A Brief Bit About The Game
Ryuutama is a Japanese TTRPG that is made for beginners in mind, to teach people about Western TTRPGS like D&D. The game itself is labelled as honobono, which is a more pastoral, heart-warming style of game. It has a charm and style that reminds me heavily of Studio Ghibli films as well as the Dragon Quest video games, both of which I'm very fond of. Instead of a focus on dungeon delving and combat, Ryuutama's adventures revolve around travelling, exploration, and meeting new people. You gain experience by exploring different sections of the map, with more difficult terrains and weather granting more XP. You also gain XP from combat, but you only get it from the toughest encounter of that session. The standard classes of fighter, mage, thief, and cleric are replaced by professions, like merchant and farmer. In addition, there are three Types that dictate how your character approaches obstacles. They are Attack (the fighter), Technical (the skilled), and Magic (the mage). There are only four attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Spirit) and the scores are all even numbers from 4 to 12. They are tied to the different dice you have. So if you have a Strength 6, you roll a d6 for your checks. Skills don't exist. You just roll the correct combination of attributes and meet or beat a Target Number to succeed. So for Perception, you roll Dex+Int. If my Dex is a 4 and my Int is a 6, then I would roll a d4+d6. Rolling snake eyes is a fumble, while rolling either boxcars or the maximum of each dice is a critical check.
What is interesting about this game is that it has a GMNPC called the Dragon (or Ryuutama). In the implied setting, these dragons latch onto travelers and feed off of adventures and stories. The Dragon has some GM moves that can either help the players along, or complicate their lives a bit. As the players go through different sessions, this Dragon actually will level up and gain new abilities (called Benedictions and Reveils). After some time, the dragon will grow enough to fly off and leave an egg for the players. The game is an interesting blend of the different styles of Western TTRPGs. There are aspects of classic OSR style gaming with exploration and hexcrawling being big, but also some characteristics of narrative games and story games with the Dragon GMNPC. What I really like about the game is the implied setting, where people simply just decide to travel the world and see new things. It's a rite of passage in a way and while it can seem like a flimsy way to explain why there are adventurers, I think it works with the theme of the game.
I decided that I would give this game a try. Presented below is the first session of Tholo the Peddler, a merchant that has decided to uproot and travel north of his village of Gretelburg. The dragon I chose is the basic Green Dragon (a Midori-Ryuu) named Bard. This dragon is all about exploration and is the suggested one for beginners. For things like random weather, procedural terrain, and encounters, I use The Perilous Wilds' generators as well as Save Vs Dragon's free hex terrain generator found here. For music, since I was inspired by classic JRPGs I played as a child, I used Dragon Quest's Unknown Lands and Never-Ending Journey for travelling, and Final Fantasy VI's battle music.
Session 1: Northward Ho!
Tholo is a young man of lithe build with tawny skin and white hair. Today, he is embarking on his journey, a rite of passage to the people of Gretelburg. Tholo hopes to get a taste of the adventuring life, even if only for a few weeks. With his pack animals fed and equipment set up, Tholo sets out!
It is April 7th, and it is bright and sunny outside. The weather is clear but unseasonably hot for springtime. Tholo wipes the sweat off his brow and travels through the grasslands along the dirt path with his two pack mules and loyal dog, Uno.
Terrain+Weather Difficulty Class (This is the Target Number to beat with the checks down below): 7. Grasslands are fairly safe, but the heat is making it a bit rough.
Condition Check (this is Tholo's current fatigue level): 8. Tholo is feeling pretty good.
Travel Check (this is to see if an injury or exhaustion happens): 8. Tholo doesn't encounter any hardships.
Direction Check (this is to navigate the wilds): Tholo is travelling the roads, so he doesn't get lost.
Encounter: Yes, Friendly.
As Tholo travels north, he spots a wagon on the side of the road with two people by it. They seem to be fixing the wagon wheel and having a rough time of it. Tholo lends a hand, helping the couple fix their wagon to get back on the road. Gratefully for the assistance, the couple introduce themselves as Gregori and Priscilla. Both are newlyweds that have decided to leave their professions and become mail carriers. They go between the frontier towns, bring mail and supplies to them. Greg and Priss also sell things occasionally, dabbling in the mercantile arts here and there. Tholo asks where they are going, and Priscilla says they are going north to Hanselboro from Gretelburg to drop off supplies. Tholo offers to travel with them for a time and the couple agree. The trio set off to the north.
Camping Check (this is to see how they rest for the night and regain HP and MP): 8. The trio have a restful night under the stars, enjoying the cured fish and each other's company.
April 8th. The group is still travelling along the prairies. The weather is pretty hot and muggy, and now there's a rainstorm slowing the party down!
DC: 8. Grasslands are hot and visibility is low due to rain and wind
Condition: 9. Tholo is feeling pretty great
Travel: 8. The trio doesn't encounter any issues travelling
Direction: Despite the rain, they are still along the worn roads so don't need to make this check.
The rains pelt the canvas-covered wagon, but this doesn't stop our intrepid adventurers. Instead, they talk about their lives before going on their journeys, their goals and dreams, and their homes. Gregori was a bricklayer at a town called Rumplestilton. His claim to fame was helping to rebuild an old bridge that led into the town. Priscilla was a fisher-woman at the same town, responsible for bringing in trouts and bass to the dockside mongers. Both ran into each other during the reopening ceremony of the bridge and decided on a whim to go on their journey together. Greg and Priss fell in love, and when they returned, they had a quaint wedding and decided to live out on the frontier as mail carriers.
