Tag Archives: Maid RPG

Yaruki Zero Podcast #22: 2013 in Review

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Yaruki Zero Podcast #22 (39 minutes, 42 seconds)

2013 was quite a year for me, plus I haven’t done a proper podcast in ages (literally over 2 years…), so I decided to do an overview of my year, covering the Channel A and Golden Sky Stories Kickstarters, Maid RPG, Fate and Adventures of the Space Patrol, Destiny Dice, Beyond Otaku Dreams, and a few other odds and ends.

This podcast uses selections from the song “Click Click” by Grünemusik, available for free from Jamendo.com. If you like the song, consider buying some CDs from Nankado’s website.

Caricature of Ewen courtesy of C. Ellis.

Maid: The Role-Playing Game and Star Line Publishing

coverBeginning in 2014, Star Line Publishing will be taking over handling Maid: The Role-Playing Game in English. Maid RPG is a slapstick anime comedy RPG, and an earlier work by Golden Sky Stories designer Ryo Kamiya. Andy K originally took the lead role in the business of publishing the game, while I handled most of the translation and otherwise took a back seat. With Andy moving to Japan and my own publishing venture getting up and running, it made sense to switch the game over to SLP. For the time being we’ll be treating Maid as a “long tail” product, making it available primarily through PDF and print on demand venues, though we’ll still be able to offer printed books at conventions and to interested retailers. We’ll be expanding to a few new POD/PDF sales channels as well, notably DriveThruRPG and Amazon’s CreateSpace (which will in turn make it available for order through Amazon), though given that Maid RPG has gotten and stayed disturbingly high on their sales charts, we’ll definitely continue the partnership with Indie Press Revolution that Andy started.

Whether there will be anything new for Maid RPG depends a lot on what we have the resources to accomplish and what people express interest in. I do plan to eventually complete and publish my Retail Magic game (a comedy RPG based on the Maid RPG rules, but about employees at a magic item shop), and I might go as far as to look into finally putting together a book of original Maid RPG material, and possibly a cheaper and slimmer introductory Maid RPG core rulebook similar to products like the Explorer’s Edition of Savage Worlds. If there’s something you’d like to see, let us know!

A General Update

I had started writing a design journal post about Fantasy Friends, and then I realized I had made such a post before and I was mostly rehashing stuff I’d already written about. In a way that kind of typifies a lot of what’s been going on with me in terms of game design: there are a lot of things I have more or less figured out in my head but still need to finish doing the actual writing and such. I think that has a lot to do with the Golden Sky Stories Kickstarter eating up so much of my time, but the good news is that for the purposes of the actual shipping of physical goods part my own work is very nearly done. All of the many physical items are variously already at the warehouse, on their way to the warehouse, or will be going to the warehouse once printing is done. All that’s left for me is to post some updates and handle letting backers update their mailing addresses when the time comes. After that we still want to get the remaining PDF stuff done in a reasonable amount of time, but it’s not going to be nearly as much pressure. Anyway, I decided to write a blog post about what I’ve been generally working on.

Friday Knights
One of my major projects right now is Friday Knights, a playset for the currently-Kickstarting Costume Fairy Adventures RPG, the inaugural product from David J. Prokopetz’s Penguin King Games. The game is about cute fairies who wear costumes that give them magical powers (there’s a deck of costume cards) and how they generally get into trouble. I’m writing a scenario/playset where your fairies wind up in a house where there’s a D&D game going on. I’ve made a good start on it, but there’s plenty of writing left to do.

Adventures of the Space Patrol
The other day while googling to see what people were saying about Golden Sky Stories I came across something that gave me pause. Someone had pointed out that in describing the Space Agents I had portrayed the male characters in a variety of ways, but managed to talk about pretty much all of the female characters in terms of being young and pretty. I’ve generally been trying to be better about inclusiveness and diversity, both to better serve my audience and to challenge myself to break dumb cliches, so it caught me off guard that I’d managed to do such a thing without even realizing it. On the plus side, that promptly gave me the idea to make Billy Smith’s mother a playable character, which is a dynamic that you pretty much never see in RPGs. Generally tweaking and playing around with the other characters is also going on my to-do list for the next revision of the game, whenever I can make time for it.

