Witch Quest: Little Edith Vol. 1

I must caution readers that today’s post contains graphic depictions of moe—sensitive readers should proceed no further. We will be taking a look at ウィッチクエスト 小さな魔女エディス上卷 “Witch Quest: Little Edith” (1991), and in particular volume 1, which contains two replays. There is a second volume containing the rules and the cards. Six-sided dice are also needed for play.

Witch Quest is an RPG adaptation of the movie “Kiki’s Delivery Service” (1989) using a game engine called Apple Basic. The distinctive artwork is by Hime Kugatsu. The game requires an even number of players because every witch must be paired with a cat. The witch tries to use her magic to help people, but her competence is low because she is only 13 years old, so the cat helps out. This is one of the first ほのぼのとした “heart-warming” games.

The first replay is called “Waitry’s Strife”. Waitry is the name of the town depicted on the map. The second replay is called “The Flight Contest”. The two scenarios used in the replays are described at the end of the book. I’m not going to list the later Japanese games that were influenced by this little classic, but it clearly struck a chord.

B6 softcover with foldout map, 258 pp.

Warlock Magazine: Vol. 14

Let’s take a look at an issue of ウォーロック, the Japanese edition of Warlock magazine, for which Hitoshi Yasuda of Group SNE served as editor-in-chief. The parent magazine was a British publication dedicated to the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. It lasted for 13 issues. The Japanese edition lasted longer, expanding its scope beyond gamebooks and becoming the leading RPG magazine in Japan for a few years.

Volume 14 (February 1988) promoted Tunnels & Trolls, newly published in Japanese by Shakaishisosha. For this purpose the Group SNE team decided to exploit the popular Record of Lodoss War replays then being serialized in Comptiq magazine. As Yasuda explained it, Lodoss was a setting that could be used with any number of fantasy RPGs. At the time the Comptiq replays were explicitly using the Dungeons & Dragons rules, but that would change with the September 1988 issue of Comptiq.

Previously, the only people mentioned by name in the credits of the Lodoss replays were Group SNE founder Yasuda and the artist Yutaka Izubuchi. However, in the Warlock replay we get to meet the entire staff at Group SNE. It turns out the Dungeon Master was Ryo Mizuno, Deedlit was played by Hiroshi Yamamoto, Parn by Nao Kitakawa, and Slayn by Taro Yoshioka. I believe Ghim was played by Yasuda but Warlock magazine doesn’t confirm that detail.

The Warlock replay starts with everyone getting premade 1st level T&T versions of their characters. Etoh the cleric is missing, no doubt because there is no cleric class in T&T. Although the setting is the same, this is to be an adventure unrelated to their previous campaign on Lodoss Island. Kitakawa, playing Parn and having read some Appendix N literature it would seem, describes himself as an Eternal Champion.

The starting location is a tavern in the town of Novice on the western border of Allania. A priestess is looking for adventurers, and deeming the party suitable she takes them to a temple where she reveals a fairy she found while looking for medicinal herbs near the enchanted Forest of No Return. Fairies are seldom seen these days in Lodoss and this one has lost her memory. The priestess asks the party to return the fairy to her home, giving them directions to the location where she was found and where the priestess saw a hole in the ground.

The party uses a rope to lower themselves down the hole into a dungeon. The first encounter is with goblins. At this point there is a digression on how combat works in T&T. The goblins are defeated, but a group of trolls are not so easy and the party is forced to flee. Things look grim until they open a gate which reveals a magical fairy light which turns the trolls to stone. The amnesiac fairy suddenly remembers that she is Luck, the queen of the fairies. Also it turns out the party can’t go back home because hundreds of years have now passed in the outside world due to a quirk in how time works in Fairy Land. The Forest of Return, it would seem, lives up to its name. Yoshioka (Slayn) notes the similarity to the fairy tale Urashima Taro and the story of Rip Van Winkle.

The GM suggests that maybe they should create fairy characters for the players. Since the replay ends there I don’t know if those characters ever got created and used in an adventure. I haven’t seen the write-up at least.

By the way, vol. 14 also has product reviews, a map of the city of Novice, and a stand-alone adventure game called “King of Four People” with over 20 illustrations. The magazine was packed with good content!

A4 magazine, 68 pp.

Tokyo NOVA

トーキョーN◎VA “Tokyo Nova” (1993) was designed by Taro Suzufuki, founder of F.E.A.R. (Far East Amusement Research). Artwork is by Chiemi Suyama.

