Yen press has widened their range from their roots as a manga publisher into the realms of Korean manga and audio adaptations, the announcement of the tabletop role playing game adaptation of the hit isekai comedy series Konosuba is one that caught everyone by surprise – myself included.
After a replay (a dramatisation of a gaming session, common in many Japanese RPG's, and some of which are sold as novels in their own right) which was overseen by the game's developer Akira Ohata, and played by a group of players which not only included Konosuba creator Natsume Akasuki but also RE:ZERO creator Tappei Nagatsuki, we get into the game's system.
Firstly, you must generate a character, which is as simple as picking from one of three origins [a native of the world, a person reincarnated there and a member of the Crimson magic clan [explosion magic optional] , one of twelve starting classes and rolling for (or optionally choosing) your backgrounds from those available in the book– no need to roll for stats like most games, as those are determined by your choice of class and origin (fans of Paizos Starfinder and Pathfinder 2nd Edition will be very familiar with this format). after choosing your origin, class and General skills, of which there are many and allow for a near limitless combination, you pick your equipment and you're all but ready to go.
The game's core mechanic is also surprisingly simple – roll 2 x 6-sided dice (of which), add bonuses or penalties from either your character's attributes or equipment depending on the test, and exceed the target number set by the Games Master. In the event of failure (or if you need to boost your results) you can use one of your blessings - essentially a limited number of points that can be used to either boost damage in an attack, or reroll a test.
As an optional rule your characters can also receive a special trait called a cheat - a number of special abilities which can range from being a deity (useless or otherwise) to being the owner of magical weapons or armour – HOWEVER! for all these advantages these cheats give they also give demerits – in the above examples your deity could be one that no one else believes in, or without your armour or weapon you could be penalised on tests!
After this there's the rules section, which goes over the other system mechanics, and how the earlier core mechanics work in them – from running a session, to combat (which as stated earlier adds modifiers to your rolls based on your equipped armour or weapons) and how to use experience points to advance your character.
After a brief introduction to the world of Konosuba (all of 13 pages, showing this to be clearly not for someone new to the series) we move onto the Game Master's section, with guides on monsters and dungeon traps, monster exclusive skills, guides on how to run a session and a scenario where the party have to gather bamboo shoots – a task that turns into a fight for their lives when goblins want in on them (there's never a slayer around when you need one...). A blank character sheet and a rules appendix wraps up the rulebook – and at over 300 pages it's safe to say they're thought of everything with this book!
...at least EVERYTHING – because that's where my issues with this book begin.
My first is the game only differentiates the characters by their origin (be they native to the world or reincarnated from our own) with no way to generate a character that is not human. This is especially galling when players desire more racial options than traditional, Tolkein inspired races. While in theory you could say that your character is an elf, they will receive no mechanical advantages for being one.
My second problem though is less easy to overlook – the book's use of font sizes. While the majority of the time the text is of a normal size that is perfectly readable, the same cannot be said for some of the text zoned out into separate boxes – the text is so small at times I was unable to properly read them.
Then there's the third and biggest bugbear of all for me – the character sheet. Now let me say, while the sheet itself is not what I have issue with, rather the fact there is only one sheet that, due to a lack of perforations, you have to remove from the book to use or even make copies of them. Add to that the fact the pre-generated sheets are also non removable (or made available at the back) it means you'd either have to laboriously copy out the pages or again pull the book apart.
The book is available digitally and in print, but the print volume has a distinct disadvantage given that you have to damage it to make use of the character sheets. At the time of writing this review I did contact Yen press about this - while they did assure me that they were planning to make copies of the sheets available to download, they were not specific as to how and where they would be made accessible.
[ADDENDUM - since this review was written Yen press has made the character sheets available for digital download via their web site [Link here]
And yet, with these complaints factored in I could see this series being a persuasive must-buy - not just for any Konosuba fans wanting to add to their collections, but for other tabletop gamers who are looking for a game system which is streamlined and doesn't require committing to buying masses of supplements to play it properly. Indeed, it's amazing that the book contains everything needed at such a low price. I also hope that, if the sales warrant it, that Yen press will consider taking an interest in licencing and releasing other TTRPGS - whether ones that are tie-ins to other series owned by them or standalone releases.
Will it succeed? will it fail? well, lets hope the dice roll in their favour!!
Konosuba ttrpg is getting a physical release in the UK via most book stores (RRP£14.99), VIA Amazon, and WH Smiths (£11.99)
The book is also available Digitally via Bookwalker (£7.02),Google play, Apple books [£7.60] and Kobo (£5.99),
Review copy supplied by Yen press
[Correction: i had previously stated the system as a d66 system, where one is designated as determining the numbers 10 – 60, whilst the other a normal 1 - 6. it is in fact a simpler 2d6 plus modifier]