How do you say “THAC0” in Japanese?

Moving from the US to Japan was a chance to shed a lot of material possessions and start fresh. One thing I do regret getting rid of is some of my old AD&D 2nd edition books. I recently decided to pick up a few of the books again and was surprised to discover some Japanese editions at my local gaming shop.

Player's Handbook Cover

Until seeing them in the store, I actually wasn’t aware of second edition having  been published in Japan. Starting in the mid 1980’s, a company called Shinwa Corporation secured the rights to Dungeons and Dragons in Japan and published various classic D&D resources. They tried introducing AD&D 2nd edition, but were unable to transition enough existing fans and build a fanbase for the game to take off. The company later stopped operations in ’93 and went bankrupt in ’94/’95.1


Skills Chapter. This page has rules for tracking; acrobatics; ventriloquism; making weapons; weather prediction; and weaving.
Skills Chapter. This page has rules for tracking; acrobatics; ventriloquism; making weapons; weather prediction; and weaving.

The book itself is the same dimensions as the English edition. I no longer have my original PHB to compare with, but the Japanese text feels a bit more cramped than I remember the English text being. The familiar blue used for the images is also replaced with a flat black, but the full color images are carried over unchanged from the English edition. The lack of color may be part of the reason the pages feel denser.

The character race entry for humans.
The character race entry for humans.

Improved Phantasmal Force Spell Entry
R: Range, C: Component, D: Duration, CT: Casting Time; AE: Area of Effect; ST: Savings Throw

The entry for “Improved Phantasmal Force”. The text at the top is the transliterated spell name (インプルーブド・ファンタズマル・フォース) and school (イリュージョン/ファンタズム). Under that in bold is the translated spell name (上級幻覚) and the original English name beneath that. The spell stats and description then make up the rest of the entry. For those of you that may be curious, units of measure are imperial.



Here are some excerpts to hopefully give you a feel for the Japanese.

Sample Rules Text
機織り:この技能を有するPCは、衣服、タペストリー(織り物)、掛け布などを、羊毛や綿から編み上げることができる。作業には糸紡ぎ機や織機が必要である。一日に二平方ヤードの布を織ることができるものとする。- AD&D PHB p.63

Weaving: PCs with this skill can weave clothes, tapestries (woven), cloth coverings, etc from wool or cotton. A spinning wheel or loom are required for this to work. Two square yards of cloth can be woven in one day.

Sample Flavor Text
ドワーフは、背の短いずんぐりした種族で、その大きさと姿により容易に見分けることができる。平均身長は4〜4.5フィートである。ほおは赤く、目は黒、髪も黒である。通常350年から450年は生きる。- AD&D PHB p.20

Dwarves are a short and stout race that can be easily identified by their size and shape. Their average height is between 4 and 4.5 feet. They have red cheeks and black eyes and hair. They usually live for 350 to 450 years.

Dragon Fan Club and Official Magazine

The second to last page contains an ad for the official fan club and magazine. Club membership was ¥1,030 and the first year subscription to the monthly club bulletin cost an additional ¥2,575. Shinwa also published a separate magazine "Official D&D Magazine" that contained translations of articles from Dragon and Dungeon magazines as well included a section from FG Journal, another gaming magazine. Six issues cost ¥4,968.

DFC and Official D&D Magazine Ad
Players!! Introducing enrollment in the DFC as well as Official D&D Magazine subscriptions. TSR’s AD&D and D&D are hailed as the biggest game systems of this century. Dragon Fan Club (DFC) is the only authorized fan club in Japan. This official fan club was created for AD&D and D&D gamers in Japan.

AD&D Computer Products Now on Sale!

The last page contains an ad for Japanese versions of various AD&D video games developed in America, as well as a Dragonlance card game and novels. The computer games come in different formats for different platforms: 5″ floppies; 3.5″ floppies; and Heroes of the Lance only on CD-ROM.

AD&D Computer Products Ad
The number one in America, AD&D has finally arrived! A world of dragons, magic, and legend!

So how do you say THAC0 in Japanese? Tako

THAC0(tako): Abbreviation of “To Hit Armor Class 0” (the number required to hit an armor class of 0). The minimum value that a character must roll to hit an opponent with an AC of 0. – PHB p.11


Back Cover


AD&D Player’s Handbook
Publisher Shinwa Corporation
Released 1990-07

  1. 新和. (2017, February 18). In Wikipedia. Retrieved 07:59, February 18, 2017, from ↩︎

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.