If you’ve been following Passionerdly you know that we’ve officially launched a new podcast known as the The Wooden Dojo. This is the first actual play helmed by our team and the first dedicated actual play, ever, for The Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition by Third Eye Games!
Our bonus episodes include a great intro and interviews with some of the staff for Third Eye Games; including the creator, Eloy Lasanta, so we will try not to replicate any of the info you can find there but instead address a few additional qualities of the podcast….
Appropriation versus Appreciation
One of the things that is a major subject that society is addressing is the concept of Cultural Appropriation—which is certainly something that we should talk about since we are playing a game based on various facets of Asian cinema….this question will come up.
When I first heard about Cultural Appropriation it was in a college dissertation from the City University of New York-Bronx in the 90’s during an ethics course before the term was misused and abused by pop culture today. This is, of course, the home of the famous activist John Asimakopoulos and the home of the Transformative Studies Institute. The central idea of cultural appropriation was whether there was an intent to mock or deride the culture, claim falsely to be part of a culture, or to deny compensation to members of the culture.
This is why it is so important to involve members of a culture or properly attribute when including various ethnicites in entertainment. This is where we begin to enter into the idea of Cultural Appreciation.
What Cultural Appropriation lacks Cultural Appreciation does! It’s what makes the Cosplay and Anime scene so wonderful. Members of this fandom aren’t attempting to mock the culture or characters, but instead spend countless hours trying to perfect costume and mannerisms. Members of the Cosplay fandom do not actually claim to be Japanese and they certainly aren’t denying compensation (often spending extreme amounts of money out of love and admiration).
Third Eye Games’ The Ninja Crusade 2nd Edition is born out of the was anime movement win fans often using the system to play games of Naruto or even Avatar the Last Airbender. When I talked to Third Eye Games’ Eloy Lasanta, one of the things we discussed was the fear of Cultural Appropriation. In the creation of this game Eloy sought out members of the various cultures represented in the RPG books within the series to ensure that they were given voice and treated respectfully as the basis for this world.
Likewise, for our game I want to be sure that I explain and give credit where credit is due!
Our soundtrack was created with simple instruments using traditional Japanese scale structure as well as instrument packs found on the GarageBand app by Apple—although I used a back-mic’d Irish Bodhran drum to achieve the resonant percussion and tapping sounds. I felt that using a culturally appropriate soundtrack would be best and our most respectful course of action.
We also hold our table to a strict No Asian Accents rule—in past Asian accents have been used to mock and insult the various cultures and we wish to distance ourselves from them. Therefore, we have taken a cue from the current anime dubbing rule of using only Western accents when they may apply.
My greatest influences for this campaign come from a myriad of movies and cultures dealing with Eastern Cinema and Anime as well as the history of the ninja (both the historic and the sensationalized). Chiefly I want to draw attention to the following works that have held the greatest influence on this game:
Basalisk (the anime) and the Shinobi: The Heart Under the Blade (live action movie) based upon the novel, The Kouga Ninja Scrolls.
The Ninja Scroll
Rurouni Kenshin as well as Samurai X
The Duel starring Andy Lau and Ekin Cheng
The Storm Riders
Musa the Warrior
I would also highly recommend looking into the life stories and histories surrounding the famous Hattori Hanzo, the 15th century warrior who was said to have single-handed defended a gate into the Imperial Palace during an invasion. Another key individual for the historic aspects of our game is Ishikawa Goemon.
It is our hope to present our story with the highest respect and admiration; and if you feel there is a cultural misstep along the way please feel free to contact us—we are always hoping to learn and become better people thru this experience!