What is Kannagara?

What is Kannagara?

Kannagara is a table-top, pen & paper roleplaying game in which players portray people associated with a Shinto sacred space, who create and perform its rituals. They build relationships with the mundane and supernatural inhabitants of the area so that the sacred space, people, and spirits flourish, mysteries are solved, and wonders are both uncovered and created.

Four elements are central to the game.

The first is personal growth. Characters get better over time, overcome their problems, and become something better than they were. This applies both to the characters controlled by the people playing the game, the personae, and to all other characters. Personae do this with each other’s help, while characters do it with the help of personae. Personae are, of course, the active driving force in the game world. Characters follow their own agendas, and do not just wait for personae to act, but major changes require the involvement of personae.

The second is building relationships. Personae try to build good relationships with characters, and with each other.

The third is discovery. Personae uncover lost truths and solve mysteries. Sometimes these are wholly mundane, such as finding out why someone seems so hostile to them, but often they are supernatural. The personae know nothing about the supernatural when the game starts out, but that situation does not last long.

The final activity is creation. A central form of creation is the creation of rituals for the sacred space, the jinja. These rituals help to build relationships with characters, and can help them to grow. In the case of kami, the supernatural spirits associated with the jinja or the surrounding area, this is quite direct, but for human characters it is generally an indirect effect.

These elements are all interdependent. Personae grow by building relationships, creating things, and discovering truths, and after growing they are better at building relationships, creating things, and discovering truths. Of course, they can also build relationships by growing and encouraging growth, creating things, and discovering truths, and so on.

Finally, the party is held together because they are all closely associated with the same sacred space, the same jinja. The success of the jinja is one way to measure the overall success of the players in the game.

There are also two important absences from the game.

First, the game is not about combat, at all. There will be no fighting, and no rules for fighting. There will, of course, be conflicts, because you need conflicts for drama, but those conflicts will not be solved by violence.

Second, Kannagara is a game of wonder, not horror. It is set in a world like the modern day, with a largely hidden and secret supernatural element, but that supernatural element is not horrifying, it is wondrous. If the game turned out to be an accurate depiction of our world, that would be a good thing. (Also, extremely surprising.)

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