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Tabletop Game / Tenra Bansho Zero

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Tenra Bansho Zero is a Japanese Tabletop RPG created by FEAR (not to be confused with the video game series) and was published in Japan in 2000, Zero is the second edition of a tabletop game called Tenra Bansho, which was released in 1997. Zero refers to this second edition being a rework of rules, also known as starting from zero. The game's creator refers to it as "Hyper Asian Fantasy", designed in both setting and gameplay to emulate Kabuki Theatre.

Tenra Bansho Zero takes place in the distant future, where humans have colonised the distant planet of Tenra. After many wars, the world has become an Anachronism Stew: of feudal Japan and anime-like science fiction future, in which katana-wielding robots stand shoulder to shoulder with spirit-powered monks.

As of October 2012, Kotodama Heavy Industries has translated the books into English. As of February 2013, the game is available in PDF format.

This tabletop RPG provides examples of:

  • Archetypal Character: Character creation involves picking (often tragic) archetypes for your character, many borrowed from Jidaigeki films and anime.
  • Armor Is Useless: The rules of the game state that the player characters and weapons are so strong that they can cut through any armor. However, a distinction is made between conventional infantry armor and Yoroi armours. The translator uses the British-English spelling to distinguish the two, with the latter being mechsuits. Those are very useful. And awesome.
  • Audience Participation: Taking cues from the structure of Kabuki Theater; players take turns as "actors" or "audience" (both of whom can influence events).
  • Badass Longcoat: In a game fueled by rule of cool, a Longcoat is easily a viable option regardless of the flavor of the setting.
  • Badass Normal: Played With; while it's not very feasible to play a normal human in the dangerous world of Tenra Bansho, it is possible - but more common are character sub-archetypes with a fate that forbids the character from using their class's flagship ability or even from killing.
  • Because Destiny Says So: all characters are bound to a fate, often used as a plot hook and a way to drive a character forward towards a goal.
  • BFS: Greatswords, from the standard type to the soul fueled kind that could cut a man in two like a rag, the supposedly beefiest is actually a modified mecha shortsword.
    • Special mention goes to the ZAKT-8R ("Hachiren Zan-Kou-Tou," or "Eight-Repeating Ultimate Cutting Blade"), a modified mecha shortsword bigger than most people.
  • Body Horror: Annelidists, people who allow magical bugs to use their bodies like a hive in exchange for their abilities.
  • The Corruption: Kiai is literally a measurement of your passions and your ability to channel them...and using it is explicitly a bad thing in the long run, since the more Kiai you spend, the higher your Karma gets. The more Karma you have, the crazier you are and the less you are willing to stop at to achieve your goals. Hit the 108 mark, you become an Asura, who is called out as being unplayable as their utter lack of scruples means their morality is utterly unrecognizable as anything human.
  • Chainsaw Good: Though there is no flat out chainsaw like weapon, chainswords are mention as example weapons at least once in the books and with the weapon creation rules and a willing GM, a player can create a fitting chainsaw weapon.
  • Creepy Good: Annelidists, feared for being living bug colonies, desperately needed in a setting that has little or no other avenues of medical care.
  • Cyborg: Kijin, humans who have had parts of their body replaced with cybernetics. They have to be wary with not going overboard, because Cybernetics Eat Your Soul.
  • Deadly Dodging: The Empty Fist Art of War is all about redirecting your enemies attacks towards them-self, this include you making attacks and rolling damage with your enemies weapon bonus!
  • Deconstructed Trope: The game deconstructs the idea of the Hot-Blooded Determinator hero. PCs in TBZ are driven by the power of their passions. However, drawing upon and giving into your passions is a sign of madness, and being unwilling to turn from your goals will eventually drive you off the slippery slope into full-fledged villainy.
  • Diagonal Cut: This is how the best skill of the True Illusion Style Art of War works, you make a attack then designate a time after the strike, which can be anything from a minute up to three years! You can even choose to apply the damage over time or let it all hit in a instant.
  • Doorstopper: Much like a play, campaigns can take as little as one session, provided you and your party are willing to play for the entire day.
  • Enlightenment Superpower: Monks are all about seeking enlightenment and this leads to some developing powers from the search.
  • The Fair Folk: The Ayakashi, spirits who are so alien the rulebook doesn't cover then completely.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: well Sc-fi counterpart, the major one is feudal Japan but there are others ones.
  • Fantastic Racism: Most notably against Oni, with a major economic motivation keeping it going.
  • Forever War: The default setting.
