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Ryuutama, Natural Fantasy RPG (read-thru)

Ryuutama is an RPG designed by someone working at a gaming cafe in Japan, and then some folks crowdsourced funding to print it in English, which is the version I’m reading.

I supported the funding, so my name is in this document. That didn’t mean much to me in 2015, recently @tim found my name in the PDF, and that’s kinda cool. Kinda. Not gonna be a tipping point for me, though. :slight_smile:

Reminder: I generally don’t care about layout or graphics in RPGs. I intend to run games with words, so I need mechanics and narrative hooks, please-and-thank-you. So I won’t be commenting on much unless it stands out for me.

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Travelers

Travelers are something akin to a class/lifestyle/occupation. Most players will be a Traveler, with at least once also being a Ryuujin, which is the next section.

Oh yeah, see that “ryuu”? That’s one of many terms in Japanese for dragon. The creator chose that phrase to refer to the dragons in the game, and Ryuujin means something like, “dragon person”. But also, tamago is egg, and Ryuutama means “dragon egg”, a background element of the RPG framework (the world is a “dragon’s egg”).

Okay, anyhow let’s see the names of these Traveler types, and the names of their skills, along with my witty observations!

Minstrel

  • Well-traveled
  • Knowledge of Tradition
  • Music

Not saying it’s only a Bard…

Merchant

  • Well-spoken
  • Animal Owner
  • Trader

One of my favorite games was Dragon Warrior 4, where you get to play a merchant that goes to a dungeon to collect loot to fund a tunnel opening so you have access to new markets, all by taking loot back to your shop in town and letting your co-owner wife sell the wares.

Also, the character portrait for the stock merchant looks like a Gerudo trader!

About time we had some merchant action!

Hunter

  • Animal Tracking
  • Trapping
  • Hunting

Rangers gonna range! I imagine this is a very useful companion to have in the party.

Healer

  • Healing
  • First-Aid
  • Herb Gathering

Healing and first-aid? Egg-on-a-pogo-stick, how dangerous is this game?! Apparently these folks need herb gathering to relax at the end of whatever horrors they survive during the day!

Farmer

  • Robust
  • Animal Owner
  • Side-job

Farmers have a multi-class skill, probably because of Nobles. :roll_eyes:

Artisan

  • Trapping
  • Crafting
  • Repair

Oh snap, this is starting to feel like LOTRO! Also, I think I’d like Travelers around me, they all sound very useful.

Noble

  • Etiquette
  • Refined Education
  • Weapon Grace

Most of them sound useful.

:rofl:

I’m joking, because we don’t have nor need Nobles in the real world. Despite that, I’m the type to roll a Noble because I can pull it off, and most parties need a “Face”. :sunglasses:

There were a lot more Nobles than I expected in Breath of the Wild, so I’ll concede the point to fiction.


There is also a Navigator, but that is in a different supplement (we’ll get there in time!).

These sound fun, and non-standard. I’m guessing the Bard and Ranger types are less murderous than their D&D counterparts…

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Ryuujin

The next section shows the Ryuujin, or “Game Master Character Race”, a phrase I’ll never use again. There are four, one for each season. Each season has a set of “artefacts” and “bénédictions”, but I’ll be calling them artifacts and benedictions.

Because there’s a whole chapter for these types, I’ll just list the artifacts and benedictions for now.

Midori-Ryuu

  • Artifacts: Encyclopedia, Sextant, Torch
  • Benediction: Tale of the Journey, Tale of Nostalgia, Tale of the Traveler’s Journal

The Green Dragon consumes stories of journeys and exploration, and is the novice storyteller Ryuujin. I’ll be focusing on this to begin.

Ao-Ryuu

  • Artifacts: Crystal, Ring, Mascot
  • Benediction: Tale of Kindness, Tale of Love, Tale of the Heart

The Blue Dragon consumes tales of romance and drama. They get a mascot artifact!

Kurenai-Ryuu

  • Artifacts: Greatsword, Longspear, Longbow
  • Benediction: Tale of the Hero, Tale of the Challenge, Tale of Revival

The Red Dragon consumes tales of battle and growth. For combat, this seems like the dragon to tell.