I’m also planning to include more robust rules for creating original characters. While I like having premade ones in many different ways, it seems pretty clear that a big chunk of the RPG audience wants the ability to make solid original characters. I also picked up the Fate System Toolkit. It’s packed with all sorts of ideas, but the one that interests me most is Conditions, though I’m not at all sure whether they’re really the way to go. Something to experiment with in playtesting.

Magical Burst
A few people have been asking about Magical Burst. It’s another one of those projects where I’ve pretty much figured out what I want to do, but need to find the time to actually do it. That puts it pretty much at the top of my list of things to do when GSS isn’t eating up quite so much of my life. I also need to find time to sit down and watch more of the magical girl anime that’s come out (the Madoka movies, Day Break Illusion, Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya, and I’m sure I’m missing something). Of my many neglected projects Magical Burst is easily the one I most want to make happen, and a Kickstarter is a very distinct possibility once I get the rules nailed down. (Though after my experiences with GSS, I’m definitely going to keep extras and stretch goals on a tight leash next time around.) As I mentioned before I want to continue having a free version of Magical Burst available, something along the lines of how Anima Prime has a no-frills free version and a fancy book with illustrations and such.

Other Stuff

  • I haven’t gotten around to posting it, but I did a revision of America’s Next Top Reality Show, making it so that each card has two title words, plus a demographic listed between. That way the game has 144 title words out of a 72-card deck, and doesn’t need for the players to have dice on hand. The game is working pretty well, though it has a very different energy from Channel A, plus we tend to feel kinda dirty after playing it, in a way that doesn’t happen even with Cards Against Humanity. ANTRS parodies something really prevalent in our culture right now, and potentially in a pretty cutting way, since sometimes it does feel like reality shows use some kind of randomizer.
  • Fighting Fighters Coliseum is the title I’m tentatively giving to a game that’s going to be a kind of successor to Channel A, still a party game, but with a little bit more in the way of rules. The idea is that instead of titles, you assemble your final attack name from words on cards. The game would also have a set of character cards, which double as both player avatars and opponents, with different special abilities for both. There’s still some details to work out, but putting together a list of words from special attacks was pretty much just a matter of culling through lists of such.
  • Something’s going to be happening with Maid RPG soon. Nothing earth-shattering, but something. I should be revealing it in about a month or so.

Retail Magic Design Journal 2

Last night I ran my first Retail Magic playtest, and it went really well. Granted at this stage it’s basically a reskinned Maid RPG, but as my attempt at using those rules for a new version of Mascot-tan demonstrated, that wouldn’t have been a guarantee of success. For the game I rolled up a store I named Vanderveldt Bros., originally under the control of two archmages, but since they died (most likely at each other’s hands) their nephew Eric Vanderveldt (a talented young mage but largely clueless about business) inherited the store. Over the course of the game Axebeard (a female dwarf) held an interview that led to Red Maj (a little girl) being hired, while Wyrmsbane (a shiftless loser dressed as a wizard) slacked off. There was a bit of flailing around dealing with customers, missionaries, and so on before it turned out an ancient dragon was coming to burninate the city, and they had to gather the ingredients for a ritual in order to weaken the dragon enough to defeat it. It was fun, and very silly. It also felt a whole lot like Maid RPG at a magic shop, but then that was kind of the idea.

One thing I’m thinking about is writing a bit about how to approach playing the game. I have enough experience with running Maid RPG that I think I could put together some useful advice. I just discovered Craig Judd’s blog The Game Mechanic, where he just put up three posts about his experiences with Maid RPG as the first of his experiments with expanding his RPG horizons. It’s really interesting to read about someone else struggling to figure out how to play the game and ultimately finding their own style, which is apparently considerably more serious than mine. It’s going to be a challenge to find the right midpoint between offering advice while making it clear that people can do what they want, but I think very worthwhile. It’s probably going to end up looking a lot like the advice I wrote for Dragon World.

I came up with a small innovation, albeit one that gives me a lot of work to do. The idea is to have a d666 table that is in essence a set of six d66 tables with different themes. I’m doing this with the item table, which has different general types of items so that you can just make a d666 roll for any old kind of item, or make a d66 roll specifically for a cursed item or an outworld artifact. I’m also thinking of doing this with the random event tables, which will both give the game enough random events to hold up to more play, and provide event tables for more themes.

