Japanese proverb. Introduction. Makkura is a series of adventures for Kuro, but it is also more than that. As we mentioned in the Core Rulebook, Kurohas been. folder-parent, Parent Directory. folder, Kuro - Last Stop, file, Kuro - ronaldweinland.info, , KB. file, ronaldweinland.info, . DOWNLOAD PDF. Report this file. Description. Download [Cb] Kuro Rpg Free in pdf format. Sponsored Ads. Shop Now. Ads by site · Book of Life.
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Kuro is the core rulebook of a new near-future game setting influenced by unremitting Japanese horror. It is available for download in PDF now. [Cb] Kuro Rpg - Ebook download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read book online. Kuro (english) - I lost Miko during the Kuro incident. She was driving DriveThruRPG: Your One-Stop Shop for the Best in RPG PDF Files!.
Kuro opens with a quick description of what the line is supposed to look like. The english version of the game will come in three products. Kuro, the corebook, presents the initial setting, while several other products will be released to push the metaplot of Kuro forward towards a second corebook that changes the setting established by Kuro. But for those who want more, or want to twist the nature of the game, each supplement introduced elements that shifted the way that the game could be played. But anyway, back to the review. Kuro also starts off well with a rather large glossary of terms, a mix of both japanese terms and cyberpunk ones that make for interesting reading and will no doubt come in very, very helpful when reading the rest of the book. The Setting The Japan of is one that is very changed.
Its not in the Skinners modus operandi to remove anything apart from the skin and muscles, let alone leaving as a signature thumbs and big toes from different people. But what are you expecting him to do with an eye and a thumb, Nao? The voice of the stranger breaks the disjointed rhythm of our discussion, with a neutral and serene tone. Personally, those are just the two things I need to open the door to my apartment.
At a stroke, the blood rushes to my face, and an unbearable rage overcomes me. They just needed somewhere to go! Theyre at her house! The Kuro Project The book that you have in your hands is the first concrete manifestation of an old desire that all who worked in Kuro have held for a long time: to work together in an original roleplaying game covering all our favourite themes in one coherent whole.
As expected this project was not made in one day, and as our ideas accumulated, many choices had to be made so that we finally had exactly what we wanted. One thing we all agreed on: one game would not be enough. Indeed, just like the different seasons in a TV show, the Kuro setting should have several major changes, and these are the very things that make it unique.
From a gaming point of view, while the characters and the general setting remain the same, they are going to be profoundly changed by the end. The stakes, scenarios, dramatic focus and themes of the game will be very different by the end. However, some people might not want the game to change so drastically.
So, we decided to make two games which each correspond to the two layers that Kuro consists of. We took care, nonetheless, to make them both compatible with, and independent of, each other. Kuro is the first setting; Kuro Tensei will be the second. As you will see, this game is built on a balance between three very particular components that are the true pillars of the game. They are: Japan and its cultural wealth and paradoxes; science fiction, showing us a near future which we might not always want to face; and Japanese style horror, with its own particular way of terrifying us.
There will be four products in the English version Kuro line. The first is this book, which will be followed by a screen. The third is Makkura, which offers a series of adventures which will allow the characters to move towards the second setting, delivering all that you need to assure the transition towards the second game.
The final product is Kuro Tensei, where everything changes. Kuro will eventually offer three options: You can play Kuro without making the characters transition, continuing it as a game of investigation and horror in a futuristic Japanese setting.
You can keep the characters, unchanged, and play Kuro Tensei directly. For the Gamemaster, weve created notes for you detailing what lies ahead, in the chapter immediately preceding the scenario Origami. The players should only read the sections on the civilisation and technology, where no secrets are revealed. They will find plenty of rumours, though It is up to you whether to move on to Kuro Tensei or not, or keep the possibility of doing so later open.
Even if you are not using Kuro Tensei you can still find the details on setting and campaign detail useful for your game, and creating your own adventures. Whatever you choose, welcome to Shin-Edo They might talk to the extras they meet, investigate the clues of a mystery, unravelling the threads of a diplomatic intrigue, etc. Everyone gathers around a table or wherever seems comfortable the Gamemaster begins to set the scene, and the players react to it, playing out their characters.
Together, you weave new tales set in the world of Kuro, new adventures in a world where even the glow of neon and plasma cannot quite illuminate the dark supernatural forces that await you Glossary Kuro uses several Japanese terms to describe both culture and technology.