Kuro-Ryuu

  • Artifacts: Chalice, Dagger, Mirror
  • Benediction: Tale of Revenge, Tale of Guidance, Tale of Slaughter

“Tales of conspiracy, betrayal, assassination, tragedy, corruption, suspense, and the solving of mysteries” feed the Black Dragon. I’m surprised to see “assassination” in this game, but I suppose that fairly fantasy trope-y (with so much royalty around…).


This part of the game is interesting, because it gives the storyteller something to do, and narrows the focus of the game for everyone involved (given it is properly communicated how each Ryuujin is played and what to expect).

The break down of powers is for narrative choice, and reinforces the background premise of nourishing dragons with different tales.

Personally, I’m not that into it. I have a deep, nuanced understanding of the seasons and their affect on human psychology. I don’t equate winter and darkness with conspiracy or assassination or the color black. So seeing it be presented here generates a bit of an :roll_eyes: from me.

I’ve roughly mapped “campaign types” to each Ryuujin, so we’ll see how my understanding of them changes. For instance:

  • Green: Travel, journey together, exploration
  • Blue: Political, and personal stories interweaved
  • Red: Final Fantasy Tactics, Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity
  • Black: Recovering memories in BOTW
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The Path to Ryuutama

This is a cute thing that reads something between an introduction, creation myth, invitation to imagine, ending with the lines:

This world is the cosmos of a brand new Egg. Since your imagination is the incubator for the Egg, I’m sure a fabulous universe is going to be born.
Welcome to your own personal Ryuutama!

The writer is the game’s creator, Okada Atsuhiro.

Here are important, mechanically relevant information:

  • Four Seasonal Dragons created the world
  • From them came Twenty (20) dragons of earth and sky created the details of the world
  • Players assume the roles of Travelers, and there is an ancient custom that everyone goes on an adventure journey, everyone knows about it, so do you, just “role” with it
  • Other games have storytellers, Ryuutama has Ryuujin, which is like a player character, but with super cosmic power
    • There are 1,001 Ryuujin, which means there is an imbalance, or one Mega-Ryuujin with RAD-iation powah! Whoa!
  • Aside from the substantial amount of setting in the preceding paragraphs, there is “no setting”, aka there is a worksheet somewhere the players will probably take turns filling out to create the roguelike choose-your-own-adventure world.
  • And ends with the quote up top.

Okay, making a note on structure:

  • Main node by dragon egg (world)
  • Ryuujin are character type, and tied to Seasonal Dragon
  • Players all have Travelers
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How to read this book

I skipped a section, just after the Ryuujin profiles, explaining how to read the book. I’ll summarize mechanicals:

  • Character ability scores are in brackets: [STR] and [DEX:8] being examples.
  • Skill checks have two attributes added together with a target number for success/difficulty: [STR+DEX:8]
  • Uses dice notation, ndx. So, 1d4, 2d6, etc.
    • Explains a d100 is rolling 2d10, for place values (is there a name for this rolling method?)
  • Unless specified, round fractions down
  • Rules disputes: the rules should be changed to be fun, the GM should be cool, and everyone should be supportive of each other (I’m adding here, just saying)
  • “Finally, various resources online exist to help lost Travelers. You can find an FAQ on the Kotodama Heavy Industries web site (www.kotohi.com)”
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About TRPGS

TRPGs, or “Table-Talk Role Playing Games,” as they’re known in Japan, are a type of game that can be enjoyed by a group of two or more players.

Table-talk! Love it.

This section is that obligatory, “What is an RPG?” segment at the beginning of each book.

Personally, I wish we’d create a comprehensive, public domain document explaining this and then linking to it. But then I do read a lot of RPG books…

The section goes on to explain how TRPGs are like computer RPGs, but with more freedom, etc.

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About Travelers

This section explains how Travelers work in the world, a kind of ecosystem summary. And despite the world being a dragon egg, and magic existing, and how secret demigods stalk the party on their journey, I found the most fantastical statement of all:

Peasants from tranquil villages, citizens of bustling cities, the kind-hearted and the short-tempered alike; all embark on the same odyssey.

