Category Archives: Japanese

Witch Quest Book II Release


Some time back (last August) I posted about how I was planning to translate the free version of Witch Quest, a venerable (from 1991) Japanese TRPG about witches and their cats, in the vein of Kiki’s Delivery Service. I’ve been exceedingly inspired to translate stuff lately, so I’ve finished off Book II of the game. As I noted before, I’m doing Book II first because it contains the actual rules of the game. In some ways it’s very old-school (lots of randomness, no unified mechanics), and in other ways it’s just very quirky (a “Witch Tarot” deck features prominently in the game).

I’ve put together a PDF from the best layout I could manage in MS Word, and I don’t really have the skills to do anything better, or to make a character sheet. If anyone wants to tackle either, I’ll be happy to provide the files and such.

Witch Quest Book II PDF
Text-Based Tarot Cards (PDF)
Japanese Share Text (LZH Archive)

Update: Wilper has been really passionate about this game, and amongst other things he’s made a Crowdsource Witch Tarot Deck.

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.

Announcing Witch Quest!


I haven’t been all that inspired to work on my own projects (though I did have some nifty ideas for Slime Story the other day), so I’ve been translating various things of interest, and I’ve hit on a project to tackle to kill time.

Witch Quest is a Japanese RPG that originally came out in 1991. It was designed by Adventure Planning Service and published by Oozora, which mainly specializes in shoujo manga. In 1995 they released a “share text” version, a set of free text files with the complete rules. After it went out of print, a doujinshi circle called Majo no Kai bought the rights and put out a revised version in 2001. My aim is to produce an English translation of the share text version and make a simple but pleasant PDF. It’s not the most recent, but it is free and complete.

The game is an “everyday magic” RPG. Players form pairs where one is a 13-year-old witch, and the other is a 1-year-old cat. Together, they solve magical problems and generally help people out. It’s very much in the vein of Kiki’s Delivery Service.

The share text consists of two books. Book I contains two full replays and two scenarios, while Book II contains the actual rules. Of both preference and necessity, I’ll be tackling Book II first. I need to nail down the game terminology and understand the rules to have any hope of translating a replay, and the rulebook part is more interesting to me anyway. I’m not desperate for assistance, but I’d welcome help with the translation if anyone with the requisite skills is so inclined, and I could use some help with layout stuff, especially when it comes to making a character sheet.

A lot of the rules are fairly traditional, and characters have attributes and skills and such, you roll dice to figure things out, and there are even hit points. One of the more interesting things is the “Witch Tarot” the game comes with. It’s a set of customized tarot cards that you use in character creation, and there are also instructions for using it for fortune-telling. One amusing thing with the share text is that, as with the character sheets and everything else, it includes text-based cards for you to print out.

As it’s a simple matter of cut and paste, I’ve made a PDF of the text-based cards (a PDF so those the folks who don’t have Japanese text support installed can see). The first four pages are the actual cards, and the last three are pages of the three different backings. If you want to make a set, print out pages 1-4, flip your paper around, and pick page 5, 6, or 7, whichever you like more.

Text-Based Witch Tarot Cards (PDF)
Japanese Share Text (LZH Archive)

Yuuyake Koyake Supplement: Kore Kara no Michi


The Sunset Games website now has some info about Kore Kara no Michi, the third and final Yuuyake Koyake supplement, due out this September. According to the description, it’s going to have one new character type, additional rules, and three scenarios, in a 64-page book like the prior supplements. As I’ve reported before, the book is indeed going to be about playing as humans. Here’s a quick translation of the description on the website, which looks very much like it’s going to be the introduction from the book:

It starts with one step.

First, you’re reading this book.

Thank you.

If you’ve never read Yuuyake Koyake and you’re reading this book, please see if you can borrow that book from a friend to read it. That book will let you become a henge and tell stories in the countryside. You need to know about that, or even if you read this book nothing can begin. How you begin the stories, and how you finish them, are not written in this book.

Yes, this is the final Yuuyake Koyake a book. It represents the end of Yuuyake Koyake, at least for now. Previously, there were Yuuyake Koyake, Mononoke Koyake, and Hitotsuna Komichi. Together, these tell you all about the mysterious inhabitants of the town. These prior books tell you the secret of how to become these beings, and tell stories about them.

Henge, mononoke, and elder henge. If you’re reading this, have you enjoyed becoming them and running all over town? Have you become them, and used mysterious powers that a person cannot? Have you spread more smiles around the town? If so, that makes us very happy.

