[Let’s Study: Ryuutama Natural Fantasy RPG] Part 4: The Rules of the Journey

Posted: August 17, 2015 by pointyman2000 in Let's Study, Roleplaying Games, Ryuutama
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We’re starting the week with a look at Ryuutama’s mechanics. I’ll try to cover as much as I can in this article, but will likely spin Combat mechanics off into it’s own part in the Let’s Study series.

Basic Resolution System

Ryuutama’s basic resolution system relies on rolling two dice and adding the results together. The higher the result, the better.

The dice used in each check is determined by the statistics of the character. So if the check calls for a [STR + DEX] check, and the character has a 4 in STR and a 6 in DEX, then the player rolls 1d4 and 1d6.

Fumbles and Criticals

Fumbles happen when both dice end up rolling a 1. This represents a crushing failure that results in any item granting a bonus for the check to lose one level of durability.

It’s not all bad though, fumbles also grant each member of the party a Fumbe Point that can be used for Concentration (which we’ll get to in a bit) and carry between sessions.

Criticals on the other hand, happen when both dice roll the highest value. This means that the attempt is met witn great success.

Success Checks

The most basic of checks is the Success Check, which is used to determine if an action is successful in an instance where it is not guaranteed.

In a Success Check, the player rolls the dice of the relevant stats (as determined by the GM) against a Target Number set by the GM. Bonuses or penalties may be applied to this result from magic, items or skills.

If the character rolls equal to or greater than the Target Number, then the attempt is successful. Otherwise the character fails.

Target Numbers range from 4 “Easy” to 20 “Probably requires a miracle.”

Contested Checks

When characters are competing against each other, the situation is resolved by a Contested Check. This involves both characters making a roll against each other. The higher roll is the winner.


When confronted by a particularly important action, a player character may Concentrate when attempting a check. In order to Concentrate, the Character must spend either half of their current MP (rounded up) or One Fumble Point.

Concentrating gives a bonus of a +1 to the Check result. If the character pays for both costs (halved MP and Fumble Point) then the bonus increases to a +2.


Condition is a unique sort of stat in the sense that it represents something similar to a mix of Endurance and Confidence in one stat.

In Ryuutama, a character’s Condition score is determined at the beginning of every day, by rolling a Condition Check using [STR + SPI].

When a character’s condition is 10 or higher, they benefit from having one of their stats temporarily increased by one die size.

Likewise, when a Character’s condition is 2 (having Fumbled the roll), the character must choose a status effect to affect their character.

Status Effects

In true JRPG fashion, Status Effects are in Ryuutama. These are ailments that can affect the Travelers at various points in their adventure. Status Effects are rated by a number, which show the potency of the effect, and at what Condition the Status Effect will kick in.

Recovering from a Status Effect will occur if a day’s Condition roll is equal to or higher than the Effect, or if the Traveler gets some aid via a healing herb or spell, gets first aid from a city or is treated via First Aid by a Healer.

Status Effects are divided into Body-Based Status Effects such as Injury, Poison and Sickness, or Mind-Based Status Effect such as Exhaustion, Muddled or Shock.

Status Effects are pretty nasty since they knock down stats by a die type!


For a game as dedicated to the concept of questing via travel as Ryuutama, I didn’t really thing that Journey Rules would be this simple.

As long as they are traveling, the characters make three Journey Checks each day, in order. The difficulty of the checks is determined by the terrain and weather.

The first check is the Travel Check [STR + DEX], this determines the ability of each traveler to get through the terrain without incident. Failure here results in losing HP.

Direction Checks [INT + INT] come next. This is a roll that only the Mapper makes. Needless to say it’s in the best interest of the team to assign a high INT character the role of Mapper. Failure here results in halved movement and they stay in the same kind of Terrain the next day. On the upside, they get a +1 to their next Direction Check the following day.

Camping Checks are the third, and that is made by 1 person with another allowed to provide support. A successful camping check results in each character’s current HP being doubled, and MP restored to full. Failure means that the characters only recover 2 HP and MP.

I do like the fact that there’s a section in the book that calls out right away that Journey Checks should be well supported with a lot of roleplaying. It’s not just a series of checks (though there’s that too.) Embellished descriptions and just taking the time to savor the journey should matter in the game.

This addresses something I was struggling with when I was reading the book. We’re so hard wired to accept that games are all about action that something much more slower paced like Ryuutama, that pays attention to the moment rather than the next quest objective is an outlier. Still it’s good that this is here as it helps align the GM with the style of play promoted by the game.

The Journey rules wraps up with how to conduct foraging rules, which is a [STR + INT] check performed by a single character against a target number of the terrain and weather.

Random events are touched on, with a short table talking about various events and their effect on the character in the form of which Status Effect is applied.

Few games play up the Man vs Nature aspect of traveling as much as Ryuutama does. I’m honestly very, very impressed by how well they’ve managed to implement a simple and elegant system to simulate the hardships and misadventures of traveling in the setting. They rules themselves are easy to understand, and feel quite fun in play.

We’ll continue with the Ryuutama Let’s Study series with a glimpse at the combat rules, before finally moving forward to the GM section of the game.

Ryuutama Natural Fantasy Role Play is available in DriveThruRPG for $14.00 or roughly Php 630.00

The Let’s Study series is made possible by Patreon. If you’d like to help me secure more titles to cover in detail, please consider becoming a patron!

  1. Mikko says:

    Fumbles and criticals on lowest and highest results on d4 or d6? That sounds rather excessive. Is it dramatic anymore if they really are this common.

    I like the concept behind the Journey Checks. Good to see games using game mechanics to bring the focus on the aspects they want to emphasize.

    • Hi Mikko,

      Yeah, the Criticals and Fumbles occur on the highest and lowest values of the dice being rolled. So if your character has stats along an 8, or 10 then they shouldn’t be as common. That said, Fumbles are a good thing in the game as everyone earns Fumble Points from them. It’s a nice way of softening the blow.

      I’m very impressed by the Journey Checks. It lends a sense of progression and focuses on the idea of mindfulness, a lot of times I see RPGs who gloss over travel times and foraging to get to the next fight, but Ryuutama shines when it comes to making even a simple journey to the next town feel like a real adventure.

  2. Edward says:

    On first reading I was a bit disappointed with the travel rules. Our group has been playing The One Ring and the travel rules are just about perfect IMO, everyone has a responsibility some good examples of things that may happen during the journey for the GM to build upon.

    • Hi Edward, having had a chance to review The One Ring before I can see why you might be disappointed. I think that Ryuutama is simpler and perhaps less satisfying if you’re used to The One Ring’s systems.

      • Edward says:

        True, The One Ring really nailed it, it would it have been nice to have individual roles for a party of 4, as well as some examples or guidance of things that may happen on a journey. We’re playing ToR now and i’m hoping to try Ryuutama after a different type of game to see the different approaches.

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