Tholo is happy for the couple, and their story inspires him to push forward on his journey even longer. He remarks about how his father was an owner of the village's general store, and that's where Tholo got the itch to become a travelling peddler of wares and goods. But first, he wants to go onto his journey to prove to his family and himself that this is a good idea. He's had Uno for a year and the boxer dog is a great companion.
Camping: 9. The rains clear up some, though there is no starry night tonight. Tholo can't sleep well, as the ground is muddy and uncomfortable.
April 9th. The trio approach a forested area. The rains from the previous day have cooled the area off, but now there is a nasty thunderstorm brewing above Tholo and the gang.
DC: 11. Forests are harder to traverse, and the thunderstorm is slowing the party down greatly.
Condition: 2. Tholo is feeling Out of Shape. He gets the [Poisoned:4] Status Effect, which drops his Strength down to a d4.
Travel: 7. Because of his food poisoning, it complicates travelling. He is at Half HP [8 HP].
Direction: 9. The road is less defined here and the rains are making it hard to travel. The trio only go halfway through the hex.
The heavy rain and winds have made it harder for Tholo and his crew to traverse the forest road. The wagon slows down some as Tholo and Priscilla try to keep the canvas from flying off and Gregori tries to keep the pack animals calm. As they travel, they see a bunch of logs and trees have fallen onto the road, blocking their travel! Tholo is suspicious, but before he can check it out, the shrill cries of something terrible ring out. It's an ambush! Four calico konekogoblins jump from the thickets, clubs in hand, and ready to waylay the trio.
Greg is first to react. He draws his short sword and strikes at the first cat goblin. He is able to hit the creature, but barely grazes the cat's shoulder. Priss is next, and she barely misses the second konekogoblin. The koneko strike together, but only the second one lands a hit on the beleaguered Tholo. Luckily for our sick protagonist, his armor helps deflect most of the damage. Tholo has one hand over his sick stomach and the other on a dagger. He strikes at the first konekogoblin that Gregori hit and lands a solid hit, knocking out the first cat monster.
Gregori goes again, smacking the second koneko with the flat of his blade. Priscilla tries to hit the second one again, and lands a mighty blow on the feline creature, almost knocking it out! The remaining konekogoblins attack, but all miss. The third one missed so terribly that he drops his weapon on the ground! A boon for our heroes! Tholo takes advantage of this and strikes at the second konekogoblin, felling him in one swoop!
Note: the critical fumble combat effect for the koneko was something I added. I felt it made sense for the scenario, but it's not actually a part of the rules.
Here I decided to make a morale roll against the konekogoblins' Condition, since they are now outnumbered. They failed their roll and will now run away. This isn't a part of Ryuutama, just something I generally do for combat in my games.
The remaining two konekogoblins realize that these travellers aren't nearly as easy to ambush as others before them. And so they take off, leaving their fallen cat comrades to the trio. Unsure of what to do to the would-be highwaymen, Tholo and Priscilla tie them up. Using the pack animals and their own two hands, the crew are able to move the logs in about an hour. As they set up camp, Tholo looks at the hungry konekogoblins they captured and feels a bit of pity for them. He takes some of his cured fish rations and give them to the two cat monsters.
Negotiation To Befriend the Konekogoblins: DC 9; I rolled a 13!
The konekogoblins are a bit cautious at first as Tholo approaches, but he presents the cured fish to them and unties the monsters. They sniff the fish as they stare at Tholo to judge his intentions, but soon, hunger takes over and they gobble the food down.
Camping: 7. It's a rough night for the quintet, and they don't quite regain all of their Health and Mental focus for the night.
April 10th. The party is still in the same hex as before, but now it's a clear and beautiful day!
DC: 8. The weather is clear and temperate, so it's just a matter of travelling through the trees.
Condition: 8. Tholo is able to kick the food poisoning and feels a lot better. [Poison; 4] is now cleared.
Travel: 9. There aren't any hitches in their journey to leave the hex.
Direction: 11. Despite the roads being unclear, the trio make it through to the next hex.
Encounter: Yes; Passive
Tholo and his compatriots travel deeper into the forest, making it to a fork in the road. Hanselboro is more to the west from here, while Tholo wants to keep going north, into the heart of the forest. Gregori and Priscilla warn our hero that in the depths of the overgrown forest, few humans reside. Instead, the spirits of the forest as well as monsters dwell there, waiting to prey on travelers like Tholo. Not one to be dissuaded, Tholo appreciates the concern, but knows that he must continue this journey to prove to himself that he can be a travelling merchant. The konekogoblins, inspired by the kind treatment of Tholo and his willingness to go on, decide to stay with Greg and Priss as helping hands. Priscilla is a little hesitant, but Gregori is more than happy to expand their mail carrier business to their first two employees. Tholo waves goodbye to his newfound friends and heads northeast, ever deeper into the forest.
Along the fading road in the afternoon, Tholo spots something on the ground. Footprints! Giant footprints! Whatever made these prints must be huge! Curiousity overtakes fear, and Tholo runs headfirst into the true wilderness of the lands. What has made these prints, and will Tholo survive the perils of the deep woods? We'll find out in the next session!