You’ve become animals or monsters, or perhaps the narrator. Hopefully you’ve come to see the town from a different point of view. How people live, how things are, feelings, and surprises. You’ve given many things, and received many others.

That is the road that has led you here.

This book is the road from here.

What do you think of the town full of people, the town that you’ve been watching from the outside? You seen it as a henge, but what about as yourself? Yourself as a child, as you are now, or when you’re older. Was it as you really are, or as you wish to be?

The road that has led us here. You’ve seen the town as a henge, as a mononoke, as one who has watched the town since olden times. Now, let us take a first step onto a new road. It is not path either of us have walked before. Even the henge of the town have not walked this path before. This path is here for you to move ahead. It will not open until you do.

You can participate in stories as a normal person. People don’t have any wondrous powers. They simply have their feelings. But, their feelings, and the fabric of their connections to each other, are the most important thing of all.

Please remember, these people’s feelings created the town. Their feelings accepted the henge. The henge and the people joined hands. Up until now, the henge have been helping the people, but really, they’ve been supporting each other. People and henge, let’s walk together, one step at a time, on the road from here.

Now, gather your courage. As you’ve walked this road, you were never alone, and you never will be.

Ewen vs. Slime Story

Slime Story continues to be a game that fights against its own completion every step of the way. I tried to do a very simple test of the conflict rules by myself–let’s have Phoebe and Matt have an argument!–and it totally fell apart. But, as has been the case since the beginning, each step leaves me with a bit more usable stuff.

(Joe Hunter Archetype illo by StreyCat)

Aside from the fact that just because stuff sounds good on paper doesn’t mean it’s actually going to work (something every designer knows, or will learn very quickly), there are two Slime Story specific things I noticed:

First, making players spend their one action for the round on changing footing doesn’t work with the game as written. It works with the range map in 3:16, but then 3:16 works quite a bit differently. This led me to have “Full Actions” and “Maneuver Actions”, and you can take one of each (or two Maneuvers) during your turn. This lets players change footing before (but not after!) attacking, and lets me put some other nifty things into the game. Of course, it also makes the rules a little more baroque, and a bit more like 4e. This will hopefully alleviate the overwhelmingly optimum status of planting oneself in one footing and making an attack every round.

Secondly, the death spiral sucks. I originally had it as a -1 penalty for each point of Stress a character takes, but when you’re rolling 2d6+Attribute (ranks range from 4 to 10 or so for starting characters), getting hit with a -3 penalty from taking one hit is just too damn much. I need to find the right balance between giving players an incentive to avoid damage, and punishing them too severely for taking it.

Once I get the conflict rules down, I’ll have the proper chassis on which to mount the rest of the game. Probably the single biggest reason I’ve been procrastinating on working on the game more is that I have to get this one highly mechanical and game-y part of things all nailed down before I can really go any further. The Talent descriptions and monster writeups all depend heavily on interacting with the conflict rules, so I’d be wasting my time if I tried to work on them, even if they’re potentially more candy-like and interesting.

In Other News: Shinobigami
I special-ordered a copy of Shinobigami (“Ninja God”), published by Role&Roll Books, and designed by none other than Toichiro Kawashima, designer of Meikyuu Kingdom and Satasupe. The game is sold in the form of a small paperback, and it’s uniquely Japanese in that the book starts with a 160-page replay (littered with explanations of the game), and then has about 60 or 70 pages of actual rules. The game is about modern-day ninja with over-the-top powers having epic battles. I’ll be posting more about this when I’ve had a chance to read through it, which will probably take a while. I’m especially intrigued by the “Velocity System”, which involve a chart that goes from 0 (Mundane) to 7 (FTL).

Maid RPG Update: Bonus Scenarios


We have at long last put up a free PDF of the Maid RPG scenarios that didn’t quite make it into the English rulebook. Go to the Resources page of the Maid RPG site, and click on “Five Additional Maid Scenarios” for the 24-page PDF.