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I finally started playing Recettear, which I’m enjoying a lot so far, plus it helped me figure out a general approach for putting together the “commerce rules” for Retail Magic. Assuming I can put together something workable, I think “store management” is going to be its own style of play, distinct from random event-driven, favor race, etc. Recettear, like a lot of Japanese simulation video games, uses a concept of “turns,” during which the player has a budget of actions they can take to try to pursue their goals. The system I’m thinking of will be a bit more abstract, without manually doing the haggling of every sale like in Recettear. I’m still in the earliest stages of designing it, and we’ll have to see how it works out.

A while ago I stumbled across Norm Feuti’s book Pretending You Care: The Retail Employee Handbook. He’s the creator of a comic strip called Retail, about the staff of a department store and the shit they have to deal with. It draws on his 15 years of experience working at various stores, and Pretending You Care is a more direct distillation of that experience, full of stuff that I wish I’d known during the one retail job I’ve had. It’s kind of depressing to read–and retail has if anything gotten a bit worse since the book came out in 2007–but it’s giving me plenty of ideas as I re-read it.

Anyway, that’s about where I am with the project. My next step is to basically write more material–items, events, etc.–and try them out. Although it’s getting way ahead of myself, I’m also thinking a bit about possible supplements. I don’t want to get quite as out of control as Maid RPG did, but producing stuff like, say, a collection of scenarios with some accompanying rules material could be interesting. For that matter a friend of mine had an idea for a hack that would basically be a zany fantasy version of Community.

Another Project: Retail Magic

After about 2½ weeks I finished the first draft of the Yaruki Zero book, which weighs in at a bit over 60,000 words. It’s like I got up to a certain speed with my writing and can’t slow down. Right now I’m having some friends look it over before I start on a second draft.

In the meantime, I got inspired to start on another new project. I’ve been wanting to do a new game using the rules of Maid RPG for ages now; I even came up with the idea to call the rules the M.A.I.D. (Maniacs Asymmetrical Interactive Delusion) Engine. I want to do this partly because it’s just something fun, and partly so the people put off by the maids might give the same rules a chance with subject matter that won’t freak them out so much. My attempt to make a new version of Mascot-tan didn’t work out basically because gijinka characters don’t mesh with random chargen at all. I may take another stab at it once I rethink the character creation rules, but a recent bit of renewed hysteria about Maid RPG got me thinking about it again.

My first idea was to do a game in the vein of Urusei Yatsura, about human and alien teenagers in everyday life. Except I don’t really want to rewrite Teenagers From Outer Space. My second idea, and the one I latched onto, was to make a game where you play the employees at a magic item shop in a fantasy setting. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for years–I ran a game with the same concept using Risus a couple times–but the moment I allowed the possibility of using the Maid RPG rules for it, it made entirely too much sense. Characters can be random and zany on the level of Dragon Half, and the store setup naturally gives you an authority figure NPC like in Maid RPG. I’m still working out what other kinds of rules I want to put into the game though. I’m definitely putting in a d666 random item table, and rules for generating a boss and a shop. On the other hand while it seems natural if not inevitable to put in some kind of basic rules for doing business, I’m not sure of the right way to do it, especially since it needs to mesh with Maid RPG type craziness. (Also, I need to sit down and play Recettear, since I’ve had it on Steam for a year now and everyone who hears about the concept says, “Hey! A Recettear RPG! Awesome!”)

I very quickly settled on the name “Retail Magic” (if you’re picking up an element of deep sarcasm, it’s because that’s what I intended), and since I had a good chunk of my attempt at a new Mascot-tan written up, it’s not so long a journey to a functional rules draft.

One of the things that’s changed between 2008 and now is that I started working in the video game industry as a localization editor, and that helped me shed a tendency to be overly literal in how I translate things. There are an awful lot of things in Maid RPG that today I would word differently, both to better fit American standards (it would’ve been trivially easy to change the “Lolita” Maid Type to “Cute”) and for simple clarity (like renaming “Spirit” to “Stress Limit,” which succinctly tells you what it does). Putting together my own game text from the ground up lets me get everything just how I want it, and lets me keep a close eye on content without having to rewrite or outright excise a bunch of stuff from an original version.

Since I finished the first draft of the employee creation rules (minus descriptions of some of the traits), let’s give them a test drive.

