Hi everyone, Crunch here to share a review of a Mists of Akuma. We did record a Show and Tell interview and a Trial game with the creator, but technical problems developed during the editing process. Luckily, a video recording of the game was saved, so if you want to see me, Matthew, and Scott play this game, you can follow the link to YouTube at the end of the article.
Mists of Akuma is a campaign setting that uses the Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons rule set. It’s currently on Kickstarter with about 2 weeks left in its campaign. It was created by Mike Myler, a freelance game designer with a long list of credits, including Hypercorps 2099 which was recently funded through Kickstarter as well. Mists of Akuma can be summed up as an Eastern Fantasy Noir Steampunk game. If any of those words catch your fancy, swing over to Kickstarter now and check it out.
Mists of Akuma has a deep story to support its crazy genre mash-ups. It builds upon historical events to create a world of political intrigue where corruption and danger are around every corner. The land still suffers from an ancient war. The Mists are a real threat in this game world, transforming and mutating those it infects. Much of the intrigue of the game can be found in the political conflicts between clans and prefectures that are all struggling to survive.
While the game story relies heavily on authentic Eastern culture and myths to create a vibrant and dynamic world, it also mixes in a healthy dash of new elements such as airships and steampunk cybernetic enhancements. These concepts are not just tossed in haphazardly. The story embraces these crazy ideas and incorporates them into its history. This results in a story that makes sense, even when things get crazy.
The best way to get a taste of what Mists of Akuma has to offer is to check out the free PDFs that Mike has created that introduce players to his world. They are available for download on the project’s Kickstarter page.
This campaign setting has a lot of depth. It’s easy to create a game all about intrigue and mystery that relies on social combat and cultural conflicts. The setting is deadly and carries heavy consequences. A happy ending is not guaranteed and the players will certainly face difficult tasks. However, it’s just as easy to create a game that celebrates the oddity of the world and has fun with the source material. Do you want to play a character that’s a mutated turtle who received ninja training at a young age and is now a teenage adventurer? Or how about a samurai with a robotic heart powered by lightening? Go for it!
To facilitate all of these possibilities, Mists of Akuma gives players 17 new classes and 27 new race options to choose from. Wow! Races include some very classic options, such as Ninja, Samurai, and Wu-Jen. They also include things like the Gun Priest. Yes, you read that right. In a very smart design move, this campaign setting makes all of these new class options into archetype choices of existing classes. Instead of starting from scratch and building an entirely new class, Mists of Akuma uses the existing class structure and bends it to fit the flavor of the world. The races are mostly new options, although there are three subtypes of humans to give them some game world flavor. There are some classic choices, like the Tengu, and some not so classic choices, like the undead Necroji or the artificially created Steametic.
Additionally, Mists of Akuma adds 2 new atributes: Dignity and Haitoku. Dignity is “an indicator of how well they [the characters] carry their dutiful nature (if they have one) and how honorable others perceive them to be” while Haitoku “represents a character’s gradual embrace of the dark methods, immoral ethics, and fell powers”. Both attributes can be raised and lowered during the course of a game based on events that occur, and are impacted by things like race and feats. Checks and Saves can be made with both as well. Dignity checks revolve around using cultural etiquette or honorable actions while Haitoku checks are about brutality or darker nature to influence a situation. These new attributes add an interesting dynamic to the game. On one hand, they are another aspect of the character to manage and can be challenging to understand, since they function on a much grander scale than other stats. However, they also reinforce the true flavor of the world and provide an access point for players to understand the nature of this new campaign setting.
Mists of Akuma also fleshes out its campaign setting with new backgrounds, feats, and items. These all function the same mechanically as in the established rules, but reinforce the uniqueness of the game world. Backgrounds include options like Ronin or Shinobi. Some feats are specific, such as Ancestral Weapon, and others are broad, like Swordmaster. And there are a new type of feats called Stance Feats that provide various martial art abilities. Most items detailed in this setting have a typical Eastern fantasy flair. However there are also a variety of new things, such as steampunk powered cybernetics called Augmetics. These can do anything from augment a character’s vision to provide extendable limbs.
Overall, Mists of Akuma is an ambitious project. Its components are not new, but it assembles these tropes of the genre into a unique and entertaining combination. The strength of this campaign setting is found in its foundational story. It’s well-written, it makes sense, and it provides countless examples for story hooks and campaign ideas. It also helps players understand the unique oddity of the world, instead of just tossing them into the deep end and hoping that they figure it out. The Kickstarter campaign for Mists of Akuma is going strong, but it is not yet funded. A large portion of the funds will go towards providing fantastic art for the final book. Mike has contracted a large number of artists who will each bring their unique style to the work.
Check out Mists of Akuma on Kickstarter here and download the free PDFs to get a more detailed look at this cool campaign setting. You can visting Mike on his website or talk to him on Twitter. And check out Mike’s YouYube channel for quite a few videos about Mists of Akuma, including a real play session with the RPG Academy Players.