Many will already be familiar to any Japanophile. Anime: Japanese animated television series or films. Artificials: android robots designed in humanoid shape or to appear human. Bainin: smuggler, trader. Biodroid: aka replicants, extremely advanced robotic bodies based on biotech. Boryokudan: a crime syndicate, Japanese mafia, an organised gang of Yakuza. Bosozoku: Biker gang members.
Chanoyu: the tea ceremony, a zen ritual designed to focus the mind by very precisely making tea. Daimyo: a samurai lord. Diet: Japanese central government. Gaijin: foreigner, non-Japanese. Gantai: helmet visor capable of acting as a screen for data display.
Go: board game played using black and white stones placed on the intersections of a series of squares. The object is to claim more territory than your opponent. Gurentai: a gang of thugs, not to be confused with Yakuza or Bosozoku.
Itako: female often blind shaman-priests of Shinto that pass messages to and from the spirit world. Jinchisai: Shinto ceremony to appease the earth spirits before constructing a building Jinrikisha: motorised rickshaws common throughout ShinEdo. What is a Roleplaying Game? A roleplaying game is a form of storytelling game played by several people usually three to six. Its goal is to imagine together an adventure in which any player can intervene.
Thus a gaming session is never written in advance just the main guidelines and each players improvisation enriches it, changes it, making it an unpredictable story. In order to set up a role-playing game session, one member of the group must take on the role of Gamemaster. This is a kind of special player who knows the setting and the rules very well and creates the adventures or scenarios that the other players live out by way of their character, an imaginary alter-ego.
The Gamemaster frames events, describes scenes, plays minor characters and also adjudicates the application of the rules.
In this department, his word is law. The other players are far from passive, though. Kaiso: rank, Japanese social class, very specific and covering a range of speech patterns and rights and expectations. Kami: spirits. Kamikaze: the divine wind named after the typhoons that drove back Kublai Khans Mongol invasions in and Kaminarimon: the thunder gate to the Buddhist temple of Senso-ji in Asakusa quarter.
Kanji: Japanese script or calligraphy based on pictograms, considered an art form. Kannushi; the master of a Shinto shrine, part priest, part caretaker. Usually male, but can be female. Kansatsui: medical examiner, coroner, Kaso: the art of telling fortunes based on the layout of a building. Kitsune: a fox spirit, often mischievous. Konodama: the spiritual power of names and words.
Love hotel: a hotel that makes rooms available by the hour so that couples can share some privacy together. While they are often a place to find prostitutes, many are a vital service for young couples living in crowded accommodation with family.
Matsuri: a festival, often based on a religious holiday. Maneki-neko: a good luck token in the shape of a cat Neko statue with a waving paw. Manga: Japanese comics. Microphotonics: circuit systems using light for data transfer.
Miko: shrine maiden an assistant to a Kannushi. Mizu: water. Nanocreatures: tiny robots, often used for analysis and tracking.
Nanofiberoptics: extremely thin fibre optic cable used in microphotonic circuits. Naturals: ordinary, often poor, individuals not enhanced by biotech or robotics. Occultech: totems and spirit fetishes upgraded with modern technology. Ofuda: Shinto talisman, a strip of paper with the name of a spirit written on it in kanji. Omikuji: charm box containing a holographic charm token. Otaku: enthusiast, nerd or geek, depending on your point of view.
Overclocking: the process of illegally unlocking new features in an android. Pachinko: Noisy vertical pinball game where you win ball bearings that can be traded for prizes. Pod: personal computing device used to access the web, much like an advanced smartphone. Polders: low lying land reclaimed from the sea by a system of dykes and flood barriers.
Puppetbot: small robot often used as a pet. Ranpaku: a one person holding cell the size of a coffin. Ronin: a masterless samurai, one who no longer owes allegiance to a Daimyo. Saki: Japanese rice wine.
Salarymen: Japanese officer workers, the epitome of the 9 to 5 rat race. Sang-in: the House of Councillors, the upper house of Japanese government. Sentai: a squadron or military unit, but often applied to teams of heroes in action manga or anime series.
Shamisen: a three stringed lute-like instrument. Shinto: Japanese religion based on negotiating with and living in harmony with natural spirits or Kami.
