Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Just Backed #3: The Strange / Ryuutama: Natural Fantasy RPG

Hey, folks!

For those of you who don’t know, these two Kickstarters are doing amazingly well since they launched not so long ago. Let’s talk a little bit about them (as always, click on the picture to go the project’s page).

The Strange

Monte Cook and Bruce Cordell join forces (I think for the first time) in order to bring us another iteration of the Cypher System (the one previously used in Monte’s Numenera). In The Strange, characters are able to use a complex alien virtual network created at the dawn of time in order to travel to the myriads of worlds that reside within it, called recursions.  What’s cool about recursions is that they are often the product of an aspect of the real world. For example, Ardeyn (one of the main recursions the game focuses on) is a MMO back on Earth.

Another interesting aspect is that each recursion has its own unique laws (for example, Ardeyn has magic), and that your character changes as he travels from one recursion to another. In a technological recursion your character may have an advanced laser gun, while in a medieval recursion the same weapon may turn into a crossbow (or just stop working altogether). Or maybe your character is able to cast lightning spells while on Ardeyn, but as soon as he enters Ruk (another recursion, focused on biotechnology) this power shifts into a mechanical implant that allows him to channel electricity from his fingertips.

All in all, The Strange seems a game worth checking out, either if you already are a fan of Numenera eager for other settings that use the same system (or just want supplemental material to use in your Numenera games) or if you like weird games where anything can happen as reality isn't set on stone.

Ryuutama: Natural Fantasy RPG

Described as Hayao Miyazaki’s Oregon Trail, Ryuutama is the second Japanese game translated by Kotodama Heavy Industries (same team that brought us the amazing Tenra Bansho Zero less than a year ago).

Unlike most Western fantasy RPGs, Ryuutama is not as interested in combat as it is on your character’s journey and what problems he may find along the way. Does he have enough food? Can he keep himself warm at night? Does he know how to find his destination across the forest? That’s the kind of questions that become important on a standard Ryuutama game, as everyone in the Ryuutama setting feels a calling to undertake a journey to see the wonders of the world once in his life. You don’t play with brave heroes or powerful sorcerers, but rather as common folk who venture into the unknown, and you have to deal with the problems they have along the way.

One of the most interesting and original aspects of Ryuutama, something I've never seen in any other RPG, is that the GM has his own character as well, the Ryuujin (Dragon). Based on the character the GM makes, the focus of the campaign shifts and the rules with it (for example, a Red Dragon is all about adventure, combat and dungeon exploration). The Ryuujin also has certain spells and special abilities as he increases in Level which allow him to help the player characters once in a while from afar (Ryuujins gain experience as they tell stories, that is, with every completed story arc in a game session).

As a perfect blend between traditional old school mechanics with original modern concepts, Ryuutama is a game that has much to offer to everyone, even people who don’t feel attracted to anime in general. It’s well worth your time (and money), so you should definitely check it out.

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