I feel like it just isn’t fair to introduce a minis game in a single article. In addition to making plenty of space to show pics of the models, there are two other factors to consider, both equally important: the setting and the rules. Today we’ll be going over that first one.
Does your favorite game have a faction with Asian roots? Maybe it’s the Ten Thunders in Malifaux, or the Yu Jing in Infinity. Well for one company, a single faction wasn’t enough. GCT Studios decided they couldn’t be satisfied with anything less than an entire game set in a mythical world inspired by feudal Japan. Although maybe “world” isn’t exactly the right word, since the Jwar (I’ve been pronouncing it shwar) Isles where your games of Bushido will take place are only a small part of a much larger, and as yet untapped, fantasy world.
Like their inspirational counterpart, these isles are inhabited by diverse groups of people with long and storied histories. In fact seemingly two-thirds of Bushido’s printed rulebook, New Dawn, are devoted to this setting. Man, I love a rulebook I can really hunker down and sink my teeth into but for now I’m just going to hit the major stuff. I mean there’s ten pages alone in here devoted to places and events of note – big, thick rulebook-size pages. I’ll let you guys explore the vastness of the Jwar Isles when you pick up your own copy.
We enter the story in the year 294 of the Saisho Kara. These last three centuries represent a previously unprecedented era of peace and prosperity initiated by the unification of the warring clans under a single emperor. Of course everything can’t be all sunshine and cherry blossoms or there wouldn’t be any room for a wargame would there? So what is everyone fighting about?
Prefecture of Ryu
The Takashi family’s Dragon Clan rules over the Prefecture of Ryu. This is where you’ll find most of the cool Samurai and their accompanying Ashigaru. They’re the closest to having a purely historical vibe – the real Bushido of Bushido.
Spread thin by a recent victory over the Shiho clan, the prefecture now finds itself beset on all sides by even more merciless enemies. The Ito Clan in particular are in open rebellion while the Cult of Yurei and the Savage Wave will happily exploit any weakness.
The greatest weapon the Dragon Clan has to defend itself is its martial tradition. Not only are the Takashi masters of strategy on the battlefield, they are great at making allies, and laying the preparations for future battles. They’ve also got quite a few Samurai that can really swing a sword, a ninja or two, and other specialists to fill in where needed. If that’s not enough, they’re the only faction with guns (ok so maybe they’re not that Bushido)… oh and an actual freaking dragon.
The Ito Clan
As another ruling clan, the Ito also have their share of Samurai – served up with a heaping helping of snake. If you like the whole naga snakeman thing you’ll love these guys.
You see after the Itos took over stewardship of Izu from the defeated Shihos, they made some kind of deal with the kami Orochi. Kami have a big part to play in Bushido. The minor ones are models you can actually buy and play with. The major ones can do stuff like trap a dragon under a mountain or turn a clan of sinister but otherwise ordinary Samurai into snakemen.
The human Samurai these guys bring to the battlefield are backed up by the snake-enhanced variety. The Temple of Orochi reinforces these warriors with it’s protectors and priestesses who have their own interesting skills. The loyal Ashigaru of Izu will also lend a hand to their Samurai masters. And of course it wouldn’t be a real snake faction without a couple monsters with a distinctly snake flavor. More snakes than you can shake a snake at!
The Temple of Ro-Kan
Lets leave all those pointy katanas behind us. The martial artist monks of the Temple of Ro-Kan need no such weapons. They’d really rather be contemplating enlightenment but when the people of the Jwar Isles are threatened the monks are called to protect.
Like the Takashi Clan of Ryu, the monks of Ro-Kan haven’t been having the best time lately. Their elemental path, Subarashi Baransu, has fallen out of favor as more people convert to the new teachings of Michi. While they are still the undisputed masters of Ki, their power wanes with the loss of their followers.
The monks fight alongside animal protectors, faithful peasant farmers, and elemental kami.
The Savage Wave
Perhaps the biggest threat to the civilized peoples of the Jwar Isles is the Savage Wave. Two different races make up this unstoppable destructive force. The enormous red Oni have recently arrived from… out of town. With the strength of the monks of Ro-Kan waning, the barriers that kept these demons trapped in their own dimension are breaking down.
They’ve come back and teamed up with their old pals the Bakemono. These goblin-like creatures have been biding their time underground increasing their numbers litter after litter. While usually smaller than humans, the Bakemono diverge wildly in size, sometimes growing as large as their Oni masters. While lorded over by the Oni, these creatures have their own goals and aspirations.
The Oni and larger Bakemono bring the muscle to the battlefield alongside the massed numbers of their smaller fellows. They march alongside human slaves and monstrous beasts from the Oni homeworld and Bakemono caves. Finally, the Sho Bakemono have insidious magic powers to bring to bear.
The Cult of Yurei
The Cult of Yurei are the most mysterious of all the factions. While the cult has no central organization, all things dark and foul are drawn to it. Spirits, demons, kami – anything a mother might use to scare her children into coming home before dark.
The cult’s human members take their first step in joining the cult when they are at their lowest. The “Yurei Bargain” as it’s called gives these individuals the strength to take back their lives. Those making bargains with Yurei for personal gain often find themselves with unexpected powers that they will be compelled to put to use in the cult’s service. Necromancy is a power many of share, and their shambling minions fight alongside the rest of the cult.
If there’s any good news for the inhabitants of the Jwar Isles, it’s that the Cult has made a mortal enemy in the Savage Wave. Raising the Oni Araka and binding him into servitude is something these proud creatures will not forgive.
The Silvermoon Syndicate
While they officially occupy the lowest class of Jwar society, the profits the Silvermoon Syndicate have made from their various financial enterprises make them a power to be feared as much as any clan. Their total domination of trade and the secrets their money can buy make them universally feared and respected.
While not a military power per se, they have the money to hire whatever muscle they need when force must be applied. Back alley thugs from the slums of Jima are frequent recruits. Wakasu Island, where the Silvermoon capitol of Jima is found, is also the homeland of the large and imposing Buto people. Natural warriors, these giants are the prized enforcers of the Silvermoon.
The most subtle weapon in the Silvermoon’s arsenal are the women of the Jade Rose. While capable fighters, their real strength is a feminine grace powerful enough to bend others to their will.
There are also several models that will work for multiple factions. These include soldiers of the Emperor sent to aid his loyal vassals, or individuals with loyalty foremost to themselves with goals that might line up with those of the major players.
More to Come?
Bushido began with only four factions with the Ito and Silvermoon being added after the game had begun to establish itself. While this article covers the playable factions so far, their are hints of up to four more to come. The Bear clan of the Minimoto, the Tengu, the Jung Pirates, and the remnants of the Shiho Clan all get a little coverage in the Bushido rulebook.
~Hope you guys like a bit of background as much as I do. I’ve got an article on the gameplay planned soon. If you can’t wait the rules are available online, and every model in the Bushido store shows a picture of its card. Are any of you already playing Bushido?