Ryuujin Role Playing Game

Review: Ryuutama Japanese Role Playing Game

Honobono Japanese role-playing game takes you on a feel good journey with companions and spirit dragons.

Find  Ryuutama on the Kotodama Heavy Industries web store.


In this world, everyone is inspired to travel at some point in their lives, so society is structured in a way to make that fairly easy to do. You band together with other travelers and undertake a personal journey.  The world is overseen by spirit-like dragons in a very naturalistic world, and a dragon watches over your travels. Your travelogues (the tales of your journey) nourish the dragon that blesses your journey which in turn also nourishes the birth of new dragons in the world.

This is a honobono Japanese role-playing game translated into English, so it inspires good / warm feelings similar to what you may have experienced watching Studio Ghibli movies, however it is not exactly the same thing because characters are not necessarily children and the focus of the game is on a kind of extended pilgrimage. This has been erroneously identified as a children’s game by some other reviewers.

There’s nothing quite like it in western role playing games – so its quite fresh and innovative.

There are strong Narrativist elements in this game by default, which does not directly affect any rating.

Rating 5/5

Character Creation

You decide if you are going to be one of the following: Minstrel, Merchant, Healer, Hunter, Artisan, Farmer or Noble, then you select a thematic type: Attack Type, Technical Type or Magic Type. Stats are selected, not rolled. Magic Type characters and Dragons both use spells.

There is a strong Narrativist or Story Games element to this game. The GM also has a Ryuujin character (a dragon) which can be invoked by the player characters and can help or hinder them along their journeys. This GM character grows and changes along with the characters and participates in the cycle of life of the spirit dragons.

Rating 4/5

Base Mechanics

Stats are based on die size, meaning you get a d4, d6 or d8. Skill rolls are determined by a Stat + Stat roll. Your Negotiation Skill is equal to INT + SPI. Characters have Hit Points.

The game is very focused on the journey, so there are special rolls that happen related to travel, bartering, crafting items. World and town creation can be done entirely by the GM but the game is designed with the intention that the world is created by the GM with input from the players.

There is a special arena ground map and combat system which simulates certain types of Japanese video games.

Despite some very carefully designed workflow diagrams for stepping you through various kinds of tests in the game,  there is a bit of ambiguous language in some of the rules.

Rating 4/5


The focus of the game really is on the journey itself, relationships with companions, animal companions and solving problems – but it also has what you expect in terms of combat and treasure too.

They journey is presented as something that is limited in length, so a campaign could be quite short. However the system is also flexible enough that you could run Ryuutama much like any other fantasy role playing game.

Rating 5/5


I opted for the gold stamped, fake green leather journal version which costs about $10 more if purchased directly and is of a limited 100 copy run.

The artwork looks just like it appears in the previews – very much in a Japanese anime style for role-playing games – which is understandable since it is a translation of a real Japanese role-playing game rather than an approximation.

I noticed a few printing niggles, where possibly some list bullets were missing and paragraph margins were not quite right. But despite this, the green and gold cover along with the artwork is very high quality.

Rating 4/5


Title: Ryuutama
Publisher: Kotodama Heavy Industries
Genre: Honobono
Author: Okada Atsuhiro
Type: Core Rule Book


premise: 5/5
character creation: 4/5
base mechanics:4/5
longevity: 5/5
presentation: 4/5

Total Score: 4.4