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Didn't realize that I could still purchase this online! It's nice to have a physical book. Easier on the eyes. Now, to find a game.

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I saw this Kickstarter pop up and it looks like an interesting pastoral RPG. The "non-challenge-based" system looks like it encourages scenes and narration that elaborate on the situation instead of being simply pass/fail.

Is anyone familiar with the Dinotopia series of books? (And to a lesser extent, the TV movie and short-lived series?)

I was thinking about trying to home-brew a pastoral RPG that takes place in that setting. So far I'm only familiar with Ryuutama, which I can definitely see working. But I wondered if someone else would have some other suggestions that might even be better.

Dinotopia involves an isolated island where Dinosaurs never died out, and now humans and dinos (mostly) live in harmony, farming and even governing side-by-side. The plots of the books involve exploring the island, learning about its history, and tracking down rare items. It's a gorgeous series!

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Thought I'd share this here, as it would fit in the theme.
So, I've been reading and watching the Manga/Anime Made in Abyss. It may look cute, but trust me, it's dark... well, it would be if it wasn't for Rico, the main character. Yes, incredibly bad things happen to her and her friends, but, she stays optimistic and cheerful no matter what.

But, I'm not going to talk about this show, (watch it on Amazon and read the manga!) but the concept behind it: A terrain feature that has mystical properties surrounding it, some terrible, some beautiful, all unearthly.

The synopsis for the series: The enormous cave system known as The Abyss is the only unexplored place in the world. No one knows how deep down this titanic pit goes, inhabited by strange and wondrous creatures and full of mysterious ancient relics whose purpose are unknown to modern man. Generations of bold adventurers have been drawn to the cryptic depths of the Abyss. In course of time those bold enough to explore the dangerous pit came to be known as "Cave Raiders."

While I wouldn't copy it directly for a game, I would love to use the concept.

So my RPG concept is: The Great Chasm.

Two thousand years ago a great chasm opened up across the continent. The land collapsed and fell to the unfathomable depths, creating a vast chasm over a thousand miles long, and at it's widest, 200 miles wide. How deep was it? No one knew, as no one has ever returned from the deepest levels of the chasm.

It's impossible to see the bottom thanks to an ever present cloud layer. The deepest anyone has descended into the chasm has been 7 miles. And what came back... wasn't properly human.

The Great Chasm revealed a massive underground world, plants and animals of unknown origins. And it revealed ancient artifacts from older civilizations. The artifacts range from oddities that art collectors snap up, to artifacts of great power. In the past two thousand years, only 6 Great Artifacts have been brought to the surface. When each one was brought up, the world changed.

The first was the was The Font of Everlasting Fire. Fire so hot, it melted the very rock, and can only be used from a distance of a hundred feet. It became the basis for local power and technology, generating steam and melting any metal brought near it.

The second was The Volute of Healing. An intricately carved metal lamp that provides a healing light that cures all illnesses and sicknesses. It cannot heal deformities or severe injuries, but any disease is cleansed from the person exposed to it's light. However, the healing light can only be shared so much, before it goes out for a year. Then it springs back to life and returns to full function. How many people can share it depends on how sick they are. A person in late stage cancer would use up about half of the Volute's power.

The third was Hallum's Hammer. Named for the explorer who brought it back, the Hammer destroys whatever it strikes, as long as it's not living matter. A rock wall, gone. A tree, nothing. A mountain side, reduced to gravel. But not the walls of the Chasm. It found use as a means to reshape the countryside and demolish defensive walls. It has changed hands many times over the centuries. Currently, the Holy City of Armtesh possess it, along with the Volute.

The fourth artifact was the Servius' Plow. Again, named for the explorer who found it, the Plow does what says on the tin: It plows the land. All by itself, just tell it what you want plowed, and the plow does it with the speed of a cheetah. Vast acres of land can be turned into tilled land, with the plow following the contours of the land. Planting the crops are up to you. Sadly, it did hasten the desertification of the Western Reaches 500 years ago, due to over plowing. It's currently lost, though it will resurface.

The fifth artifact was The Iron Fortress of Ptolmis. A portable fortification that's no bigger than an ornate iron column, 9 feet tall. When placed and the word given by the owner, it creates an iron fortress covering 20 acres. The fortress is complete with barracks, stables, towers, and central keep. And all made of an ancient metal that defies all attempts to harm. Well, that is until the Hammer shows up, then it's devastation on both sides as the Hammer forces the Fortress to collapse violently, sending shards everywhere, at friend and foe. The shards decay to rust in a few hours. It's currently in the hands of the Ptolmec Empire of the West.

The last artifact nearly brought the world to it's knees. The sixth artifact was Censer Of Devas. A smallish object, easily carried suspended from it's chain, when lit, it's fumes can be used to shape the weather and the seasons. First time it was used, changed summer to the depth of winter, destroying all the crops and killing thousands. It was only found a hundred years ago, and it remains in the Explorer Citadel at the North Gate, the northern extent of the Great Chasm.

