Welcoming 2023

Hope the New Year is off to a good start for everyone! After not much posting in 2021, a goal for 2022 was better consistency, which I think I mostly achieved with eleven posts. Of those, one highlight was a multipart deep dive of the Dark Souls TRPG. For 2023, I’d like to continue that momentum and focus on showcasing more TRPGs, even if just in brief. As much fun as deep dives are to research and write, there are a lot of books on my shelf I’d like to share with all of you.

First Games of the Year

Flamecraft board and cards mid to late game.
Flamecraft was a hit with its beautiful art.

I met with some friends to welcome in the New Year with some boardgames. Among those we played were Continue reading Welcoming 2023

Message on the Palm

I stumbled upon a simple solo journaling game with an interesting mechanic while researching TRPG ebooks. Called Message on the Palm (てのひらの伝言), its premise is awakening to find a palm-sized visitor outside your window. What that visitor is depends on the last digit of your previous Tweet. In fact, this is the only randomizerーeach tweet references the ID of the previous one to customize the prompt from a list of options.

Templates are provided for each tweet to serve as a guide. Most tweets have a single template, but the fifth has two options: one for if the visitor is invited in and one if the visitor is driven away. Continue reading Message on the Palm

TRPG Digital Delve

The last few years have seen a proliferation of digital editions of TRPG books and related tools in Japan. While many books are still physical only, there’s a growing number of both indie and commercial games with digital editions available.

While several sites focus on games and fan made content, many that originally focused on digital comics have extended their selection to include TRPGs. The sites focused on gaming products tend to have more categorization and filtering specific to games. They also usually provide the content as PDFs and/or zip files of contents instead of EPUBs with DRM or browser/app based viewing.

There are a lot of options, but I usually start my search at Booth and Conos, and then branch out to other services if they don’t have the content I’m looking for.  Many publishers list on multiple sites, and while the pricing is uniform, their offerings will sometimes differ.

In terms of pricing, physical and digital editions of commercial games are often the same price or only a slight discount provided. As an example, the Japanese edition of Cyberpunk RED costs ¥7,200 for either physical or digital, while the English edition costs $60 for physical and $30 for digital. Indie games often have a bit of a discount. The indie game Praise for Angels, for example, costs ¥1,800 for the PDF and ¥2,900 for the print edition. Some services provide point systems, often with sales that increase the points received for a purchase while leaving the purchase price unchanged.

A word of warning for those hoping to use built in dictionaries: from what I’ve seen, text is not selectable in most rulebooks except those sold as PDFs. Replays formatted like a novel that I’ve read on Kindle have had selectable text and the dictionary worked, but I haven’t tested replays on other services. PDFs generally don’t have this problem, though sometimes text selection can be odd. Continue reading TRPG Digital Delve

World’s End Journey

World’s End Journey (終末紀行RPG) is a rules light indie TRPG about two travelers, human and robot, surviving in a world that has ended. The text from a promo image sums it up as, “No school. No society. No food. No bullets. No anything. With partner.” Using a d6 pool for resolution, it focuses on generating stories using roll or choose charts (ROC) .

World's End Journey CoverBoth the free 16-page and paid 40-page PDFs are A4 landscape with a three column layout. Primarily in black and white with a few images, the sample characters are illustrated in full color. The sections are clearly labeled and handy reference numbers are provided to make navigation even easier.

Setting

The setting is loosely defined with several core principals: mankind is long extinct; no other humans nor robots are around; there are no resources left, with only remnants from the past being repurposed; and the world is dangerous: in addition to the harsh landscape, mutants and drones pose a threat. The journey itself is one of survival. There’s enough guidance to set the mood, while the details are left to the GM and players to weave together. The exact year is undefined, and there both realistic (eg machine-guns) and far-future (eg laser guns) items available, but as we’ll see later, the items are about expressing the character and don’t have mechanical benefits. Continue reading World’s End Journey

Fool’s Coffin

Fool's Coffin BoxFool’s Coffin is a drafting game for two to six players with a twenty minute play time. Players are adventurers attempting to acquiring treasure from an ancient king’s tomb. Complicating this are five ghosts that like to play tricks on intruders. I picked Fool’s Coffin a while back at Tokyo Game Market and finally got a chance to play it. I was initially drawn to it by its beautiful cards, but was also looking for a lighter game with short play time.

