Japanese Tabletop RPG Blog

Tabletop RPG Information and News!

February 20, 2019
by Diamond Sutra
1 Comment

Starting the Machine in a Post- GPlus World…

Hey world!

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Originally this blog was meant to capture some bits and pieces of things related to Japan and Tabletop RPGs. Over the last two decades I’ve sponged up a lot of “useless knowledge” of the games and gaming scene stuff that goes on here in Japan; and also have been following all the various foreign games that used Japan as a theme.

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While my day job is “tech guy”, my background and love has always been rooted in Sociology and Philosophy (basically, what I graduated with in college), especially how different things work in different languages and cultures. When I meet other people with similar interests, these stories about the Japan gaming scene and how things are a little different over here (especially in a sense of, “This is something interesting that I think we could adopt into our culture as well!”) tend to really resonate with others. Basically sharing those stories (rather than keeping them to myself or word of mouth only) has kinda landed me in the role of “The Japan/Japanese RPG Guy”, and led me to do things like translate RPGs, promote unique Japanese cultural phenomenon, and write a few articles and blogs here and there.

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Most of my primary game blogging had been done on Google Plus, though. And what I realized is that I was a little afraid to share things here (on this “J-RPG” blog) that weren’t basically mini sociological essays. For example, if I wanted to talk about just some cool event or convention I went to here, or some movie/anime/game that influenced me, that was more “fun” than “essay”, so it didn’t really fit. Every time I thought, “Hey it would be fun to blog about that time I ran TORG in Japenglish to a mixed audience”, I had an image of my academic advisor from way back when; slowly closing a book he was reading; slowly turning his head to me; a single tear running down his cheek… (heh)

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Long story short, I wrestled with it a bit, and the length between posts here went to basically “one a year”. But with the recent shuttering of Google Plus, and the fact that I only use Facebook for talking to friends and sharing cute cat pics and memes, I realized my perspective of this site was a little too narrow. So, going forward, I’m going to drop the pretense of making everything a poignant micro-essay with some sort of “lesson”, and use it as my primary gaming blog. That means that there will be stuff here from time to time that is “general gaming” or “general life/living in Japan” stuff.

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Not that there’s a ton of followers or anything; but since G+ is shuttering and the RPG Gaming Communication sphere is imploding a bit, I decided to take my show back to a format that I have full control over, untied to any other network (and with RSS feeds, so totally exportable to anyone interested).

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That’s all for now, stay tuned!

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April 12, 2018
by Diamond Sutra

Do you actually LIVE in Japan? Then get your game on!

TL;DR: Search for “Tokyo Roleplaying Games” in Facebook or Meetup.com: Very active and growing!

Hey everyone! When I began this blog (or posted articles online like it) many, many moons ago, I was living back in the US and keeping upa  public space to talk about the various RPGs coming out of Japan, or various interesting issues and ideas coming from the Japanese tabletop scene. Since that time, I’ve moved back to Japan – perhaps permanently (got my permanent resident status/”Green Card”) – and now live and work here.

Living and working in Japan, especially in a high stress/high responsibility business environment, seems like it would take a serious hit on my RPG and board-gaming activity. Well, it has in some ways, of course (I don’t do “weeknight weekly gaming” with my friends as much as I used to back in RTP/North Carolina); but in other ways the scene has changed in the last few years, and more and more people in Japan, especially the Tokyo area, are keeping up with gaming like never before. Others are trying their hand at RPGs for the first time!

Now, my sincerest apologies up front: The rest of this post is going to be very Tokyo/Kanto centric (long ago I lived in the boonies, and disliked the fact that “Japan” was synonymous with “Well, basically Tokyo, right?”, but “shikata ga nai” for now). If you are reading this and have a group/org promoting gaming in English in another region of Japan, please do drop a comment and I’ll collect these into a future post.

