Experiment design of a fictional variant

American, Filipino... Any other rule sets you may have heard of or come across!

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Experiment design of a fictional variant

Post by Referee » Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:26 pm

I know what the common feeling is: There are already too many Mahjong variants. And I agree to that feeling. However, this thing is a bit different.

I'm curious of what kind of Mahjong would get played in Rokugan (the setting of the Legend of the Five Rings RPG, CCG, novels, so on, roughly based on the original Book of the Five Rings and feudal Japan, but fictional).

However, I'm not too sure on where to start (mainly because I never thought a new MJ was needed). Although I know both fields of matter, I don't excel in neither of them. Rokugan is a fictional continent but culture, as I said, is pretty based on feudal Japan. The RPG (tabletop RPG, as RPG should mean) has skills for a couple games like Go, as well as other classical Japanese arts (like Haiku writing, or Tea cerimony, for instance).

But Mahjong is different. Go is go, wherever you... er, set your feet on. Chess, Shogi, and Shatranj come from the same game and have evolved separately. Yet, Chess is played the same all around the globe, and so is Shogi. But with this lovely game that is Mahjong, there are a lot of regional rules, and even in the same main variant the rules are not set in stone. Take riichi majan, for instance. Kan dora? Red fives? Open Tanyao? And the list is quite long.

So, while Rokugani Go can be assumed to be the same as real world Go, we can't assume the same thing about Rokugani Mahjong. I'd rather get ideas from people more knowledgeable than I in Majan and in Rokugan if possible. If this thread comes to nothing, it's no big deal (after all, there is little to no intersection between my MJ circle and my L5R circle). So it's not intended to be played anyway. But maybe something cool will appear from this. Who knows?

So, what do you guys think Rokugani Majan would look like? Or maybe you think I shall disregard this idea...

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Re: Experiment design of a fictional variant

Post by Shirluban » Sat Jan 22, 2011 10:02 pm

I don't know Rokugan much, I've only played L5R RPG two or three times.

Maybe they won't play with four players and a wind for each, but with five players, one for each ring: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Void. "Void" would be the oya/dealer.

A tile set in jade would be awesome :D :D
Cats don't do タンヤオ (tan-yao) but タニャーオ (ta-nya-o).
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Re: Experiment design of a fictional variant

Post by Barticle » Sun Jan 23, 2011 1:41 am

I must admit I hadn't heard of Rokugan before but I'm pretty out of touch with RPG's these days. I am the proud owner of three copies of Musashi's book though. :D All English translations.

With the fictional setting you're free to choose whether your game will be historically plausible or colourfully novel or somewhere in between.

In reality the closest thing to mahjong in the 1600's (if anything!) would've been one of the card games that was a quite distant precursor of the modern game, perhaps played with elongated wood/bone playing cards. If you're only going to be talking about the "mahjong" in the context of the RPG rather than actually playing it then it might be a better option for the novelty factor to lie in the equipment?

If you wanted something more recognisable but with an historic feel then go with traditional mahjong played with tiles and Chinese classical rules, even though these didn't appear for another 200-300 years! You could use the poetic English limit-hand names too - Imperial Jade, Three Scholars, Four Blessings, Thirteen Unique Wonders, etc.

You're not the first to toy with putting mahjong into a feudal Japan setting. The PS3 game Ryuu ga Gotoku: Kenzan (the historic spin-off from the RGG/Yakuza series) is set in Gion, Kyoto, and the main character has become Musashi himself! There are a couple of locations within the game where you can play MJ, not only that but it's the modern rules with riichi, dora, 25k pts, etc (because of course this is what the 21st century Japanese gamer understands and wants). As I think I've said before, it may be an anachronism but it does look very cool in context!

If you want to look at actually (re)writing and possibly using the rules then I think it would be a good idea to retain most of the procedural aspects of the game and look at amending the scoring, yaku and bonus elements instead. The Book of Five Rings has plenty of colourful section titles that could be used as names for new scoring elements (check the 81 yaku of Chinese Official rules for inspiration!), or you could simply rename the existing ones.

At the very least there should be something to represent Musashi's "Two Heavens" (Ni-Ten) school, even if in his book he seems to only advocate the use of two swords simultaneously in a couple of specific contexts. Some sort of "double Tenhou" would be pretty rare...! Instead how about something that symbolises two heavens, like a special hand with two seven-tile straights?

2-bam 3-bam 4-bam 5-bam 6-bam 7-bam 8-bam 3-crak 4-crak 5-crak 6-crak 7-crak 8-crak 9-crak

The 5-pin could symbolise the five rings themselves! I don't like the asymmetry, but perhaps make them all dora - red fives?

5-dot

Perhaps the rules would recognise a hand where the four sets and the pair correspond to each of the five elements. If you're using blank modern tiles for haku then that would make a good void. Or you could count the three suits, dragons and winds as the five.

white-dra

A final wildcard suggestion - scrap the game and use the tiles for some sort of cartomancy divination instead. The gamesmaster (or equivalent) could weave this into the story, giving veiled hints of what lies ahead for the characters - subject to successful dice roll of course!

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Re: Experiment design of a fictional variant

Post by Barticle » Sun Jan 23, 2011 11:42 am

Barticle wrote: hand where the four sets and the pair correspond to each of the five elements [...] you could count the three suits, dragons and winds as the five.
I thought this idea sounded familiar... it's a rare optional yaku called Uu Men Sai.

http://www29.atwiki.jp/mahjlocal/pages/156.html

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