Tenra Bansho Zero: Archetypes

October 12, 2012

Tenra Bansho Zero has this pretty interesting character generation system. You pick from a list of Archetypes – packages of skills, abilities and special equipment. Each Archetype has a Karma cost associated with it- you can take as few or as many as you want, as long as you don’t go above 108, with the game strongly recommending between 50-90 Karma.

The first neat thing is that an Archetype could be encompassing, like a character class – with multiple skills and powers, or it could be an aspect of your character’s past – “Hard Luck” for example. Each Archetype typically covers between 1-5 skills, and what keeps it functional is a) TBZ has a relatively short skill list, and b) it’s really easy to get many skills IN play, so you don’t have to have an obsessively detailed list – you cover the main ones and let the players buy the rest during play.

And it gives some stupid easy rules for making new Archetypes…

Underworld Connections

You either grew up around, or spent some time with the seedy part of society. If you weren’t directly working for a gang or organized crime cartel, you certainly spent enough time interacting with them to be part of the scene.

Karma: 35
Skills: Criminal Arts 3, Willpower 3, Pursuit 3, Notice 2, Evasion 2
Attribute Penalty 0
Primary Attribute: Knowledge
Equipment: None
Weapons: Knife +2
Special Abilities: None

Fate: Never Escape the Past
Description: Reliability. It made you friends and earned you enemies. And now, of course it’s the same reason they all want to pull you back in – they either need you or they need revenge upon you.

One of the People

You’ve either grown up with or spent time amongst the working class.

Karma: 10
Skills: Movement 3, Information 2, Persuasion 2
Attribute Penalty 0
Primary Attribute: Body
Equipment: Worn clothing
Weapons: Carrying Pole +1
Special Abilities: None

Fate: This village is your home, now
Description: You’ve laughed, cried, struggled and put in sweat with these people, and they need you and want you to stay. But your life of adventure- danger, duty, could destroy them all. Is this your home? Can you be as selfish and foolish to believe you can settle down and live a simple life?


It’s not the brush, it’s not the words, it’ s the heart behind the words. You seek a form of deep truth and enlightenment through your art, and it is what makes you admired, if not fully understood by the world around you.

Karma: 30
Skills: Willpower 3, Etiquette 3, Notice 2, Forgery 2
Attribute Penalty 0
Primary Attribute: Spirit
Equipment: Professional brushes, ink, inkstone, scrolls and paper
Weapons: None
Special Abilities: None

Fate: Finding the mystery calligrapher
Description: Honestly, the piece you saw changed you – it awakened you to the truth of calligraphy, and you have to know the person who made it. What is their philosophy? What is their way?

Notes: You could have a sculptor, painter, tea master, or whatever high art would lead to a form of truth as an alternate character idea. Adjust equipment accordingly.

Traveling Merchant

Amidst the war and turmoil – trade still happens. You’ve been around and seen a lot, met a lot of people. Living between borders lets you see things from a perspective few have.

Karma: 30
Skills: Persuasion 3, Information 3, Etiquette 2, Notice 2
Attribute Penalty 0
Primary Attribute: Empathy
Equipment: Pack or cart of trade goods
Weapons: Walking staff +1
Special Abilities: None

Fate: Seeking Something Before Going Home
Description: You want to go home, but you can’t go back empty handed. Maybe you need a special medicine for a loved one, or perhaps you need a certain amount of money to help them out – no matter what, your travels revolve around getting this thing.

Disciple of the Sword

You’re young and untested, studying a sword art that you may never perfect… and most likely won’t live long enough TO perfect.

Karma: 20
Skills: Movement 3, Melee Weapons 2, Evasion 2, Etiquette 2, War Arts: Southern Seas One Blade Style 2
Attribute Penalty 0
Primary Attribute: Body
Equipment: None
Weapons: Katana +3
Special Abilities: None

Fate: What is the definition of a warrior?
Description: You’ve been trained in a specialized dojo, one which has focused on teaching you not just the way of the sword, but a philosophy as well. How do you reconcile the noble ideas of warriorship with the endless butchery of war? This doubt haunts your heart, and may leave you dead if you don’t solve it in time.

Notes: You can choose a different War Art if you prefer, as well as a different appropriate weapon (bow, spear, etc.)

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