Tag Archives: Maid RPG

Anime Games I Want

Another issue I had largely dismissed as irrelevant until a friend pointed it out to me is that some people are put off by anime. Titles like Avatar are hurt as well as helped by the label. That’s another example of how it’s become a loaded word for some people. Some people who like Exalted like it because of its anime inspirations, others like it despite them and play up the Greek myth side more, and still others dismiss it entirely because of the anime slant. (And amusingly, Andy has mentioned that the Japanese publisher of WoD–Atelier Third–found Exalted just too overwrought for Japan).

My ideal model for drawing inspiration from anime and manga would be Bryan Lee O’Malley‘s comic, Scott Pilgrim. There are a lot of elements that are reminiscent of manga, but if he was inspired by Japanese comics, he’s fully metabolized them and he’s doing what he wants to do with them. No imitation, self-consciousness, just a kickass comic. (Also, Scott Pilgrim needs an RPG).

Anyway, this time around I’m going to post my thoughts on what things in anime I think would make for really neat RPGs. (Though there are some more that I’m going to save for future installments of “Role-Play This!”).

  • Horror Heroes: While Japan does have a tradition of scary-as-hell horror stories, there’s also a genre of anime about good guys fighting the to protect us from the supernatural. These range from deadpan titles like Blood+ to the wackiness of Phantom Quest Corp.
  • Miyazaki: Hayao Miyazaki’s animated movies are in many ways unlike mainstream anime–deliberately so–and they have captivated audiences of all ages. I’d love to see one or more games try to capture some of Studio Ghibli’s modern fairy tale feel. Yuuyake Koyake is probably the RPG that comes closest.
  • Postnuclear: In Japan the atomic bombings of 1945 have been so politicized that no one has really made any effort to confront those issues directly in art. Instead, anime series like Yamato and Evangelion express the repressed feelings and urges while studiously avoiding real-world blame. Bliss Stage‘s scenario starts with some of the same end of humanity nihilism, but I’d like to see a game that tackles these issues more directly.
  • Sekai-kei: Sekai-kei is a genre that focuses on a relationship between two young people, juxtaposed with the end of the world. Jake Richmond’s The Year We All Died is very much based on Saishuu Heiki Kanojo, but The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Voices of a Distant Star, Iriya no Sora UFO no Natsu, and Evangelion are all considered part of the genre.
  • Otaku: Dramacon, Akihabara@DEEP, Aoi House, Genshiken, and Megatokyo all show different ways that stories about obsessed fans can make for interesting characters. I want to see a game with the otaku troubleshooter agency angle of Akihabara@DEEP, and the zany, exaggerated, and deep setting sensibilities of Megatokyo.
  • Sci-Fi Western: I want to see a totally over-the-top Western with sci-fi elements a la Trigun, and maybe some fantasy gun magic like in Kurohime.
  • Shinigami: At some point someone needs to write a pretentious essay analyzing the Japanese fascination with shinigami, or “death gods.” In the meantime, I want to see an RPG that draws on stuff like Bleach, Death Note, Soul Eater, Shinigami’s Ballad, and so on.
  • Super Robots: This is the other end of giant robots: cheesy, cinematic, and bold. The robot is an extension of the hero’s blazing heart. Gurren Lagann is the most recent example of the genre to make a splash.

What about you?

In Other News
The layout of Maid RPG has begun. I got to see a sample today. It’s directly based on the original Japanese sourcebooks, and I really like how it looks so far. Andy’s been plugging away at the editing too, so while there will be a lot of rushing around on everyone’s parts, it looks like things are on track. Also, I’ve been poking at my own Maid RPG material (tentatively titled “Maid RPG 120%”), mainly putting together a table of scenario seeds covering old west, reality shows, superheroes, and more.

I’ve started playing with WordPress’ “pages” feature. There are now pages for “About Me” and “My Games.” I didn’t realize I had SIXTEEN different games in various stages of design (from a mere idea to a more or less final draft). Sigh.

Maid RPG: Update 4

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.

Promotional Stuff
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!

Random Thought
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.

