The TRPG resurgence continues

Cover of Kedamono Opera
Cover of Kedamono Opera

I wrote about a resurgence of role playing games in my New Years post, and that trend has continued well beyond expectation. First, Lion Wing Publishing announced several English TRPG translations, including the Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne TRPG from 2004, Kedamono Opera, and Wares Blade!

The Shin Megami Tensei TRPG has long been out of print in Japan and commands hefty prices on the secondary market. Kedamono Opera is narrative TRPG from 2022 that I’ve mentioned on Twitter previously. Wares Blade is a robot-fantasy game from the eighties and nineties that has similarly been out of print, though not as rare as Shin Megami Tensei. I happen to have a copy of the starter box set and will write about it later this year.

Wares Blade starter set box opened. Box lid on the left with content partially in the box to the right.
Wares Blade starter set box.

Domestically, Wares Blade is having a comeback in Japan. It began with a board game and fiction, but they’ve started releasing PDF versions of the core game and supplements. I purchased a couple of the PDFs and the content is very clean scan data that has not been run through OCR. A sample PDF is available from the official site.

Cover of the third edition of Blade of Arcana.
Previous edition of Blade Arcana. The new book is much larger than the 3rd edition (pictured) that I have.

Blade Arcana, a game of heroic fantasy, also recently got a massive tome of a new version, and there’s a steady stream of new TRPGs, including one where players are cats.

Very exciting times!


I first heard of the game Goita at Cafe Subbox in Nagano and picked up a copy there. Originating in the Ushitsu region of Noto Peninsula around 1900, Goita is a game played with shogi-like tiles or cards with four people split into two teams. The goal is to be the first player to play all their cards, with the last card determining points scored. There are several variant win conditions that add complexity.

In the Box

Being a traditional game, there are multiple publishers of Goita. The one I have is from Ten Days Games and consists of thirty-two cards, four reference cards, and four score cards. The rules fit on a single small two sided sheet of paper.

Goita box and its contents laid out flat on grey felt.

The cards feel nice in the hand and are well thought out. The center of the card is Continue reading Goita

Cafe Subbox

Storefront with white calls and blue highlights.
I almost walked by the store at night, but the meeples told me I was at the right place.

I was in Nagano a while back and stopped by a small board game store and cafe called Cafe Subbox. It’s about a 12 minute walk from the station and 20 minute from the gates of Zenkoji. Easy to miss from the outside, the inside is has a warm, welcoming vibe. There was a family playing a board game at the table near the door, and the owner was behind the counter. They had a sale going on, and a nice selection of games for sale as well as play in the store.

View of the shop from the entry. A narrow entry leads to space that widens with more tables and shelves of games.
View from the entry way. A family was playing a board game to the right of the photo.

Continue reading Cafe Subbox

Sky Knights Manga Gamebook

Sky Knights gamebook cover

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

Welcoming 2024

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.

ダンジョンカバン player board and four face down cards.

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!

Tokyo Game Market 2023 Fall

Blue Early Access wristband being held.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

Table Game Cafe Sirocco

Storefront at night. Large glass windows.I’ve become a fan of Table Game Care Sirocco in Kamakura near Ofuna station. Opening May 1st, 2023, it combines two interests of mine: analog games and delicious drinks. Tea, coffee, and beer, along with soft drinks and juices, are all on offer.

Coffee beans and tea leaves samples in metal cans with clear lids.
The coffee and teas lined up for inspection.

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

New Location for the Yellow Submarine Akihabara RPG Shop

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.View of the shop from the entry way showing a table with sale items and shelves of games in the background.
Entryway to the building. The Yellow Submarine sign is on the far left.

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.

Continue reading New Location for the Yellow Submarine Akihabara RPG Shop

Board Game Shop Kazamidori

Photo showing the storefront of Kazamidori.

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.

Table with green felt in the foreground and shelves of board games in the background. A drink fridge is to the right of the table.
The shelves to the left are games for sale, those to the right are store copies for the play space.

Continue reading Board Game Shop Kazamidori

Catalog of Many Indie TRPGs

Cover of Doujin TRPG Catalog 2023I’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.

Coming back to the main book and its 104 black and white pages, there are Continue reading Catalog of Many Indie TRPGs