So, the other day Jono stopped by to give me the TRPG books he was kind enough to pick up for me in Japan. So now I have FIVE new RPGs to read through (the others being Apocalypse World and FreeMarket).
貧乏姉妹の挑戦 (Poor Sisters’ Challenge)
This is an Arianrhod replay that I got basically because I want to read a full-length replay of a game I’m reasonably familiar with. The book starts off with an introduction to TRPGs and Arianrhod, and then goes through the process of the group creating and introducing their characters before starting on the actual gameplay. The most interesting thing so far is that it shows how the GM uses “handouts,” which are a regular part of playing Arianrhod. There are as many handouts as there are players, and each one gives a player character a place in the world and a connection to the rest of the party. For example, in this replay PC #1 is the child of a wealthy merchant who suddenly found himself deep in debt, and who is going into gladiatorial fights to pay that debt. PC #2 is someone very close to PC #1 (which ended up being her twin sister), PC #3 is a close associate of the father’s with an obligation to take care of the kids, and PC #4 is a trainer who wants to develop PC #1’s potential.
This isn’t something you’d do with every game of course, but in my D&D group, although we’ve largely mastered the actual rules, figuring out a solid reason for why exactly the PCs are adventuring together and will stick together seems to have become harder and harder. Of course, when viewed as part of a coherent world the “adventuring party” model is a bit implausible.
りゅうたま (Ryuutama, or “Dragon Egg”)
I now officially wish I’d gotten this game sooner. Ryuutama takes place in a world born from dragons. In the game the players take the role of ordinary people who are on the greatest journey of their lives (the closest thing to a combat class is the Hunter, and others include Farmer, Healer, Minstrel, Merchant, Healer, etc.), while the GM plays a dragon that watches over them. The GM’s dragon records their story and then feeds it to one of the seasonal dragons so that the seasons can be more abundant. There are four kinds of dragons, and as the GM you pick one of the types according to what kind of story you want the game to aim for, and you get some special abilities to help make it happen.
迷宮デイズ (Meikyuu Days)
This is a sort of modern-day version of Meikyuu Kingdom that I’ve been curious about for a while now. The book has minimal illustrations (which is weird compared to other MK books and Satasupe, though less so when looking at Shinobigami I suppose) and very dense text. The essence of the setting is that it’s the present day, and the Dungeon Hazard (that totally consumed the world of Meikyuu Kingdom) is eating up parts of the world, turning normal buildings into mazes filled with terrible monsters. In this changed world, only a select few have the skill, courage, and resources to become Dungeoneers, people capable of venturing into the dungeons and facing the monsters to protect the ordinary people caught up in them. Dungeoneers face great danger, but also can reap great rewards.
Meikyuu Days winds up being a somewhat simplified version of Meikyuu Kingdom, which is to be expected when its single book has the same page count but a smaller format than the two MK books. It leaves out the entire kingdom-building aspect (and thus the rules for managing citizens, building facilities, etc.), it pares things down to five classes (Hero, Mercenary, Majin, Mage, and Civilian) and drops the Jobs system from MK (which gave each character a “secondary class” with one Job Skill and access to one or more categories of general skills). (So with the exception of Civilians, Meikyuu Days classes have about twice as many skills as MK ones). It’s interesting in that it does get into letting characters use firearms (that’s the Mercenary class’ main focus) as well as magic (Mage characters are from hidden magic traditions that went public to help the people face the Dungeon Hazard). It also has guidelines for converting stuff from Meikyuu Kingdom, and in fact includes the stats for the common skills and all the monsters in a super-compact format.
Tangentially, I also got the まよコマ/Mayo Koma set, which is basically a collection of over 400 cardstock tokens/pawns. I’ve talked a lot about MK’s Battlefield Map and how I used something very, very similar for Slime Story, and these are a well-made visual tool for showing your monsters and PCs on the map (including the basic stats for the monsters depicted on them as such). Unless Slime Story becomes incredibly big I’m going to have to settle for making PDFs (or maybe a paper miniatures font like S. John Ross’ Sparks line), but this is one of those things where WotC totally missed out on making an intensely useful tool for playing D&D, and is finally kinda sorta catching on with the stuff in the Essentials boxes.
Double Cross 3rd Edition
Double Cross is a game that Andy’s been really enthusiastic about. I haven’t had time to do more than skim it, but it’s about teenagers with special powers in a hostile (contemporary) world. It’s in bunko format, so there’s not a whole lot of art, but what art there is is excellent.