Maid RPG Update 3

There are a lot of people who’ve helped make this project possible. Andy Kitkowski is the most obvious and important, since he’s doing pretty much all of the business side of things (me being so helpless and useless with that stuff). Ryo Kamiya not only designed the game, but has been really awesome about answering my questions. My good friend Mike S. has been evangelizing the game, and offering help in the form of editing and suggestions.

One thing that deserves special mention at this point is my Eee PC. I bought a green 2G Surf a few months ago at Micro Center (the only place in town that actually had them in stock, and just the color I wanted too). It has let me work on Maid RPG on trains and buses, at friends’ houses and at school, and (while the battery lasted) during yesterday’s power outage, sitting on the front porch as the sun set. It runs on a variation of Xandros Linux, and I’ve been typing stuff up in OpenOffice Writer and using Gjiten (which I’m finding to be a brilliant little program) to look things up. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever owned anything that was quite that much of a conversation starter. While I was using it at a local Starbucks (to work on Maid RPG, naturally), not less than six people asked me about it in the space of an hour. (And one guy jokingly asked if it was made by Hasbro) .

Right now I have about 30 pages of scenarios to translate, which comes out to six scenarios total. Just this morning I finally finished translating the very last scenario in the very last book, “Liberty: The Final Maid Maiden.” It’s epic, both in terms of its story and its size (12 pages, which is about 3 times the length of a typical Maid RPG scenario), and it takes the tropes established in the game and renders them on a worldwide scale.

In the year 20XX the “Maid Hazard,” a mental waveform sent through the internet blanketed the world, and caused a forced an evolutionary leap in a significant portion of the population. Countless people, men and women, young and old, became young, beautiful Maids. The Maids possessed superhuman abilities, but needed Favor from normal humans (Masters) to function. That’s just the start of the 50 years of the A.M. (After Maid) calendar covered in the back story. By the time the scenario actually begins, it’s the year 50 A.M., and the few surviving Masters are desperately seeking a way to stop the machinations of the tyrannical Maid Empire, lead by the Final Maid, Eve. The PCs are “Alternative Maids,” Masters who don special “Alternative Maid Suits” to gain the powers of Maids without falling under the Final Maid’s influence.

Anyone who knows the kind of fiction I write can tell you, this is the kind of awesomely screwed up thing I would think of. I seriously want to put together a prequel scenario about people enduring the Maid Hazard and its aftermath.

Lastly, in response to some questions asked, Andy has posted a bit about how and where we’ll be selling Maid RPG in the comments of Update 1.

Maid RPG: Update 2

Progress Report
At this point I have eight scenarios left to translate, and after that the project is pretty much in other people’s hands until GenCon. Ideally I need to get this done within two weeks or so, which means there’s something of a silver lining to the fact that my hours are becoming spotty to nonexistent for me crappy day job. After going through enough text to fill a largish novel, I’ll be entirely too glad to be done with this project.

That’s partly because it means I’ll have time to work on my own RPG projects, and partly because I’m looking forward to actually being able to play Maid RPG again, and enjoy all this material I’ve translated. I’m already picking out some scenarios and such to run with my friends. For that matter, every time I’m stuck away from my computer, I keep thinking up more and more original material for the game. I’m not sure I want to go to the point of actually putting together a book though. It’s possible, but it’s a long way off too.

Butler RPG
Anyway. There was a thread about Maid RPG on 4chan’s /tg/ board (if you don’t know what that is, you should probably stay away). There seem to be a fair number of people who are into butlers (and hey, they do have a few butler cafes in Japan), so I might as well tell you about the butler rules. Butlers are an optional character type, and as group of PCs can only have one butler. The butler has much higher attributes, but (1) automatically loses opposed rolls against the Master or maids, (2) must spend Favor to remove Stress, and (3) cannot spend Favor on Random Events. The “Maids at the End of the World” replay features a butler character, and demonstrates how although the rules theoretically limit how much they can cause chaos and such, they can still be part of the total wackiness of the game.

Seduction (Or, How To Cause Trouble)
The first supplement of the Japanese version is called “Koi Suru Maid RPG” (Maid RPG In Love). The Seduction rules are one of the main reasons it’s called that. These let characters make rolls to emotionally dominate others. If you seduce someone you can give them orders, but they can gain Favor and remove Stress through romantic activities with you. And that doesn’t prevent them from seducing you back. Calling “Seduction” was kind of a compromise. The Japanese word used is closer to “enticement,” but where it’s heavily used in some scenarios it can be bent into forming an emotional attachment in general. Based on the replays, it’s the kind of thing that would make some people uncomfortable, but it can also make life a heck of a lot more interesting.