In future posts, I plan to discuss:

  • Places to game in Japan and tabletop cafes
  • The Japanese/bilingual game meetup scene
  • The history of JIGG and TokyoRPG, as well as other gaming meetup groups

But for now, let’s talk about where to meet folks, specifically if you live near Tokyo, in the Tokyo-Kanagawa(Yokohama)-Chiba-Saitama area:

For RPGs, there’s one place with two fronts that you want to join if you want to play RPGs in the Tokyo area, even if you’ve never played before and want to try: The Tokyo RPG Meetup group, created and administrated by Martin K, a friend and IT colleague. This is a group The two fronts are:

1) The Tokyo Roleplaying Games Meetup Group’s Companion Facebook page. This page was created recently as a sister-site to the Meetup page below, in order to have a space for people to more openly discuss gaming, organize games, introduce themselves, and so on. Even if you’re iffy on Facebook recently, this group is worth creating a dummy account for. This is the place you go when you want to run or take part in a game, but don’t have a date/time/members locked in yet. We also discuss area gaming events, conventions, and play opportunities.

2) The Tokyo Roleplaying Games Meetup Group on Meetup.com. This is the original group that Martin set up several years back, mostly to organize local gamers to meet and play. Unfortunately, Meetup’s forums aren’t that great for communication, and Meetup is not really a good place to do the “Hey, who is interested in Game X?” kinds of posts: Rather, it is excellent for organizing and scheduling set events. So this is the place you go when you have a Place, a Date/Time, a few interested people, and you want to recruit a few more people for a game session. Currently, there are lots of mostly full events at this site, as it’s used by many folks as a calendar reminder system for their next full-table (no recruit) sessions. But that should not throw people off: Every event for every weird non-mainstream game I’ve thrown together, with enough advance notice, has gotten full signups.

Those above are the two faces of the Tokyo Roleplaying Games group, the best place to talk and organize in the Kanto area.

There are a few other places as well, including:

3) JIGG, The Japan International Gamers Guild (Tokyo) (Note, there’s JIGG outlets in Kanto and other areas as well). The Meetup group is HERE, the BoardGameGeek group is HERE. Formed way back in the 90s, this was THE group for RPGs, with board games as a side activity. In the early/mid 2000s (post global German board game explosion), it flipped to being mostly board game focused with some RPGs on the side. Still, RPG gaming happens at JIGG meetups from time to time, and it’s definitely the place to join if you’re looking for local board and card gamers.

Note: For Osaka/Kansai gamers, it looks like there is a Facebook group to organize area Role-Playing Game activity OVER HERE.

4) Japan Roleplay Society, which is another fun Facebook group for general role-playing gaming discussion and meet-up organization. Run by Rodney S and Drew H, it’s a group that I’ve found to be very enthusiastic and fun. It appears that a majority of the members live in Gunma prefecture, Japan (north of Tokyo), so if you are in that area, check these folks out. Also, it’s general good gaming discussion, as there are a few RPG developers/creators in this group.

More about the English gaming scene later; but I figured it was time to drop a post for those English-speaking gamers in Japan that were googling for a place to play.

And as mentioned above, if you live far from Tokyo and are a member or moderator of a local role-playing game meetup organization in Japan, please drop a comment here or tell me (Andy K) in the Tokyo Roleplaying Games group on Facebook, and I’ll add it to a future list of English gaming organizations in Japan.

December 2, 2016
by Diamond Sutra

Meta/fourth wall tricks to carry TRPG play, courtesy of A Japanese Drama…


On Japanese Netflix, there’s this show starring Yamada Takayuki (Yoshihiko, from the “Yuusha Yoshihiko” series) that caught my attention, called “Replay & Destroy“. It’s basically a cute “honobono” series of stories in this Everyville Japanese city suburb. However, the directing/camerawork style is very reminiscent of Guy Richie style wild cuts, hammy but fun overacting, and just general “style way way waaaaay over substance”. It’s got a lock on me, luckily it’s only 8 episodes.

Anyway, there’s this fourth wall trick that they use in at least half the episodes, which really caught my attention as cute, effective, and fun (but totally in the milieu/feel of this drama). You know how in many RPGs the party splits up and does various things, then when they meet up, they have to share the story of what happened while the others were away?

