As detailed earlier this week, we love Shinku by Ron Marz and Lee Moder.  In fact we love it so much, we want to enjoy that world a little more.  So we asked IoM contributor James from Black Guard Press to give us some campaign tips for a role playing game set in the Shink-u-niverse.

. . .


Our noble name is also our glorious battle cry.

Long ago, our ancestors realized that fighting over the finite land of our island home was foolish.  As such, they set their sights on the larger world beyond the shores of Japan.  The mainlander dogs proved little challenge for the honor, skill and bravery of the noble warriors of the Empire of the Rising Sun.

With our honorable samurai in their lead, our military was able to conquer all who stood in their path.

This inevitable stride to glory did not stutter until we found ourselves in the dreary mountains that served as a border for the lands the primitive local referred to as Europe. Even then, the gaijins’ armies were no match for those of the Empire of the Rising Sun.

But dark, unnatural creatures stalked the night in this barbaric land.  These filthy beasts hungered for the noble blood of our people and were gifted with inhuman strength and abilities by the foul powers that they made their unholy pacts with.

These kyuuketsuki  were incapable of meeting us honorably and in the light of day but became a bane to us in the darkness of the night.  The non-Japanese in our ranks fell to these vampires and they infected many of them with their curse.  The blood of the true sons of the Empire was too pure, however and while the blood drinkers could slay us, they could not corrupt us and turn us into vampires.

Even with their almost nightly attacks, they could not stop the implacable march of our noble Empire.  Though our conquests were slowed, even Europe eventually fell to us.

The night stalkers were not wise enough o know when they were defeated, however and still hide in our midst and plague the good citizens of our Empire, spreading their taint throughout it.  Even the holy island of Japan has been touched by their corruption.

They have learned to hide with impressive skill, however and the average person in our Empire thinks them to be little more than legends.  To keep our citizens from suffering the fear these demons in flesh could inflict on them, we work to keep their existence secret, as well.

The way of the bushido has fallen by the wayside for most of our people but we know that only by following the ancient ways can we fight our ancient foes.

Only those who have proven themselves brave and strong enough, and who have dedicated themselves to our cause know the truth.  Those who do, get to share the name of our founder, Shinku and become samurai and vampire hunters.  We stalk the night to hunt the beasts who stalk the night, keeping the Empire safe from their depredations.


Even the name of our hated persecutors is bitter in the mouth.  It cannot be said that our homeland was peaceful or advanced when they came, but it was our homeland.  So when the invaders came from the East, we were not going to give it to them easily.

Unfortunately, there were far too many of them.  They came in wave after wave of men.  No matter how many we slew there were more to throw themselves against our walls and sweep over our lands.

Yet a few of us were blessed with the power needed to truly defy them.  Vlad Tepes was the first to use his abilities to stand up to the invaders from barbarian lands.  He originally faced Turks but spread his knowledge and his abilities to other nobles as the Japanese forces continued to flood our lands.

Even with those few who had such power, we could not stop them from conquering our lands.   But we would not stop fighting them, especially those of us with the blessings of the night.  Though we could not openly face them, we were able to strike in darkness, the time when we are at our strongest.

We hide, we plan, we strike, as the centuries unfurl, we continue to fight, though our oppressors seem to grow stronger and more numerous with every generation and we are forced to hide ever deeper.  We remember every day the name of those who oppress us, who have stolen our birthright.


There are two campaigns for this setting, depending on the preferences of the players.  The first option is playing as a group of Shinku.

These samurai are tasked by their honor and oath to destroy the vampire scum at every opportunity and to defend their Empire from the creature’s dark machinations.

Shinku has an impressive infrastructure with spies and informants, many of whom don’t realize what they’re actually dealing with, and an extensive R&D department.  To this end, any kind of vampire killing equipment, from silver bullets to stake throwers to sunlight grenades are at the disposal of the samurai, though most of them prefer to rely on their swords, many of which are silvered, as well.

Unfortunately, like their opponents, they cannot operate in the light.  They must hide not only their own actions, but indeed the reason for those actions.  They cannot allow anyone to know that there are vampires for fear of the panic that knowledge might cause.

To make matters even more complex, they must adhere to the code of bushido.  Following this code of honor can be a trying task, but often gives the Shinku an iron core that cannot be broken by the horrors that they face in their battle against the dark.

And the vampires take full advantage of both of these hindrances.  As the Shinku will not go public with their war, the vampires are able to hide in plain sight, blending with ordinary humans most of the time.  They strike from the shadows and then hide amongst the sheep.  Shinku have to be constantly on their guard against the plots and ploys of these sinister creatures.  Likewise, they cannot betray their honor to sink to the level of their opponents, no matter how tempting it becomes.

On a high level, vampires in this campaign are superhuman killing machines that can shred the average human.  Faster, stronger and more savage, no ordinary mortal stands a chance against them.  But the Shinku are anything but ordinary and possess specialized gear.  As easy as it is for the average vampire to slaughter a normal human, it’s just as easy for a Shinku to slaughter the average vampire.  There are, of course, exceptions.  The older vampires and the ones that are simply tougher and more cunning by their very nature are dangerous beyond imagining.  Generally, though, a Shinku will be able to face many vampires and come out victorious.

The second campaign possibility is playing the Children of the Eternal Night, those more commonly known as vampires.

In this campaign, the players are vampires trying to avoid the Shinku and take down the Empire.  Working in secret is vital because if their existence becomes public knowledge, the mortals that they walk amongst will turn against and eventually overwhelm them.

Unlike the Shinku campaign, there is no need to lower the abilities of the enemy fodder for cinematic purposes…humans are just that easy for vampires to kill.  Except for the Shinku, of course.  These hunters not only know of the abilities of vampires and the threat they can pose but also are specifically trained to deal with them.

The Children of the Eternal Night want nothing less than the complete freedom of their homelands and the total destruction of the Japanese Empire.  As such, they engage in a guerilla war, striking at high value targets and engaging in assassination and sabotage.

In both campaigns, there is something about the blood of pure Japanese people that resists the virus that causes vampirism.  They cannot be turned into vampires and all Shinku are pure blooded.  Likewise, they are immune to the mind control abilities of the vampires.  Of course, even Japan itself has any number of non-Japanese citizens and the number of pure blooded Japanese only becomes less the further way from that sacred isle one goes.  For that matter, it is not always that easy to determine who has truly pure blood and more than one Shinku has been betrayed by someone they thought was immune to the abilities of their hated foes.