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 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.
Writing about the Fall Tokyo Game Market in Spring feels a bit odd, but the last few months have kept me busy. The Fall 2022 Tokyo Game Market was a nice respite from everything, though. Last time I went was Spring 2019, and the energy this time was frenzied after several years of cancellations. This year was a return to the main Tokyo Big Site building.
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
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 (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) .
Both 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.
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
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.
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:
Draw an item card
Play item card
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.
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 containsspoilers 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