I’m DMing a Pathfinder session in Japanese tomorrow night, for 5 people, 3 of whom I’ve previously met and 1 of whom is a raw beginner from my FLGS. I kind of arranged this tentatively before I met the gaming group 2 weeks ago, so I’m in a bit of overload here. It’s a trial adventure for the guy who hasn’t played before – if he likes it, we’re going to switch to Warhammer 3rd Edition, because he’s got a copy in shop but can’t play it himself. But first I want to be sure that he can enjoy role-playing. His previous experience is with wargaming, so it may not be his cup of tea.
It’s a bit of a worry because some of my players’ Japanese is extremely hard to understand, and I’m running the group. But I think it’ll be okay, I’ll manage somehow. If I’ve bitten off more than I can chew then I’ll just have an extra beer…
I’m setting the adventure in some mountains, in a generic fantasy world with an oriental/Japanese feeling, at an onsen (hot spring) resort. The characters are guarding an old man who is there for the healing properties of the hot springs, but a group of thieves steal the onsen sprite, the fairy that gives the onsen it’s special powers. Hijinks will follow. I set it up this way so that I could have a valley full of steam from the onsen, where I can set an ambush. I also set it up this way because the area where I live – steamy Beppu – is full of onsen and famous for the views of the nearby mountains wreathed in steam. So I can tie it into a world that everyone here likes. And after the slaughter, the PCs get to soak it off in a hot spring.
Thinking about this while myself soaking in my local onsen this afternoon, it occurred to me that I could come up with a cosmology for this region of my fantasy world, in which the hot springs are not consequences of volcanic activity, but arise because the area of mountains is close to a conjunction of the elemental planes of earth, fire and water. This would explain the steam mephits hiding in a cave near the resort, and it would also explain the role of magical sprites in giving onsen magic powers – ordinary fairies corrupted by the influence of the elemental planes infiltrate the hot springs and give them special powers.
Gygaxian naturalism, it’s what I’m all about.
Anyway, while I was looking at the Japanese pathfinder wiki, I had to look up Steam Mephits (“Suchimu Mephitto”), and I discovered that the Japanese translation of D&D’s term “outsider” is raihosha, which my inestimably valuable Firefox add-on, rikaichan, tells me means “visitor, caller, client.” If my business gets off the ground, I’m going to have a great deal of fun every time I deal with a “client,” thinking of them as being like the “Senior Partners” from Angel.
fn1: I cannot for the life of me understand why this class of monsters gets a Japanese name, as do all the states that a PC can be in (shaken, etc.) but the spells and classes don’t. What capricious logic drove this process!!!?