A slightly weird idea I know, but I was struck by it while sitting in a Japanese drinking restaurant (izakaya) attempting to read the fantastical labels on all their Sake bottles. I tried a variation on this theme a while back, when I suggested translations of Osaka place names as inspiration for adventure settings. While western wines tend to be named based on their location (e.g. Jacob’s Creek or Chateau de Whatever), Japanese sake[1] tends to be named after auspicious, fortunate, or bold concepts. Previously on this blog I introduced the infamous suigei, or drunken whale, which was inspiration for a lie but not for a spell; however, many of the names that festoon your average drinking restaurant’s wine shelf would probably pass muster as a spell, ability or card. So, here are a few, taken from the Rakuten sake market. I’ve included some basic D&D stats.

Sound of Snow (Yuki no Oto)

  Class: Druid

 Level: 3

Duration: 1 rd/lvl

Area of Effect: 20′ radius

                   Saving Throw: None

The caster and his or her allies become as silent as gently falling snow; +4 on all Move Silently Checks. This spell is ineffective in areas of strong wind or great heat.

The Wine: Incapable of being mass-produced, this wine retains the elegance and mellowness of handmade sake, combined with a rounded and refreshing taste. It goes well with sashimi, grilled white fish, and delicate-flavoured vegetables.

Region: Akita Prefecture, Northeast Japan.

Favorable Reply (iroyoi henji)

  Class: Cleric

Level: 1

Duration: 1 round

Area of Effect: Caster

Saving Throw: None

With this spell, the caster can ask a minor deity a single yes or no question concerning the action to be taken in the round immediately following the casting of the spell. The minor deity will tell the caster whether or not they are capable of success with the given action, but will give no information as to whether, for example, the caster is embarking on the correct actions necessary to secure this success. The action in question must be describable in terms of a single die roll (e.g. a single attack or skill check), not a general sequence of actions (such as, for example, avoiding the snapping pincers of the giant crabs in the pit while balancing on a narrow log, and grabbing a hanging gem). Mechanically, whether this spell is useful depends on whether the GM usually gives this kind of information away for free. Note also that the deity invoked is a minor deity and cannot answer questions of a difficulty beyond its ken.

The Wine: Made with a special Yamagata yeast that achieves an excellent balance of flavours, this is a wine that is able to be enjoyed with food.

Region: Yamagata

Honorable Blade of Fortune (ofuku masamune)

Class: Paladin

Level: 4

Duration: 1 rd/level

Area of Effect: Caster/sight

Saving Throw: None

The caster summons a holy sword that grants him or her both good fortune and power for the duration of its use. The sword grants its wielder +1 to hit and damage, and is capable of damaging monsters that can only be hit by magic weapons up to +3. Furthermore, when the spell is cast the caster rolls 2d10+wisdom bonus. While the caster is wielding the sword, a single d20 roll can be replaced with the result of this casting roll every round. The caster or any ally can replace their roll with the result of this roll. At the very least, this spell will protect one member of the party per round from a critical fumble; note that if the caster rolls a natural 20, this does not grant critical successes (but it can be used on rolls to determine whether a natural 20 results in critical damage).

The Wine: Brewed from rice cultivated for more than 40 years by the famous Takeuchi family of brewers, in terraced rice paddies on the Sea of Japan coast of Niigata, this wine is a masterpiece imbued with the spirit of the brewer.

Region: Niigata

Hawk’s Courage (takayu)

 Class: Wizard

Level: 2

Duration: 1 rd/lvl

Area of Effect: One person

Saving Throw: None

This spell grants its target both great courage and fine vision. For the duration of the spell the target gains a +2 morale bonus to saving throws vs. fear, becomes immune to fear of heights, and gains a +2 bonus on spot, listen and search checks. Rumour has it that the spell was developed by wizards in the service of certain ancient clans of pirates who ply the skyways over the most forbidding mountain peaks of the realm.

The Wine: The flavour of this wine is a rare and exquisite thing of beauty. Anyone who receives this wine as a gift will surely be profoundly pleased.

Region: Tottori

There are many, many more wines on the Rakuten marketplace – a whole spell book’s worth if you have the skills. And then there is the shochu … want to give it a try?

fn1: which is called nihonshu in Japanese, btw – literally, “Japanese alcohol”