Dragon World: 90s comedy fantasy anime (Slayers, Dragon Half, etc.)

  • 17 Replies
Yesterday I finished reading a rather old manga called Dragon Half, a farcical thing about a super-strong half-dragon girl (her father was sent to slay a dragon and married it/her instead) who's in love with heartthrob monster slayer/pop idol Dick Saucer. And it occurred to me that for Dragon Half, Slayers, and similar titles (I'm making a list) there could totally be a move along the lines of "act sensibly despite temptation," and now I think I'm going to be writing a really strange Apocalypse World hack at some point.

Right now I'm just tossing ideas out (especially since I have no shortage of other stuff to work on), but it would basically abandon the concept of Harm per se, since it's more about characters wanting to do violent, stupid things and the circumstances rerouting them into weird hijinks. (Except for nameless monsters. Kill the hell out of them all you want. And eat them afterwards if you're hungry.)

My tentative list of character types/playbooks so far:

Explosive Mage (think Lina Inverse from Slayers)
Half-Dragon (Mink from Dragon Half)
Dumb Warrior (Gourry/Dick Saucer)
Useless Bard
Nutjob Cleric (Amelia from Slayers)
Adorable Mascot
-- Ewen Cluney (Yaruki Zero Games)

Aren't all bards useless? Rimshot!

If you're playing D&D4e or Dungeon World bards are pretty badass actually. I want to come up with a hilariously ineffectual character with moves to blunder into making things happen, and although the anime characters I'm thinking of are different (Lufa from Dragon Half is a really terrible elven mage), bards seemed like the right class to pick on.
-- Ewen Cluney (Yaruki Zero Games)

Neko, you might want to take a look at Mike's 'Monster of the Week' hack. (There should be a thread for it a little further down the Hacks page.) The 'Mundane' character class might inspire you with some of the sorts of moves you're looking for.

I've been poking at this a bit more and brainstorming a few things, though I haven't gotten seriously started on the mechanics. I added Conniving Thief, Dodgy Alchemist, and Tweaky Shaman to the list of possible character types, and started in on a list of possible MC moves. I'm still trying to better understand what MC moves are all about, but looking at the source material it seems like for this game they'll need to be quite a bit different from regular AW.

So far I have:

Add Silliness
Cut Scene
Fade Out on Chaos
Introduce a New Version of an Old Nuisance
Introduce Temptation
Make Someone Fall Down (kind of analogous to Inflict Harm)
Withhold MacGuffin
-- Ewen Cluney (Yaruki Zero Games)

Re: Dragon World: 90s comedy fantasy anime (Slayers, Dragon Half, etc.)
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2011, 01:22:52 PM »
I've been working on this project a bit more, and it's kinda starting to come together. I posted about it more extensively on my blog, but I've realized that writing up principles and MC moves for Dragon World basically amounts to trying to distill many years of running games like Toon and Maid RPG, and to me that's really neat. The basic moves also have a lot of stuff that goes "and on a miss you look dumb in front of everyone," because I guess character humiliation is a big thing in this?

I also posted up the first draft of the first completed character type, the Explosive Mage, though I'm not sure the moves are where I want them yet.
-- Ewen Cluney (Yaruki Zero Games)

Re: Dragon World: 90s comedy fantasy anime (Slayers, Dragon Half, etc.)
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2011, 04:07:14 PM »
Loving this idea.

Have just discovered AW but have been a massive Slayers fan for years.

How about 'Cursed Sorceror'...I'm thinking Zelgadis?

Moves would include...
'Using Eldritch Doom'
'Divine Destiny'

AW would be perfect for a Slayers/anime game. Keep this going please :)

Re: Dragon World: 90s comedy fantasy anime (Slayers, Dragon Half, etc.)
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2011, 11:35:05 PM »
Thank you! It's sufficiently fun to work on that I'm definitely going to keep at it. Writing up character types seems to be the single hardest part of this, so you'll forgive me if I'm hesitant to commit to more of them, though the Cursed Sorcerer does sound like a nice straight man type character.

Right now I'm contemplating making MacGuffins a major part of the game, since it seems as though characters in the genre inevitably need them to achieve their ultimate goal, whether beating the Big Bad (like when Lina get spells that go beyond the Dragon Slave) or just achieving their dreams (like the Pido Potion that Mink so wants in Dragon Half).

