Archive for the ‘Ryuutama’ Category


So far, Ryuutama has shown itself time and again as a great starter RPG… even if it’s not a standard RPG as most of us know it. Therefore it’s important to understand the structure of what is a stereotypical Scenario for Ryuutama.

Ryuutama helps out in this regard by providing worksheets that a GM can fill out while planning his game. These are:

Scenario Objective Sheet – This identifies the purpose of the PC’s travels and comes in three different types: “Traveling from one place to another,” “Traveling to a spot to find and/or gather something (or someone),” and “Defeat a certain monster.”

Scenario Cultivation Sheet – This sheet helps the GM arrange the story in the form of three acts, and helps with the GM in their pacing.

Event Sheet – Each Scenario is broken down into smaller sections called events. This sheet helps in coming up with the details for each event.

This section also provides a few tables for reference in terms of game balance, and what kind of challenges and monsters are appropriate for a party of a given level.

Looking at it right now it feels like a lot of paperwork, but I can’t doubt it’s usefulness. I’m used to winging most of my games and having just a loose outline to follow, but there’s certainly plenty of merit in doing the work this way. It’s a good exercise that many other GMs of other games could learn from, if only to give structure to an imaginative mind.

The Book of Autumn gives two sample scenarios to try out with a group. New GMs and Travelers will be able to stretch their legs and give the system a shot.

The Book of Winter

This last section of the book is a bestiary of the different kinds of monsters that Travelers can encounter.

Each monster writeup has notes on their level, habitat, seasons when they are more active, materials that can be harvested from them (then sold!) and other information. Monsters also have special abilities that can turn the tide of battle or just be a neat little trick they can do.

The Monster writeups are imaginative and cute, though I do wish that they had illustrated some of the creatures. The text description is nice, but I would love to have been able to just flip to a page and show my players what they’re up against.

Monster are classified under seven categories: Phantom Beasts, Phantom Plants, Demon Stones, Undead, Demons, Magical Creatures and Intelligent Races.

In addition stats for human NPCs and animals are given as well.


The last portion of the book is a quick FAQ clarifying some rules questions that have cropped up for Ryuutama. They’re not game-breaking anyway, but are nice to know and have some fun answers.


For once in my entire career as a blogger, I would like to thank the Ryuutama team for bringing something fresh, fun and exciting to my attention. I bought my copy of this game, and there is not a single cent that I regret.

Ryuutama brings to life a different kind of game from the tired fantasy tropes that have been the norm in RPGs for years now. With the focus on the romance of traveling and the merry adventures that the adventurers encounter, Ryuutama delivers a refreshingly new experience to the table.

I will admit that I did have early difficulty with the presentation of some of the information, especially early on, with some Traveler Classes and Ryuujin Types thrown at me up front without any context, but it’s a minor quibble. The artwork is gorgeous, and I wish there were more of it somehow.

Combat looks tactical, without being bogged in the ammo-counting, hit-location identifying drudgery that detracts from the experience.

Ryuutama is a Fantasy game, but it occupies its own niche, and does what it chooses to do very, very well. I would definitely recommend this to groups looking for something different, lighthearted and yet capable of being much more.

I’m looking forward to the time when I can get started in running my own Ryuutama campaign, and bring it to life. I feel like I’ve learned much just from this simple read-through of the book.

So, to the entire Ryuutama Team, Kotodama Heavy Industries, and of course to Okada Atsuhiro, domo arigatou gozaimasu!

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!


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!

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!

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If I may be so blunt, the essence of both these sections is: “Go make it up.”

I’m not kidding.

That’s not to say that there isn’t any structure in Town and World creation in Ryuutama, but it’s not beholden to any sort of mathematics. You’ll see what I mean.

Town Creation

Given the focus on Travel, Towns serve as places to travel to, and places to find respite from the hardships of the road. In Ryuutama, the GM and players have the option to cooperatively create a town.

The town creation system is hardly anything but a sheet that has a few fields to be filled in, by the GM and the Players. It’s a neat way to generate new towns that will satisfy everyone.

Town Creation is donen by filling out the following information:

Town Name
Ruler or Representative
Representative Building
Specialty Goods
Town’s Sights / Sounds / Smells
Town Threats

It’s a clean way to come up with ideas that will inform the next adventure. It’s simple, but again, fun to talk about with friends.

An interesting addition are suggestions of when to build towns and their relative pros and cons. I’ll probably go with the standard “Next town at the end of the session” structure though. It’s a neat way to serve as a preview of the next town.

World Creation

Much like Town Creation, World Creation can be done by the GM or cooperatively with the players. The information that needs to be put together are:

World Name
Shape of the World
World History
Representative Countries
World Threats
World Enigmas

It’s interesting and the different questions that come up from these help inform the setting and serve for a seed for metaplots for the campaign.

Both creation systems are pretty fun in their own right, and I think with an experienced group it’ll be easy to whip up new games time and again with this.  Absolutely no math here, just the result of a conversation over some snacks and tea.

After this, we’re going to head on over and look at the Book of Autumn section of Ryuutama, which discusses the role of the GM and the mysterious Ryuujin.

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!

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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.

Determine “Objects”

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.

Combat Actions

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.

Surprise Attacks

In a surprise attack, the ambushing group gains a +1 bonus to Initiative, and the group being attacked all start at the Front Area.

Running Away

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.

Nonlethal Damage

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.

Monster Knowledge

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.

At this point, you should be able to map this out mechanically in your head.

At this point, you should be able to map this out mechanically in your head.

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.

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!

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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!