Angelina (Age 24)
Attributes: Athletics 3, Cunning 1, Guts 3, Luck 3, Presence 1, Skill 0
Employee Types: Adventurer, Weirdo
Employee Special Qualities: Pet (albino falcon), Eye Patch
Employee Roots: Under a Curse
Employee Weapon: Holy Magic
Stress Explosion: Hiding in a Box
Colors: Hair: Wine, Eyes: Amber, Outfit: Beige and Off-White
Stress Limit: 30
Starting Favor: 0

Angelina is a former cleric who lost her eye in battle against the Dark Lord’s forces. She works in the store solely because she fell under a curse that makes it so she can’t leave. She’s been adventuring so long that she doesn’t quite know how to relate to normal people anymore, and when things get to be too much she tends to hide in a box until it goes away.

So yeah, I think I’m on the right track. :3

Update: Here’s a few more attempts at making characters.

A Small Update

I’ve kind of been all over the place lately, and getting creatively obsessed with different things at different times. I’ve done three playtest sessions of Dragon World (it’s getting there), then got into working on my UFO Girl novel, then started having a creative crisis over Neko Machi, then we went through a bit of a shakeup at work, and now I have a cold. I’ve been meaning to record and post up a solo podcast for ages now, and thinking of trying to do them as kind of a regular thing. Somehow I haven’t been able to find the time to even get started, and with this cold it’s not gonna happen this weekend.

Kin-Yoobi Con
I had a booth at Kin-Yoobi Con, and sold Neko Machi mini-comics and buttons, plus Maid RPG. It taught me some interesting lessons about the anime crowd, most notably that when it comes to art those folks gravitate much more strongly to characters they already know. I’m wondering if there’s a way to use that kind of appeal for RPGs but on the level of fan art seen at the artists alley at an anime convention.

Mascot-tan
A while back I had an idea to do new games based on the Maid RPG rules, which I would call the M.A.I.D. (Maniacs’ Asymmetrical Interactive Delusion) Engine. I decided to start working on a new version of Mascot-tan that’s basically a Maid RPG hack. So far it’s sticking fairly close to the basic Maid RPG rules, the main difference being that (by default) the group rolls and agrees on one mascot theme (bands, fighter jets, game consoles, RPGs, whatever), rolls up random stuff for their characters, and then each player picks which specific thing their character is a mascots of. Also, I started writing up new tables for most everything from scratch. Funnily enough even for anime maids I’d end up changing some things if I were to write up a Special Qualities table today, on account of anime has generated new kinds of cliches since Maid RPG’s original publication in Japan.

There’s also something else cooking for Maid RPG. :3

Ambitions
I want to bring Magical Burst or Dragon World to fruition in the next 6 months or so. Lately I’ve had kind of a love-hate thing going with Magical Burst, so it’s been hard to muster up the desire to actually look at it, but I have gotten some more feedback. (Plus I’m not good at balancing creative projects. I tend to work on one thing to the exclusion of others.)

Shout Outs

  • With Neko Machi I have the privilege of collaborating with C. Ellis, a woman who is very dedicated to creating comics. She’s doing a webcomic of her own (We’re All Star Children), is a contributor to the Womanthology project (which looks all kinds of amazing), and does plenty more stuff besides. I really do know a lot of amazing people these days, and she’s high on the list.
  • A while ago I translated a short story for Kizuna: Fiction For Japan, a charity fiction anthology for Japan tsunami relief, and it’s now available as a Kindle e-book.

Maid RPG Update: Donating For Japan

It seems like there have been a lot of natural disasters around the world lately, and the recent turmoil in Japan hit particularly hard because Andy and I have friends and family there. So far the people there we care about there (including Maid RPG designer Ryo Kamiya and his cohorts) are safe and sound, if uneasy. There are still aftershocks and rolling blackouts, to say nothing of people unaccounted for. Where people have said “Pray for Japan” I’ve been quick to add, “And please consider donating too,” and it’s time for us to put our money where my mouth is.

Here’s the deal: For the next month or so, for every copy of Maid RPG sold, print or PDF, we will donate the profit, plus $5 out of our own pockets to the Red Cross for disaster relief. That’s all there is to it. Buy it at the usual places, namely Indie Press Revolution or the Maid RPG website.

Update: Ben Lehman is also donating the proceeds of sales of his own game Bliss Stage to disaster relief until the end of the month!

There are plenty of other ways to donate to help Japan, and we encourage you to donate however works best for you. RPGNow is also taking donations, not to mention you can just donate to the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, or other aid organizations directly. And by the way, kudos to the guy who bought godhatesjapan.com and turned it into something positive.

