Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Neat Stuff About Maid RPG

As a sort of fun side-project to do over the winter break, I’ve decided to do a fan translation of Maid RPG, a 32-page RPG from Japanese publisher Sunset Games. I remember Andy K saying how the game does some interesting things, but I didn’t realize how much so until I was about 2/3 of the way done translating the book. I also didn’t realize just how messed up it was until I got to the play examples with Yugami tormenting her sempai Hizumi. Anyway, right now I’ve finished my rough translation of the character creation and gameplay rules, which leaves only a replay and two scenarios (11 pages) to go. I’m seriously thinking of trying to run this game at the next gaming con I go to, and of course with my usual gaming group.

One of the most important things is the way the game sets up the relationship between the master – the GM’s primary NPC – and the maids, the player characters who serve the master and try to keep him happy. If the play examples used to explain the rules are any indication, the game strongly encourages breaking the fourth wall and metagaming. I haven’t gotten to the replay included just yet (that’s next), but in the examples Kamiya (designer of the game, and in these the master) and his maids Hizumi and Yugami continually talk about the rules (“If only my Luck attribute was a little higher…”). I want to say it reminds me of HackMaster, but I never got around to reading or playing it, so I can’t. I think this kind of thing is usually avoided or at least overlooked, and certainly seldom turned into a strength.

Character creation is almost completely random. Seriously; I’m getting my programmer friend to whip up a random character generator program for this. Normally I don’t go in for random character creation, but this is one of those games where it seems very fitting to deprive the players of choices about their characters.

The game has no mechanic for physical damage at all. What there is, is Stress. Any time you have one character trying to force another to do something, you use the “Combat” rules, and the losing side in the opposed roll will accumulate some Stress Points. When a maid gets more Stress than her Spirit rating, she has a Stress Explosion. When that happens, the player has to act out the thing originally rolled up on the Stress Explosion chart during character creation—stuff like drinking, violence, sleep, gluttony, etc.—for a number of minutes in real time equal to the number of Stress points accumulated, after which all the Stress goes away.

How much each maid is in good graces with the master is measured in points of Favor, which the GM doles out whenever he feels like it, based on how good a job the maids do of pleasing the master. A maid who goes into negative Favor gets dismissed (removed from the campaign), but otherwise Favor mainly works like a combination of Drama Points (for boosting rolls and getting rid of Stress) and XP (for raising attributes). But players can also spend 1D6 Favor to cause a random event to happen. The GM has the player roll on the appropriate Random Event chart, and whatever result comes up is dropped into the story, centering around the maid whose player wanted the Random Event. The main rulebook has three charts (Outer Space, Modern, and Fantasy), and quite a few of the events are the kinds of things that can make the whole game swerve. The section on creating scenarios/adventures says that (1) rolling on the table can be a good way to come up with the basis of a whole session, and (2) it’s a good idea to come up with a table of 6 random events tailored to the particular scenario.


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