Tag Archives: SRS Basic

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.

mar

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:

Brave/Careful
Compassionate/Rational
Honest/Stubborn
Trustful/Skeptical
Tolerant/Serious
Passionate/Naive

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.

SRS Basic

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but FEAR is trying their hands at an open system. For a while now they’ve been using variants of the same general system for most of their games, and they took the version from Alshard GAIA (the modern-day Earth version of Alshard) and created SRS (“Standard RPG System”). Since I have a couple of back-burner projects with a relatively mainstream bend to them, I decided to go translate it in my spare time. Here are my impressions:

SRS uses a very simple roll-over system; 2D6 plus whatever modifiers you have. It also has a very simple class-and-level system. You pick out a total of three levels of classes at character creation, and those mostly determine your attributes, add bonuses to your combat values (derived values for various things) and decide what Skills (special powers/shticks) you can select from. SRS is basically just a framework for creating games, so it lets you decide on what attributes, combat values, and classes you want. It’s definitely a toolkit for making games, rather than a game itself. With, say, Fudge, you can treat it as a complete game out of the box if you want to play it a certain way, but that’s not the case with SRS.

One interesting thing about it is the use of scene framing. It doesn’t have any particular meta-game effects (though the design notes say you can add stuff like that if you’re so inclined), but the rules call for fairly tight scene framing, over which the GM has substantial authority. The GM designates certain PCs as “scene players,” and other PCs are either left out, or can make some kind of roll to get into the scene.

The most glaring omission is that the SRS Basic rules have nothing for combat. This would seem very odd, considering most FEAR games seem to be fairly combat-oriented. However, their plan is to have the stuff in SRS Basic be required (or at least if you change stuff from it you have to acknowledge such in your game’s text). They’ve started to release combat rules in the form of “Plug-Ins,” though they’ve started with one on “Combat Movement and Engagement,” which I haven’t fully read just yet but seems like it’s actually SRS’ answer to Attacks of Opportunity. On the other hand, there aren’t really any limits as to what you can add to the game. Skills in a more traditional sense aren’t in SRS or a lot of FEAR games, but they do have them in Beast Bind, and they’re hardly unusual in Japanese RPGs.

The SRS Terms of Use are interesting, and they’re probably something that couldn’t be pulled off in the U.S. Essentially, they say that you can do anything within reason for personal use of SRS, but for commercial uses you have to contact FEAR and get permission and possibly pay a licensing fee. And they provide an e-mail, address, and telephone number to contact them directly. They also specifically mention that they’re only sharing things that have been explicitly released as SRS content, so material from Alshard GAIA (or other published games) is off-limits as per normal copyright laws.

Also, as Andy noted, FEAR is putting out a new game called Tenra WAR, apparently a crazy crossover between Tenra Bansho and Terra The Gunslinger. AFAIK it’ll be the first SRS-branded game, where neither of the games it’s based on used the proto-SRS that appeared in many other FEAR games.

So, as far as SRS is concerned, I think I’ll hold off on trying to do anything with it until there are enough plug-ins released that I wouldn’t have to build a combat system from scratch. On the other hand, along with the new Yuuyake Koyake supplement (Mononoke Koyake, which adds spirits, ghosts, and aliens into the mix), I already have a decent list of games to order from Japan when I have the money to do so. (I still have no idea how to get my hands on Meikyuu Kingdom though…)