Yaruki Zero Podcast #9: Everyday Magic

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In this podcast I give an overview of a talk between Ryo Kamiya (designer of Maid RPG and Yuuyake Koyake) and South (current publisher of Witch Quest) about “everyday magic” RPGs that appeared in a doujinshi they collaboratively produced called “Doko ni Demo Aru Fushigi.” They discuss the challenges of heartwarming, nonviolent RPGs.

Yaruki Zero Podcast #9 (20 minutes, 9 seconds)

  1. Introduction
  2. Games Without Combat
  3. Assembling Scenarios
  4. Conventions & Catharsis
  5. The Limitations of Classes/System Does Matter
  6. Kamiya’s Early RPG Experiences
  7. A Fantasy Countryside

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.

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

somerights20en

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7 thoughts on “Yaruki Zero Podcast #9: Everyday Magic

  1. Interesting podcast…I am a little disappointed though that we hear about the theory but not the mechanics of these types of games. I am not a mechanics guy, preferring rule-lite system but I’m also not much of a no GM/diceless guy either.

    Since ‘every day magic’ games are so different in style, I am going to assume they play differently as well. Another way to put it is that when most people pick up an RPG book they are thinking of purchasing, they often take at look at the character creation rules, skills and combat system first. Without any real combat to speak of, how do the rules portray a sense of tension, excitement and/or elements that make your character stand out?

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    Barking Alien

    1. I probably should have gotten into that a bit. I was running over the talk in the book, which was intended for people who are at least somewhat familiar with the games (and failing that there’s a replay for each game in the book).

      I’ve only skimmed Witch Quest (which seems to have relatively traditional mechanics), but you can read up on Yuuyake Koyake here. The core of the game is that participants award each other points of Dreams for doing things that are “neat” or “cute”, which they can in turn use to boost levels of Connections to other characters, which in turn give them points of Feelings and Wonder that they can use for actions and special powers, respectively. It’s resource-based, and your resources are dependent on your role-playing and your ability to do things.

      I think that especially with Yuuyake Koyake, everyday magic slays the sacred cow that you necessarily need tension and excitement for a good game. There are problems that need to be resolved, but it’s more about turning a sad or unpleasant situation into a happy one. Aside from pure roleplaying and making attribute checks more or less like in a typical RPG, the henge in Yuuyake Koyake have several magical powers they can use, so for example a fox henge can make someone have whatever kind of dream they want, while a bird henge can let someone else fly. The powers are important in YK in how they give a very distinct flavor to each animal type, and are designed to expand characters’ opportunities to help people and become friends.

      Although the mechanics are important to be sure, a lot of the power of everyday magic games is simply the willingness to try something so different from what we typically do in RPGs. There’s a world of difference between “You’re a young adventurer; how will you stop goblins from invading the town?” and “You’re a fluffy bunny; how will you help this crying boy feel better?” No one expects people to throw out their other games in favor of Yuuyake Koyake and Witch Quest, but there’s something to be said for having games you can play every now and then to go someplace safe and happy.

      1. I like the direction that Ryo Kamiya and South explore. It reminds me of Animonde by Croc in the late 80s except it didn’t assume completely the centrality of emotions in its design, so there was incoherency between the adventure vibe and the “peace and love” vibe. I wish there was a better term than everyday magic. I love the concept but the expression doesn’t do much to convey it IMHO. Is there anything similar in the Anglo-Saxon RPG scene? I didn’t notice it but maybe just flew under my radar?

      2. Well, it helps that “everyday magic” is an English phrase devised by some Japanese gentlemen who don’t really speak any English. :P Like a lot of Engrish is makes a kind of sense (“finding something wondrous in the everyday”), but knowing Japanese I’m pretty sure for them “magic” is in this case a rough translation for “fushigi”, which can variously mean mystery, wonder, magic, etc., and is both a game stat and a commonly-used expression in Yuuyake Koyake.

        There are some English-language RPGs that don’t involve violence on account of it not falling within the scope of what they deal with, but I don’t know of any yet that have that explicitly heartwarming tone. I’m working on a game called Raspberry Heaven that tries for something like that (albeit without any fantastical elements), but it’s barely been playtested, and of course it was partly inspired by Yuuyake Koyake.

  2. I think the reason it intrigues me so much (and why I wanted to know more about the mechanical side) is that I’ve run several games that are somewhere mid-way between traditional rpgs and the type of stories you’re describing with YK and its brethern.

    A house rule modified Faery’s Tale Deluxe and a homebrewed Wizard of Oz game both dealt with the idea that keeping your word, telling the truth and making someone realize they were special were equally important to battling goblins, outwitting a witch and revealing the Unseelie Court’s plot.

    In an old Ars Magica adventure I ran, the PC’s were helping an old friend whose whistle was stolen by the devil (not an instrument – the character could no longer whistle). Without his whistle he’d sort of lost the will to go on and we had to help him get it back.

    It’s unlikely I could ever convince my main group of macho, action junkie players to try an everyday magic game but I’d love to add a little more everyday magic to the games we do play.

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  3. That was a nice little introduction to an interesting genre. You only touched upon some of the ideas there, such as playing a game without tension and action. It’s giving me something to think about.

    I would suggest that a sub-sub-genre that is perhaps close to this everday magic notion is a game like Into the Woods, where you play woodland creatures. It’s almost entirely mundane, except that there is some light magic in the forest and I believe the rare presence of a gnome. I think the connection between the source material of those books (Colin Dann, Watership Down, The Wind in the Willows) is also inspired by the countryside, though in this case British.

  4. Just spotted a French game with a similar tone : http://www.sden.org/Presentation.html
    I only did a quick read and it doesn’t seem like the game mechanics are designed to enforce the non-violent, help the community type of adventures. It’s all color in a traditional game system. One nifty thing though: every player plays the role of another witch’s familiar pet.

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