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How useful is Secrets of Japan in a 1920s Campaign?

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#1 andreroy

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Posted 02 December 2017 - 06:21 PM

It is currently the only "Secrets of..." sourcebook I do not own, primarily due to the fact that Cthulhu Now is not the Era I tend to play in (I prefer WW2 or earlier setting).

So I as wondering how useful would this sourdebook be for me and would it be worth purchasing it? Especially when we consider that, in the 1920s-1930s, Imperial Japan was quite different (and I do wish someone makes a Sourcebook for it at one point).


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#2 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 02 December 2017 - 07:59 PM

I have never read the supplement, but have seen references to it in some of the scenarios I've reviewed, and based on what I've seen of the scenarios and their references back to the supplement, you can expect to see fluff describing some organizations that might be adapted to any era, descriptions of mythical, religious, and mystical concepts like Yokai spirits and Torii gates, some convenient monster stats, perhaps a few add-on rules, and that sort of thing.  From what I've seen in those references, I think it's safe to say that there's at least a little content that could be easily and readily adapted to the 1920s and 1930s, even if that isn't the book's main focus.

 

The Secrets of Japan table of contents and other information is outlined in the YSDC wiki, and may help you decide whether it contains anything that interests you, and the table of contents does include a chapter on adapting the setting to other eras:  (link)

 

Hopefully, someone who has owned/seen/read the supplement could give you some first-hand experience with it.


Edited by yronimoswhateley, 02 December 2017 - 08:00 PM.

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#3 fluffy

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Posted 02 December 2017 - 07:59 PM

As I remember it is quite modern, so not too helpful for the adventures but it does have some background stuff whic h you might like, I used to own it but passed it on.
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#4 andreroy

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Posted 02 December 2017 - 08:15 PM

I figured the adventures would probably be of little use (unless I majority overhaul them), the seeds I might be able to use them.

As you both mentioned, it's really how useful the background stuff would be for me? But from what you are describing, it seems that there are some useful bits there.

#5 yronimoswhateley

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Posted 02 December 2017 - 08:27 PM

I have little or no interest in modern Japan as a setting and very little cultural interest in Japan aside from her horror movies, but I think the background stuff does sound fascinating, and just glancing over the table of contents suggests to me that the book contains enough information for me to soup up a home-brew "Kwaidan"-style ghost and "Yokai" monster stories and such, which to me seems like it could be a great and unusual "Lovecraftian" setting, and worth a reasonable price for the book.


Edited by yronimoswhateley, 02 December 2017 - 08:28 PM.

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#6 andreroy

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Posted 02 December 2017 - 11:58 PM

I might get it eventually, but considering how expensive it is on the 2nd hand market (no longer available in book form at Chaosium), I want to be sure It's worth my while

#7 The_Tatterdemalion_King

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Posted 03 December 2017 - 12:29 AM

Secrets of Japan is in no way helpful for a 1920s campaign. It's not really any good for anything unless you want to run a 1980s-era anime game. (And that's really disappointing, given that it came out in 2005, when one of the best Call of Cthulhu movies ever came out.)
 
If you haven't yet, track down Shigeru Mizuki's Showa 1926-1939 for both an overview of the political situation and a street-level view of life in that era.


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#8 eternalchampion

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Posted 03 December 2017 - 11:58 PM

Ok, I have the book next to me. I have yet to play a scenario in Japan, but my opinion on the book is that it is useful, very well researched and well written.  It is a big volume and even though more than half of it concerns modern Japan, one can find very interesting ideas  that can be used in 1920s scenarios or other eras. In the book Mythos elements are very successfully merged in the Japanese and generally eastern culture. This is the strong and useful point of it, it is not something like a travel guide of the country.

 

So, more than half of the book concerns modern investigators, modern Japanese society and modern secret organizations. However a significant part of it deals with spells, ancient tomes, the history of these organizations, supernatural entities and also dark Buddhism and Taoism. In this later context, many pages are given to present the Six Realms of afterlife (described also in the Tibetan Book of the Dead) according to Buddhists, under the dark light of Mythos. So the cultists in the game can have a very eastern flavor, to say the least.



#9 jlynn

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 02:19 AM

Hmm.  Now I'm interested in picking it up -- the far east is one of the most neglected areas in the game, in my opinion.



#10 andreroy

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 08:57 PM

Hmm.  Now I'm interested in picking it up -- the far east is one of the most neglected areas in the game, in my opinion.


Yes. Yes it is.

That's why I love the French CoC campaigns "Les 5 Supplices" it covers Manchuria in the 30s. And there is also a Middle Kingdom supplement in German

#11 jlynn

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Posted 08 December 2017 - 10:16 PM

Alas, I'm not functional in either of those languages.  Now if it were in Russian...  ;-)  It's a pity Chaosium or someone hasn't acquired translations for publication in the English speaking world.

 

BTW, for folks looking for a splat book that might be more useful on Japan, you could try getting a copy of Indiana Jones and the Rising Sun (from the old The World of Indiana Jones RPG by West End Games), which provides some discussion of Japan in the '30s, as well as a few cool artifacts and monsters (and a couple of scenarios, which might or might not be of any use depending on your personal interest).  It's not much, but it's in the right era, and it talks about the place some.  I'm sure if you combined Chaosium's modern one with it, you'd have something fairly useful to use...


Edited by jlynn, 08 December 2017 - 10:16 PM.


#12 chicklewis

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Posted 09 December 2017 - 02:42 AM

I found a BUNCH of reviews of the volume, and PDF's are still for sale at Chaosium for under $18 !
 
If the links don't work here, just google   "Secrets of Japan" reviews
 
OgreCave.com - Reviews - Secrets of Japan

www.ogrecave.com/reviews/secrets_japan.shtml

In approaching Secrets of Japan, I hoped that it would provide rules to bring some of my favorite Japanese cultural exports into a Call of Cthulhu context while also educating me on the broader context that influenced these creations. While the work is a bit uneven at times, I was not disappointed - there's a lot crammed in  ...

Secrets of Japan - Reviews - YSDC News - Articles - Yog-Sothoth.com

www.yog-sothoth.com › Yog-Sothoth › News › Articles › MAIN › Reviews

Feb 15, 2005 - With Secrets of Japan Chaosium expands its extensive set of supplements for Call of Cthulhu into the Far East and the Land of the Rising Sun. Weighing in at a hefty 360 pages, this softcover modern day sourcebook is second only to Beyond the Mo...

Secrets of Japan: Surviving the Mythos in Present-Day Japan by ...

https://www.goodread...ecrets_of_Japan

Secrets of Japan has 13 ratings and 1 review. Modern-Day Exploration of the Land of the Rising SunJapan is a contradictory nation of ancient traditions a...

Secrets of Japan PDF - Chaosium

https://www.chaosium...s-of-japan-pdf/

$17.47
Modern-Day Exploration of the Land of the Rising Sun. Japan is a contradictory nation of ancient traditions and modern high-tech free enterprise. Within its dark shadows and hidden places, Great Old Ones, Outer Gods, and their monstrous servitors lie in wait for the unwary. In the corporate boardrooms and political offices, ...

Secrets of Japan (Call of Cthulhu Horror Roleplaying, Modern Era ...

https://www.amazon.c..../dp/1568821565

Secrets of Japan (Call of Cthulhu Horror Roleplaying, Modern Era) [Michael Dziesinski, Lynn Willis, Nottsuo, Paul Carrick, Divers Hands] on Amazon.com. * FREE* ... Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. ..... Secrets Of Japan: Surviving The Mythos In Present-Day Japan by Michael Dziesinski, et.al.
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