Maid RPG Tumblr

Maid RPG 120%, my attempt at a Maid RPG supplement, has been kind of floundering for a while now. One of the most ambitious aspects of this is trying to put together a new item table in the style of the original one, which means making 216 of the things. I decided to make a Tumblr and try to post one item up every day (I have a good amount done already, and Tumblr has a nice queue feature, so hopefully I should be able to keep it consistent) until I have a D666 table’s worth, and I set it up to allow for submissions too.

Also, I added a Steward Character Sheet to the Maid RPG 120% page, though it’s basically just a maid sheet with the word “stewart” added in several places (and a different font because I don’t have the one that was originally used).

Yaruki Zero Podcast #14: Maid RPG

Andy Kitkowski and Ben Lehman join me for this long-overdue overview of Maid: The Role-Playing Game, and our experiences discovering, translating, publishing and playing what wound up being the first Japanese tabletop RPG ever released in English.


Yaruki Zero Podcast #14 (72 minutes, 7 seconds)

Show Notes

  1. Introductions
  2. What is Maid RPG?
  3. What’s neat about it?
  4. Producing and Selling Maid RPG
  5. Controversy!
  6. The Future!
    • After we recorded the podcast I decided to start posting my original Maid RPG material online: Maid RPG 120%.

This podcast uses selections from the song “Time Machine” by To-den from the Grünemusik album of the same name, available for free from Jamendo.com. If you like the song, consider buying some CDs from Nankado’s website or via Jamendo.

Very awesome caricature of Ewen courtesy of the talented C. Ellis.

Maid RPG: One Year Later

Maid RPG (English Version) Front Cover
Maid RPG (English Version) Front Cover

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the release of Maid RPG in English. On August 14, 2008, Andy and I were at Gen Con Indy, standing in an oddly-placed booth shared with Khepera Publishing and Aetherial Forge, with copies of Maid RPG and a picture of Hard Gay. And that was after we slaved away for many, many months doing the translation (oh god, the translation), editing (which wasn’t as good as it should’ve been) and layout (which was excellent).

Maid RPG wound up being the first Japanese tabletop RPG ever released in English, which as Andy told people at the con is a source of both great pride and of great shame. (Tenra Bansho Zero was supposed to come out first, by a considerable margin, but it’s proven to be a monster of a project.) At Gen Con I got to know Andy better, shake hands with a dizzying array of people whose names I’d heard online, and see the book we’d all put our blood, sweat, and tears into sell out by Sunday afternoon.

Way of the Maid
It has most definitely been a long and strange journey. Some bizarre impulse made me think that doing a translation of Maid RPG was a good idea, and we ran with it. It’s created controversy, ranging from reasonable complaints to a bizarre conspiracy theory, but mostly it’s been a really damn fun game to play. The first RPG I ever owned was Steve Jackson Games’ Toon: The Cartoon Roleplaying Game, and Maid RPG has the same kind of zaniness, but with its own distinctive otaku culture edge. I’ve run it at four different conventions, played it many times with my local friends, once with Ben Lehman and his crew, and once with my sister’s friends in New Mexico, and it has never failed to be fun. On top of that, I keep spotting people starting up games on forums, and over on the Something Awful forums they went so far as to have an alcohol-fueled Skype game.

Since its debut we’ve done some considerable revisions to the text, and generally struggled to keep it in stock at IPR–as I write this they’re nearly out of copies. Again. (Plus it took the better part of the year to finally get those extra scenarios out as a PDF.) It definitely hasn’t made us rich, but as this small press RPG stuff goes it’s exceeded all expectations. Along with typical RPG sites, people were talking it up on 4chan and Gaia Online (and a friend of mine organized IRC demo games through 4chan!). There are literally over a thousand people who have Maid RPG in their hands in one form or another, so when all is said and done I’m extremely glad I had the crazy idea to do this thing back in 2007. It’s even showed up in some Japanese game shops now, so that the madness has gone full circle. I can only hope that our future endeavors enjoy some semblance of this kind of success.

Casting to the Pod
In the near future I’ll be roping Andy K. and Ben Lehman into doing a “Maid RPG Roundtable” podcast, where we’ll discuss the game itself, what went into publishing the English version, and more. Please feel free to comment if you have any questions you’d like us to address!

Thank You All. Seriously.
When all is said and done, I owe a lot of thanks to a lot of people for making this happen. Andy more than anyone, but also Ryo Kamiya of course, Ben Lehman, my gaming group, and all of the awesome fans around the world.