Demo Games
I’m running two registered Maid RPG events at GenCon Indy 2008, one on Thursday (which still has 3 slots open!) and one on Saturday (all full). I and a couple of my friends who will be coming plan on running some more sessions at Games On Demand (something you should check out anyway if you’re attending). I’m also in the process of signing up to run a session at Anime Expo 2008, and if there’s interest I’ll be running a session or two at FanimeCon‘s open gaming area. If you’re attending any of those, let me know if you want to play. :3

(Also, my friend Mike is planning to run it at KublaCon).

Maid RPG: Update 1

Welcome Back!
This is where I have to go all-out to get the translation of Maid RPG done in time, but I’m pretty confident I can pull it off, maybe even with time to spare. The last post on the game generated a heck of a lot of traffic, without me really trying to get it linked anywhere myself. This is all pretty exciting, especially when I look back at just how much I’ve now translated. Doing all three of the original Japanese books doesn’t look nearly so insurmountable anymore. In any case, I’m going to be posting about different aspects of the game leading up to its release.

You seldom see adventure scenarios in Western RPGs, so I have a hard time making a properly informed comparison, but I have noticed that Japanese RPGs are more likely to include at least one or two scenarios in a core rulebook, and Maid RPG adds a total of 15 in its two supplements. Compared to the very few I have read (like Gold Rush Games’ incredible Shiki collection for Sengoku), the scenarios I’ve translated for Maid RPG so far seem very constrained. They map out a very specific role for the maids in the story, such that you could easily make a flowchart of the events of the scenario. I suspect that in actual play it’s not quite as stifling as it sounds, but it’s definitely more constraining than your average Western gamer is used to. I would compare it to certain indie games, like The Shab-al-Hiri Roach, in that you’re forced to do certain things, but you get a heck of a lot of freedom within that context.

Regardless, there’s a huge variety of scenarios, from throwing a birthday party to battling other maids for the fate of the world. In between are a tokusatsu hero, a murder mystery, shrine maidens fending off an evil god, a marriage contest, a case of amnesia, and more.

Of the many optional rules in the game, my favorite is definitely the Costume Change rules. Maids can spend Favor to cease being a maid, don a different outfit, and take on the role that accompanies it. Maids who change costumes lose their Maid Powers, but get some new powers related to the costume. This covers professions (doctor, secretary, scientist), fetishized outfits (school swimsuit, school uniform, nurse, shrine maiden, etc.), and anime references (plugsuit, Mobile Suit costume, tiger-striped bikini with horns, etc.)

Maid RPG Is Coming

With love to all of the Masters...

Update: Hard to believe it’s been 5 months since I first posted this. This is the single most viewed post on my RPG blog, by a margin of 3:1 (and the next two most viewed after are also Maid RPG related). Anyway, for information on ordering, downloadable extras, and so on, check out the Official Maid RPG Website.

Maid RPG is a role-playing game designed by Ryo Kamiya and published in Japan by Sunset Games. And, with some substantial help from Andy Kitkowski, I will be publishing an English translated version. We’re aiming to release it at GenCon Indy 2008, and I’ll be posting full details as we get closer to the con. Although we hadn’t really planned it that way, Maid RPG will be the first ever Japanese RPG to be released in English. However, Andy will also be releasing a demo version of Jun’ichi Inoue’s Tenra Bansho Zero.

In Maid RPG, the players take on the role of maids who serve a Master who lives in a mansion. That’s the basic setup, but what ensues is often an excuse for the most bizarre chaos imaginable. This is a game that embraces randomness. Characters have random Special Qualities, ranging from Freckles and Glasses to Stalkers and Cyborgs. During the game, characters earn points of Favor by pleasing the Master, and one of the things they can spend Favor on is causing Random Events.

The English version of Maid RPG is going to be a compilation of the core rulebook and both supplements from the original Japanese version. That means it’ll include not only the core rules, but optional rules for butlers, randomly generated masters and mansions, seduction, costume changes, and special items, plus a grand total of 17 scenarios and three replays, and more besides.