Classically, most of us just chew the time by, in character, going through the five or so minutes of in-character-to-character session brief. Or it can be cut through with a “…Okay, I have (my character) bring (your character) up to speed on what happened…”, and that’s it. This is specifically for events where there’s not an Unreliable Narrator (ex: You go specifically to beat up a bunch of dudes and take their money, then come back and tell the others “nothing happened” or “some folks attacked me, I had to defend myself”, etc), and you’re just doing the in-character telling to another character what your character saw/experienced/etc.

In this drama, though, they do this cool thing: I’ve got two clips below (no telling how long they’ll last) that shows it in action. But basically, the person talking holds out their hands, then proceeds to “jump” their hands from Left to Middle to Right, while saying “Don; Don; Don” (“Don” is the onomatopoeia word for “thud” “bam” “crash-bang-boom”, etc). I guess the English equivalent would be “Ding-Dang-Dong” or “Bing-Bang-Boom”, but I like the one repeated syllable of the original Japanese “don”.

1) Anyway, here is the main character explaining to a friend why he’s stalking out a grocery story (in short, it’s a long tale involving wanting to see why this particular strange person was so obviously shoplifting, and the reason why they aimed to get caught).

“BTW, what are you doing here, anyway”
“Ah, I see. So that’s why you’re standing here and eating that.”

2) In another episode, the main character helps an area neighborhood high school kid get his first pair of boxer shorts to give him some confidence. In the process, his friends (including other high school groups) overhear them and get the totally wrong idea “Three’s Company” style, thinking that there was something going on between them. Sayu and her friends are acting really weird around him, planning some kind of intervention, like “Hey, that’s okay, but he’s a little too young…”

“Seriously, Sayu, what the hell is going on??”
“Don-Don-Don” (more exaggerated than the example above)
“WHAT??? There’s no way that kind of thing is going on here!”


Anyway, it’s a cute little trick, and while it can be imported directly into my Japanese sessions for effect, I’m wondering how to do this in English (“1-2-3”? “Da-Da-Dummm”?). Since a lot of the games I rn or play in have a lot of dialogue, a lot of characters doing their own things then coming back to communicate with each other about what happened, this sort of fourth wall trick would be useful and more fun than just “I tell her what happened”.

December 13, 2015
by Diamond Sutra

48 Hours Left for the Shinobigami Kickstarter

Shinobigami Kickstater Link Here


Shinobigami – God of the Shinobi – is a tabletop Role-Playing game originally developed and published in Japan by Adventure Planning Service. Originally written by legendary designer Toichiro Kawashima and gorgeously illustrated by Shie Nanahara, Shinobigami is a fast one-session RPG focusing on character drama, stories of conflict and cooperation, and light tactical strategy in a dark modern “World of Shadows” setting where mysterious ninja exist and engage in inter-clan conflict in an ongoing hidden cold war. It is being translated and published by Kotodama Heavy Industries, the team behind previously crowdfunded releases Tenra Bansho Zero and Ryuutama.

The overall effect is a very easy-to-learn game that is equal parts story-driven RPG, German-style board game, and secret identity/role game (Werewolf, Coup): With a few friends, you together create a dramatic story that starts and ends in the course of just a few hours (one evening). From there, you can revisit the same characters or make new characters, and create another tale set in the Ninja Cold War.

Find out more about this game at the official English website, www.shinobigami.com.


Okay, that was the PR-y blast. In truth, Shinobigami is one of our favorite games – Both Matt and Andy – And despite running it several dozen times between us, we’ve never had a bad/unfun session with it. The game is exciting and interesting on so many levels: Between the secrets, the “frenemies” style light PVP play, etc, it’s just a generally exciting and fun game.

Two days to get in on it at the early bird prices. Jump in now!

August 9, 2015
by Diamond Sutra

Noelle talks about Kamigakari : A Demon-Hunting RPG

After Rikizo-san left Group SNE, I was wondering what he’d do: He’s extremely passionate about Role-playing games and Japanese culture, as evidenced by his work on the Japan-mythic supplements for the Demon Parasite RPG line.

I didn’t even realize he produced a new hard-hitting action/Japanese myth RPG until a friend pointed it out: Kamigakari, or “We God Hunters” (if I was being sufficiently Anime enough).