Shitamachi: the old town quarter of Shin-Edo. Shinagaki: a catalogue inventory Shinzenjini: members of a movement dedicated to an antitechnology agenda. Shogi: Japanese chess variant where captured pieces can be returned to the board under your opponents control. Shugi-in: the House of Representatives, lower house of Japanese government. Softskin suits: highly fashionable business suits filled with nanoscanners. Sumo: a contact sport for two contestants.
The winner is the one to force his opponent out of the ring. Sumotori: a sumo wrestler. Sushi-ya: small eatery selling simple sushi and noodle meals. Tokubetsu-ku: an area or ward of a city. Shin-Edo is divided into 24 of these. Torii: an open and stylised wooden gateway, usually red, usually found at the entrance to a shrine. Tsunami: Tidal waves. Uyoku: small political parties or fringe groups.
Yakuza: Japanese crime gang member, ranging from tyrannical organised criminals to Robin Hood-style neighbourhood gangs. Yakyu: Japanese name for baseball. Yokai: spirit world. Zaibatsu: old and powerful corporations who took significant economic control of Japan after the Second World War.
Zoku: one of the many youth fashion trends or social groups, such as goths, cosplayers, rockabillies, etc. Energy and ecology became the two recurrent themes, appearing in every debate and the international media, pointing out the worsening climate and the conflicts over energy resources. Emerging countries like China or India did not have the chance to pollute as much as their Western neighbours, international regulations out of the Kyoto protocol having forced them to limit their emissions since To limit the inexorable deterioration of the ozone layer and the melting of the icecaps, leading to a rise of the sea levels, governments had to concentrate their efforts towards alternative and renewable energies, thus provoking major crises in certain industrial sectors which were loath to forgo their slice of the cake.
With planetary warming and many climate disturbances, no population could continue to calmly refute the more alarming reports and to consume resources as they saw fit. Several coastal populations watched in horror several Pacific atolls were threatened by tidal waves. Climate change made some places too dangerous, causing the migration of thousands of people who left their homes to become ecological immigrants.
Luckily, several advances in nanotechnology allowed the creation of new materials, batteries, engines, fuels, biomass and processors, ending the dependency on oil and drastically cutting down greenhouse gas emissions. Despite the pressure of oilproducing countries, these alternative power sources opened up new markets, allowing the countries that had researched these new power sources to claim much needed profits.
China particularly began to re-emerge after years of an economic recession, made worse by a huge population growth and little arable land. Conversely, the Middle-East, already fighting multiple water wars, suffered from the loss of oil revenues as the world moved to cheaper and more sustainable power sources.
Even today, despite international programmes of massive sea water desalinisation by complex biotechnological processes in order to aid the poorer populations of the world, Middle Eastern and African countries are still the greatest victims of planetary warming.
Amid multiple regional conflicts seeking to get hold of the few remaining resources, recyclable fuels or arable land; extremist struggles, as well as deepening tensions between India, China and Russia; Japan took on the role of the mediator of Asia.
Quite determined to carve out an Asian Presidency, successive Japanese governments endeavoured to maintain a very active diplomacy, not hesitating to get closer to their neighbours. Preferring to make allegiances with China instead of the United States, the Empire of the Rising Sun invested in the Aosis Alliance, an organisation working on several projects to combat and anticipate rising sea levels. Through Aosis, Japan set up numerous partnerships with China. After the building of several coastal dams and the creation of new biomaterials which would consolidate levees in major cities, Japan used its influence to directly insinuate itself into the Chinese space programme.
This news immediately thundered amid the Western countries, especially the USA, which quickly suspected Japan of wanting to use China as a military partner. Fears of having Japan rebuild its army in defiance of Article 9 of its constitution, and possibly helping China retake Taiwan, caused violent debates in the halls of the UN. This house, much like the British House of Commons is one of two bodies that compose the Japanese government or Diet.
While the upper House of Councillors was once the domain of Japans ancient nobility, its councillors are now mainly elected officials, although they serve a longer term than members of the House of Representatives.
By tradition, the leader of the political party with the majority of seats in the diet is nominated to be Prime Minister. The post is then confirmed by the Emperorby the Diet. By tradition, it is. In , all polls pointed towards a very close call between the Liberal Democratic Party centre right and the New Komeito party. New Komeito had grown substantially popular during the last five years under the direction of a charismatic leader, Abe Kaemon.