You might be tempted to think that Maid RPG is the kind of thing you’d put on the shelf and never play, but I can say from personal experience that it is a perfectly playable (if very weird) game. It has the potential to become very twisted (though you can use it for light romantic comedy too), but it’s a lot like an anime version of Toon. With everything we’ll be packing into the English version, this one book will be able to provide months and months of gaming. You can even play it “random style,” and do everything off the cuff to kill time.

We’ll be launching a Maid RPG website next month! Stay tuned for more news!

If you have any questions about the game, feel free to comment here.


Although it goes without saying that S. John Ross is a living fountain of awesome, today I stumbled across the Adventures of Darcy Dare paper miniatures font. The art is done in that kickass illustration style that’s used by lots of industry pros, yet aside from the Esurance commercials hasn’t gotten anywhere near the mainstream exposure it deserves. Some time I seriously want to run a game based around the general feel of Darcy Dare, and have each player pick out a character from the font to represent their character.

Also, since I had more money in my PayPal account than I realized, I decided to order some more things from Sunset Games. I’m finally getting Mononoke Koyake, the sourcebook for Yuuyake Koyake that adds kappas, aliens, ghosts, oni, and michinoke (I’m not sure what those are either). Also, I ordered Aitsu wa Classmate! (“That’s My Classmate!”), a newer game (by an entirely different designer) about high school wackiness. Finally, I’m also getting the newest issue of A Local Paper, Sunset Games’ little in-house magazine thingy. Past issues have included convention reports, mini-RPGs, scenarios, etc., though I’m getting the newest issue which has a Yuuyake Koyake replay with designer commentary, and a Maid RPG scenario.

Things I Learned From Japanese TRPGs

I’ll get into stuff for my anime RPG project hardcore soon, but first:

I’ve always been interested in how things are reinterpreted for different cultures, and in studying to become a translator I’ve wound up exploring many of the cultural differences that can be seen in Japan. RPGs in particular seem to develop substantially different subcultures in different countries, particularly when there’s a strong language barrier. Japan is relatively isolated in terms of language, and also has a sort of culture of reading and publication. From what I’ve heard there are many countries, especially those with many English-speakers (such as Finland) where American RPGs dominate the market, if sometimes in very different patterns from here depending on what it released and catches on. While a Japanese version of D&D are available, the Western games that have caught on there are ones like GURPS that were more thoroughly localized. Group SNE’s GURPS has crazy manga art, and they’ve produced some original settings and such.

As far as I can tell, the titan of the (very small) RPG industry in Japan is a company called Far East Amusement Research, or F.E.A.R. I now own three of their games: Beast Bind: New Testament, Arianrhod, and Alshard ff. These games are for the most part aimed squarely at otaku. They have lavish manga-style art, and crazy, exciting settings meant to appeal to fans of anime and video games. They vary a bit, but F.E.A.R.’s in particular tend to have fairly simple rules. Characters are created by putting together a 2-3 different templates (classes, races, or in the case of Beast Bind, “Bloods”) which determine attributes and provide a selection of special abilities to choose from. Assign 3-5 extra attribute points, calculate a couple of secondary values, and you’re pretty much done. Character creation is very quick, and results in characters painted in broad strokes, with lots of cool powers. To speed things up even more, these games also have “quickstart” character creation, where you take a mostly completed template, add a couple points, give them a name, and you’re pretty much done. DeadLands, and most of the various Unisystem games have done this, but not quite as effectively.

What makes these games interesting is how they’re presented. I talked about this a bit before (back when I first got Beast Bind: New Testament), but Japanese TRPGs are often written with the assumption that many people will be picking up the books (thanks in part to their shiny, attractive covers) and trying to play them without having ever met someone else who plays RPGs before. This is a major contrast to the American RPG hobby subculture, where it’s largely assumed that people should learn RPGs from other people who play them.

