Back in 2008, I made a game called Choson to run for the crew from Fist Full of Comics and Games. It was set, as might be guessed by the title, in Choson era Korea. Looking at it now, I am not impressed. It’s not that I think it was a horrible design, it was just that there is too much to it that does not follow directly from the purpose or philosophy of the game. Some of it did, but not all of it. It has a lot of excess baggage.
I have considered reviving Choson before, and it came to mind again because I am re-reading some Korean history. I tend to do historical games (Kiss My Axe, Centurion, and Nefertiti Overdrive), so Choson would make sense. However, I don’t think I’d want to do a straight-up historical game like Centurion – or, to a lesser extent, Kiss My Axe – rather I think I’d do something closer to Nefertiti Overdrive.
There was a Korean drama series that I watched with my wife called the Hero Hong Gil Dong. Hong Gil Dong is a Korean version of Robin Hood, the 2008 series started out blending wire-fu, anachronism and humour with the story. I was sold. Unfortunately, all those elements soon disappeared, and while the opening of the pilot made promises, the series as a whole didn’t deliver.
The promise of those early episodes is what I would aim for would I do another historical RPG set in Korea. For wirefu and fun, I probably would set it in the Choson era, probably in the 17th or 18th century. Other periods of Korean history work better, in my mind, for more swords and sorcery action, and for a straight-up adventure, I would probably choose the Koryo era, maybe during the 10th and 11th century wars with the Khitan nomads.
You can find Fist Full of Comics and Games here.
You can find some information on an adventure I wrote for Savage Worlds based in Choson here.
You can find more information on the Hero Hong Gil Dong here.
You can watch the pilot here. The first eight minutes or so are the best part.