently 13 pre-written characters in the back of the book, complete and ready to use... However, you still have to transcribe them on a blank character sheet. At this level, we'll go ahead and populate the character sheets with all the abilities and skills, to collapse your play-time even further!

2- MATERIAL RELEASE: I will release some of the additional English content in the Tenra Bansho Zero rulebook for free on the website: The "Against the Tide" campaign setting (included in the rulebook) will be released as a free download from the website. The list of Tenra-inspired names (including place names; male and female names plus last names for aristocrats, nobles, warriors and normal people; oni names; Buddhist priest names; kongohki and armor names; and kugutsu names) will also become a free easy-to-print and reference downloadable file.

Why this goal is awesome: As a GM or player, you'll be able to quickly download the specific sample character sheet you need in order to play quickly. Collapses character generation from "three minutes of copying stuff from the book" to "just print it!" Also, everyone at the table will have access to the names lists for quick reference, and the "Against the Tide" campaign for personal tinkering!

Availability: This material will be readily available on the website (in time) in plaintext form for all to access and use!

> STRETCH GOAL SEVEN (FUNDED!): At $65,000: TENUGUIAnother classic piece of Japanese textile culture! A Tenugui is a beautiful long traditional hand-cloth used for decoration, attire, wrapping things, and other household uses . These are also the cloths that people practicing kendo use to wrap around their head when the put on their face-masks. We found a great classic manufacturer of sturdy, traditional tenugui and will commission a limited quantitiy of Tenra Bansho Zero-themed custom tenugui to be made in Japan and shipped to us. They will be available for purchase for physical reward levels, but everyone who pledges to our campaign at the $100 or higher level will receive one for free! 

If you want to know more about "Tenugui", all you need to do is a Google Image Search!

(here's some others I recently came across!)

Why this goal is awesome: DUDE. JAPANESE TEXTILES. They are great headbands (kendo, construction, etc), pencil or dice holders, lunchbox holders, carriers for soda/juice bottles and cans, and so on. But you'll have a limited piece of Japanese textile, as rich with history and function as the furoshiki! Plus, they'll actually feature Tenra Bansho art!

Availability: They will ship with the physical book. I'll allow any physical backer to add one or more Tenugui to their order for $15. Anyone who pledged over $100 to this kickstarter will get one for free (more can be purcahsed at $15 each).



*** Deep Dive into the Kickstarter Pledge/DLC Rewards ***


A collection of four new character types and illustrations, including the Half-Ayakashi, the combat focused Demon Caller ("Stand User"), the Ninja Robot Dog, and the Gunslinger From The West.

Why it is awesome: This was originally additional content in the Japanese version of the game, each character came with a set of cardboard aiki chits for about $12.00. However, this supplement will combine all four together, plus a few other unreleased characters and high-quality brush-art. You don't need these characters to enjoy the game, I'd go as far as to call them "advanced" or "fringe" character types. Still, they would make a great fun change to a normal game.


A collection of rules focused on a long war session, including the simple tracking of army strengths, as well as a table of long-term battlefield and seasonal events. It will also feature strategies, tips and ideas for the implementation of these rules in your short or long-term game.

Why it is awesome: Totally, totally optional but well-crafted rules that focus on large-scale wars, complete with a large table of warfare techniques to apply in battle against an enemy army. In most games, the GM will just determine in advance which army wins; such a detail is usually a background piece, important to the story yet not really something to be left to fate. These rules are for when you want to take a gamble, putting a war at the center of a scenario, and leaving the outcome up to the dice and the player characters' actions.

There is a skill in the game called "Strategy" which is used in the core book for small-scale skirmishes (basic combat). In this war supplement, it is the central skill used to raise and conquer the enemy as a general.


A complete campaign setting frame from RPG artist and blogger Anna Kreider. The Ruined Empire is a setting of five nations in conflict, ripe with adventure and danger. It has a Final Fantasy-esque feel, a mind to social issues, and serves as a great idea-rich jumping off point to running your own games. This will be available shortly after the end of the Kickstarter campaign.

Why it is awesome: I won't lie or exaggerate here: I asked Anna to do this setting thinking that she'd come back with something kind of cool, since she's not only played the game, but also is a fan of anime and console games. Instead, she totally blew my expectations away. This setting was so ripe with ideas, that even as I thumbed through it I was inspired by one campaign idea after another, ideas that I *have* to run at some point. That's pretty rare, especially for such a small, tight setting document!

While Anna's a fan of anime and games, as a strong feminist she sees the problematic things that sometimes appear in Japanese visual culture. She's applied this mindset in her treatment of Tenra Bansho Zero: Her setting was crafted in a way that creates a special Tenra that's exciting and different. It would be inelegant to say it's "Tenra from a Feminist Point of View" (though it very much is, but it's not heavy-handed as that sounds). Instead, it's a very idea-rich setting that changes the social landscape of Tenra, written by a talented author who sees and lives these values. Seriously, this is me, as a GM and player of Tenra, saying that Ruined Empire is a really tight, awesome Tenra campaign frame that really brought me a new level of enjoyment to the game.


In the process (and long years) or translation and localization, a number of interesting stories developed: Stories about how I came across the game, the difficulties of translation, interesting cultural quirks and points that caused difficulty or amusement, the list of changes from the original Japanese version to the English version, general stories about life and work in Japan, and so on. Since enough people found those stories interesting, 

I've developed a "Director's Cut" book of 30+ pages and counting (including comics; plus anime art and mecha illustrations from artist and technical illustrator Steve Yap), a collection of stories about the development of the game. If you ever wanted to know the background of a game you bought, this is it. If the game Tenra Bansho Zero was a movie, this book would be the director's commentary audio track relaying the behind-the-scenes stories about the game. This will be available around the time of the release of the book.

Why it is awesome: For the last few years, I've been jotting notes into this thing. It looks like the digital RPG design/translation note equivalent of those inked steno notebooks retrieved from that dude's apartment in the movie "SE7EN". I basically go deep, probably too deep, into all sorts of little nuances of the game from a behind-the-scenes view. How various syllabries affected the writing of key words and concepts; how Tenra Buddhism reflects historic Japanese Buddhism; the hidden meanings behind core words and concepts in the game; my stories of playing the game for the first time, making mistakes and learning from them; stories about meeting the publisher and the author and getting the rights to the game; stories about life in Japan and how that influenced my work; a diatribe about why it took so long to write the game; stuff like that.

If you ever listened to a director's commentary on a movie and got enjoyment from knowing more about the background of the movie, or have ever heard about a designer or developer tell stories over glasses of scotch about the various high and low points in making a game, this is going to be right up your alley. Plus, for now, this is going to be a Kickstarter-exclusive thing. I may make it available later at some point in the future, but not soon. You'll have the inside scooop on the game!