The Book of Autumn is the GM section of Ryuutama. It’s also where we go about looking at the mysterious GM PCs called the Ryuujin.
The book starts off with Ryuujin Creation
Choose a Type
Ryuutama has 4 Types of Ryuujin to choose from, each representing a different genre of story that the game will have.
Midori-ryuu, the Green Dragon
Orthodox journeys involving adventure and exploration. This type is recommended for beginners and GMs new to Ryuutama.
Ao-ryuu, the Azure Dragon
Love, friendship, and human drama. This type is for GMs who want to create stories about the characters’ human relationships to each other.
Kurenai-ryuu, the Crimson Dragon
Battle and competition. This Ryuujin color is for GMs who want to focus on the combat system of the game.
Kuro-ryuu, the Black Dragon
Conspiracies, betrayals and tragedies. This is the Ryuujin for darker stories. It can be difficult to use well, so this Ryuujin is recommended for experienced GMs.
Choose your Shapeshifted Appearance
Ryuujin normally have a form resembling a horned human, a great dragon form, and a third form of the GM’s choosing. This form must be a non-threatening one that they can use to approach travelers.
Record Your Level
Starting Ryuujin start at Level 1 (No surprises there!)
Record your LP (Life Points)
Life Points are representative for the Ryuujin’s health and vigor and are spent to use the Benediction and Reveil powers. All starting Ryuujin begin with 3 LP.
It’s possible for Ryuujin to die apparently, which can cause the Journey to end, or for a new Ryuujin to step in and take the former Ryuujin’s place in guiding the Travelers onward.
Choose an Artefact
Each Ryuujin Type has 3 Artefacts to choose from, starting Ryuujin gets to pick only one. At the end of each Journey, the Ryuujin gets a chance to swap their Artefact for another.
Personalize your Ryuujin
This step is actually a whole list of details that work for establishing the Ryuujin as a character with personality, a name, a goal, and a place in the world.
Benediction are spells unique to the Ryuujin that they can cast upon travelers or people related to travelers. Ryuujin can use these to help the travelers or fix sticky situations that might happen in the story.
Starting Ryuujin don’t start with any Slots, but upon hitting the second level they’ll gain Slots that can be used to contain a Benediction. At the start of each session the GM chooses a Benediction from a common list, or a list specific to his color.
Spending a Benediction from a Slot costs nothing and can be triggered at any time.
Alternately, a Ryuujin can cast Benedictions without a Slot by spending 1 LP.
An example Benediction is:
Benediction Which Controls Fate: Fortune – Declare a critical success on a check.
Of the Ryuujin’s three forms, one is a great dragon over ten meters in length. Manifesting this form to save the travelers is called a Reveil, and is one of the Ryuujin’s most powerful abilities.
This is a direct intervention for the Travelers by the Ryuujin and is usually saved for the most dire circumstances due to the incredible effort necessary to make a Reveil.
Reveil become available to the Ryuujin upon hitting level two where they choose one from a list. Every two levels after, they gain a new one.
All Reveil cost LP to activate.
An example Reveil is:
Gift of the Dragon – Spend 2 LP to give the party enough food and water to last them for three days of travel.
Ryuujin gain levels based on the number of sessions that the GM has run. The Ryuujin character sheet has a section for documenting PC data and signatures(!) to serve as proof that you’ve run those sessions.
Getting to Level 2 is easy enough (it just needs 1 session) but the last level (level 5) requires 12 sessions, which is already a moderately long campaign.
Gaining levels grants new bonuses to the Ryuujin, increasing their LP and giving access to the Benedictions and Reveils.
The Ryuujin character is probably unique in all RPGs in the sense that you have a GM character. It’s an interesting idea, and one that helps gamify the act of running games.
GMs are encouraged to meddle in the story, and putting a Ryuujin essentially aligns the GMs objective with the players, making sure that everyone is working towards the same goal: the completion of the Journey.
I think that this is probably the most revolutionary of the ideas presented by Ryuutama, and how it was implemented is very interesting. I’m looking forward to what kind of stories my games will take if I ever choose a Black Ryuujin though…
Anyway, our next article is about scenario creation and take a few notes on the Book of Winter’s list of monsters for Ryuutama, so please come back to check that out as well!