I’ve finished the last of the scenarios, which means the base translation (which will need plenty of editing) is done at long last. The last one I did was “Tales of Suspense,” though I can’t really explain what it’s about without spoilers. Regardless, the scenario file–about 48,000 words, 117 pages in a basic MS Word format–is off to Andy for editing.
One of the things that can be really aggravating about translating from Japanese to English is the use of the passive voice. In English you’re not supposed to use the passive voice because it sounds weak and weaselly. In Japanese, sentences often leave the subject implied, so effectively using the passive voice actually makes you clearer. In Japanese RPGs, this lets designers talk about the PCs or whatever without having to start every other sentence with “a character who” or “if the PCs.” But it also means that the translator (that’s me) gets to play detective trying to figure out what the subject of a sentence actually is, and then do a sort of written Rubik’s cube exercise to turn it into a decent English sentence. As much as I love Japanese, one of these days I want to learn and start translating, say, Spanish, so I don’t have to deal with this kind of thing.
I know I’ve posted about the scenarios already, but they both show what’s different about the game itself and in many cases show a novel approach to scenarios/adventures in general.
There are several scenarios that have a very tight structure. Very often these involve the PCs working towards some kind of goal (ranging from throwing a birthday party to conquering the world, depending on the particular scenario), and it very carefully delineates what they can do to work towards it, and how much. These scenarios allow for more freedom than you might think–especially for PCs who are willing to use the seduction rules to get what they want–but certainly not as much as you’d ordinarily expect. The furthest extreme is “Maidenrangers of Love and Justice!” which actually bills itself as a “Maid Board Game,” where you build up a 4×4 grid of playing cards (representing both rooms and random events that occur in them) for the PCs to move around in.
Owing no doubt to the game’s basic nature, there are a lot of scenarios that deal with social situations of one kind or another. The game still has plenty of room for the action-adventure stuff that’s more typical of RPGs (albeit with a spin that only Maid RPG can give), but there are also scenarios about competing to marry the Master, becoming friends with a ghost girl, helping little kids have a place to play, and so on.
There are also very few scenarios that you could use in an ongoing campaign without major retooling, though there are some that give advice for launching into sequels (“Miko RPG!” even advocates developing a new game), and in one case, there is a sequel provided (“Be Our Demon King!” is followed by “Rise of the Demon King”). Although there are some major Western RPGs available in translation in Japan (notably D&D, WoD, and GURPS), my experience with Japanese-made games is that they tend to focus on short-term play rather than long campaigns. In F.E.A.R.’s Alshard ff, “Campaign Play” is actually listed in a sidebar rather than being part of the actual section on styles of play. In Maid RPG you can store up Favor to raise your maid’s attributes (it’s one of the more expensive things to do with Favor), but the game’s text doesn’t really address the idea of running a campaign at all.
Maid RPG scenarios often assume a particular master, or at least a general type of Master (e.g., a young Master who thinks he’s Sherlock Holmes), and won’t really work without him. On the other hand, there are also a lot of scenarios that leave at least some of the prep work up to the GM. This could be flexibility or laziness depending on how you choose to look at it, but there are scenarios where the fine details of the Master and/or mansion are left up to the GM to create.
There are still some scenarios that are fairly traditional (like “Liberty: The Final Maid Maiden”), and the game certainly holds up just fine with a traditional play style, or with no scenario at all.
Wayne from Anime Expo’s tabletop gaming department has confirmed that Maid RPG is on the schedule for AX, Saturday at 10 a.m. Hope to see… someone there!
I’m sorely tempted to write a Maid RPG scenario to enter into Fight On! magazine’s contest. The rules say that entries have to make use of Otherworld Miniatures‘ products in some way, but otherwise they can be for pretty much any game. And Maid RPG has already gone to weirder places than involving Pig-Faced Orcs. The due date for entries in July 20th though, so whether or not I can even write something up depends heavily on what’s going on with work and whatnot.