Contents

Game box and cards.There are 25 ghost cards (five per type) and thirteen types of items for a total of 30 item cards. Each item corresponds to one of the five ghosts. For example, a sword is covered by the weapons ghost. Finally there are six reference cards, one for each player, listing the tricks each ghost does.

Rules

The winner is the first player to get ten points. The starting player begins with two item cards, while the others begin with one. Each turn has three phases:

  1. Draw an item card
  2. Play item card
  3. Enquiry (attempt to acquire the item by consulting a ghost)

After phase three and checking victory conditions, the current player chooses a card from their hand and passes it to the next player, whose turn then begins.

“Enquiry” as phase three requires some explanation behind the word. The action is literally “うかがい” (ask/enquire), and it’s explained as 伺いを立てる, which is to ask a superior for permission. Rather than looting or otherwise forcibly stealing from the tomb, you’re instead politely asking the ghosts for permission to receive an item.

Continue reading Fool’s Coffin

Dark Souls TRPG Solo Play Report

Character sheet on a tablet, with the cards comprising the map and dice behind it.
Early in the scenario.

After spending so much time with the Japanese Dark Souls TRPG (part one and part two), I wanted to give its tutorial scenario a try. The following are my play through notes with my impressions at the end. I played with real playing cards and dice, but marked up a PDF version of the character sheet on my tablet. Now, it goes without saying, but this post contains spoilers for the solo Dark Souls TRPG tutorial scenario.

The scenario is intended for a single player, and I ended up playing it solo. To make it more interesting for me, I did not read the scenario beforehand. Instead, I played through while reading it for the first time, and did my best to not read ahead. Continue reading Dark Souls TRPG Solo Play Report

Dark Souls TRPG Deep Dive: Behind the Screen

Our deep dive into the Japanese Dark Souls TRPG continues with a look at the GM portion of the book. Part one covered the first half of the book, which focuses on player content. I’ve done my best to keep spoilers to a minimum, but I do show the data of the first enemy encountered in the tutorial scenario. The remaining three sections we’ll look at today are Scenarios, Enemies, and Charts and Sheets. After that there’s a quick look at the bonus GM screen.

Scenario Section

The scenario section begins with helpful advice for the GM and an overview of both solo and multi play. It continues with an overview of how scenarios work, mapping, treasure, and the ominous malevolence sheet. Continue reading Dark Souls TRPG Deep Dive: Behind the Screen

Dark Souls TRPG Deep Dive

We’ll begin our deep dive into the Dark Souls TRPG by looking at the player-focused first half of the book. Part two will cover the game master focused latter half. Designed by Hironori Katou and
published by Group SNE, Dark Souls TRPG is a book that has been sitting in my blog backlog since it was published. It’s a crunchy, class and level based system that seeks to evoke the feeling Dark Souls III, while also avoiding what would be tedious in an analog game. As with many Japanese TRPGs, it only uses six sided dice. Continue reading Dark Souls TRPG Deep Dive

Invictus: the King

Invictus: The King deluxe edition box cover.

After trying out NoviNovi TRPG: The Horror, I next played a few games of Invictus: the King, a two player tactical card game. I originally picked this up at Tokyo Game Market 2019 because I loved the art, but it was also fun to play. Gameplay is symmetrical, with both players building their deck from the same set of cards.

What’s in the Box

Box contents: rulebook, cards, pieces, and folding board.

The are multiple themed editions, such as Japan and Egypt, but I have the original Medieval deluxe edition. The difference between the deluxe edition and others is the inclusion of a board and wooden tokens. Contained within is a folding game board; five types of soldiers with twenty cards each; 5 king cards; 5 wooden pieces (one for each unit color); and the rulebook. Continue reading Invictus: the King