Review: Rite Publishing – Way of the Yakuza (Kaidan)

Way of the Yakuza
Way of the Yakuza is a supplement for the Asian fantasy horror setting Kaidan for the Pathfinder Fantasy system written by Jonathan McAnulty and published by Rite Publishing.
By Cape Rust

Way of the Yakuza is a faction guide to the Yakuza Criminal Organization of Kaidan, an oriental setting for the Pathfinder fantasy system. This faction guide reads like a history of the Yakuza, while still providing players and GMs enough information to make the Yakuza come alive in most fantasy settings.


This faction guide is 39 pages long and 34 of those pages contain a concise history of the Yakuza, traits, Class Archetypes, a new prestige class, feats, equipment, spells, guidelines for creating a Yakuza gang, information for a village beset by Yakuza and several ready to use Yakuza NPCs.


This faction guide is an interesting read. I have studied some aspects of the Yakuza and have seen them presented as an additional class in other settings and books, but Way of the Yakuza takes this storied criminal organization to whole new levels. The material in this faction guide reads more like a well-written novel than a sourcebook.


Publication Quality: 7 out of 10
The art in this book is a home run! Minus the Kitsune picture on page 19 I was completely satisfied. The art felt feudal oriental and was well-placed. This faction book lost points for a major and a minor problem. The major problem had to do with the index. I was truly happy to see an index; however it looks like they put the wrong index into this book. The minor problem has to do with the page borders. I love the way that Rite Publishing incorporates interesting borders in their products and the use of the bamboo border in Way of the Yakuza was genius, the problem arises with the top and bottom portions of each border. Instead of closing of each section of bamboo the ends are just cut off. This is minor problem, but when you have an outstanding product like this, little things like the bamboo border stick out.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Spot on! The Feats, the prestige class, the spells, all of it works. There is a temptation to make many Oriental factions (Yakuza, Ninjas, and Samurai) larger than life. Based on historical accounts some members of these organizations were, but there were just as many who were fairly normal. Way of the Yakuza brings a nice balance to an almost mythical criminal organization. The archetypes presented in Way of the Yakuza cover most of the core classes. They add just the right amount of oriental flavor without creating a power vacuum.

Value Add: 10 out of 10
This faction guide could easily serve as a mini-campaign setting. The background information is interesting and extensive. The sample village is well-done and could act as an interesting home base for player characters. While they fit best in an oriental setting they could actually fit into your typical fantasy setting with few adjustments. Way of the Yakuza includes a great section on possible Yakuza enterprises and has a great language primer not only for Yakuza gang names but common terms as well. These won’t make you fluent, but they will help give your game a more realistic feel.

Overall: 9 out of 10
If not for the wrong index and the minor problem with the bamboo border Way of the Yakuza would have been 10 out of 10. Please Mr. McAnulty don’t commit seppuku or even cut off your pinky Yakuza style because of the index mistake, you have way too much to offer! Don’t let those mistakes keep you away from this outstanding product. The art is stunning and the mechanical crunch is delicious.

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