Tokyo Nova takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. A pole shift caused catastrophic earthquakes and tsunamis. Glaciers advanced to cover much of the earth’s surface and a deadly virus decimated the survivors. Tokyo Bay dried up. A new city called “Tokyo Nova” was built on the reclaimed land. Despite the disasters, the setting is high tech, with computers, space travel, and cybernetics. The game classifies itself as a “cyber action” instead of cyperpunk.

Tokyo Nova is perhaps the first RPG to dispense with dice and use cards to generate random results. The English language “Castle Falkenstein” also does this, but came out the following year.

The box set has a pack of 22 “arcana” cards with personalities drawn on them. A character is generated by choosing three cards from the arcana deck and reading off the ability scores for “reason” ♠, “emotion” ♣, “body” ♡, and “outside world” ♢, which are numbers from 0 to 3. The values are summed to get 4 ability scores for the character.

Also included are a pack of regular playing cards. The referee deals out 4 cards to each player. To resolve an action, the player uses a card from his hand. The card value is as in blackjack, with face cards counting as 10 and an ace as 11. The suit determines the ability score that is added to the face value of the card to get the achievement score. The card is then discarded and a new one drawn from the deck. The player can thus control his achievement score to an extent. He can also choose to take his chances and play a card drawn from the deck. If he draws one of the arcana, this is treated as a fumble.

PCs are called “cast” and NPCs are called “guests” or “extras”, depending upon their importance. Later editions of the game would extend the film production metaphor, developing the scene system that has been widely adopted by other Japanese RPGs.

Box contents:
• Minor Arcane Book, 64 pp.
• Major Arcane Book, 36 pp.
• deck of 84 cards

Comptiq Magazine: January 1987

The January 1987 issue of Comptiq magazine features episode 5 of the original Record of Lodoss War replay. Woodchuck, raised from the dead in the previous episode, observes that death means little and henceforth he might as well throw caution to the wind. The DM tells Woodchuck that he was lucky to survive being raised given his low constitution, an interesting comment given that system shock is an AD&D rule and they are supposedly using the red box.

Phan, king of Varis and father of the rescued princess, summons the party to an audience. Parn buys a new suit of plate mail to look sharp for the occasion. When the party arrives at the castle, they find red carpet laid out for them. The king thanks the party for saving his daughter and gives them a leather bag with unspecified contents as a reward. Etoh tells the king about Karla, and Elm, the court magician, recognizes the name. Elm says that the king was advised by the great sage Woot that if Karla gave aid to Marmo, then Varis would lose its war with Marmo. Now that Karla has revealed herself, the king is advised to seek the counsel of Woot again.

Parn volunteers the party to serve as messengers, a task requiring them to cross the mountains through a tunnel excavated by dwarves but now infested with monsters. The king proposes that before he entrust such an important task to the party, they first undergo a trial, namely that the party should travel to an island at the mouth of the Varis river and kill the minotaur who dwells there and exacts a daughter of marriageable age every year from the kingdom as tribute. And with Parn having accepted the trial before hearing the details, the party is ferried to the island. On the shore they encounter 3 lizardmen who demand that the party leave their territory in the neutral alignment language. The party refuses and a battle ensues in which the lizardmen are killed and Parn takes 3 HP of damage. At the entrance of the maze the party encounters 5 more lizardmen. Slayn puts 4 of them to sleep and the 5th escapes into the maze.

A postscript gives the results of a readership poll to see who is the most popular Record of Lodoss War character. Deedlit wins with 41 votes.

Monster Assortment

Shinwa’s ultimate original accessory for classic Dungeons & Dragons was モンスターアソートメント “Monster Assortment”, published in May 1991. And it is one of the harder Shinwa products to acquire—you would be fortunate to find one in nice condition for less than $200.

The cover art is “Dragon Attacking a Small Party” by Larry Elmore.

The contents are 32 random tables, each containing 50 encounters. There are tables for

• ダンジョンレベル Dungeon Levels 1-10
• 廃墟 Ruins
• 森林地帯 Woodlands
• 空中 Sky
• 山岳地帯 Mountains
• 海 Sea
• 平原 Plains
• 都市 City
• 湖沼地 Swamp
• 砂漠 Desert
• 極地・ 寒冷地 Polar and Cold Regions
• 河 River
• 街道 Highway
• 荒れ地 Wasteland
• 熱帯 Tropics
• ロストワールド Lost World

The monsters are drawn from the basic (red) box set, the expert (blue) box set, and the AC9 “Creature Catalogue” accessory. Each encounter includes stats necessary to run the encounter.

Softcover, 32 pp.