Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Creative Inspiration - Seven Samurai

During a recent thread on (thread can be found here) on borrowing plots from other sources, it quickly came up that many GMs had used Seven Samurai as their plot on many occasions. So often used the comment was even made "I challenge you all to say "I never did Seven Samurai" with a straight face." 

So what is it about Seven Samurai that makes it such a source of inspiration to GMs? Well it's not just limited to role-playing games. If we step back to look at cinema and television we can see that Seven Samurai has been heavily borrowed/homaged/stolen over the course of the last 50 years.

  • The Magnificent Seven (deliberately a remake)
  • Battle Beyond the Stars
  • Three Amigos (it's there, honest)
  • A Bugs Life (yes, go watch it again, A Bugs Life is Seven Samurai)
There are many more (in fact let me know more, it would be interesting to compile a list.)

Even television shows are not immune to the Seven Samurai plot, and in fact given the episodic nature it's perhaps more likely to be used at least once
  • Clone Wars episode The Bounty Hunters (they didn't even try to hide it)
  • Stargate SG-1
  • Firefly (Heart of Gold)

At its core there is a facet that is so appealing to role-playing. A motley group of adventurers is gathered together with the objective of performing a simple task, that of protecting a village from the predations of a group of bandits. It's a classic tale of the heroic standing up against evil to protect the innocent. It's such a simple concept that is so easily adaptable to almost any role-playing game that the concept of it is ingrained unconsciously into the mind of almost anyone writing adventure stories. 

Personally I'm not sure how many times I've used it
  • Traveller
  • Star Wars
  • Call of Cthulhu
  • Shadowrun
  • Earthdawn
  • Legend of the Five Rings (seems fitting)
  • And probably more
So tell me, how many games have you run Seven Samurai in?

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