Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

Seiyuu: The Real Big Three (Plus One)

Crossposted from Ready, Fire, Aim!

Anyone who knows me well knows I can be…verbose. It should come as no surprise that I’ve traditionally found this questionnaire difficult, as I want to explain every nook and cranny of my design idea.

Screw that. Here are my answers.

1) What is your game about?

Anime. Slight unpacking: experiencing your own anime show.

Edit: Fred has already Luke Crane’d me on this one. Answer: Change. The game is about telling stories about characters who change over the course of the story and which reach some sort of closure. Or to put it in a more D&D way: build character, change character, build plot, pay off plot.

Edit the Second: Fred continues to kick my ass. *sigh* This is why I hate this questionnaire. I suspect it would be easier to answer for almost any other game.
It’s about voicing characters in an anime. Although, to be fair, that part of things is the diciest right now; I fear for its implementation.

Edit the Third: Now Fred’s just doing it for me. Can you tell I hate this question? “It’s about casting and creating an anime show — with the players as the voice talent and writing staff rolled into one, as agents that uphold what excites them about the possibilities of anime entertainments.” (slight edit for clarification)
In my own defense, my original “slightly unpacked” answer gets at this…just not with the verbosity of Fred’s answer.

2) How is your game about that?

Conventions. Participants choose elements (genres, characters, and tropes) appropriate for an anime. They then play through a number of episodes, which have a central issue to be resolved at the end of the show. Along the way, the players try to resolve their characters’ own personal issues. If this sounds like PTA, it is – with a bit more crunch.

3) How does your game reward or encourage that behavior?

Incentive. Bringing in your character’s facets and the show’s features gives players valuable resources, but subjects them to input from other players. This allows them to win conflicts, but they still have to choose between further the aims of their character or the current plot facing them. Also, players can even get resources by playing a supporting character in scenes where their main character isn’t active.

+1) How do you make that fun?

Choices. There’s a lot of creative constraint during series and character creation, to help focus players. During play, they choose what scenes they want, how to approach conflicts, what is advanced by their successes, and how their characters change, with a little input from others.

Feel free to question or deconstruct.


April 28, 2008 - Posted by | Seiyuu


  1. The good news is, now that #1 is mostly settled, #2’s answer is valid. Because your game is strongly focused on upholding anime conventions, then of course the answer to #2 applies. I just didn’t feel like your earlier answers to #1 pointed in that direction.

    #3 dissatisfies me a little (maybe because the first word, “incentive”, is an of course thing — if you reword the question of #3, it’s simply: “what incentives does your game have?” so at first blush the answer comes off as a non-answer), but I haven’t entirely pinned down why. But this may simply be a wording thing.

    Your game is about: creating and upholding the conventions of anime.

    How your game is about that: Conventions are explicitly determined and detailed for characters and the anime “show” itself. Plot-drivers such as character issues exist.

    So then: How does your game reward or encourage the creation and exploration of anime conventions?

    Your answer (paraphrased) is “by giving the players valuable resources from their facets and features”. I’m not sure I’m hearing an *engine* for driving play in that, necessarily.

    I think I want to hear something along the lines of “you get fanmail for making things feel more like anime” or the like, something where fingers are pointed at Things Done Right and people are shouting Hell Yeah… something in the answer feels arm’s-length. Dunno what’s up with that.

    I’m not hitting your +1 yet, but I’m not sure choices are intrinsically fun. +1’s the hardest of the bunch.

    Comment by fredhicks | April 28, 2008 | Reply

  2. I think you and Fred hammered out #1 pretty well.

    For #2, when I first read your answer, I was thinking….the PCs attend anime conventions?… then I read further. How meta do you see this game going? Would there be fanmail that is represented as feedback from actual fans? I’m not sure how you’d do that, but tying a TV-themed game to its imaginary fanbase would be an interesting idea. On second thought, I don’t think that’s what you’re doing with this game.

    #3 when you say subjects them to input from other players… do you mean a stat change authored by players? Are you talking deprotagonization here? Also, I LOVE the idea of players jumping into NPC roles when their PC isn’t active in the scene, that is gorgeous.

    +1) I don’t think saying “choices” is the answer to fun is an answer for everyone. What else makes it fun?

    Comment by orklord | April 29, 2008 | Reply

  3. #2) I expect the game to have some meta elements, with players dancing between stances.

    I think fanmail is an element that most people want in all their games now – certainly in my tabletop group, we try and include it in everything we do. There isn’t a mechanic like it in Seiyuu yet, but I am strongly leaning toward some sort of “budget” economy, influenced by seiyuu/character popularity rated at the end of every episode. If you’re familiar with the old WW mechanic of voting a player as Best RP of a session and giving them an XP for it, imagine a blind vote where everyone votes for their favorite character/performance at the end of each ep, with currency distributed for *each* vote and used in the next episode. At least, that’s what I’m kicking around right now – something that rewards good play but doesn’t feel like an election or popularity contest. Although an imagined fanbase may be a stretch, a game of Seiyuu should have a *real* fanbase – those playing the game! After all, if you don’t like what you’re playing, why are you playing it? And if you *do* like it, why not identify what you do like and reinforce/reward it mechanically?

    #3) As for input from other players, it’s stat creation/change authored by other players but validated by the controlling player. Deprotagonization is not what I’m looking for here; I want to encourage players giving and receiving input about their characters. A current mechanic involves some stats being “half-baked” at the start of the game and the fact that they need to give that stat card to another player, who then adds a paired stat (with controlling player approval) and gives it back through play.

    +1) This is an even tougher question than #1. Really, the whole experience should be fun – why else are we playing? I think “incentives” might work here as well – you are rewarded for bringing awesome to the table (bringing in character facets and series features get you currency, getting voted as a popular character) as well as making others awesome (offering character facet changes to other players).

    Personally, I think choice *is* fun, but I love making choices for characters stuck in impossible positions. Whichever choice I make, I get to see the consequences, and hopefully make more choices.

    I think it might help to see others’ answers to this question for their games. What is fun about SotC? MY? A Penny for My Thoughts? D-Com?

    Comment by Matthew Gandy | April 29, 2008 | Reply

  4. What’s fun about Misspent Youth, in my opinion:

    * Creating a real story with a beginning, middle, and end every time.
    * Engaging in the kind of reckless rebellion which is impractical in the real world.
    * Tinkering with sci-fi tropes in the above and ensuing points.
    * The catharsis of defeating (or being defeated by) a villain you really, really hate.

    Comment by robertbohl | May 3, 2008 | Reply

  5. Also, collaborative character, world, and villain creation is fun. But that’s fun in any game that has these features so I’m not sure that “counts.”

    Comment by robertbohl | May 3, 2008 | Reply

  6. You sold me on “PTA, only with crunch”


    –Elliott Belser

    Comment by blissauthority | August 24, 2008 | Reply

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