Replays – transcripts of game sessions – are the most readily noticeable consequence of this. Not all, but most TRPG books have at least one replay included, even the 32-page Maid RPG core rulebook. They’re also to be found on the internet, and doujinshi circles and even publishers put them out as small books. In the absence of a “mentor,” these can provide an effective example of how a game flows. Still, they also appear to have become a form of entertainment in themselves, enjoyed by people in the hobby both as reading material and something to create. The Ru/Li/Lu/Ra rulebook has a photograph of a game in progress in the introduction – something I’ve never seen in any RPG from any country before – and among the nerdy Japanese guys, drinks, poker chips, rulebooks, character sheets, dice, and so on, there’s a tape recorder. This penchant for recording also manifests in several RPGs having “session sheets.” These are forms included for the game, similar to character sheets, used to note down things like experience points for each character.

There is also a much greater emphasis on “scenarios.” The American RPG scene used to thrive on published adventure modules, but now even D&D seems to have relatively few of these, and many RPGs have no support of this kind available at all. Japanese RPGs seem to take scenarios very seriously, and while there are some rulebooks that don’t have any replays in them, I’ve yet to see one that didn’t have at least two scenarios in the back. Most games have a relatively tight premise, which no doubt makes it easier to write and use scenarios, but it’s also that these games are not aimed at long-term play, at least not in the American sense of a D&D campaign that goes on for multiple years. Alshard ff actually lists “Campaign Play” as an option in a sidebar, rather than as part of the list of gameplay formats (one-shots, pick-up play., casual play, etc.) in the main text. Some games don’t seem to even be particularly concerned with having continuing characters in the first place. The majority of the scenarios for Maid RPG are set up in completely different worlds from each other, and demand creating new characters.

Another thing that the F.E.A.R. games in particular do is make a very concerted effort to convey in the text how a game session should flow, from the GM devising (or selecting) a scenario, to the game itself, to cleaning up after, to suggesting going to a café or some such afterwards to talk about the game. Along the way, the rulebooks often have simple diagrams/flowcharts to help explain the games’ workings. While some of these are for things like clarifying the combat rules, there’s also some that cover the basic flow of the game. In page 120 of Alshard ff there’s two diagrams representing gamers sitting around a table. One shows the GM at the far end of the table with arrows going from the players to the center of the table, and larger arrow going from the center to the GM; it has a big X next to it, indicating this is wrong. The other shows the GM seated in the middle, with a double ended arrow between each player and the GM; this one has a circle, showing that it’s correct. I’ve certainly never seen anything like it in an American RPG. Also, the first diagram calls to mind what I’ve heard about old-school D&D players having a “party caller” who announces what the PCs are doing most of the time.

There isn’t an “indie scene” in RPGs in Japan the way there is in the U.S. (and other countries where people are into the same websites), but in some ways the categories have to be drawn differently in the first place. Japan has a massive doujinshi scene, where fans produce various works, some original but many derived from anime, manga, games, etc., and sell them at conventions. For example, I’ve seen a website for a circle that had produced doujins like “GURPS Cardcaptor Sakura” and “GURPS Galaxy Angel.” The scale on which these are sold is no doubt comparable to some indie games, but the “creator ownership” aspect isn’t a concern, and would be rather tenuous for something based off of a popular anime in the first place.

There are however some smaller TRPG publishers out there, though it’s hard to say whether they represent Japan’s equivalent of indie or the mid-tier publishing that’s become scarce to absent in the American RPG industry. I lucked out in that Sunset Games was willing to let me use Paypal to order Maid RPG and Yuuyake Koyake, two very unique games, both by Sakaya Kamiya. Neither is quite like any RPG I’ve seen, Japanese or otherwise.

Maid RPG takes the otaku maid fetish and uses it as the basis for what amounts of an anime version of Toon. Like Toon – only more so – it embraces randomness as a path to comedy. Characters are almost completely random, and tend to have odd traits glommed into them for no good reason. Hence when we played the other day my character was a pure lolita catgirl with blonde hair, an eyepatch, and a revolver, whose family broke up and who was enslaved by the master. In my opinion the single most brilliant thing about this game is that players can spend points to trigger random events.

Yuuyake Koyake (which means “Sunset”) has “Heartwarming Role-Playing” as its subtitle. It’s a diceless game about henge – animals with minor magical powers that take on human form. They live on the edge of a town in rural Japan, and the game is about them generally being friends and helping out the people of the town. Forming connections to people is a vital part of the game, and necessary for characters to get the points they need to use special powers or boost their attributes enough to accomplish especially hard tasks. It also has the single best use of controlled writing voice I’ve ever seen in an RPG rulebook; the entire time it feels like your grandma is reading it to you.