This aspect of human culture carries such importance that a Traveler need not fret about their home, the tilling of their land, or even their job. As the Traveler undertakes their journey, her family, community, and country are expected to protect her assets. Each Traveler can expect each human settlement to share a culture that will support them on their trip.

If I lived in such a world I would be constantly traveling.

The rest is padded out with more “non-setting”, which is to say enough setting dressing to convince the players they are still in a kinda-standard fantasy world, with rat extermination and job boards at inns, ya know, “fantasy”…

I find the inherent wanderlust for all people to be difficult to hold on to, and want to immediate change it. :slight_smile:

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About the Ryuujin

This section explains the relationship between Ryuujin and storyteller. More “non-setting”, which for me raises more questions than it provides hooks; I’d rather just make them “guiding spirits” and leave the narrative to the players in the moment.

It explains a bit about Ryuujin mechanics. There are artifacts, benedictions, and a “Reveil”.

I like the idea of a storyteller character, and using mechanics in an interesting way. By this point I’m convinced I’m gonna scrap the setting. :slight_smile:

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Travelers, Step by Step

This section is a list of stuff for Travelers to do.

Step 1: Before the game

  • Read the rulebook
  • Prepare the game
  • Gather materials: writing stuff and dice
  • Create traveling companions together
  • Create the town that will become the destination

Step 2: A day of gameplay

Traveling Rules

  • Condition Check
  • Travel Check
  • Direction Check
  • Camping Check

Encounters

  • Status effects
  • Combat Rules

Town visits

  • Shopping Rules
  • Facilities
  • Animals

Step 3: Do stuff

  • Skills
  • Items
  • Healing Herbs
  • Magic

Step 4: XP

  • Level up

The Player’s Role

  • Single character
  • Cooperate and have fun for everyone
  • Cooperate with the storyteller
  • Follow the rules
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Ryuujin, Step by Step

Step 1: Before the game

  • Read the rulebook
  • Gather materials: writing stuff and dice
  • Have all the sheets available

Step 2: Create the scenario

  • Choose Scenario type
  • Fill out Scenario Objective Sheet
  • Fill out Scenario Structure Sheet
  • Fill out Event Sheet
  • Choose Benediction

Wow… homework.

Step 3: Run the game

Game preparation

  • Explain the rules
  • Ryuujin self-introduction
  • “Supporting and helping PCs”

During game

  • Advance the scenario
  • Use Benedictions

Step 4: Wrap-up

  • Record session
  • Level-up

Step 5: Not really a Step

  • Assistance is found in the FAQ and Glossary

Storyteller’s Role

  • Fair referee
  • Narrate the scenario
  • Explain outcomes
  • Act as NPCs and monsters
  • Help everyone have fun
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Vocabulary

These are terms defined in this section, but with my definition. Words!

  • Player - a person that controls a Traveler character.
  • Game Master - a person that runs the scenario and controls a Ryuujin character. A storyteller.
  • Player Character - characters controlled by Players. They have fictional lives.
  • Non-player Character - all characters not controlled by a Player. NPCs are controlled by the storyteller.
  • Party - Group of player characters.
  • Sheet - “These are the various print-outs, prepared each session for GMs and players to
    access necessary data while playing. The various sheets in the back of the book can be copied as required. They can also be downloaded from the Ryuutama website.” Also easy ghost costume.
  • Session - unit of game time, roughly 3 to 6 hours.
  • Campaign - a series of adventures by roughly the same party.
  • Scenario - “The framework for a travelogue prepared by a GM, which becomes the basis for the session.” AKA Storyteller Homework.
  • Dice - platonic solids (and the occasional pentagonal trapezohedron) used to steer fate.
  • Check - dice roll to determine an outcome. Most Ryuutama checks require rolling two dice.
  • Critical - represent a spectacular success for a check. Happens when all 6s are showing, or the highest number on both dice.
  • Fumble - represents a terrible failure for a check. Happens when all 1s are rolled. All members of the party receive a fumble point. Fumble Point is not defined.

I’m not sure about the critical yet, I’ll need to see it in play. But I dig the fumble rule, in that all members get a point. Fail forward, together!