Originally founded by Soka Gakkai, as part of his election strategy, Kaemon would sever ties with this popular Buddhist sect, while also refusing any cooperation with the USA or China. Komeito, like the LDP, has always been a party for middle class white collar workers and rural populations as the political mover behind the state granaries but also gained favour with the religious community despite having cut ties with Soka Gakkai. Kaemon also managed to extend the partys voting base to the youth and unemployed.
On May 4th, the New Komeito party was technically the winner of the election. Unfortunately, disturbances due to the Kuro Incident prevented the results becoming official. Partisans of both main parties begun fighting vigorously for control, national tensions enhanced by the international accusations and general confusion.
The political chaos gradually worsened and arguments between factions over the electoral result only caused more confusion. With Japanese government on the brink of collapse, the leaders of both political parties agreed to rule jointly while the blockade crisis lasted and issued calls for calm within their factions.
Behind the scenes, of course, the understanding behind the agreement to joint rule is less polite, and both parties are moving its pieces towards the taking and maintaining of power. However, no faction has the luxury of being able to promote its personal interests too far beyond those of Japans, since both parties are trying to take advantage of any faux pas committed by the other party.
Every politician is desperately hoping not to have to hold out for yet another six months from NASA programmes and offered China its best genetics and robotics experts on a platter. This synergy of expertise and dedication, driven by fierce competition with Europe and the USA, ensured that aerospace science, and especially robotics, advanced prodigiously in the east. Determined to be the first men on Mars, the Chinese negotiated the construction of an international moon base, and on July 20th a team of fourteen Japanese androids finally landed on Mars to prepare the ground for the coming of the genetically enhanced Chinese taikonauts.
Meanwhile, biotechnology, nanotechnology, computer science and robotics never ceased to improve. Left behind by these events, the Western countries had no choice, but to try and follow Japans lead. Meanwhile, Japan began adapting its society through birth control policies and genetic manipulations.
Obsessed with its newfound power through robotics and biotechnology, Japans ethical laws were often ignored or changed for the sake of progress. Unfortunately, Chinas ulterior motives eventually defeated the alliance with Japan. This alliance became known as the Panasiatic Federation, its mandate being to counter the economic expansion of India and Pakistan.
While Japan was also invited to join the Federation together with Vietnam Japan refused, based on an ancient, exacerbated rivalry with North Korea. Seeing Chinas new alliance with North Korea as a betrayal, Japan chose to break all past agreements with China. To make the point that their friendship was over, Japan formed its own alliance with India, offering India military support in their attempts to recover Taiwan.
At the same time, the Japanese government reinforced its policies of food and power independence, under the influence of the New Komeito political party, with the goal of utterly breaking all its ties with China and becoming self-sufficient. This slap in the face caused a disproportionate response from China, including several border clashes. China forcefully claimed the Sendaku-shoto isles from Japan, and armed North Korea so that the North Koreans might respond to any attack by the Nipponese government.
For two years, Asia became the focal point of the rest of the world, who watched with concern the growing diplomatic tensions and the entrenched positions of both sides. On May 4th , after months of angry words and sabre rattling from both sides, the conflict was radically aggravated due to an unfortunate turn of fate.
A violent earthquake with an 8. Given the paranoia and tension in eastern relations, this was analysed by the Panasiatic Federation sensors as being a nuclear strike. Programmed to respond automatically in case of a nuclear attack, the Artificial Intelligence in Chinas Border Defence Centre launched a nuclear response at its two enemies India and Japan.
Two long range several gigaton nuclear missiles began speeding towards both countries before anyone was really aware of what was going on. The first missile did not fly very far. Suffering a major malfunction it exploded directly over North Korean soil. The explosion caused thousands of deaths, the destruction of all electronic equipment androids included and irradiated most of the country.
As for the second missile, it reached Japan, but never exploded. Every monitor recorded the missile reach the Japanese archipelago before vanishing amid an unexplained electromagnetic storm.
As for the Japanese, who on that day were in the middle of electing a new government, they just saw a bright flash in the sky.
This blinding light flashed for only a moment, after which a violent wind appeared, encompassing every island in the archipelago.
This electromagnetic storm caused a twohour short circuit in all Japanese electric installations, frying the control mechanisms of two airliners that were lifting off at Tokyo Airport at the same time. They crashed in a neighbourhood near the landing zone, reducing hundreds of both the airliners passengers and the neighbourhoods citizens to ashes. These were the only victims of the devastating attack. Many citizens werent even aware of it.