GenCon Indy!

So, today I finally decided for certain that I’m going to GenCon Indy this year. I’d been heavily leaning towards going anyway — both to have fun and to meet some of the neat people I’ve been interacting with online via Story Games and whatnot — but it was when Guy Shalev came on AIM and said that he was looking for hotel roommates that I decided for sure that I’m going. Registration doesn’t open until February 11, and there’s the matter of plane tickets to contend with (I’m probably going to have to fly out of SFO, since it’ll literally be cheaper than SJC by $100 to $150), but at least I don’t have to worry about lodgings.

Over the next few months I need to figure out what I want to do at the con, and in particular what I want to run.

Maid RPG is definitely, absolutely on the list. A friend of mine has been showing my partially translated version to some of his other friends and co-workers, and I keep being blown away by just how much people not only accept the concept, but fall in love with it. At this rate I’m going to have to start looking into how I might be able to license and publish it for real…

Other possibilities include:

  • Mascot-tan (which, bizarrely, seems to have something of a cult following)
  • My Fudge-based Halo RPG. (Still need to actually try it out with my friends)
  • My Magic Shop Risus one-shot (“Slayers meets Are You Being Served?“)

Neat Stuff About Maid RPG

As a sort of fun side-project to do over the winter break, I’ve decided to do a fan translation of Maid RPG, a 32-page RPG from Japanese publisher Sunset Games. I remember Andy K saying how the game does some interesting things, but I didn’t realize how much so until I was about 2/3 of the way done translating the book. I also didn’t realize just how messed up it was until I got to the play examples with Yugami tormenting her sempai Hizumi. Anyway, right now I’ve finished my rough translation of the character creation and gameplay rules, which leaves only a replay and two scenarios (11 pages) to go. I’m seriously thinking of trying to run this game at the next gaming con I go to, and of course with my usual gaming group.

One of the most important things is the way the game sets up the relationship between the master – the GM’s primary NPC – and the maids, the player characters who serve the master and try to keep him happy. If the play examples used to explain the rules are any indication, the game strongly encourages breaking the fourth wall and metagaming. I haven’t gotten to the replay included just yet (that’s next), but in the examples Kamiya (designer of the game, and in these the master) and his maids Hizumi and Yugami continually talk about the rules (“If only my Luck attribute was a little higher…”). I want to say it reminds me of HackMaster, but I never got around to reading or playing it, so I can’t. I think this kind of thing is usually avoided or at least overlooked, and certainly seldom turned into a strength.

Character creation is almost completely random. Seriously; I’m getting my programmer friend to whip up a random character generator program for this. Normally I don’t go in for random character creation, but this is one of those games where it seems very fitting to deprive the players of choices about their characters.

The game has no mechanic for physical damage at all. What there is, is Stress. Any time you have one character trying to force another to do something, you use the “Combat” rules, and the losing side in the opposed roll will accumulate some Stress Points. When a maid gets more Stress than her Spirit rating, she has a Stress Explosion. When that happens, the player has to act out the thing originally rolled up on the Stress Explosion chart during character creation—stuff like drinking, violence, sleep, gluttony, etc.—for a number of minutes in real time equal to the number of Stress points accumulated, after which all the Stress goes away.

How much each maid is in good graces with the master is measured in points of Favor, which the GM doles out whenever he feels like it, based on how good a job the maids do of pleasing the master. A maid who goes into negative Favor gets dismissed (removed from the campaign), but otherwise Favor mainly works like a combination of Drama Points (for boosting rolls and getting rid of Stress) and XP (for raising attributes). But players can also spend 1D6 Favor to cause a random event to happen. The GM has the player roll on the appropriate Random Event chart, and whatever result comes up is dropped into the story, centering around the maid whose player wanted the Random Event. The main rulebook has three charts (Outer Space, Modern, and Fantasy), and quite a few of the events are the kinds of things that can make the whole game swerve. The section on creating scenarios/adventures says that (1) rolling on the table can be a good way to come up with the basis of a whole session, and (2) it’s a good idea to come up with a table of 6 random events tailored to the particular scenario.