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There are Seasonal “Books”, which act as sections for the overall RPG. The first is Spring, which covers player characters. I guess it would be something like a player’s handbook.

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Player Character Creation

This section goes over creating a character.

Choose a Class

Players should cooperate to create a balanced party, when choosing classes.

Players new to Ryuutama: Minstrel, Merchant, Healer, and Hunter classes.

Experienced with Ryuutama: Artisan, Farmer, and Noble.

A class is a collection of skills, all of which are available to the player.

Choose a Type

Types are sets of bonuses that allow a character to be better at certain approaches to problem-solving. There are three Types:

  • Attack Type - Combat a weapon use.
  • Technical Type - Situational awareness and clever.
  • Magic Type - Magic use.

Starting Ability Scores

Ability Scores represent the physical and mental capabilities of the character, expressed as four attributes:

  • Strength [STR] - Physical power, stamina, endurance.
  • Dexterity [DEX] - Speed, agility, balance.
  • Intelligence [INT] - Judgment, thought, memory.
  • Spirit [SPI] - Focus, courage, conviction.

Ability Score may have even numbers between 4 and 12, each representing a die with as many faces; so a score of 4 is a d4 when used to roll. Some other values are derived from these initial scores, as well.

A characters starting ability scores are chosen from the following sets of numbers:

  • Average - 6 6 6 6
  • Standard - 4 6 6 8
  • Specialized - 4 4 8 8

Hit Points (HP) keep a character alive, and if they reach zero the character is knocked unconscious. Further damage has a chance to cause the death of the character.

Max HP is [STR] x 2.

Mental Points (MP) is a character’s will and concentration. Concentration Checks and Magic use requires MP, and it may never be less than 0; actions requiring more MP than available will fail. Reaching zero points will knock a character unconscious.

Max MP is [SPI] x 2.

Carrying Capacity is how much a character can carry on their person. It is an abstract system to simplify inventory management, expressed as a single number.

Carrying Capacity is [STR] + 3.

Mastered Weapons

Your character has a weapon they are skilled at using, in this game called a Mastered Weapon.

There are five or six weapon categories:

  • Light Blade
  • Blade
  • Polearm
  • Axe
  • Bow
  • Unarmed; this is at storyteller’s discretion, and the character will start with no weapon

The categories have different checks for Accuracy and Damage, and they are “Picnic Rules” somewhere that simplify them further. I’m omitting them for the moment.

When a character uses a weapon they have no “mastered” they reduce their HP by 1 for each attack, caused by the exertion of using the weapon untrained.

Personal Item

An item the character has an emotional bond with, to add flavor and background.

Presumably for the Ryuujin can leverage it against them later!

Shop for items

Characters begin the game with 1,000 gold. There is an item chart from which to buy starting equipment. The Storyteller will coordinate players buying items individually, or spending an early game session shopping as a group.

Also, possibly Picnic Rules; keep reading to find out.

Character Details

No more mechanical details.

Which means these are largely optional to play, depending on the “table”.

  • Name
  • Age/Gender
  • Image Color/Outward Appearance - Favorite color, and demeanor.
  • Hometown/Reason to Journey - Character details to assist players interact with the character in interesting ways.
  • Personality/Other details

Picnic Rules

Used for simplifying for new players or quick-starting a game.

  • Item size and durability rules are ignored
  • Concentration rules are ignored
  • All weapons use [DEX + STR] for accuracy check and [STR] for damage rolls
  • Food and water are automatically refilled, no need for shopping
  • The following starting items are available:
    • Basic Traveler’s Set (Everyone may have) - Backpack, sleeping bag, wooden utensils, water pouch, rations
    • Party Set (Assigned to a single character) - Pack animal, barrel, wooden chest, repair set, soap, washing set, torch, fire starter set, tent.

Looking at character creation, I can tell I don’t like most of this game. :slight_smile: But there are some interesting bits in here, and I think I can reshape them into something neat.

Also, this is definitely a web form. I’m gonna web form the heck out of this!

