Tag Archives: Meikyuu Kingdom

Slime Quest Thoughts

Lately I’ve been poking at Slime Quest a bit, and it has me really wanting to get into working on it in earnest. Of course, I have a bunch of stuff I need to get sorted out for Star Line Publishing, the Golden Sky Stories Kickstarter, and Raspberry Heaven. Still, I want to do a blog post to blather a bit about Slime Quest, which will probably include some stuff I’ve posted about before.

Slime Story is an idea I came up with around 2006, a world like ours except with the addition of magical portals spitting out MMO style monsters that people have taken to hunting for fun and profit. In some parts of the world corporations or warlords control the portals for the marvelously useful bits of monsters, but in suburban America monster hunting is mostly something teenagers do for fun. The system, which I think of as the “Slime Engine,”[1] owes a lot to Japanese tabletop RPGs like Arianrhod and Meikyuu Kingdom, plus a bit of Dungeons & Dragons and a drop of Apocalypse World. Making an anime fantasy game with the same rules was a pretty natural thing to do (and if I ever develop both enough you can be that the mystery of the portals in Slime Story will have something to do with the Slime Quest setting), but because it forces me to make the math a bit more rigorous I may end up finishing it first.
Continue reading Slime Quest Thoughts

New TRPG Stuff

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.

Slime Story: Conflicts Redux

A combination of reading Agon, re-reading Meikyuu Kingdom, and thinking about some of the little tricks we’ve come up with in my group’s D&D4e campaign have inspired me to get back to work on Slime Story at long last. The major stumbling block was getting the conflict rules to work how I wanted them to, and I think I’ve got that about figured out.

Slime Story: Kelly

Before I had a “footing” system, where each character in a conflict is in Forward, Middle, or Rear footing (or in some special circumstances Off-Balance or Ambush footing), which was basically a trade-off of offense for defense or vice-versa. The thing is, once you’ve set your footing, there’s not much motivation to change it, which kind of defeats the purpose of having a map and character tokens and such. Meikyuu Kingdom and Agon both use abstract range maps. MK calls it the “battlefield,” while Agon has a “range strip“. (And apparently Traveller had something similar too, so it’s a much older idea than I’d originally believed.) This lets me do some neat stuff with range, movement, and positioning, and in particular, outnumbering the enemy within a given position on the map gives characters an advantage. I think this will help provide about the right level of tactical elements, enough to make encounters interesting in their own right, but not so much that they eat up too much time.

And, straight from Agon, the social conflict rules are basically the combat rules but with the map/positioning elements taken out completely. Much simpler and IMO altogether better, since having positioning in a social conflict is getting a little too abstract for my tastes.

The other important thing I’ve come up with is the “action stack.” This is my attempt at doing something more interesting with initiative, an area that has seen surprisingly little innovation over the years. In order to simplify combat in my group’s D&D campaign, we’ve taken to having a combat card for each character and monster with the relevant stats on it. Once the initiative rolls are in, the DM just arranges the cards in order and cycles through the stack of cards as needed. This in turn lets me do interesting things with the stack of cards that would be awkward otherwise, including meta-effects that change a character’s spot in the initiative order. It’s also made it easier to keep track of “reactions,” a class of actions that interrupt regular actions; your card gets turned face-down in the stack, and when it comes up again it’s righted, but you don’t get to go until it comes around face-up again.

On the whole, I’m feeling a lot better about how all of this stuff is coming together, though of course it’s continuing the pattern of tearing out some bits of the system and keeping others. (But, the bits getting discarded are becoming smaller and smaller.) On paper, it looks like it’s achieving the right balance of tactically interesting and intuitive to play, even if it does involve a lot of fiddly bits. But, if I can get the encounter and conflict rules straightened out, I can finally write up the talents and get the game ready to properly playtest.

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 Jamendo.com. If you like the song, consider buying some CDs from Nankado’s website.


