One of the big names in Japanese RPGs today is Shinkigensha. The company releases about two new RPGs per year in addition to being the publisher of the monthly Role & Roll magazine. However, Shinkigensha entered the RPG market back in the day with some unusual products, such as this book of manga from 1989 called ドラゴンリング “Dragon Ring”.
It tells the story of Yuji who we encounter playing a video game on his Famicom. He is fighting a troll when his friend Takashi arrives, and they discuss ways they could defeat the troll “in real life”. Yuji says he would trip the troll with a rope or maybe drop a rock on his head. Takashi suggests sneaking past the troll to get the key to save the village. They bemoan the fact that the game doesn’t give the player those options. A game that did would be awesome though. At that moment a dungeon master in sunglasses walks in and tells them that such a game exists. He even invites them to try it out. It’s called Dragon Ring, and no, it’s not a video game, it’s a tabletop RPG, something Yuji and Takashi aren’t familiar with.
They walk over to the dungeon master’s house where they meet Keiko. She is also going to play. They start with character generation: rolling 3d6 three times for strength, dexterity, and intelligence. Yuji decides to be a warrior, Takashi a thief, and Keiko a magic user. In their first outing they enter a troll cave where they trip the troll with a rope and stab him in the back while he’s down. A fourth player joins at the start of the second session and he chooses to be a cleric. The manga describes seven sessions, each one getting its own chapter. The chapters start with the players sitting down at the table and then the illustrations switch to in-game events. The rules for the game of Dragon Ring are provided in a 16 page appendix.
Perfect bound A5 softcover with dust jacket, 208 pp.