Classes

Each Class is composed of three skills, all usable by the Character. The Skills are presented as:

  • Name
  • Effect - what the skill does, including possible outcomes depending on level of success
  • Usable Circumstances - conditions by which skill may be used; “-” means no conditions required
  • Stat used - which dice to roll for associated skill checks
  • Target Number (TN) - a check must meet or exceed this number to succeed. “Topography” refers to [TER + WEA] (that’s my way of saying, “the Terrain and the Weather modifiers” ^_^)

Okay, I’ll do each Class individually, so I can discuss what it is like to play it. It’ll be fun. But for now, let’s take a look at this skill structure…

Of the 21 skills (and I believe some are repeats), I counted 5 that had “-” for Usable Circumstances (I’m strolling through the PDF counting them, I may be off, that’s not the point). That means most of these skills have a built-in condition when it activates, so now I’m like I don’t even care about TN, because I can turn these into Class moves!

Also, you could combine “TER” + “WEA” to become [TEA]. “Make a TEA check to see how you fare this sudden blizzard!” :sunglasses:

Minstrel

A traveling performer.

Well-traveled

+1 to Journey Checks

Knowledge of Tradition

You get more information from your observations that other travelers.

Use: come across something interesting, [INT +INT], TN TBD.

Music

Party members get +1 to next roll. Critical: +3 bonus. Fumble: Travelers with condition >=6 gain [Muddled:6] status.

Use: Once per scenario choose a terrain or weather type currently present and gain it as a song (“Grassy Jazz”, “Rain Drops on a Sunny Day”, etc). May be used again for same terrain or weather type. [DEX + SPI], TN Topography.


So the minstrel is good at the journey, can learn more stuff from the storyteller, and can make up a song about the weather or terrain to give everyone bonuses to rolls.

Given the shape of a play session, this is good for a player to make up stuff about the game world, based on their experience traveling it (and ability to learn more stuff from the Ryuujin). Good to know.

Merchant

Commercial conversationalist.

Well-spoken

+1 to Negotiation Checks [INT + SPI]

Animal Owner

Have up to three animals without expending daily rations for them.

Trader

In bulk, buy low and sell high, according to an accompanying chart.

Table 1
Check Result
% In Price Change
6-7 8-9 10-13 14-17 18+
10% 20% 40% 60% 80%
When purchasing goods reduce the price by this amount; when selling goods increase the price by
this amount.


I don’t know folks, this seems really boring to me. I suppose it is because two of the three skills (Animal Owner and Trader) are not aspects of games I enjoy tracking. In video games I want a computer to do the heavy lifting, and for trpgs I want the busy work to be abscracted away.

Animal Owner is unique in that it is used by multiple Classes (Farmer also having it). As a skill it enhances a feature all characters have, and therefore suggests to me it should be a discreet sub-system (which a group may take or leave).

I’m not sure I’d suggest a sub-system for Trading, because again I don’t like that sort of thing. But I’m sure there are some trpg buying systems out there that could be nailed onto Ryuutama. :slight_smile:

If I played a Merchant I would emulate the Beetle Merchant in Breath of the Wild, especially the sounds they make. :rofl:

Hunter

Monster Hunters Rise gonna hunt.

Animal Tracking

You may track the following types:

  • animals
  • phantom beasts
  • demonstone
  • phantom plant

Tracking a type provides you +1 bonus to damage against it.

Use: Track [INT + STR], TN Topography

Trapping

Harvest materials from a monster’s corpse.

Use: Upon a monster’s demise [DEX + INT], TN Monster Level x 2

Hunting

Rather than contributing to the Camp Check, hunt for food to produce rations equal to Hunting Check result. Critical: food is delicious (how does that work?!) Fumble: Become [Injury: 6].

Use: Hunt [DEX + INT], TN Topography


Trapping immediately brings to mind the Monster Hunter franchise, given it’s emphasis on “harvesting” monster parts for fun and profit and economy. Also, the picture in the book of one of the Hunters looks like a grinning Solid Snake with a giant fish, it’s hilarious!

This Class is very straightforward, though does require reference work to utilize Trapping effectively.

Healer

A medic into herbs.

Healing

Create a herbal remedy that restores HP. Less effective when used during combat.