  • Farewell, Master: Mistress Norrie is caught up in intrigue that could end her happy life with her maids forever! A well-meaning Knight Templar, a scheming mother, and a girl who just might be the true heir to the throne!
  • The Master Has Amnesia?!: After a month spend unconscious, the Master finally wakes up After being attacked by robbers, but he has memory loss. The maids must help him find the truth and regain his memories!
  • Tales of Suspense: Master Kira Tsukishima is moving to one of the family villas to live closer to his new school, and the family has sent a butler because they feel maids alone won’t be enough. As they get settled in, a tale of intrigue unfolds!
  • Secret Base: Valuables have been going missing from people’s houses around the neighborhood, and the young and frankly not terribly smart young Master fancies himself a Sherlock Holmes, on the case and ready to ferret out the perpetrators!
  • Until The Master Is Born!: Sir Lepton has just died, and his adopted daughter Natalie and the maids are deep in grief, but Julio Lepton, the estranged son, comes to the mansion claiming to be the sole heir. The maids have to do something, and fast, or their happy life with Natalie will be lost forever!

Yaruki Zero Podcast #5: Japanese RPGs (Part 2)


In the second half of my discussion of Japanese RPGs with Andy Kitkowski, we talk about indie/doujin TRPGs, some neat games we’ve seen, and localization issues. Also, for whatever reason the mp3 file worked out to be precisely 40 minutes.

Yaruki Zero Podcast #4 (40 minutes)

Show Notes

Next Time
Next time I’ll be joined by my longtime friend Jon Baumgarder to talk about marketing for small-press/indie RPGs and to anime fans.

Andy and I will definitely be talking about Japanese RPGs more in the future, so please feel free to let me know about any other topics you might want to hear more about.

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


Yaruki Zero Podcast #4: Japanese RPGs (Part 1)


In this episode I’m joined by Andy Kitkowski to talk about Japanese tabletop RPGs. This is sort of a general overview, and we’ll be returning to this topic in future podcasts to discuss various things in more detail. Our talk went on long enough that I’m splitting it into two installments. This time around we talk about how RPGs came to Japan, the Japanese TRPG subculture, and Japanese RPG design trends.

Yaruki Zero Podcast #4 (43 minutes, 23 seconds)

Show Notes

Next Time
In the second part of our discussion, we cover doujin/indie RPGs, some neat Japanese games we’ve seen, and localization issues.

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


Nechronica: The Long, Long Sequel

Nechronica Cover
Just recently Tsugihagi Honbo updated their site with info on their latest game, due out soon, called Nechronica. It’s not out yet, though their Tsugihagi Tayori #3 doujin has a preview replay included.

From the sound of things, it seems like a post-apocalyptic undead kind of setting, with some Rozen Maiden and Maid RPG thrown in for good measure, and I’ll definitely be ordering it as soon as it’s out.

From the description on the site:

In this world, humanity has been destroyed.
In this world, everyone is dead.
In this world, no one dies anymore.
Only the dead remain to act.

The protagonists of Nechronica: The Long, Long Sequel are young girls with the misfortune to have hearts. The dolls. Put simply, this is a game where you play girl zombies and fight other zombies.

The dead can move again through the necromancer who rules the ruined world. He serves as both the game’s ultimate boss, and a mechanism to move it forward. That is because it is the necromancer who gives these girls hearts. In a world of puppets, these dolls who have their own will, and can cry and laugh are mere toys to the necromancer. He sends enemies at them, and enjoys the tragedy or comedy that results.

These dolls are already dead, and do not die merely from being broken.

They’re already quite dead, after all.

The world is already finished too.

So, let’s have some tea under a lead-gray sky, and tell tales of a long, long sequel.

A preview replay of Nechronica: The Long, Long Sequel has been published in Tsugihagi Tayori Vol. 3. Please take a look if you’re interested.

The site also mentions a third Yuuyake Koyake supplement on the way, Kore Kara no Michi, or “The Road From Here”. This will be the final Yuuyake Koyake book, and will focus on playing as people, and is slated for release at JGC 2009 (which means early September).

Magician’s Academy RPG

Magician’s Academy is a series of light novels by Ichiro Sakaki. It’s about a school where people go to learn magic, but it has a wacky moe-infused sensibility. To give you an idea, one of the teachers built a machine called “Mimigar Z”, which caused most of the school to sprout animal ears. There’s also an anime adaptation called “Macademi Wasshoi!”, which is how I originally discovered it. It’s kind of a gratuitous, guilty pleasure, doubly so since the character designs (and the art for the light novels) were by BLADE.


Magician’s Academy RPG (or “MAR”) is an RPG from F.E.A.R. that adapts the light novel series using a tweaked version of their SRS house system. It’s the third game they’ve done that’s a light novel adaptation (the others are Kaze no Stigma and Shinkyoki Soukai Polyphonica). It’s one of those bunko (little paperback) format RPGs, a little over 400 pages, and I was able to order it through the local Kinokuniya for about $12 (where the Japanese price is 800 yen).

