TENRA BANSHO ZERO is a Japanese Storytelling Game of "Hyper-Asian Fantasy", in the author's own words. Conceived, designed and illustrated by famous manga author Junichi Inoue (and featuring gorgeous art from illustrators Hiroyuki Ishida, Rasenjin Hayami and others), Tenra Bansho Zero is one of the most recognized "Made in Japan" tabletop role-playing games, and indeed the first licensed RPG from Japan to be translated into Englsh!
On a distant world in the far future, the Sengoku (Feudal/Warring States) period of Japan is happening all over again- But this time with high-tech weapons, magically powered mecha, taoist magic masters, cursed shinobi operatives and super-powered samurai.
The focus of the game is on acting out the characters, their backgrounds and, and their destiny in the world of Tenra. The players get bonus points by acting in character and entertaining the other players, which can be spent to boost powers and gain abilities. Creativity, energy, and camaraderie is physically rewarded in the game. Spend these gains recklessly, though, and you lose control of your character as they spiral down the Path of the corrupt Asura. Character choices, character drama, and most of all character change take center stage in this drama-focused high-action tabletop RPG.
Finally, TBZ is a fast RPG. It was designed to play out like a theatrical production, complete with Scenes, Acts, Intermissions and Coming Attractions. And like a play or movie, an entire story or campaign can play out in its entirety within one 4-6 hour gaming session. From there you can tell another story using the same character, or retire them for good and focus on another tale of Heaven and Earth.
Background: Almost a decade ago, Japanese artist and game designer Junichi Inoue sat down to create a uniquely and unmistakably "Hyper Asian" (in his own words) Japanese world: A world of magic and technology, of samurai and Taoist sorcery, of powerful mecha and cultured geisha. The world was named Tenra, and the game was named Tenra Bansho, or "Everything in Heaven and Earth". With a rulebook dripping cover-to-cover with high quality anime-style art, a setting rich in culture both real and fantastical, and a revised and simplified rules system that focused with precision on roleplaying and character drama, this game took the Japanese tabletop RPG market by storm and spearheaded both a renaissance and revolution in the Japanese gaming industry.
Years later, this unique and revolutionary game has finally been painstakingly translated into English for play in the West!
Tenra Bansho Zero is a unique tabletop roleplaying experience, and it features:
* Over 300 unique pieces of art spread throughout the game, 33 full color manga story pages introduces players to the world and setting features, and ten rules explanations in manga form assist with fast rules retention. The art is done by the formidable hand of Junichi Inoue, the fine brush-work of Hiroyuki Ishida, the comical impact of Hayami Rasenjin, and more! WIth layout for the English edition by industry expert Luke Crane (Mouse Guard RPG, Burning Wheel RPG), you've never seen a game like this.
* Two books, incredible content : A full-color Setting book and a black-and-white Rules and Play book. The books together boast a page count of almost 700 total pages! The huge amount of art, combined with the detailed deep-dive explanations and play advice, will give you your money's worth in usable content.
* A rich Japanese setting involving a planet in a constant state of war, where magic fuels technology and the culture is an analogue of the Warring States (Sengoku) era of Japan. Mecha, sorcery, samurai, geisha, Buddhist monks, cyborgs, annelid-users and more make this game a truly unique--and deeply culturally Japanese--experience. See the Game section below for more details!
* A simple-to-understand rules system utilizing regular six-sided dice, cleverly explained in both detailed text examples and amusing full-page manga art. On top of a system of skills, attributes, action and combat is overlaid a deeper system of kabuki theater-style play: Focusing very specifically on play through Acts, Scenes, and Intermissions, the players of this game are both the actors and audience. As actors, they focus on role-play in a scene with other actors. As audience (much like the audience of a kabuki play), they focus on the drama that unfolds, rewarding the players for dramatic actions and cool ad-libbed lines.
* Speed: An entire campaign, a story from start to finish, can be told over the space of one to two sessions! You can then choose to play the same characters in another tale, or perhaps retire them to look at another facet of life on Tenra.
* All-in-One: The original Japanese game had a core rulebook, a supplement, and later several mail-order only mini-supplements. The data/rules contents and much of the art has been ported and folded into the English book set (originally $145 USD for all of that material if you were to buy it as it came out), including errata and designer suggestions. This is a truly updated version of the game!