Japanese RPG Picaresque Roman Coming West Via Kickstarter

A black and white illustration of an anime character seen in Picaresque Roman

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Japanese RPG Picaresque Roman Coming West Via Kickstarter

August 23, 2021

By: Tyler Chancey

 
 

For fans of very niche, self-published Japanese tabletop RPGs, a new crowdfunding campaign is happening soon to bring Picaresque Roman: A Requiem For Rogues to a much wider audience.

This announcement was made through a press release by LionWing Publishing. For those not aware, Picaresque Roman is a doujin (or self-published) tabletop RPG that has very popular in Japan. In fact it is currently on its Fifth Edition. It is a narrative-driven rules light RPG that combines a streamlined 2d6 system, anime artwork, and social deduction elements into a unique experience. The idea is that 4-5 players take on the roles of roguish characters like Yakuza, Info Broker, or Gambler, and attempt to gather the most influence. They can do this either by creating alliances, backstabbing or stealing from one another, or by taking down VIPs controlled by the gamemaster. However, one of the players in the group is secretly a traitor working with the GM-controlled VIP. All of this happens in a fictional Japanese city full of corrupt officials, seedy embezzlers, and cutthroat assassins. It actively draws inspiration from anime like Baccano! and Black Lagoon, as well as the venerable Yakuza videogame series.

It is because of this novelty and popularity that LionWing is helping the game receive an English release. We managed to get in contact with LionWing's Founder, Bradly Halestrom, about the project and ask him some questions. The first one that came to mind was why localize this RPG in particular? Halestrom's response was quite apt: because it was so different from other RPGs on the market. He continued, "From its aesthetic and tone to its mechanics and art, the game is beautiful and implements a ton of really interesting gameplay concepts that you just don't see a lot in the RPG space, which makes it one of those games that just sort of naturally calls to you, if for nothing else than to see how all of its systems come together." Halestrom isn't wrong. With games like Werewolf and Among Us, players are used to social deduction scenarios, but not exactly combined with the format of a tabletop RPG.

Artwork of the Yakuza character sheet
I really dig the artstyle this uses. I'm excited already.

Halestrom also explained a bit about how Japanese RPG pacing works compared to Western ones. Picaresque Roman works best in single sessions, which is a common format. It is entirely possible to link scenarios together into something more long-form, but the rules are geared towards one-offs. He went on to discuss about how crucial it was that the tone of the RPG made it during localization. Everything from the setting to names had to project the right kind of swagger while also being accessible. Thankfully on that end, Halestrom is confident in the skills of editor Noelle, who also helped with the crowdfunded Japanese RPG Kamigakari. Halestrom explained, "she was able to identify and articulate that which gave Picaresque Roman the sense of identity I talked about earlier and was the one who had the ability to get in there and edit the text in a way that remained true to the source material while at the same time ensuring a seamless reading experience for the game's new audience."

 
 

As for details about LionWing's campaign, Halestrom was upfront. The campaign will be going live on Kickstarter on August 24, and will include multiple tiers and rewards. If you just want the core rules, that will set you back $25. However, if you give more you can get a leatherette hardcover edition of the book. Halestrom even teases that one of the tiers will let you collaborate with the original creators to make a self-insert character for a scenario. There are more stretch goals like this, but Halestrom left those up as a surprise.

If you are a fan of social-deduction games or Japanese tabletop RPGs, this is a project to keep an eye on. The sign-up page to get further updates can be found here.

a candid selfie of the staff writer, husky build, blond hair, caucasian.
Staff Writer

Born in 1990, Tyler Chancey's earliest memories were of an NES controller in his hands, and with it a passion that continued into his adulthood. He's written for multiple sites, has podcasted, and has continued to shape and encourage new talent to greater heights.

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