One of my first purchases at Role & Roll station was the Sky Knights Manga Gamebook (漫画deゲームブック第一弾). What sets this apart from other gamebooks is that it’s entirely a manga, not just book with illustrations. Written by Sugimoto John (杉本＝ヨハネ) and illustrated by Nakayama Shohei (中山将平), it tells the story of a humanoid bird Sky Knight hunting down the king’s murderer.
B5 in size, its fifty-two pages of black and white illustrations wrapped in a color cover was a fun adventure. Included is a bookmark that serves as a character sheet, one side for each character. It took me a total of four tries to successfully complete the story. Continue reading Sky Knights Manga Gamebook
My wife was joking that 2024 would be a year of games for me, and it appears to be on track for that. I’ve already had several board and TRPG sessions. One of which was on Board Game Arena. I hadn’t heard of it before, but the automated bookkeeping was great. Hoping that an increase in gaming translates to more blog posts, but Baldur’s Gate 3 has been a counter argument to that.
Reviewing 2023, in addition to eleven blog posts, I also created a site to search the Japanese/English D&D word list released by Hobby Japan. It was fun project, and the positive reception was rewarding. The FFG Forum Archive continues to be visited, and it’s always fun when I find it in search results. This blog continues to grow slowly, but surely, in readership. Finally, the migration of the server that runs all of the above was mostly smooth, with minimal downtime.
More broadly, the pace of TRPGs making their way into English has increased. Among those is Eldritch Escape, an upcoming dual language release with a successful kickstarter. While updating the Games with Translations page, I was surprised to find it missing several more recent TRPGs. In the opposite direction, I was very excited to see Runequest get a new Japanese version.
Looking forward, my backlog of games to share continues to grow despite seven years of blogging. My new plan is to try out alternating between long and short posts. The latter will include trips to shops I’ve visited during my travels, as well as gaming activities and news.
Here’s to a wonderful 2024, an auspicious year of the dragon!
A bit later than usual, the 2023 Fall Tokyo Game Market was on December 9th and 10th. I normally attend Sunday because there are more TRPG booths, but this year Sanyutei Rakuten had a performance on Saturday that I really wanted to see. I wasn’t sure how crowded the special stage would be, so to make sure I could watch up front I splurged on an early access band, which got me in an hour early. It was nice having a quieter event space during the early hour. Continue reading Tokyo Game Market 2023 Fall
The owner has puts a lot of effort into his drinks, occasionally adding new concoctions to the menu. The “Underdark” beer cocktail (Guinness beer and expresso) a new addition that I’m looking forward to trying next time I’m there. Coffee is from a shop in Northern Kamakura, and the tea is also local or from a shop in Yokohama. Continue reading Table Game Cafe Sirocco
After years in their previous location, the Yellow Submarine Akihabara RPG shop moved to a new location close to Suehirocho station. Curious to check out the new location, I dropped by for their grand opening on October 28th.
While partly due to familiarity, the old location felt easier to find, but it depends on the direction you’re coming from. From Suehirocho station, another large sign hides the Yellow Submarine sign, but coming the opposite direction, from Akihabara station, it’s easy to see.
My wife and I stopped by a nice board game shop on our way through the city of Mishima called Kazamidori (風見鶏). Kazamidori means weathercock, which forms part of the logo. While the focus of the store is card and board games, they also have sell TRPGs and Warhammer, with both featured prominently. The play space takes up the area nearest the counter, with shelves of games ringing. The play space games are towards the back, with the games for sale everywhere else. I was there Friday late afternoon, and there were two groups playing games and a couple of customers browsing games.
The shelves to the left are games for sale, those to the right are store copies for the play space.
I’ve been totally impressed with the Doujin TRPG Catalog 2023 (同人TRPGカタログ2023) edited by Suguru Cioya. It’s a follow up to the previous catalog (同人TRPGカタログ201X) published in 2020. That version contained 175 entries, while the new edition has expanded to 283! Well, 246 are in the main book, and another 37 are in a separate book dedicated to derivative works whose relation to copyright may be questionable. While both are available in print, the latter is also freely available on Booth.
As a kid I adored the Torneko story arc and running a shop in Dragon Quest IV, so when I saw the indie TRPG Hakke Gogyou Shou (八卦五行商) and its beautiful cover, I was immediately intrigued. A slim fourteen black and white pages with a glossy cover, it’s a game of merchants peddling their wares in an ancient China inspired fantasy.
The name itself is composed of three words: Eight Trigrams Divination (八卦), Five Elements (五行), and Merchant (商), with the shapes behind the title corresponding to the concepts. Not being very familiar with them and the book assuming some familiarity, a bit of research helped with reading. Continue reading Foretelling the Elements of Trade
A dragon has taken up residence in the mountains near the town of Havinia. Drawn to the region by this threat, the characters have limited time to prepare for battle while hunting the dragon. This is the premise of the cooperative RPGesque board game Dorasure.
I had been interested in Dorasure since I first saw it, but only recently picked it up at the Fall Tokyo Game Market. Published by the miniature shop Giant Hobby, Dorasure is cooperative board game with simple mechanics that is difficult to beat. The difficulty works in its favor, though, as does the short play time. There are multiple supplements for it, but we’ll just be looking at the base game. Just by chance a local board game cafe had a Dorasure event, so I managed some play time as well. My thoughts based come at the end.
The baubles and bits fit nicely, and there is padding for the miniatures. The board and character sheets rest upon this.
The game board folds in half
and is sturdy. There are five characters, each with a small character sheet and unpainted metal miniature. There is a twelve page manual, note about miniature design changes, and reference sheet. 13 dice, 13 tiles, 9 damage tokens, 5 completion markers, and 15 glass markers round out the box that costs ¥3,973 retail. It seems apropos that Giant Hobby, a miniatures game shop, would produce a game with miniatures. The components are all sturdy.
News of Hobby Japan losing the license to D&D and planned releases being cancelled was a shock to the Japanese D&D community. This led to numerous calls to keep D&D in Japan, including a petition to Wizards of the Coast. A few months later WOTC announced that they’d be releasing 5E in Japan directly. The price point actually dropped from ¥6,000 to ¥5,500 per book, with the starter and deluxe play sets being competitively priced.
As I mentioned in my write up about Game Market Fall 2022, Wizards is putting a lot of effort into promoting D&D. Most recently was a Magic: The Gathering Players Convention in Yokohama where there was a D&D booth with 10 minute trial sessions.