It’s getting some decent amount of play in cafes and cons in Tokyo. I’ve heard that it’s kind of in competition with DoubleCross in the “troubled teens with power hunt down dangerous demons” category; but since there’s a lot of media with that theme, and the setting is sufficiently different, I don’t see too much conflagration…

…Anyway, Noelle, a longtime friend, collaborator, and budding “Japanese media translator in the making”, breaks the game’s super interesting mechanical pieces here on their Google Plus blog. Give it a follow!

EDIT: Removed link for now. Noelle’s G+ account is in the middle of a transition to a new location. I will return to this post later to update this page with more information about Kamigakari when it occurs. Thanks!

September 21, 2013
by Diamond Sutra
1 Comment


So, Matt and I (Andy) have partnered up with the Geeky and Genki network to deliver media (postcasts, videocasts) through their website! We’ll be posting more info here when there is content over there, so for now go ahead and check out our new podcasts!


Warning: We are new at this, and still finding our legs: Case in point, each time I aim for maybe 20-30 minutes of content… then we talk (directedly!) for like 90 minutes. Wow! So yeah, we’ll be finding our legs and improving shortly.  For now, you can check out our attempts here:

Geeky and Genki: http://geekyandgenki.com/

Super Excite Game (formerly the J-RPG podcast) #3 here: http://www.geekyandgenki.com/j-rpg-podcast-3/

The NEW Super Excite Game #4 here: http://www.geekyandgenki.com/super-excite-game-episode-4/

Come for the gaming, stay for us blathering about Japan, culture and language!


Matt’s G&G Profile: http://www.geekyandgenki.com/author/matthew/

Andy’s G&G Profilehttp://www.geekyandgenki.com/author/andy/

June 24, 2013
by Diamond Sutra

Updates for DoubleCross (English Edition)

DoubleCross is now out and available at Amazon (see two updates ago).

The publisher (Ver Blue/KH Shu) heard some customer issues and saw some editing misses, so he sent out this informational update: An ongoing Errata, Document links, and other information related to the game through the official web presence at G+:


Dear Customers,

It has come to my attention that there are a handful of mistakes in
the printed book. I have uploaded an Errata file on my G+ site. The
link is as follows:


Please follow me on G+
(https://plus.google.com/101235997413051519555) or Facebook
(www.facebook.com/pages/Ver-Blue-Amusement/351682611607409) for future

On a side note, I have also uploaded the Record sheets as well. They
are available at:



June 22, 2013
by ennui

Japanese Occultism

When I was majoring in Japanese in college, I excitedly signed up for as many Japanese religion classes as they offered. For years I was looking for the sources of the ideas I’d seen several times in anime up to that point, such as onmyouji, shikigami, kekkai, et cetera. I wasn’t expecting to learn how to summon/banish nekomata, but I was hoping to get some academic background on this and tons of other questions I had. (I’d heard that kitsune grow a tail every 100 years of existence, but where did that idea come from? I’d only found rumors and nothing to back that up)

I’m not sure what the hell I was expecting, but the closest I found was the ancient Shugendo practice of Bhuddist monks attaining spiritual power in the mountains. In the end (though I learned a lot of interesting stuff) I figured I’d just have to play lots of Megami Tensei to get my fill of Eastern Occultism.

Covers of an older edition of the first three books. Art by Yoshitaka Amano. Photo by Wikipedia

So the other day I was wandering the Wiki path and came across an entry that had to have been on the periphery of my vision for years. This book, Teito Monogatari, seems to be the source of many–if not most–of today’s Eastern occult memes, just as Futaro Yamada‘s stories did for ninja myth. It was written by Hiroshi Aramata, who at the time was a historical scholar with an interest in old weird Japanese stories. He wanted to share the obscure things he’d learned and started writing the novel as a side project. It immediately took off and became a 12 volume epic story that spans a hundred years and spawned spin-offs, prequels, manga, and several anime (even a play!). The ideas found in Teito Monogatari immediately took hold in Japanese culture and became the basis for manga like Tokyo Babylon/X, anime such as Demon City Shinjuku, and games such as Shin Megami Tensei.


