In Matt's Words
Somebody recently asked me what I like about Ryuutama. I thought about it long and hard, and finally came up with an answer:
I am pretty much done with Western Fantasy RPGs. I'll still play them if my group decides, and have fun with them, but I almost never get excited about them. Ryuutama, though, takes the entire genre and does something really awesome with it: it takes the focus from violence and fighting, and puts it squarely on beauty and nature.
It's the first RPG I've played or even read in which it is as easy to die from a freak storm as it is from dragon's breath. But it's because you're taking the time to see what you're traveling through, to engage with nature and the spaces inbetween destinations. It's a game about creating a beautiful and interesting world, not about mass genocide or premeditated murder. When your character reaches max level, she won't become a demigod or dethrone emperors or take down liches. Instead, you get to go on one of the Legendary Travels to an ultra cool place. And I think that's awesome. The system is simple and easy to learn, and the art in the book complements the game perfectly. The fact that the GM gets to have a character is a really interesting idea, too.
In Andy's Words
I flat out loved the idea when I heard about it: I like all sorts of styles of play, usually high action, and Ryuutama was a much different change of pace that I ended up really getting into, both as a player and GM.
The game is simple to run: It runs off of some challenges to the characters, each one of those challenges taking the story in a new way:
* Fail a navigation check, find yourself in a new, unusual town
* Get a low Condition roll... what happened? Did your character suddenly become sick? Why?
* Fail a travel check, what happened to you on the way?
So many opportunities to create the story through the dice. That, plus the simplicity of the game, really pushes towards a wonderful experience with your friends.
Further, I had an interesting experience that made me both love the game more, as well as fear it a little!
The Black Ryuujin represents "conspiracy, suspense, murder, chaos, tragady"... Wait... a Honobono/Feelgood tragedy? Is that even possible?
I was gaming one night late at Cafe Daydream with Okada-san: I had been thinking about the seeming discrepancy for a while, and voiced my confusion: I asked him incredulously if he ever *actually* ran a Black Ryuujin campaign.
Okada: "Yes, I have. In fact, we played it over several months, the players going from level one all the way up to level ten."
Me: "Yeah, but... how is that even possible with an ostensibly 'feelgood' game?"
Okada: "The world was ending. The planet was crumbling into darkness around them. Nothing could save the world. So the characters decided to take one last journey together to visit faraway places before the end of the world, the very last humans to set foot at ancient cities and landscapes before they would vanish for history forever, with the rest of the human race."
I... well, to be honest, I didn't get much sleep that night.