While Ryuutama doesn’t seem like the kind of game that would focus too much on fighting, it does introduce a few neat ideas into the combat mechanics.
Combat in Ryuutama starts off with an extra step ahead of the standard Initiative Roll. In this case, the players get to define five “objects” in the area where the fight is happening.
These “objects” can be pretty much anything that could feasibly be lying around from carts to fruit stands and stone walls. These can then be used by Travelers to gain an edge in combat. Using an item is as simple as explaining how the character is able to gain an advantage by using the object in question. By doing this, the character gains a +1 bonus to their attack roll. The object being utilized is also marked off as having been used.
All characters in the fight make an Initiative check by rolling [DEX + INT] with ties going to the character with a higher Condition score.
I just have to stop here and say that the Ryuutama battlefield map is perhaps one of the cutests sheets I’ve seen in all my years of gaming.
Ryuutama uses an abstracted system for determining ranges, and the characters are deployed across a “Front Area” and “Back Area” of opposing sides. The “map” itself is shaped to look like an egg with the dividing line being a jagged zig-zag pattern much like a crack in it… a dragon egg, perhaps? (Ryuu = Dragon, Tamago = Egg)
Characters in the front row are usually for melee characters, and magic-users and ranged characters prefer the back row. Back row characters are safe from melee attacks, but are vulnerable to bow and magic attacks.
If there are no characters in the Front Area, the characters in the Back Area are automatically moved to the Front Area. Fans of old JRPG console games might recognize this sort of system used in videogames.
Unlike more complicated games, characters in Ryuutama can only perform one action per turn. These actions are: Movement, Magic, Assess the Situation, Defend, Attack, Use an Item, Use a Skill, Feint and Search or some Other action as allowed by the GM.
Movement in this case is switching from Front to Back Area, and Assess the Situation allows for a reroll of Initiative, keeping the highest roll.
Attacking in Ryuutama involves an Accuracy Check (or “To Hit” roll in other RPG parlance) vs the target’s Initiative. If successful, a Damage Check is made with the weapon’s stats.
Wounds and Recovery
Recovering Hit Points can be done by receiving Healing from a Healer Class Traveler, Using an Item or being affected by a spell, staying at an inn, receiving care at a clinic and campign.
When a character’s HP OR MP drops to zero, they lose consciousness. These characters are considered helpless and cannot perform any actions until they recover. If they have their HP or MP increased again, they return to the action at their previous Initiative.
A character dies by hitting a negative value for HP equal to their current condition.
In a surprise attack, the ambushing group gains a +1 bonus to Initiative, and the group being attacked all start at the Front Area.
Sometimes running away is the smart thing to do. A party can run away from a fight if at the end of a combat round, the sum of the party’s Initiative is equal to or higher than the sum of the enemies’ Initiative.
Certain environments affect the way the battlefield works. For example, fighting in narrow spaces mean that the Front Area is limited only to one or two characters.
Fighting in cramped areas might mean that both sides only have a Front Area and no Back Area.
Fighting in Separate areas on the other hand might have their own Front and Back areas to fight in.
It’s also possible to deal nonlethal damage by declaring such and taking a -2 penalty on the attack roll. On a success, the damage occurs as normal, but can only reduce the target to -2 HP.
In a nice touch, Travelers may attempt to check to see what they know about a particular monster. It’s a [INT + INT] check with a target number of the Terrain + Weather. Unlike other checks, this one doesn’t take up an action.
On a success, the GM will let the player know the Monster’s level and give a rough idea of what it can do and what it’s good at. For specific detail, the Travelers will need to use an “Open Dragonica” spell.
Ryuutama’s combat system is simple, and I don’t know if I’ll lose any sort of credibility for using the term, “cute.” It mimics a lot of things I’ve seen in videogames, but applies them perfectly to form a simple combat system with some minor tactical choices.
From positioning, to rules tweaks to accommodate for different kinds of fights, it’s amazing how much they’ve baked into it with the kind of wordcount that it used. My design self is giddy at the way that it was so elegantly put together.
Next up, we’re taking a look at the Town and World Creation rules for Ryuutama.