Raidou Kuzunoha from the Shin Megami Tensei spin-off of the same name. Photo from the Megami Tensei wiki.

The story itself concerns itself with Yasunori Kato, an onmyouji and oni who was part of the Japanese Imperial Army. For reasons going back thousands of years in Japan’s past, he is determined to bring down the city of Tokyo and tear Japan apart. I don’t know much more than that, but I’m going to get my hands on a copy of the books and see if I can get through them. There’s an older manga that goes through the first half of the story, but I’m going to challenge myself to get through the text. I’ll come back with an update once I’ve given it a shot. In the meantime, what sort of Eastern occult meme have you been interested in and are curious about? The ‘wormcharm’ in Tenra Bansho, for example, might have some roots here, from the Kodoku practice of insects embuing humans with luck. I’m excited to see what else is in there waiting for me!

June 19, 2013
by Diamond Sutra
1 Comment

Doublecross in English: Preorder Now!

Doublecross, one of my favorite Japanese RPGs of all times, is now available in English, through Amazon!


A note from the publisher, though:


Please treat these as a preorder, and give him some time to fulfill them. The books are set to arrive any day now.

Doublecross 3rd edition is the latest and greatest version of one of my favorite RPGs. The best way to describe it is as a very story-focused “Japanese X-Men”. I think it refers to itself as “Dark Conspiracy Action”, and it’s that in equal amounts: The conspiracy stuff is baked into the setting, and the action is baked into the rules: All the rules are pretty much geared towards the “Effects”, or character powers, which reside under “Syndromes”, or power sets. So my character might have the syndromes Salamander and Hanuman, which are the domains of Fire Control and Speed (respectively), and a number of Effects/powers under each.

It’s a d10 dice pool system with just a little bit of math involved in each roll (tallying the number totals on pools of dice), but it’s fast and solid. The power sets are evocative and awesome. The story-focused play keeps you tied socially to the other players, with the major NPCs in your life offering you strength so you don’t “turn to the dark side” (but as relationships, they can be burned to keep you alive, basically flipping from Lois Lane to Lex Luthor types in the process).

Also, KH Shu, the translator, basically didn’t just translate and sell one book in the series, he combined at least three Japanese releases (Rulebooks 1 and 2, and I believe another, likely the Advanced Rulebook) together into one massive English tome.

If you like X-Men style young supers, Exalted-like Charms (for combos, etc, but without Exalted’s “massive amounts of dice ultimately doing nothing” effect), and dark conspiracy/betrayal, this game is totally for you.

I ordered four.

December 7, 2012
by Diamond Sutra

J-RPG Podcast 2: Tokyo Nova, RPG-Themed Manga, and more!

J-RPG Podcast #2 is up! Download it here!


00:00 Introduction (First Crush by Sabrepulse)
00:31 What we’re listening to:
01:31 What we’re playing
Animal Shogi (the full version: Animal Shogi in the Greenwood)
(note: The basic version is available as an IOS game app, look for “Let’s Catch the Lion!“)
05:53 News
-Kickstarter updates: Magician, Hillfolk, Tenra Bansho Zero
Gamer MarketPictures from the Game Market
Psychic Hearts
22:50 Main Topic 1: Spiel EssenShinobigami Announcement
36:08 Main Topic 2: Piyopu Seikatsu is now available for free on j-comi! An incredible gaming life/RPG autobiographical manga by Naoko Kanazawa (Blog) (Girls’ Style Gaming Blog)
46:33 Game in 5 Minutes (or more): Tokyo Nova, a uniquely Japanese Cyberpunk RPG using playing cards and specialized Tarot cards- Pictures of the Tokyo Nova Tarot
1:15:50 Word(s) of the day
Endaka (Wikipedia)
1:20:00 Mail & Shout Outs
1:25:00 Closing & Next Week
Style Savvy
-Fixing Legend of the Five Rings
Outtro (The Rapture by Sabrepulse )

Thanks to Sabrepulse for the rocking chiptunes. If you like his tracks, please buy a copy like I did!

Comments? Questions? Topic Ideas? Hit us up!