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Katana to Yari

These rules, such as they are, are the results of around 20 years of messing around with 'samurai skirmishes' set in old Japan. The rules can be used either to play simple one-off games, or as the combat element of a role-playing game according to your taste. Be warned however, it is a fundamental aspect of this particular game that duelling with Japanese weapons is highly dangerous – the combat can be short and bloody, so if you are a role player you should engage in combat with some considerable trepidation!

In designing the game I was faced with the usual dilemma concerning personal combat rules reflecting the detail of using the colourful variety of exotic weapons to be found in Japan. Games which try to cater for a blow by blow resolution of combat are usually slow moving and unwieldy – and rarely, if ever, cope with group actions. For these rules I decided to concentrate instead on movement and positioning and reduce the clash of blades to a simple comparative die roll. To do well in this game you need to ensure that you understand the strengths of your own weapon and the weaknesses of your enemy – proper positioning is vital, outnumbering essential. In an equal man-to-man fight the results are usually fairly unpredictable, and can swing suddenly and disastrously one way or another.

It is important to note that the combat I have tried to reflect here is based on the sources available in English and my own paltry practical experience with some of these weapons. Outnumbering is a serious disadvantage for all but the best fighters. As mentioned above the rules ignore the close detail of weapon handling because, frankly, I do not think it can be adequately handled in an abstract game. If you want to experience the minutiae of combat I suggest you join a fencing class or Kendo school – it is by far the best way!

Katana to Yari introduction

Jim Wallman
Year Published
In Print
Available online (44-page PDF)

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This entry created by Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian on 14 November 2016. Last revised by Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian on 14 November 2016.

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Katana to Yari

Skirmish Wargaming in Old Japan