  • Gem Heart: See Human Resources below.
  • Gilded Cage: Most Kugutsu will spend their lives as the pampered pets of powerful warlord, until another warlord decides to claim her as their own.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: the Unarmed skill, a few limited Arts of War enhances Unarmed skill and allows you to pull of great feats.
  • Gun Kata: The Art of War called Black Wing Gun Style is all about this, at higher ranks the player can parry melee attacks and counter other people's ranged attacks with their guns.
    • Guns Akimbo: Black Wing Gun Style also provides this, as it´s built around the user having a gun in each hand. People can go akimbo without the style, but get very little out of it compared to those that possess the above Art of War.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: part of the Archetype system, players can be half human half X race, or even be one half race X one half race Y.
  • Hand Cannon: None in the standard loadout, but thanks to the weapon creation rules a player can give a gun enough damage to be one. Another way to make a real cannon out of a gun is to apply the rules for scaling it up to be used by the games mecha!
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: lots of artwork follows this trope, though it´s also partly adverted since players can pilot mecha with helmet shaped heads and other minor examples.
  • Human Resources: Rubber-Forehead Alien resources, actually, but heart engines are precisely that-the hearts of oni, the native species of Tenra. Indeed, this is the core reason for Fantastic Racism against them: It's a lot easier to pretend the people you are murdering to power your war machines are monsters than it is to admit that you're committing genocide to fuel war.
  • Jidaigeki: Of the hyperstylized variety, borrowing from all of the subgenres imaginable but especially samurai-related fiction and Ninja Fiction.
  • Karma Meter: A literal one. It goes up whenever you do certain things, and goes down only rarely, when you willingly give up your characters Fates. Letting it get too high is a bad thing.
  • Killer Robot: Kongohki, combat robots piloted by the brainwashed soul of a dead person, known to sometimes go Ax-Crazy if the soul starts to remember it´s past.
  • Laser Blade: Oni, the natives of Tenra can learn to focus their power into a sword shaped beam of light they can wield.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Both the Lightning Strike Style and the empty Mind Style is all about striking fast over striking hard.
  • Low Culture, High Tech:
  • Magical Indegenous Race: The Oni.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Nearly every weapon of war in-universe is powered by the heart engines.
  • Martial Arts and Crafts: The Arts of War, martial arts styles that ads new and powerful options to your standard use of unarmed or melee weapons.
  • Mix-and-Match Weapon: Swords comes in a Gunblade style like the ones in Final Fantasy VIII, the weapon creation rules also have a option to do this, mixing all kinds of weapons.
  • Mystical 108: If your Karma stat exceeds this number by the time the session is over, you become an Asura. Time to create another character!
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: With a setting like this, players and GM are welcomed to give characters these kind of names.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: thanks to the Archetype system there are few limits to mixing up things found in this trope.
  • Paper Talisman: what the onmyouji use to summon/create there shikigami.
  • Rule of Cool: Woven into the rules, the game allows players to reward the acting player with points that can be used later to boost dice roles or use in the same way as EXP to permanently improve the character. Promoting players to act out there character and preform daring and fun actions.
  • The Savage Indian: The powers that be promote this view of the Oni.
  • Shout-Out: The Kuze-Shu are rather obviously expies of the X-Men (specifically, they're based heavily on the late nineties line-up of the X-Men following the "Operation: Zero Tolerance" storyline).
  • Slave Race: Kugutsu. Almost all are sold off to the highest bidder for prices that can reach the equivalent of billions of dollars in in-setting currency.
  • Summon Magic:
  • Powered Armor: One model of the mecha mention in this article is scaled down to be worn like this. Comes in the same two flavours as the other mecha, fancy child piloted or mass produced piloted by anyone. Text suggest this model is still rare but slowly growing popular with the bigger nations on the planet, who seam to plan creating whole squads of powered armored troops.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Inverted. Yoroi Armour needs it's pilot to be as a be as innocent possible. Played straight by heart engines
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: A major theme, nearly every splat is either functionally human in terms of emotion, mental and spiritual capacities but is the target of some sort of prejudice or was once a human and has been radically altered past the point of being human.
  • World of Badass: Normal human range for attributes is 1 to 3. Normal range for PC's and important NPC's starts at 4 and goes up from there.