Maid RPG Update: GenCon Indy 2008

I am so out of it right now, and very relieved that I’m done with conventions for the summer. ^_^;

This year’s GenCon was the launch of Maid RPG. We shared a booth with Khepera Publishing and Aetherial Forge, so the booth’s main offerings were Hellas, Ninja Burger, and Maid RPG. Three very different games, but all of them are awesome. Also, Jerry Grayson is a really awesome guy, and hanging out with him, Andy, Renee, Mike, and everyone else at the booth helped make the con for me.

Selling Maid RPG was one of the more amusing things I’ve done in a while. People would walk by the booth, eye it, and as soon as they started to comprehend what they were looking at, they would either be drawn closer like a magnet, or be repulsed like one. The word of mouth and internet buzz apparently paid off, because as this small press/indie stuff goes, it sold like hotcakes. We had a grand total of 70 copies to sell, and they were gone by the end of Saturday. I wish we could’ve had more, but we’ll hopefully have the online orders up and running soon enough, and Andy didn’t have to carry any home.

I ran two scheduled Maid RPG events. One was a purely random game where the Master turned out to be the son of Satan (Special Qualities: Demon, Evil Emperor, Family Hate, in a Post-Apocalyptic world). It was a very random game that sort of hilariously shambled along. Then on Saturday I went to run the Maidenrangers scenario I had so diligently prepared for, and found that I was running it for a familiar bunch of guys from Kentucky who proved that perverting the situation in Maid RPG does not require any random events if you’re determined enough. It was seriously amazing. And one of the tape-recorded everything. Be afraid.

Another cool thing about this project is just that I got to meet a bunch of RPG designers and other people big in the hobby. Several indie game designers stopped by the booth, as well as a good number of podcasters and whatnot. I lost count of how many people came by with Adept Press exhibitor badges (i.e., people who were part of the IPR booth), and I was routinely bumping into people whose names I know from online and from indie games. I also got to chat a little bit with Christopher Clark of Inner City Games, and when I went by the Arc Dream Publishing booth for a copy of Wild Talents they congratulated me on the game and were going on about how jazzed they were about it.

All in all, I’m extremely happy about how things turned out for us at the con. Admittedly I now need to stay home and curl up into a ball for a day or two, but it was easily the best convention experience I’ve had this summer, and for that matter in quite a while. Our friends from Kentucky want me to come again next year, but I really have no goddamn clue where my life will be at next year. If Maid RPG 120% or an English version of Yuuyake Koyake, or something else of mine comes to fruition I could well wind up feeling obligated to do that, but who knows. Andy will definitely be there with Tenra Bansho Zero and Maid RPG for sale, and if my finances permit that’d be enough of an excuse to come to help out.

Up Next For Maid RPG
As happy as I am to have Maid RPG out into the world, I’ve already spotted a few errors. We’ll have to put together an errata file in the very near future, and try to fix as much as possible in time for the next printing. We did as much as we could, but we also wound up giving ourselves tight deadlines for GenCon. If you have a copy and you catch something, please don’t hesitate to let us know. We’re kind of new to this whole “being an RPG publisher” thing, so I have to ask for you patience. The next one will be better.

There’s also the matter of doing the layouts and PDFs for the remaining scenarios that didn’t get into the book, and getting the full website up and running. I don’t know when that’s all going to happen, but it’s definitely on the to-do list.

I’ll be poking at my own original material too, and I intend to give all of it a decent amount of playtesting. However for the time being life is hectic, and I have no idea when I’ll really be able to commit the time needed to it.

One thing I am definitely going to do in the near future is put together a packet of all the stuff for my expanded version of the Maidenrangers scenario, complete with pregens, character sheets, etc. If the scenario sounds neat to you, I’d suggest waiting until I get this stuff ready, since I have a few important additions based on having two runs through it under my belt now.

I didn’t take that many pictures, but here’s what I did get. Mike (the Ninja Burger Mike) took some pictures of things I missed, including this unbelievably cute girl wearing bunny ears and holding a copy of Maid.

Non-Maid RPG stuff after the cut.
Continue reading Maid RPG Update: GenCon Indy 2008