based on a design by S.R. Knipe
Published by Cream Alien Games
Disclaimer: The copy used for this review was provided through Atomic Array in conjunction with Episode 041.
Kagematsu describes its self as a role-playing game of shame, honor, and love that takes place in a 16th Century village in Japan that is under a dire threat. Kagematsu is a ronin whose sojourn is, perhaps, interrupted by the villages need.
Will he stay and defend the village? Why?
In simplicity, Kagematsu is an example of small group improvisational theater and gender role reversal. It is a usage of "on the rails" gaming, but in a rather interesting and unique manner, with a focus on having a female control the male character of Kagematsu while male and female players portray the other female characters of the scenario.
While it is slightly heavy handed, as well as something that gamers could ignore if they so choose, I'd say that this role reversal is part of the unique draw of this game. Of course, that'd make sense, since it is a core design element and factor in the game.
Kagematsu is about interactive and cooperative storytelling, where the players help craft the story, the village and its folk, its threat, and even Kagematsu himself. Can the women of the village woo Kagematsu to stay and defend them from the Threat? Should they? Is it love? Is it something lesser?
While there are mechanics to the game's rules, they are quite light and very easy to learn. Perhaps the hardest part, for some, in playing Kagematsu will be the role-playing that is encouraged by the game, for it can be of a more dramatic and romantic nature than is common to various systems, even those with a focus on storytelling.
All in all, Kagematsu is a thought provoking role-playing game with an intriguing premise, an enjoyable depth, that are an example of how our hobby can be more than angst or greed, with respect to emotional breadth of play. While the game might not be for everyone, it certain could be if they tried.
Kagematsu can be purchased here.
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