As characters, you start out as apprentice explorers, delving into the upper regions of the chasm, looking for artifacts and learning the trade. Everyone wants to move up from the Red Cloak of an apprentice, to the Blue Cloak of a journeyman, then the Black Cloak of a master, and finally, the White Cloak of a Grandmaster explorer. Currently, there are only five known Grandmasters. The Sixth was listed as missing, as she went below the Sixth Strata.

The Chasm is divided into multiple strata. Moving down the strata is not a problem... well, not physically or mentally. Coming back up and the Sicknesses will afflict the returning explorer. The deeper you go, the worse the Sickness coming back up. You can mitigate the effects by staging your ascent, but it gets harder the deeper you go to come back up. No one has ever returned from the Seventh Strata. The Sickness manifests from simple nausea to unnatural growths and mutations. The mind gets warped as well. None of the Grandmasters would be considered sane. And they all are... different physically.

The First Strata is above the cloud layer and has the least number of useful artifacts, though you can still find some, even though this region has been picked over for the past two thousand years.

Beneath that is the Second Strata, also known and the Lush Strata. A verdant jungle stretches along the Lush Strata, filled with strange creatures and plants. Some you can eat or use as a resource. Others will try to eat you. Plants and animals. Learning the difference between a Gardis Willow and a Hellwhip is important. (Hint, the Hellwhip's stringy branches move even if there is no breeze.) Apprentices are allowed down here after then have master the basics of the First Strata.

The Third Strata, also known as the Swamp, is a dank, dark realm, with fetid pools and numerous creatures. Some of which are good eating, and some are good at eating you. Only Blue Cloaks and higher are allowed down here.

The Fourth Strata, the Layer of the Winds, is a labyrinth of channels, tunnels, and ledges, beset by a chaotic maelstrom of winds, blowing in random directions. There is life here, deep in the caves lining the strata. Some are inviting... others not.

The Fifth Strata, the Great Descent, is a shear cliff face that stretches downward for nearly a mile. No handholds, no ledges, nearly nothing other than stratified rock. And the occasional cave mouth. This is the domain of the Masters, and maps of the cave mouths are kept secret, as the good ones make the descent that much safer. The reason for that are the Darmas, great winged creatures that pluck the unlucky delver from the face of the cliff. The Darmas will go as high as the First Strata, but the Fifth is their domain.

The Sixth Strata, the Great River, has the sides of the chasm covered with channels of flowing water, rapids, waterfalls, and occasional pool. Life abounds in the Sixth Strata, again, both harmless and deadly. The Grandmasters have built an outpost by a massive pool, more a lake, and it's where they send the boats out to search for artifacts. It is here the Six Great Artifacts came from. No one knows when the next will be found and what wonders and horrors it will bring.

This is the world your characters would inhabit and grow up in. They start out as teenagers, 10 to 15 years old, apprentices learning the trade. Always with the urge to move farther down, finding new artifacts, and finally becoming a Grandmaster. And perhaps finding out what's in the Seventh Strata...

Hmm, now I have to work on this, won't I? :-)

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For Ryuutama -

While perusing the OSR blog Elfmaids & Octopi, which is filled with all sorts of useful random d100 tables for various games, I came across this random table which I thought would be perfect for providing random flavor and possible encounters when your Travelers come to a village:
d100 Nice Village Encounters
d100 Nice Village Encounters

This is a bit off topic. Are any of you Japanese speakers with access to Miyazaki's Spirited Away? I'm writing an article on this movie, and I need help double-checking the last 30 seconds of dialogue in the movie. I want to know if the English matches the Japanese fairly closely.

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I've been reading Aria a manga that's very much pastoral in it's outlook. It's about a young woman from Earth learning to be a gondola pilot or Undine on Mars, now renamed Aqua, after it flooded when the ice caps melted during terraforming.

It's very much a slice of life story, with great artwork, and situations that are well, not violent conflict, but more interpersonal relationships. That's where the conflict really lies.

The story starts in the manga Aqua,, and continues on Aria. It follows Akari Mizunashi as she learns how to be an Undine. Lots of lovely artwork and an engaging storyline.

So, how would one capture this feeling in a pastoral TRPG? Something to think about.

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I haven't read this game yet, but +Brent Newhall​ is a nice guy.
+Brent Newhall​'s The Whispering Road arrived today, and it's lovely.

I've already skimmed the PDF, and it's right up my alley: GM-less, zero prep, great for a one-shot, and like nothing else I've played before.

It's a game about helping people, generally without fighting, in the tradition of Japanese honobono RPGs and Hayao Miyazaki films.

I've got Golden Sky Stories -- another heartwarming game in the same vein -- on the way, and it'll be interesting to compare the two.

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Just found out about this, another media intersection between fantasy and lighthearted tale.

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RPRoulette posted this super awesome (and flattering) review of my game. Maybe you'll like it? The game is not necessarily combat centric, as most of the system can be easily interpreted around the concept of peaceful interaction. :)
Wow!@RPRoulette posted an awesome video review of #Michtim #RPG! Check it out!

#share #roleplaying #gaming #michtimrpg
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