After Fantasy AGE, we’re turning our attention to a title that some of you might not have heard of: Ryuutama Natural Fantasy Role Play by Kotodama Heavy Industries. I’ve been curious about this particular title for a while now because if it’s premise as a game that’s more focused on the drama and stories of journeys rather than having a focus on combat alone. Here’s a quote off the product description from DriveThruRPG:
“Ryuutama is an RPG developed in Japan by designer Atsuhiro Okada. It is set in a world where the “NPCs” of the village–the bakers, farmers, shopkeepers and healers–set off on a wonderful adventure exploring a fantasy world together. Some people colloquially call it “Hayao Miyazaki’s Oregon Trail“, because of its heartwarming (in Japanese “honobono“) feel of family anime, and its focus on traveling and wonder over combat and treasure.
The characters are travelers in a world without classical fantasy wizards and warriors. Instead, the characters are minstrels, merchants, healers, hunters, artisans, farmers and nobles who decide (or were fated) to leave their towns and explore the world. Using a light rules system based on polyhedral dice where the randomness in results leads to more story development, Ryuutama provides a framework for travel-focused stories fun for adults and enjoyable for all ages.
The game master also creates a special character with its own unique character sheet, called the “Ryuujin“. The half-dragon Ryuujin remains “offscreen” most of the time, but watches over the other characters, and can provide limited spells and abilies to support them. The GM provides advertisy that the players have to overcome, but at the same time they protect and nurture the characters.
- Experience is gained in Ryuutama primarily by making difficult journeys to new places, far more than monster slaying.
- Magic is based on seasonal essenses, and focuses on the classic creative use of magic to overcome problems, over combat-themed spells.
- Combat is simple and fun, featuring a classic console style “Front/Back Line Battle Mat”
- The players at the table have a hand in creating the towns that their characters visit together, so that everyone has an interest in the next leg of the journel!
- Critical fumbles (rolling 1s on both dice) hurt, but all the characters at the table get a bonus to a future roll in return.
The game was produced as a flagship project in Japan to easily get people into playing and GMing RPGs; to that end there’s a lot of advice for brand new GMs, including scenario creation. There are lots of sheets and templates to help brand new or novice GMs develop great Ryuutama-worthy scenarios.
The game has been out in Japan for years, and is widely loved by the people who play it. Even today long campaigns and short stories are being played in homes and cafes around the country. It has finally arrived in English to a new audience, and remade in full color by layout artist and game designer Daniel Solis!”
It’s quite a handful, and I don’t expect to understand everything right away in one go. That said, I’m excited to see what possibilities open up for me as a GM with this game.
I’m looking to start this Let’s Study series sometime later this week, or early next week to give me a few days head start to read and digest what I can.
In the meantime, here’s a music track that feels perfect for the game, taken from Studio Ghibli’s “Whisper of the Heart,” enjoy!