How to play TRPGs in Japan – Part 2: The Emboldening

Part 2 of a series started here.

In the previous installment, I talked about the language barrier and how it could keep western players from enjoying the Japanese role-playing scene and what it has to offer.  Once that hurdle is cleared, there is still often some trepidation that many gamers feel.  They are often unsure of what games will be played, what sort of people they’ll meet, or even how to find a game or convention.  While the first two can actually be part of the excitement of attending a convention, the last one can truly be a hurdle to those uninitiated in the RPG community.

My experience with Japanese gamers have all been positive.  As I mentioned in the first post, I haven’t had a problem yet with any Japanese gamer.  I have had a few min-maxers that made for interesting sessions, but they were always team players.  I have never run into the sort of sociopathic players or GMs that sadly seem to be so common in America.

The games that appear at conventions are, depending on the group, usually about 50% western games, 50% Japanese games.  Dungeons and Dragons is, of course, almost always represented.  Older fantasy DnD-style games, particular Sword World 2.0, also appear quite often.  Lately, though, games that use cards to facilitate play and games that are made for the convention format are on the rise.  Games like Double Cross 3 and Shinobigami have very interesting mechanics that incorporate relationships and draw characters into the story.  I highly recommend western players to at least experience a Japanese RPG, as there is a lot to be learned that can be used in a western game.

The main problem, then, is how to find the games in the first place.  Even in America, with websites that promise to help find groups or forums with  group location threads, finding a group can be difficult.  In Japan, the trouble is compounded by the fact that Japanese groups tend to be insular and the fact that the Japanese RPG community just doesn’t have the same level of internet sophistication that the west has.  Too often, the home pages for Japanese RPGs themselves are out of date or are built with frames and web design from the 90’s.  Large  and easy to navigate forums like RPGnet or boardgamegeek.com don’t seem to exist, though there are quite a number of BBSs out there, mostly catering to a single game or gaming group.

As I mentioned before, the way I found my group was by attending the local Warhammer club gathering in Nagoya.  They meet at the top floor of a Joshin Kids Land in town, and the players are roughly half Japanese and half foreign.  After speaking to a few guys there, I was eventually invited to master a game for them, after which we alternated between my game and someone else’s game.  It was several months after this that I managed to gather enough courage to try out my first convention (where I mastered, and was then asked every time thereafter to master when I attended).

If this is not an option for you, there are many other ways to find a game out there.  Try looking at your local Yellow Submarine for flyers stuck on the bulletin board near the TRPG section.  There will usually be a flyer at least for an upcoming convention, and if you’re in Tokyo, perhaps even for a group.    Try local universities or schools.  Mixi has several groups for users to join; as soon as I joined the Aichi-ken RPG group and introduced myself, I got an invite to a local convention by a friendly gamer.  In my experience, these groups on Mixi that cater to a certain prefecture often have the most up to date information on what’s going on in the area. 

If you are too far away to attend anything, you can still try finding an online session (called OnSe) via twitter.  Lately, I’ve been seeing quite a few call for players to join in on online sessions for games like Shinobigami and Hunter’s Moon.  It seems that they usually use either Skype or IRC and a program called Dodontofu.

If you lose your nerve, don’t worry; most conventions are monthly events that happen on the same day every month, i.e. the first Saturday of the month.  So if you miss out on one, just study up a bit and get yourself ready for the next one.  But I think that once you can get past the language barrier and get ready for a new and exciting challenge, role-playing in Japanese can be a rewarding experience.

Tomorrow, I will be attending a convention called ‘Nights’ in Nagoya.  In a few days I’ll give a report and finish the series off.  Good luck!

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~ by mattgsanchez on February 24, 2011.

2 Responses to “How to play TRPGs in Japan – Part 2: The Emboldening”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by 玄兎, d66roc. d66roc said: Second blog entry in a series about participating in the Japanese RPG scene: http://tiny.cc/3g45h #trpg #rpg […]

  2. […] Part 1 is here, part 2 is here. […]

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