The international community was quick to condemn the actions of the Panasiatic Federation, but China was unapologetic about the incident.
It accused Japan of having a secret antimissile shield, which had been revealed by the unfortunate missile launch. Such a defence could only have been developed to protect Japan from a nuclear exchange, and with such a defence, they must obviously be intending to launch attacks of their own. The grudges and doubts of certain Western countries soon resurfaced, as they also accused Japan of wanting to build a new army and changing the balance of nuclear power with its new shield.
In the dreadful political mess, Japan was incapable of either justifying itself or explaining the disappearance of the missile. Unfortunately, without an explanation from Japan, Chinas accusations began to look like the only possible truth.
Japans position became even more complex due to the results of the Nipponese elections. The confusion and rhetoric over the missile attack prevented a new government claiming a majority in the May 4th election, compelling the country into a kind of forced coalition between two political movements.
The various opposing countries demanded that Japan give them the shield technology, continuing to believe that it was a means for Japan to protect itself while preparing together with India for a massive attack on the Panasiatic Federation. Incapable of justifying itself and determined not to submit, Japan refused. With the support of Europe and the US, China asked for a UN resolution to force Japan to release this technology to redress the balance of power.
After all, if every country had these shield, nuclear war would no longer be a threat and Japans refusal to offer this technology proved the country to be an enemy of world peace. The UN resolution passed, but Japan still refused to kneel to international pressure. In response, China declared that not only should all nations refuse to trade with Japan, but that an international blockade should be set up to enforce this decree.
With electromagnetic traces still lingering through its territory, and Japans refusal to accept a thorough survey of its military forces, the Panasiatic Federation further accused Japan of having hidden nuclear weapons. The suggestion that Japan had broken Article 9 of its constitution and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty was enough to convince the rest of the world that Japan was indeed the villain that China claimed it to be.
A large flotilla of international ships set sail to blockade the Japanese islands. Further, this new international alliance declared that all air traffic in or out of Japan would be shot down without warning. The foreign stranglehold on trade has lasted more than six months. During which time rationing and shortage problems have began to affect the poorer sectors of the population.
As had been done in the past, the Emperor renamed Japans capital, in order to affirm Japans willingness never to yield before the enemy, and their readiness to embrace a new age. So Tokyo became Shin-Edo. But for how long can Japan hold out? After one of Chinas ministers was assassinated by a Taiwanese separatist acting in the name of Japans liberation, can it be long before tensions hit boiling point again? How far will the foreign forces go, especially China, when after 6 months Japan remains resolute?
Will they consider an armed engagement to force Japans contrition? Is the Japanese government telling the truth when it claims not to know anything about a possible anti-missile shield? In a climate of growing hostility and rationing, how long will the present government hold out before giving way to extremists or submitting to international demands?
But what really happened on May 4th , the day on which the event that Japanese now call the Kuro Incident took place? In a country where great questions have been answered and advances made, where biotechnology has compartmentalised 15 society, where androids walk besides men, where food is cloned, and where nanobots float in your blood, this is not a question that Japan can answer. Meanwhile, her borders are blocked by countries demanding an answer to this very question.
But there is still no answer forthcoming. Now Japan can only count on its own resources in order to subsist. Power failures constantly remind the population of the consequences of the Kuro Incident, made worse by the impossibility of trade or communication with the rest of the world. But while most Japanese watch the ships that prevent them from leaving or anything entering, others realise that something else has changed.
The Kuro Incident somehow opened the door to strange, unexplained phenomena. Even as the Wind of the Gods, as the continued meteorological unrest has become known, still rages over the Archipelago, creating storms, rains and typhoons, most of the inhabitants of Japan are only worried with what they will do tomorrow, but others understand that they are now shut in with the dark.
For some there is no longer any doubt: the spirits have returned, and they do not appear to mean well from the bleeding at birth. In Shinto, the soul of the deceased is stained by his own death, and only purification rites can allow it to forget its wrath and become benevolent. Thus all of the individuals that have to work with death from coroners to slaughter-men working in abattoirs are sometimes considered to be different to the majority of the populace who do not.
