Friday, September 12, 2014

One-Shot Gaming Sessions #1: Kuro Preparation

Starting next Thursday, I'm going to be running some various RPGs through one adventure (usually 1-3 sessions, possibly 4) as a way of testing the systems I've got in my collection.  The first adventure is going to be Cubicle 7's Kuro.  So I am taking this opportunity to summarize the background of the setting of this Blade Runner meets Juon (The Grudge).


On May 4th, 2046 an Earthquake registering an 8.5 on the Richter Scale shook the East Coast of the China.  Automatic defense systems registered it as a nuclear attack and launched two nuclear missiles against the Panasiatic Federations two biggest rivals: India and Japan.  The first of these missiles flew off course and impacted in North Korea, causing thousands of deaths, the destruction of almost all electronic equipment and the irradiation of most of the country.  The second looked to be flying on course for the city once known as Shin-Edo when it suddenly vanished amidst an electromagnetic storm that appeared out of nowhere.

Electronic equipment all over the country failed for two hours, resulting in the crash of two airplanes into the Kamata quarter of Shin-Edo, an area already ravaged by the Earthquake of 2025 and recently filled with the warehouses of Japan's munitions companies killing hundreds and driving many more into homelessness.  This also resulted in the results of a major election failing to be made official, producing a confusion as to which of two rival parties now controlled the country.

The international community was quick to condemn the Panasiatic Federation (China, South Korea and North Korea...what was left of it) for this action until the ambassadors of that alliance quickly pointed out that Japan had obviously secretly built some sort of missile defense shield. Quite clearly, the only reason to have such a shield was that they were developing nuclear arms, and possibly an army, themselves in clear violation of Article 9 of their own constitution.

Japan had been pushing the edge of technology of all sorts further than anybody else for decades and had burned some political bridges.  First it offended the Western Powers by allying with China in hopes of using China's resources and being the first country to land living people on Mars.  Then it offended China by not only refusing to join the Panasiatic Federation (due to the inclusion of North Korea, which Japan took as a betrayal) but also by allying itself with India and offering military support, the country China was forming the federation to counter.  As a result of Japan's recently erratic and self-interested foreign politics and jealousy over its amazing technological advances, the Western Powers choose to believe this accusation.

The secrets to the anti-missile shield were demanded and Japan was silent.  Japan was silent because it was both confused and ignorant.  They didn't know what caused the missile to vanish and they were still working out who was in charge.  The international community took this as a confession and laid down a blockade against Japan.

That was six months ago.  Now Japan has been living on its own resources and they are being depleted.  Cloned meat, farmed fish, recycling, energy efficiency...everything that Japan has done to create its claim of self-sufficiency has proven to be inadequate.  The government is still in crisis, with both the New Komeito Party and the Liberal Democratic Party agreeing to share power and control until the blockade is over.  This is an alliance of only surface depth, and the only reason neither party will push it's own goals far past the needs of the country is because the other side will be quick to call them on it.

The Genocracy, incredibly wealthy members of Japanese society, made nigh-immortal by advances in genetics, cloning, digitalization of the mind and the placement of such minds in robot shells, continue to live in their ivory towers and command most of the power in society.  As the blockade continues and they continue to demand an unchanging luxury, the common people begin to suffer shortages, rationing and other such things.

Beyond all this, there is something more in the shadows of Shin-Edo.  Stories have started to spread about ghosts and strange occurrences, of people becoming suddenly insane and murdering their families.  Rumors of bodies being found with their faces somehow erased and others being captured near the rivers and sewers and dragged off into the waters.

Most people are slow to believe that creatures of shadow have returned to Earth.  It is claimed that the international blockade is testing some hallucinogenic bioweapon, or else it is excitable people mistaking a realistic advertisement hologram for something weird.  Others have taken to purchasing charms or consulting with mystics and seeking exorcisms.

Cults and political extremists have been rising like a plague across Shin-Edo, making it even harder to pick out the activities of the inhuman creatures that now stalk the alleyways.

Characters of Kuro

Unlike the characters in most games, the characters of Kuro do not start out as rebels in search of adventure or revenge.  Most of the characters have an appearance of normality.  They seem to fit into their role within society perfectly, moving in and out of the oppressive and reassuring force of the society of Shin-Edo.  However, Kuro characters have always somehow felt as if they do not really fit in.  They have an persistent feeling of being alienated, somehow outsiders.  On the surface, this seems to be just another symptom of the Genocracy imposed caste system that separates the "Naturals" from those with privilege, but there's something deeper.  

Sometimes the characters literally are outsiders.  There are thousands of foreigners that have been stranded in Japan by the blockade, people that did not or could not get out of Japan before the blockade came down.

If you want a character capable of combat, that is certainly possible.  You could be a cop, private investigator, soldier, yakuza, bosozuko or any of a number of other things.  But you can also be a student, a media idol, a "overclocker" (someone who specializes in giving robots and equipment illegal modifications) or an occultist.  Perhaps your character is one of the numerous teens that have acquired cosmetic genetic modifications to appear in a range almost inhuman appearances (making it further difficult to recognize the real monsters from a student with cosmetic vampire teeth or nearly fluorescent blue skin).


The game uses d6 rolls.  In a skill roll, 6s explode and can be rolled again, adding to the total.  Further 6s also explode.

4 is death, however, and adds 0 to the roll's total.  And if you have too many 4s, something horrible happens.


Characters begin with 16 points to spread between 8 primary characteristics.  They can have a minimum of 1 in each stat and a maximum of 3.  This stat is the number of 6-sided dice the character rolls when performing tasks using that characteristic.


Skills and specializations are a number representing skill in some ability.  This number is added to the dice roll of an action.  Skills can be purchased to a maximum of 6 in character creation.  Specializations start at the base value of their basic skill and can be increased as high as 11 at character creation.

If you have an Agility of 2 and a firearms of 6, then a normal firearms attack would be 2d6+6.

Kuro characters are assumed to be ages 21-35 and thus have 25 Skill Points and 20 Specialization Points.

If your specialization is high enough, you gain a free "Gimmiku" which is a special ability tied to that specialization.

You get one Gimmiku at a Specialization rank 5 and a second at 11.  Gimmiku stack, so you could take Mastery twice to have the ability to reroll up to 5s or Focus twice to add +4 to the roll.

The existing Gimmiku are:

Expertise: May choose to reroll the lowest roll of any die roll, but they will have to keep what they roll.  This rerolled die, 4s count as adding 4 to the total, but 6s still explode.

Accuracy: On success add +4 to the margin of success.

Focus: Add +2 to the die roll.

Mastery: A die roll of 5 can be rerolled like an exploding 6.  This can only be one 5 out of a single roll, so if you roll 5, 5, 4; only one of the two 5s could be rerolled.

Boost: The character rolls an extra d6 to uses of this specialization.  As normal, 6s explode and 4s are death.

Supernatural Powers

These do not yet exist and will be coming in a later game called "Kuro Tensai".  Kuro is about surviving the onset of the supernatural rather than being supernatural.  However, a character can have the Spiritual general skill and specializations in Shinto, Buddhism, Christianity or any of a number of things.  This skill can be used to provide some protection.  There are also Occultech items if you look hard enough.

Focus of the One Shot Adventure

For the One-Shot Adventure, I'm using a free adventure put out by the company as an introductory scenario.  It focuses more heavily on the supernatural side than the cyberpunk side. 

As such, unless you're playing an occultist, you may have had a supernatural encounter, but you're not really sure whether such things are real yet or not.

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