Best system for a semi-heroic supernatural japanese horror campaign?


New member
That was a mouthful.

Okay guys, I'm looking for a system for running what was stated in the title. What do I mean by that?

Well, Japanese horror is all about building tension and facing the uncomprehensible. Many urban legends, horror series and mangas are about normal and sometimes even good people who are harrassed by horrible creatures or entities whose motives are never explained, it's very bizarre, surreal even. Japanese ghosts usually don't care if the attacked used to be a loved one, they're dead set on revenge and harming every and all living creature and for that they have a vast array of powerful supernatural abilities.

The idea of the campaign is making it like Supernatural, but set in Japan. I want our players to be normal people who investigate occurrences and set out to seal evil. I don't want to give them too many tools, I want for the players to feel the threat of being erradicated by horrible beings, but at the same time don't make them too frail to keep them from being the heroes of an ongoing campaign.

Any ideas?


Crystal Human
Validated User
I was running a similar campaign last year with Savage Worlds set in Rokugan, so I can say that it worked pretty well for that sort of campaign.


Registered User
Validated User
My current campaign is THIS, in Unknown Armies, with players having only minor supernatural talents (one can see invisible stuff, one use random, automatic writing as a divination tool), facing the unexplained.

It´s working pretty well.


Crown Prince of Next to Nothing
Validated User
Pulp Cthulhu or regular Call of Cthulhu can do this well. Pulp if you want a more action oriented feel or Call if you want more of a fragile feel to your PCs.

Gumshoe games could also handle this concept quite nicely, which variation you choose is going to depend upon what sort of feel you want for it. Esoterrorists would probably be my first choice, but I've only dabbled in Gumshoe and there are some other folks here who could probably help you make a more informed choice as to the right iteration.


Registered User
Validated User
I'm currently running my Nankaina Kukusa campaign with Savage Worlds, which is analogous to a 1900 Japan time frame with a blend of epic fantasy with elements of horror and steampunk. So based on how well my campaign is running, I'll ditto the suggestion that SW is a rules system that could do "semi-heroic supernatural Japanese horror."

There's also the Iron Dynasty 3rd party SW setting available for it, which is set in a mythical, feudal japan; the islands of Japan are actually known as Konoya. It has a truly terrific gear section and a bestiary that includes a number of supernatural foes. It also has a good system of tables for randomly generating your own creatures, which can be easily be made to produce more supernatural results by forgoing the random rolls on the 1st couple of tables. Savage Worlds also has an excellent Horror Companion available, which can be very useful for making things that much more horrific.


Game Guru-Thread Shepherd
RPGnet Member
Validated User
BESM/ Tri-Stat
Hero/ GURPs

You want something that does normal people, but has mechanics for all those supernatural powers.


Registered User
Validated User
Monster of the Week would work well for this. It's designed so that you can pretty much throw as much horrible shit at your characters as you want, and they'll come out of it looking heroic (though bystanders may not). Part of how it does this is with luck points. Each character has 7 to start, and they can use them to save themselves when they would otherwise die, or get the max result on a roll (and maybe a couple of other options I can't remember right now).

It's Powered by the Apocalypse, and designed to emulate the genre of Buffy, X-Files, or Supernatural. If you think the feel of those shows would match what you're going for here, then I'd take a look. It doesn't so much emphasize the relationships between characters, so that comes down to roleplaying.

My favorite thing about Monster of the Week is the guidance for the GM. It makes it really easy to create a mystery (monster). It's one of the smoothest and easiest GMing experiences I've had, both in terms of prep and in terms of running and pacing an exciting game.

Aaron Mouritsen

Validated User
Probably Hunter the vigil. There is a dark ages setting for Meiji Japan monster hunting which I think would fit great.
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