I also have an idea for random event tables (inspired by Maid RPG of course) that trigger when a player rolls snake eyes or boxcars, but right now I'm kind of drawing a blank on what to put in the tables.
-- Ewen Cluney (Yaruki Zero Games)

Re: Dragon World: 90s comedy fantasy anime (Slayers, Dragon Half, etc.)
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2011, 01:43:46 PM »
Yes, MacGuffins are essential to the genre I guess - Hellmaster's Jar, Sword of Light etc.

For random events, the things that strike me relate to the inevitable plot misdirection that is so characteristic of this type of anime:

1. The NPC hero is actually a villain.
2. The villain is actually your long lost sister!
3. The MacGuffin is actually an evil alien entity bent on opening a portal to the Netherverse.
4. It is your 'time of the month' and you can not cast magic during this session.
5. You are insulted by everyone in this town for some reason.
6. That octopus you just ate...wasn't quite dead.

I think you can have a lot of fun with this.

By the way, I started reading your blog after seeing your posts. My daughters are massive anime fans and I believe they will LOVE your other games. You need to get some of these published soon I think.

Also liking your podcast. You talk considerably more sense, with a lot more to say, than most others.

(I have the Maid RPG but have not played yet...I must)

Also thinking on the 'Nutjob Cleric'. Perhaps Amelia is more of a 'Warrior / Cleric for JUSTICE'...(Chaotic Good alignment anyone?) rather than a straight nutjob?

Also, Zelos...hmmm...'Devious Monster' perhaps?
« Last Edit: June 09, 2011, 01:51:33 PM by Zell »

Re: Dragon World: 90s comedy fantasy anime (Slayers, Dragon Half, etc.)
« Reply #9 on: July 10, 2011, 11:05:44 AM »
I've been working on this plenty more, and on Friday night I ran my first playtest, which went really well overall. I think there's room for improvement, but it's the kind of thing where DW's shortcomings are subtle enough that it's hard to know what needs to be done.

The good news was that the setup worked really well, and made it easy to come up with a starting situation. The PCs were a Pure Sacrifice (a princess burdened by Destiny), a Dumb Fighter, and a Conniving Thief. Each character has two Temptations, and then a Heart's Desire (which is a more specific thing stemming from one of the temptations). Combined with Hx, we got a situation where the Pure Sacrifice had to journey to another city to retrieve the All-Seeing Eye of Agamato, with the fighter her sworn protector and the thief both obsessed with stealing the Eye and secretly in love with the Sacrifice. Much wackiness ensued with the dread necromancer's undead minions attacking.

The game presently has 5 stats:

Charm (manipulate someone)
Guts (endure strife, kick some ass)
Magic (spout lore)
Sanity (act sensibly despite temptation)
Wits (read someone, run away)

I think having both endure strife and kick some ass on the same stat may have been a mistake, since the Dumb Fighter's Guts+2 let her handle *every* combat situation really well. (Though it didn't help that neither of the other PCs took moves that would let them do well in combat.) But then I'm really not sure how to rearrange the stats.

I think I'm still getting the hang of writing up character types, because relatively few non-basic moves came into play during the game. (Also, I gave the Pure Sacrifice some moves that key off of her being captured, which seems to be too specific without some mechanism to have her be captured a lot.) I'm also concerned that I've given character types too many moves that go off of their best attribute, but I'm not sure how much that's a thing to really worry about in AW.

But, working on new character types is still really, really fun, and I've found that people who take an interest in the game very frequently have suggestions for new character types. I have a list of like 20 possible ones, and I'm currently writing up the Angsty Shadow Warrior (for Drizzt and other angsty born in darkness types), the Chosen Visitor (a Japanese teenager who's been pulled into the fantasy world), and Psycho Warlord (a take on the D&D4e warlord class, though I may need to come up with a better name).

Another nifty thing I added was a "scenes from a hat" rule, which you can use in place of the random event table, either preemptively or after the table gets stale, which is where the MC asks the players a leading question ("What's weird thing could happen while you're fighting undead?"), which they write on slips of paper to be drawn randomly. That's how the game ended up having its own version of Murray the Demonic Skull from Monkey Island.