It is as if their close contact with death has made them unclean. Even in , many of the rights held by Japans population are unofficially denied to these people. Some banks even refuse to open accounts for them. Among the many Japanese superstitions, a notable one is the unease concerning the numbers 4 shi, pronounced the same way as death and 9 ku, which also means suffering. It is useless to look for a parking space or a hotel room with the number 4, there are none.
There are also no brands of car or any devices with 4 in their signs. It is also unadvisable to sleep with your head turned north this is the direction in which the dead are buried , to put your chopsticks in your rice bowl a reference to the funereal rite or not to hide your thumbs when passing beside a hearse or a graveyard.
Even if the population only occasionally visit the temples and shrines, and rarely show an overwhelming belief, most people still follow the old rites and traditions as familiar habits. Everybody has Shinto lucky charms at home, such as a protective wooden arrow. Shinto festivals or Matsuri , of which there are several throughout the year, are simply seen as popular festivities.
Few insist that they really believe in spirits, the kami or even the afterlife. Even though, since the Kuro Incident, unexplained things stalk out of the shadows, everybody prefers to ignore them and put their faith in science or more mundane theories.
The Whisper of the Kamikaze Seeing is more important than watching, the rule is to see without seeing, to perceive without fixing our attention, to sense and not parry or respond to an attack, the inner eyes are the ones that see.
By what miracle did the Panasiatic Federation missile vanish into thin air, leaving behind only a few electromagnetic disturbances?
Today, most of Japan just watches the blockade and doubts the good faith of either its government or of the international community.
The rest silently watch with growing dread the strange occurrences that keep happening across the archipelago. Those who have not yet had such encounters themselves do their best to dismiss the reports. They reason that nothing that can drastically change their lives is as obvious as the international pressure of the blockade and the everyday hardships it causes.
After all, it is easy to ignore the strange incidents when they are just some short lines in the corner of the newspaper downloaded into a flexible screen. A Country of Rites Japan was always followed many spiritual beliefs, some deeply ingrained in the population. In the same way that the Shinto religion is part almost unconsciously of the countrys culture, these beliefs are ubiquitous among the Japanese population influencing, in an often intimate fashion, the relationships between people.
Most of these superstitions are concerned with that most important of taboos: death. Coming from centuriesold beliefs connected to the diseases carried by corpses, this taboo is still present nowadays and gives birth to many fears. Similar fears arise from the taboos concerning blood which stem 16 Water Since Japan is surrounded by a somewhat unpredictable sea, water or mizu has always been seen as menacing. Several natural disasters are associated with it, from tsunami great tidal waves to typhoons.
So it is no surprise that water is often seen as a bad omen, or the signature of dark energies. It is also associated with uncontrollable force and humanitys darker urges and instincts, water is primal and powerful. This means that salt, with its ability to absorb liquid, is used in many rites to repel bad spirits or to purify unclean ground. It is ridiculous to believe that the Yokai, the spirit world, is open and has let through to the real world all the creatures of folklore, like the yosei, the yurei or the bakemono?
Who can believe that the nuclear missile launched by the Panasiatic Federation was not simply stopped thanks to an advanced defence system? The media maintains a complicit silence on subject of the supernatural, labelling all these disappearances and cannibalistic acts as simply trivia or just mass hysteria brought on by the psychological consequences of the blockade.
However, others have issued more disturbing hypotheses A World of Plots Those who refuse to swallow the medias thin explanations seriously doubt the existence of some anti-nuclear shield.
They have come to believe that instead, the doors of the beyond are opening. These people regularly discuss the Kamikaze, the Wind of the Gods which has protected the archipelago twice in a row in and , defeating Kublai Khans Mongol invaders with devastating typhoons.
They do not see this as a coincidence; instead they believe that the wind is powered by the forces of the spirit world, forces that are once again taking a hand in Japans destiny.
Why the spirits would have again protected Japan after centuries of absence, destroying the missile, but weakening the border between the visible and the invisible remains a mystery. However, it seems reasonable that while this Wind of the Gods still blows over the isles of Japan, creatures from the Yomi-NoKuni, the dark places of the spirit world, might take advantage of the situation to come and stain the land.
It is only natural after an absence of years. Shinto priests do not speak of this hell, a realm far removed from the Christian stereotypes of sinister sinners suffering in flames, with so many references to death and corpses. For the Shinto adherent, every being is eventually called to become a kami. These are pure spirits, which exist in the millions, hiding behind all things or as humans that became true living legends.
