Yokai Hunters Society è
A rules-light pen & paper rpg about monster hunters in Meiji Japan
Yokai Hunters Society (not to be confused with the almost namesake Yōkai! by Moreno Pollastri), is an OSR role-playing game. With Old School Renaissance we mean all those games based on an essential and light system.
The vast majority of role players do not start playing by buying and reading a specific manual directly but, rather, are involved by other players at an already started table. The learning mode passes through a transfer of notions that starts from the players (and the narrator) seated at the table, and moves to the neophyte who is about to cross the threshold of a new world made of rules, systems and details that he discovers gradually. with shared experience.
From then on, each person explores and deepens the world of RPGs according to their own attitudes and curiosities.
The first impact, however, remains the one based on the few confusing and barely outlined hints that all the players share at the table.
Therefore, taking this method of approach valid, it is assumed that little information is enough to be able to sit at a table and start roleplaying. To break this dictat you can buy the manual at this address!
One of the premises underlying the OSR is that Yokai Hunters Society fully married!
How Yokai Hunters Society presents itself
This RPG with texts, illustrations and project curated by Chema (Punkpadour) and Salva González, was released on the platform of Creative Commons 4.0 International License (on which it had already come to life Goons tunnel, by Nate Treme), in early 2021.
With Goons tunnel, in fact, it shares the 2d6-based system and the large space dedicated to narration.
In a booklet of just 36 pages, including a bestiary at the end of the volume, there is everything you need to start playing.
In reality there is almost nothing. And this works great!
Historical setting of Yokai Hunters Society
The author lays the foundations of a historical setting: the Japan of the Meiji Era. Then the "dirty" barely with hints of the fantastic and magical realm typical of Japanese folklore. A wise and intriguing choice!
This period in fact (23 October 1868 - 30 July 1912), takes place chronologically after the fall of the last shogunate and is defined as an era of renewal and modernization.
The previous Edo period (1603–1867) can be associated with the European Middle Ages, dark and full of dark fantastic and mythological suggestions. The Meiji era, on the other hand, began the modern age of Japan. More or less our Renaissance, characterized by a bright and fruitful predisposition to the future and modernity.
In this era of transition between dark and light, two opposing realities collide and there, where there is space for the ancient popular traditions of the Japanese Middle Ages full of yokai e Yuri, political plots and court plots perpetrated by modern and enlightened men coexist.
ALSO READ: KAERU - ANALYSIS AND OPINIONS
It goes without saying that this small historical parenthesis of just forty-four years, offers a stage full of ideas and influences for the narrator. In fact, an inexhaustible number of stories and adventures can be created. Alongside the more classic ones with horror / fantasy settings (archetypal of numerous manga and anime series Vagabond, Kenshin, Afro Samurai e Sengoku Basara), you can find more modern and complex situations. More political or espionage plots, where the dark and horrifying presence of dark creatures echoes from a forgotten past.
Whoever plays will play the agents of the Yokai Hunter Society (Yokai Hunters Society o Yokai Gari Kai in Japanese), involved in missions of investigation or elimination of demons and ghosts. The freedom left by the system allows you to switch between simple, one-shot, type plays kill monster of the week, to longer and more complex stories where the narration dominates and it is possible to deepen mechanics related to the Society of Hunters or to the interpersonal relationships that develop between the player characters, initially bound to the rules of anonymity and discretion guaranteed by the mask that every Hunter is required to to wear.
This dynamic is very interesting. Each character is in fact led to live two distinct lives. The daily routine of an ordinary person and the use of him (often nocturnal) as an agent of the secret society that investigates in the occult field. In more structured campaigns, this offers fun gameplay insights and intriguing mechanics within the party, adding depth to the players' personal storytelling.
The rules and the setting are reduced to a minimum, therefore. The system is so basic, intuitive, fresh and fast that it takes very little time from the narration. The experience offered to those seated at the table is simple and immediate. In this way you can determine what you cannot decide freely in the acting phase.
The character sheet is characterized by very few traits. Only four attributes in which to distribute a base pool of points (and 2 derived scores). At this point, whenever the player is faced with a test, the narrator indicates which characteristic she is interested in. Then 2d6 are rolled and the result is added to the value of the characteristic called into question. Finally, it is checked on the specific table if the test is successfully passed, if it has failed or if it is the subject of a partial success.
A dedicated note deserves the "rule of 9". In Japan, the word that identifies the number nine sounds similar to "suffering". In the Land of the Rising Sun, therefore, this number brings bad luck. A bit like it happens in Italy with the number 17 and in the Anglo-Saxon countries with the 13.
Therefore rolling a “natural” 9, with 2d6, has unpleasant consequences. Based on the situation in which the characters find themselves, the Storyteller will choose at his discretion, the most appropriate event.
Finally, it remains to evaluate the mechanics of advantages and disadvantages. The Storyteller can use this opportunity to more precisely define moments in which he wants to favor (or disadvantage) the characters.
Il advantage adds 1d6 extra to the available dice pool. The player is thus able to discard the lowest result obtained. The disadvantageinstead, it works in reverse. An extra 1d6 is still added to the dice pool, but the highest roll rolled will be discarded.
All very simple, then. Quick and functional.
The creators of the game urge everyone to deepen the regulation with the inclusion of house rules and any additional regulations. The lean and vertical structure of the system, in fact, is very suitable for implementations and additions.
Obviously this regulation, so brief and reduced to the bone, is not aimed at those who are looking for a deep system.
There are no tables, no complex values and rules. Defining your character precisely is the prerogative of interpretation. Only four attributes, few mechanics and a microscopic table on which to draw two adjectives (a value and a defect), equipment and an object.
All collected in a delicious pdf format A4 (divided into three columns and foldable like a talisman): theHunter´s Panphlet.
But it is equally true that it is great to sit at the table, create a character and start playing in less than twenty minutes!
I got to be able to test Yokai Hunters Society with a small group of friends and I set up a short campaign divided into ten sessions. Just as if they were the episodes of a television series or an anime (Ninja Scroll e Samurai Champloo over all).
The experience was very positive! The system, fluid and not very invasive, allowed to fully enjoy the investigative and horror atmospheres that I hoped to convey. Storytelling has always been the focus of each session and the adventure offered insights into engaging and realistic gameplay.
Excited by the experience, I bought the paper booklet which is now one of my little treasures in the bookstore!