For this post I’m going to run through the stuff that makes it different from other SRS games I’ve read.

Character Creation
MAR uses SRS’ typical character creation scheme, where you pick out a total of 3 levels from 1 to 3 different classes, which in turn determines your attributes and what special skills you can pick from. What makes it different from other SRS games is that characters are a combination of a “Macademi Class” and a “Style Class”.

The three Macademi classes are Magician, Shinma (supernatural beings like angels, demons, etc.), and Irregular (people and other things with crazy powers). If you know the series, Takuto is a magician, Tanarot is a Shinma, and Suzuho is an Irregular. Under Magician and Shinma there are several Aspects. For Shinma these are the four elements, plus Chaos and Balance. For Magicians these are different kinds of magic (Enchant, Summon, Shield, Power, etc.)

Style classes relate to the character’s role in the story, things like Servant, Joker, Misfortune, and Artificial. Where Macademi Classes give a character skills representing special powers, the skills you get from a style class tend to be more meta-game. For example, SRS features “Appearance Checks” (登場判定), where the GM can have a player roll to see if his or her character gets to show up in a given scene. A Servant character can take the Allegiance skill to get a bonus to Appearance Checks if their master is also in the scene. On the other hand the “Misfortune” Style Class gives you lots of skills that let you take damage and such in place of other characters.

Impulse System
This is one of the most distinctive aspects of the game, though one I have mixed feelings about owing to how it’s implemented. It’s like they stumbled on something kind of like the aspects from FATE, but IMHO the implementation relies a little too much on GM fiat.

Each character has a set of twelve personality traits, arranged into pairs as follows:


Each class gives a list of personality trait ratings, and you pick one of your character’s classes as the base. From there, stuff in the game’s lifepaths and such and modify these numbers, usually by shifting a point from one side of a pairing to the other. For example, the “Everyday” table has a “Research” entry, which gives you -1 to Brave and +1 to Careful. There are also items that can affect personality traits, such as Bunny Ears (which are in the “Moe Item Table”), which give you +1 to Trustful.

In play, the GM can call for a player to make a Personality Check (2d6 plus a personality trait, against a difficulty of 12) to see if the character will in fact do something. So, if the characters are late for class and they come across a girl who needs help, the GM might call on a Compassionate check to see if the character actually lends a hand. Any time a personality check makes a character veer away from what the player wanted, the character gets an Impulse Point (衝動店), which the player can use for a host of fairly typical metagame effects. There’s also a special rule that once per session you can substitute Passionate in place of whatever personality trait the GM is asking for.

Chaos Chart
The Chaos Chart is a sort of random event table, intended for the GM to be able to throw something out to compensate for things going out of whack in the game. It has three charts, for the Beginning, Middle, and Ending phases of the story. All of the entries push things much closer to the ending, if not outright resolve it, and not a few of them have characters from the novels show up as well. (“Tanarot suddenly shows up, and resolves the incident. Go to Ending.”)

To be honest I’m not sure what to make of it. It’s the kind of setting where throwing in random stuff certainly makes sense, and I suppose that having the option to just say, “Oh, Tanarot took care of that. Now, about your characters going on a date?” fits as well. I like the idea of bringing the canon characters into the game–the setting is neat, but Tanarot and company are a big part of what gives the story its distinct feel–but needless to say I have mixed feelings about chucking them in as deus ex machina to fix things.

Other Stuff
Whatever one thinks of the house system approach of SRS, MAR does actually take advantage of its strengths. In particular, at the end of the book there’s a section on taking stuff from other SRS games (Alshard Gaia, Polyphonica, etc.), which would give GMs plenty of critters and characters to mess with.

There is a “World Section” that explains the setting, but it’s barely 12 pages. Especially given that it’s actually put out by the same publisher (Famitsu Bunko, though it at F.E.A.R. are both parts of Enterbrain), this suggests that they’re assuming people who buy the RPG will also be into the light novels. I ordered the first novel in the series along with the RPG, and the two certainly look like they belong together. The book has brief bios of the major canon characters (and Hapciel), but no actual stats.

On the whole, this looks like a neat little game, though you clearly have to be on board with the game having a very strong GM role to really enjoy it as written. If there was an English version of this, I’d most likely be willing to give it a spin, but on the whole I think I’d rather use a crazy Maid RPG variant. Not unlike Penguin Musume Heart, while watching Macademi Wasshoi I kept feeling like I was watching something that runs on Maid RPG’s physics engine.