My friends were pretty happy with the result and want to play more, so while it needs more work, I think it's on the right track at least.
-- Ewen Cluney (Yaruki Zero Games)



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Re: Dragon World: 90s comedy fantasy anime (Slayers, Dragon Half, etc.)
« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2011, 11:29:35 PM »
I'm not a huge anime watcher, but am at least aware of some of the genre conventions.  Like you, I also have fond memories of Toon, and the Loonyacy of the Tooniversal Tour Guide. :)

Anyway, this sounds like an interesting and challenging hack- does the 6- result in a comedy genre (Falling Down?  Being Humiliated?) need to have the same narrative drive as a Hard Move in AW, and if so what does that look like?  That's what struck me on reading the Explosive Mage.  

The Animation Controller (AC) sets up the embarrasment, then follows through on a missed roll?  Guidelines on how to do comedy gaming would be something special.  I'd be very interested to see what else you've come up with since this slightly necro-ed post...

Had a thought about the Sacrifice and being captured- perhaps give them a move like the Savvyheads where Hold can be spent to have them being on-the-spot:

Damsel in Distress: at the beginning of the session, roll+(Primary Stat: Charm has a certain logic). On a 10+, hold 1+1. On a 7–9, hold 1. At any time, either you or the AC can spend your hold to have you already be captured, with your friends knowing where you are and/or the Adventure Maguffin on scene, with or without any clear explanation why. If your hold was 1+1, take +1forward now. On a miss, the AC holds 1, and can spend it to have you already be captured, but in an embarrassing, compromising or comedic situation.

Or maybe it's a 10+ Hold 1+1 and choose three when the Hold is spent, 7-9 Hold 1 and choose one:
 -The Maguffin is on scene
 -You can expect rescue soon
 -They know who you are
 -They don't know who you are
« Last Edit: September 09, 2011, 11:41:21 PM by Cneph »

Re: Dragon World: 90s comedy fantasy anime (Slayers, Dragon Half, etc.)
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2011, 05:07:01 PM »
I'm totally going to have to sit down and think about more interesting and silly stuff happening on a 6-, Cneph. Thanks. :3

Dragon World has kind of ended up on the back burner as I concentrate on Magical World instead, but the other day I had what I thought was kind of a nifty idea, which was to give the various improvement options some flavor in addition to the mechanical benefit. So for example the Explosive Mage might have:

  • Get +1eldritch (max eldritch+3), and your eyes start glowing whenever you cast a spell.
-- Ewen Cluney (Yaruki Zero Games)



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Re: Dragon World: 90s comedy fantasy anime (Slayers, Dragon Half, etc.)
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2011, 12:37:46 AM »
Uh-oh, her Eldritch Eyes are glowing again!  Duck!

I like that.

+1 Charm and your eyes now seem strangely (but appealingly) large in relation to the rest of your face.

Sorry to hear Dragon World is on the back burner, I'd still be interested in seeing what you've come up with so far.

Re: Dragon World: 90s comedy fantasy anime (Slayers, Dragon Half, etc.)
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2012, 02:19:11 PM »
Over this weekend I got all inspired and put together a complete draft of Dragon World. I'm hoping to get in some more play soon.
-- Ewen Cluney (Yaruki Zero Games)

Re: Dragon World: 90s comedy fantasy anime (Slayers, Dragon Half, etc.)
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2012, 01:10:09 PM »
It occurs to me that I should update here too. I wrote two blog posts on what I've been working on for Dragon World:

The shorter version:

I've concluded that AW's system of marking experience during play just doesn't work for me and my group, so I replaced it with a "levelling up" mechanic where players just get an advance once per session.

I'm introducing a currency called "Guts," which players can spend to not Fall Down (and for a few other things). The drawback is that you have to make a roll to not have a Stress Explosion and act crazy for a while. (Not unlike the Stress Explosions in Maid RPG.) I'm still working out how exactly PCs gain Guts points though.

I'm replacing History/Connections with a "story threads" system. Basically you make a list of "story elements," which include each of the PCs, plus one other element (a prop, NPC, etc.) contributed from each player. Each character type has a set of story threads with a fill in the blank kind of like Bonds in Dungeon World. These aren't for any game mechanics per se, but hopefully they'll help develop an interesting starting situation.
-- Ewen Cluney (Yaruki Zero Games)