The Samurai Western

   For those players who find the whole eastern-setting thing confusing, here’s a hint: Most “Western” movies and stories, including space westerns and many or most post-apocalyptic tales, can be turned into “Samurai” movies and stories with a change of background scenery, better manners, and a few other cosmetic modifications. Here’s a quick translation key:

   Weapons: Pistol=Sword, Rifle or Bow=Bow, Tomahawk=Shuriken, Big Club or Sledge Hammer=Tetsubo, Knife=Knife, Broken Bottle=War Fan, any form of Improvised Weapons=Peasant or Martial Arts Weapons (Staves/Nunchuks/etc), Bullets=Arrows, and Explosives, Heavy Weapons, or Technical Gear=Magic.

   Locations: Rolling Plains=Rice Paddies, Bar=Teahouse, Ranch=Village, Rugged Barrens=Mountain Forest, Stronghold=Fortress, Desert Wastes or “Injun Territory”=Shadowlands, and Over the Border=Outside the Empire.

   Characters: Governor=Daimyo, (Large) Ranch Owner or Ruthless Boss=Lord, (Small) Ranch Owner=Local Lord, Employed Cowboy=Clan Samurai, Wandering Gunfighter=Ronin, Mayor=Village Headman, Saloon Dancer=Geisha, Ranchhand= Ashigaru, Marshall=Imperial Magistrate, Sheriff=Clan Magistrate, Cavalry=Imperial Legion, Injun (older movies)=Ninja, Native American (newer movies)=Gaijin, Land-Grabber=Enemy Clansman, Priest or Shaman=Shugenja, Brawler or Monk=Monk, Bounty Hunter=Sworn Enemy, General=Warlord, President=Emperor, Wilderness Scout=Shadowlands Scout, Rich Banker=Crime Boss, Settler=Farmer, Gypsy or Town Drunk=Eta, Prospector=Relic Hunter, Scholar=Wise Old Priest, Doctor= Doctor (worth mentioning because a Rokugani doctor’s talents are every bit as miraculous as a movie doctor’s), Gambler=Classy Ronin, Hired Guns=Ronin, Judge =Elderly or Noncombatant Magistrate, Shopkeeper=Merchant or Peddler, Gun Smith=Sword Smith, and Easterner, Teacher, Lawyer, or Politician=Courtier.

   Materials: Whiskey=Tea, Rice=Beans, Beef=Fish or Poultry, Jade=Water in the Desert, Tea or Coffee=Sake, Cattle=Koku (or sometimes just cattle), Gold Nuggets or Dust=Koku, and Money=Supplies.

   Miscellany: “You #@%$*!” = “It is so sad to see one who is such a disgrace to his ancestors”, Showdown=Duel, Offer of Tobacco/Whiskey=Exchange of Small Gifts, Poker Game=Duel of Wills, Hanging=Seppuku for Samurai, execution for most others, Code of the West=Code of Bushido, Train=Caravan, Black Hat= Helmet/Mask (indicates villain), White Hat= Bare Head (indicates hero), “Going Native”=Tainted, Oath of Vengeance= Blood Feud, Telegraph=Message Spell, Mailman=Courier, My Fathers (x)= Ancestral (x), and Fist Fight=Polite Nonlethal Contest (pulling a knife in a fist fight is an impolite non-lethal contest or cheating in one).

   Most other items are identical. Bandits are bandits, forts are forts, spirits are spirits, monsters are monsters, and streets are streets. Distressed widows with small children are distressed widows with small children, would be gunfighter-kids are would-be samurai kids, etc, etc, etc. The appearance may vary – but a cowboys-and-dinosaurs story is pretty much a samurai-and-monsters story. For those who want to practice advanced skills, Flashbacks work the same way in every movie. Just don’t let your main villain or any of the characters get permanently injured or killed in one or you’ll need to come up with an explanation very fast. Flashbacks can also represent a visit from an ancestor spirit without such risks.

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