Use: Expend 1 Healing Herb and 1 day’s water ration. Target character recovers [INT + SPI] HP (roll only [INT] during combat).

First Aid

Relieve a character’s status effect for one hour and reduce effect strength by Healer’s level. If this reduction results in 0 or less, the effect is cured.

A character may only receive first aid once a day.

Use: Apply first aid to character, [INT + SPI], TN Status Effect

Herb Gathering

Once a morning before the Travel check you may explore the area for Healing Herbs (see section for terrain and herb list). Herbs are good for one day (may be preserved in other ways).

Use: Before Travel Check, [INT + STR], TN Topography


I have some… thoughts on “First Aid”.

I don’t know what “relieve” means, but it repeats it in the Status Effect section, so I’m guessing it means the effect is temporarily ignored, for an hour.

How to Recover from Status Effects

If any of the following occur, a character will recover from a status effect:

  • The next day’s Condition is equal to or higher than the status effect’s strength.
  • The character is treated with a healing herb or magic spell that affects status effects.
  • They receive aid at a facility in a town or city.
  • They are given First Aid by a Healer class character. However, this is only temporary and the status effect is only relieved for one hour.

There are only six conditions, each one reduces a single stat, or all of them, by one die.

  • Injury, [DEX]
  • Poison, [STR]
  • Sickness, [ALL]
  • Exhaustion, [SPI]
  • Muddled, [INT]
  • Shock, [ALL]

This is the “Oregon Trail” bit. And it’s seems kinda harsh. What I mean is… you only get an hour each day to ignore the condition (if that’s what it does…). It means you had better use that hour to get to a town, else your die rolls are gonna be progressively worse.

Making the Healer a solid class for any party!

Farmer

Hard working folk of the earth.

Robust

You’re a dwarf! You are resistant to ill effects and can carry more.

Use: +1 to Condition Checks, +3 to Carrying Capacity

Animal Owner

Have up to three animals without expending daily rations for them.

Side-job

Choose a Skill from another class that requires a Skill Check. You have that Skill, at a -1 penalty.

Use: When becoming a Farmer, choose one from the following skills:

  • Knowledge of Tradition [INT + INT]
  • Music [DEX + SPI]
  • Trader [INT + SPI]
  • Animal Tracking [INT + STR]
  • Trapping [DEX + INT]
  • Hunting [DEX + INT]
  • Healing [INT + SPI]
  • First Aid [INT + SPI]
  • Herb Gathering [INT + STR]
  • Crafting [DEX + STR]
  • Repair [DEX + STR]
  • Etiquette [DEX + INT]
  • Refined Education [INT + INT]

That is your skill, at a -1 penalty for Skill Checks.


I’m not a fan of penalties as class features, so Side-job kinda irritates me.

It got me thinking that you could just take all Skills and let each player choose three to make their character, and it’s would probably still work as a game (but would not support the format of play Ryuutama is made for, cafe playdates). Idea to be continued…

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Artisan

Monster-harvesting craftsperson

Trapping

Harvest materials from a monster’s corpse.

Use: Upon a monster’s demise [DEX + INT], TN Monster Level x 2

Crafting

Choose a Specialization from the following Item Categories:

  • Weapons
  • Armor
  • Shoes
  • Capes
  • Staves
  • Hats
  • Accessories
  • Food
  • Sundries
  • Camping Equipment
  • Containers

You may produce an item from your specialization.

Use: Requires time (1/day per size) and materials (1/2 gold cost), [STR + DEX], TN 6-18 based on cost (see table)

Screenshot from 2021-06-24 12-05-13

Repair

You may repair an item to restore its original durability.

Use: Requires time (1/day per size) and materials (10% of gold cost), [STR + DEX], TN use same values and chart from Crafting.


Hmmm… I’d probably fold Repair into Crafting… this is supposed to be an “advanced” class, but maybe that’s because it has a lot of math and a reference/charts for all of it’s skills, so…

The item categories list is cute, it’s like someone writing their homage to all RPGs. I wonder if there is a sub-system for shopping/crafting/repairing we could slot in to really make this fun. As it plays in my head currently, a spreadsheet should be the Artisan. :slight_smile:

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