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.