I was about to post a long grouse about how mapping seems really important in Ryuutama but there’s no procedure for doing so in the rulebook. Which is true, and my grouse stands. But I googled “ryuutama maps” and stumbled into this amazing document.

I can guess as to how you actually use the weather/terrain chits and cards and stuff. But has anyone doodled up a travel map for their game?

In the faq at the end of the rulebook, there’s a passing mention of there being 1-4 days of travel between villages expected in the original Japanese version, and I thought that was interesting. And then in the English edition we’re told to abstract out the trip, no matter how long it is, into a single set of rolls (I assume you grind through food and water 1x/day no matter what). So then if that’s the case, why is there a map sheet included at all? It’s very confusing and feels undercooked.

I think if I can work out the travel/map element of the game it’s going to be delightful. The journey/village split reminds me a lot of the Zone grind/Ark drama split in Mutant: Year Zero.

Anyway, take a gander at the doc if you play!

Click to access Ryuutama_Holiday_Package_2014.pdf

0 thoughts on “Ryuutama”

  1. I think the intent was for GMs to feel free abstracting long trips if they felt that making PCs roll 5 days in a row felt silly. You don’t have to abstract it at all if you have things for the PCs to interact with on the way.

    I feel like maps are similar to travel diaries, in that they are useful tools that should be filled in by the players. I suppose Andy and I can write up something about how to use the map sheets that come with the game, but I don’t know how useful it would be. What sort of guidance are you looking for?

    There are more detailed rules about maps and using them to plot out adventures in future supplements, maybe that’s what you’d like to hear about?

  2. Matthew Sanchez yeah man. There’s like nothing at all in the core rulebook about setting up a journey, mapping out the world, anything. The map template is an unaddressed piece of paper. Which makes me think I’m overemphasizing the value/importance of journeying in my own mind, but then I look at the fact that many/most of the rules are related to journeying so I don’t think that’s the case.

    Did I miss something in the rulebook? Is there a page or chapter about how to set up a journey?

  3. The journeys are pretty much assumed to be part of scenarios, and I hope we’ve given some adequate guidance on setting up fun scenarios. You’re right in thinking that journeying is a core part of the game, but maybe overemphasizing maps? Does the rulebook have guidance on party roles like the “mapper”? I thought we added that in there, maybe we didn’t have room?

  4. There is a player role for “Mapper” but that’s player-facing.

    I’m talking about GM-facing game prep stuff. I’m feeling underequipped based on what’s actually in the book! But if I apply my own RPing experience and make a lot of trad-gaming assumptions (spend X days going to a village and then do something when you get there), yeah, I can probably cobble something together.

    The map template is weird to me because it’s so small. If each square is a day’s travel by foot, that means your journeying is happening inside like… a few days’ walk? Is that accurate? That doesn’t map to my expectations, but who knows how I arrived at my expectations.

    I think it’s the fact that Ryuutama has some pretty explicit travel-grind rules happening that makes it feel like travelers need to plan and load carefully, but it’s entirely on the GM’s prep to make that grind meaningfully challenging. Like, if you’re only traveling for a day between each village, why on earth track food and water?

  5. The map template is weird to me because it’s so small. If each square is a day’s travel by foot, that means your journeying is happening inside like… a few days’ walk? Is that accurate? That doesn’t map to my expectations, but who knows how I arrived at my expectations.

    This is why we made note about how the expectations of Japanese players is 1-4 day’s travel between each village. Keep in mind you aren’t only traveling between villages. You might be moving from a village to some old ruins, then waylaid by some moving caravan of gobroaches that forces you to take the path around the mountain, and suddenly that three hour tour becomes… something more interesting I guess. Or maybe you’re going on a pilgrimage through a series of temples a day or two apart. But yeah, it is on the GM to make the scenario meaningful. (well, it’s also on the players, too, but not as explicitly)

    We don’t have GM facing guidance for the maps I think because we (well, the designer really) tried to keep the game simple and accessible to new GMs. I’m sure some people would do better with maps, so this was addressed in a later book.

  6. I think the idea is that not making the map necessary lessens the burden on new GMs.

    I am hearing what you’re saying, though. I’ll see what I can do about the map guidance.

  7. Matthew Sanchez stuff that would be useful or interesting to me, take it or leave it as you wish:

    * When you set up a scenario, you pick travel, gathering or fight as the main “thing”. Are all those scenario seeds built around the three-act structure? The scenario cultivation sheet implies that, and that’s cool if it’s true, but I’d love to see some guidance into what “acts” might look like in a travel scenario. It seems to me like the travel rules (condition, travel, direction checks) bypasses acts entirely.

    * Are the acts intended to be pretty railroad-y? This is totally not a value judgement! But if they are, it’d be useful to talk about that. I can’t really tell if the game is meant to be a sandbox (here’s a map, go where you want to go), or character-driven (seems like not-at-all, beyond everyone’s mandate to journey), or plotty/railroady (i..e hit these story marks).

    * What goes into a good act in each mode? I kind of ask that already in my first bullet (ie how to Acts interface with the travel rules?) but it’d be, I think, useful to talk about that some for gatherings and fights as well. Best practices, advice, etc.

    * I like the “game balance” tables! I’m not sure how to implement the monsters one, though. Is an act an encounter? The Objective Sheet makes me think you might have (at most) one monster encounter per scenario.

    * I’m looking at the small print on page 156, where the Scenario Objective Sheet is explained. I like that you say 2-3 days of travel from start to destination is good, and that 4+ suddenly becomes dangerous. Excellent! I didn’t see that originally. It also makes me think that “travel” doesn’t really belong on the Scenario Cultivation sheet. 

    Reviewing that chapter, mostly what jumps out at me is that I don’t have a good sense of what the volume of a typical scenario is. How many rolls? How many times will they touch the system? I had a similar problem with Torchbearer, which involves a ton of system interaction but a very, very small volume of fictional stuff.

  8. Paul Beakley As I understand it, yes, all three scenarios have the same three-act structure. Scenarios are (as written) fairly railroady, and the acts are short. For a travel scenario, one act could well be just the journey from A to B, with the scenes being a couple of little encounters on the way. In fact, you could do the journey as a couple of acts if you have some more intermissions.

    I think you’re intended to play a scenario in a single 3-4 hour session. Going from the sample scenarios provided, the scenes could be very quick.

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