Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne

I pulled out my MegaTen 3 (from here out, Nocturne) TRPG book the other day to read at work.  I hadn’t realized how much my reading comprehension had improved in the year and a half since I’d looked at it, but somehow I was able to breeze through the character creation and most of the rules.  This made me extremely happy, since I’d been excited about it every since I found it at a Yellow Submarine 4 years ago.

The back of the book boasted not only that the entire game had been recreated in TRPG format, but also that it was easy to play.  Well, I think both counts are more or less on the mark, but with serious caveats:  yes, almost everything in the game is accounted for, including the complicated negotiation chars.  However, the weakness/strength turn gaining system is not present, and probably with good reason.  Those that have played the game might remember that hitting a demon with an attack of the type that the demon is weak to will give the player an extra attack, etc.  It’s complicated but completely essential by the middle of the game.  I’m totally ok with the TRPG omitting this, though, because in the game itself it’s random what monsters you face and what weaknesses you need to account for, as well as fighting several battles in the space of a few minutes, and it’s 1 person determining all the character’s actions, etc., all which should tell you that it’d be a bad idea to include it.  So ok, yeah, it’s all here.  (I still need to get my hands on the Maniax supplement, though.  I really wish it had Raidou’s stats in there…)

As for the other claim, I’d agree that it’s probably easy to play.  The game is centered around combat mostly, with plenty of abilities that aid in negotiation.  The dice mechanic is a simple percent roll (2d10), and apparently you can get such high percentages that any percentages over 100 are split in half and turned into additional actions at half their full percent.  However, I’d argue that it’s hard to RUN.  The negotiation alone looks scary complicated, and then there is the demon combination charts, level up charts, insane number of spells, etc.  As a fan of MegaTen, I love it.  As a game master, I’m horrified.  But I think that if I ever came across a group of people that were as rabid a fan of Nocturne as I am, I’d run it in a heartbeat.  (Anyone??!)  The book has a huge world section that seems to have lots of hooks and information on what monsters appear where and have what items.

Characters can be human, demon, or majin.  Humans are the weakest, but grow quickest, have the highest possibility for advancement, and can use weapons, armor and guns (which are powerful, particularly at early levels).  Players can choose to play any demon in the game, though it is recommended that Fallen Angel, Demon God, and several other types not be allowed.  Demons grow slower than other characters, but they can fuse with other demons or evolve into stronger forms, like in the game.  Majin are humans that have received the demon-seed magatama (who you get it from is determined at character creation) and have become half-demon/half-human hybrids.  The main character from the game was a Majin, and like him you get access to Magatama that affect your weakness/strengths as well as the spells and abilities that you can attain.  Neither majin nor demons can use weapons or armor.  Note that manekata, the mannequin-like pseudo-humans from the game are also available to play using modified human rules.  If a manekata so wishes, they may evolve into a powerful, evil manekata at late levels.  Ah yes, humans may attain their own magatama if they want to become a majin.

I believe that since the Nocturne book, a MegaTen RPG called MegaTen 20XX something-or-other has come out, with lots more cyberpunk stuff, and more in the vein of MegaTen 2.  I mistakenly bought one of the supplements for it, but I’m not so much interested in MegaTen cyberpunk as I am destroying and recreating the world in my own image.  God damn, you can’t get much better and more epic than that!!!  So yes, I’m back to being excited about this game and look forward to buying the supplement and playing a game someday.  I dunno about running it, though, heh.


~ by mattgsanchez on February 9, 2011.

5 Responses to “Shin Megami Tensei 3: Nocturne”

  1. HOLY SHIT THERE’S A SMT TRPG!? God damn I’ve always been wanting to play something like that. The demon conversation chart also sounds enticing.

    Is there also structured RPing like in Shinobigami? Man, I’ve always dreamed of a “all SMT” Rpg with playable demifiends, demons, avatar tuners, persona users, and pokemon-training-before-pokemon-was-out trainers.

    • I know, right?!? The game is structured more like an ‘ordinary’ rpg, in that it’s really mostly rules for combat, negotiation and leveling up. There is a small section on how to create and organize scenarios, though, and it’s mostly about choosing a boss and dramatic theme for the session.

      Personally, I think that Nocturne should be its own setting, but it would be cool to pit avatar tuners against persona users! And maybe have the hitoshura come out as the last boss against both of them… hehehe

  2. It sounds interesting, but I heard about the MegaTen one several years ago and a Japanese native I was speaking to at the time, who’s actually written his own RPG books (long story), wasn’t fond of it as a TRPG. Maybe there’s some things that are easier as video games. Fair enough.

    I’m only just catching up on what’s happened in TRPG’s since I left that whole business. Interesting to see what I’ve missed. I read Japanese well, so in theory I could play just about any of this stuff.

    • would you consider translating the more unique games as a hobby?

      • I won’t say no. Hobby level is more an issue of the time, not the quality – I’ve been playing Poison Pink (the JP version of ‘Eternal Poison’) just lately, and I understand essentially every word without trying. That’s the level I’m at. It’s just that I’m waiting for a job to materialize in a family business (it’s coming, just have to wait a bit) so I’m not making long-term commitments to anyone.

        So, really, the ideal would be helping people with specific things, with harder things, but not trying to translate every aspect of prose. Case by case. But yeah, it’s not like it’s out of a question – but a guy has to choose his spots.

        I’ve been checking ‘notify me of follow-up’ so I’ll check back if anyone has more thoughts about it. – J

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