Mononoke Koyake: First Impressions

The stuff I ordered from Sunset Games came in the mail the other day. I’m going to write much more extensively about them some time in the future, and I’m thinking of writing thorough reviews of the Japanese RPGs I own when I have the time.

Mononoke Koyake is a supplement for Yuuyake Koyake that adds a new class of characters: mononoke. Where henge are animals with mysterious powers, mononoke are beings who are wholly made of the mysterious. The book consists of the rules for the five types of mononoke, some story/dialogue section to better introduce stuff, and two scenarios. Unlike with henge, each type of mononoke has the potential for several different variations, though in game terms these are a matter of flavor text.

The five types of mononoke are:

  • Michinoke: These are supernatural creatures that in myths appear to frighten or attack people on roads. I hadn’t thought about it before, but Japanese myth contains an awful lot of these. The signature character is Onbu, who in her base form looks like a hairball with arms and a massive lolling tongue, but others include a faceless person, that thing that’s an umbrella with a single leg sticking out, etc.
  • Oni: These ogres/demons are relatively straightforward, and they’re depicted as being aggressive to the point where they’re pushing the limits of what the game would allow. Variations include thunder gods, hags, hanya, etc.
  • Kappa: Kappa are a weird kind of monster to begin with, though here their defining trait is being water creatures. The variations include all kinds of beings that live in the water, including mermaids.
  • Visitor: Visitors are perhaps the most interesting and flexible character type. The signature character is Repushi, a cute little alien, but the variations listed in the book include time travelers, magicians, snow women, and even Santa Claus. Most of their Powers and Weaknesses have to do with them being far from home.
  • Ghost: Japan has a long tradition of ghost stories, and here ghosts can include classic lost souls, skeletons, vampires, cursed dolls, etc.

I still need to read through it more, but overall this seems to be a fairly straightforward, well-constructed supplement that (being only 56 pages) does what it does and finishes quickly. The new character types are probably trickier to handle (the text recommends playing the game with henge for a while before you try out mononoke), but they also seem like they would open up even more potential for creativity in character concepts.

I also got Aitsu wa Classmate!, a game about an idealized, zany manga high school lifestyle. It’s a fairly dense 176 pages, so it’ll take me a while longer to digest.

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