However, not every spirit is destined for such a noble and peaceful fate. Many believe some souls can become unclean through blood, murders and impure thoughts.
When these people die, they cannot join the kami and thus end up in the Yomi-No-Kuni, the Land of Yellow Springs, where they become demons or wandering souls, responsible for the disasters and epidemics afflicting Japan.
Others, the magamoto, are sometimes too unclean to enter even this hell, refusing the ablutions of the priests and resisting purification. They wander the earth, their How can this population, frightened by the current news, the economic chaos, the layoffs and personal bankruptcies be blamed for turning from the truth?
In an atmosphere of intimidation and deprivation, everyone is just trying to live their lives. They keep shopping at Shidownloada like they have always done or clubbing by night to forget everyday worries. In such an oppressive environment, people have better things to do than to analyse a murder, a disappearance or an unexplained phenomenon in a housing block in Roppongi. In fact, some primal instinct tells them to make a point of turning away, in case the shadows begin to notice them. Nevertheless, since the Kuro Incident witnesses speak of noises, odours, screams, and monstrous presences all over the place.
Some claim that they are being harassed by the dead, have been possessed by malevolent spirits or been attacked by insane machines. However, even though these stories are systematically drowned out by sensational stories about the blockade, they have drawn the attention of believers.
Such people might simply be superstitious, but some have already been confronted with supernatural manifestations. In a hyper-technological society smothered by its own divisions and asphyxiated by the other countries, they are seen as crackpots or even as birds of ill omen. Is this madness or reality? No one can truly say, but scaly forms are sometimes glimpsed wandering the harbour and avenging ghosts are blamed when the inhabitants of a building in Ochanomizu were frightened to death.
With the blockade often visible from the shore, and rumour running rife, the platitudes offered by politicians do nothing to alleviate public fears. Many cults and factions have become quick to capitalise on these fears, which are found even inside the huge steel and glass buildings of Shin-Edos wealthy. Who should the Japanese believe? Those claiming that foreign forces are testing chemicals on the inhabitants, those proclaiming the end of the world, the opening of hell or the fact that Japan was destroyed in May 4th and all inhabitants are now in the realm of death?
Few options seem very attractive. Even with the indifference of the man in the street, these minority movements have forums in the NeoWeb, specialised bureau and Occultech artefacts of their own design that mix technology and ritual. But anyway, back to the review. Kuro also starts off well with a rather large glossary of terms, a mix of both japanese terms and cyberpunk ones that make for interesting reading and will no doubt come in very, very helpful when reading the rest of the book.
The Setting The Japan of is one that is very changed. Due to a freak accident and political tensions, Japan has been isolated from the rest of the world, with a multi-national blockade of ships making sure that all traffic in and out of Japan would come to a halt.
The result is an isolated, desperate shadow of Japan. While technology has made it possible to hold out, Japan is still very much in a state of flux. Implants and bio-modifications are present, with the occasional android or robot companion as well. People become desparate, and to make things worse, other things start happening.
Supernatural incidents involving ghosts and other, stranger spirits become more and more common. There are several theories on what may have happened but nobody is certain of the exact cause. Because of the frequency of these happenings, various cults and religions have found new life in trying to help or take advantage of those desperate for help against the supernatural. Aura reading spectacles, holoprojected ofuda paper charms usually filled with wards and prayers and various nanotech serums that serve as ointments.
The book goes on to discuss the setting of Shin-Edo, with a remarkably in-depth explanation of the society, security, infrastructure, power and even games and leisure before launching into a generous description of all the districts and wards that make up the city of Shin-Edo. These include many of the more well known ones, such as Roppongi and Shinjuku, but also include the other less popular ones.
I also like the little rumors in the call out boxes that can serve as plot hooks for some of the wards. Shinto is given a focus, with some discussion on Exorcists, something that has seen a recent popularity due to the number of hauntings that have been happening lately.
The Rules The rules of Kuro are pretty simple. In a nice node to the culture, results of 4 are read as 0 and do not contribute to the total. Thankfully, the game also employs an exploding dice mechanic, so any dice that come up as a 6 are added to the pool and rolled again, adding their next result to the total.
If you roll a 4, it counts as a zero.
Skills are added to a characteristic roll, and is therefore a static bonus to the total of the roll rather than being added as more dice to the pool.