Guys. I don’t know what to say for this.
Do I start with a history lesson on Imperial Japan’s warships before I segue into wacky high-school hijinx? Do I just lay out the premise of this sensation? Or do I just go ahead and play the game? I guess I’ll do all of the above.
The Pacific War has been seen as the final stages to the turning point of war as it introduced the very weapon that will forever define war: the atom bomb. Of course, the war was also known for the theatre of war being dominated in the seas and the skies. Japan’s warships are no exception, as they were fierce, mighty, powerful, adorable, titanic… wait, what? Yeah. Adorable. As in someone had the idea to take the warships and turn them into human girls. Okay, I know I can just end it with “Oh, Japan”, but to be frank, that’s an overdone joke.
The Kantai Collection, or Kancolle for short, is a game where you play as the admiral of a fleet of girls reincarnated from the very warships that served Japan’s army during the Second World War as you take on a monstrous army of ships and aircraft called the Abyssal Fleet. Of course, hardships are common as you will have ships sink, tears shed, and blood spilled. It’s a pretty popular franchise and it has even been given a tabletop RPG adaptation.
But what makes this featured on this blog site is that it is able to do solo. Yes. Solo Ship Girls. So, for those keeping track, I did a World War I RPG so now it’d make sense for me to do a World War II RPG. Which would also mean I’ll do a Cold War RPG at some point in the near future. Wonder what theme what would entail…
The game begins by picking out our ships. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t seem to provide character creation rules. I’m trying my hardest to do research, but I’m ending up with nothing. The closest thing I got is this post detailing a bit of how it works. Though that said, the game provides tons of girls for me to use and I can choose up to three. So, let’s pick them out, shall we?
… Thirty characters and I have not the slightest of ideas who to pick. My gut instinct tells me to pick out the characters I know from the show, so Nagato, Fubuki, and Kongou (because there’s no Mutsuki or Kisaragi in the list), or pick characters with traits I can see combining well. Because of the fact that I’ve only seen about an episode of Kancolle (okay, two episodes, but I skipped a chunk of both episodes), I’ll go with option B.
We’ll be going with an all-battleship army of three, since Battleships are the best ships in the vessel, that and I get to say “you sunk my battleship!”
… Too soon? Well, as it turns out, there are three Kongou-class Battleships… One of them is named Kongou. Yes. Don’t look at me, I don’t make up the names. To be fair, this is based in Japanese history and there really was a naming scheme where a group of similar ships would be named after one of them, so you have Kongou-class ships, Nagato-class ships, Fubuki-class ships… Etc.
The way traits work in the game is pretty interesting. Instead of working off stats to do rolls, you use traits for task resolutions. How this works is that there’s a chart and your character only has up to five traits. When you’re asked to make a task resolution, it will be based off a certain trait. Your job is to find out how many spaces on the chart your closest trait is to that trait, and that will be your set DC. On top of this, there are defect traits that are bad for your character. They don’t end well. I really want to play the game just to test this out. But for now, here are the traits my group has:
- Lived Abroad
- Optimistic (Defect)
- Communications (Defect)
- Dark Past (Defect)
- Cruel (Defect)
- Electronic Warfare (Defect)
- Enemy Awareness (Defect)
- Conversation (Defect)
You replace the Free with whatever traits you want, but I decided to randomly pick out traits for my characters, save for Kirishima, which I used Conversation as a defect. Alright, let’s not keep anyone waiting. We have ships to sink, ya know! Since she’s named for the class of battleships, we’re going with Kongou as our Flagship. The game tells us to roll up a random mission. There’s only six, so let’s hope for the best.
[Mission Roll: 6]
Oh great, the Escort mission. Well, if I beat the ships attacking our escort, I can gain Bauxite, which, if I read the wikia correctly, is used to make airplanes. That or they’re the Kancolle version of Dilithium Crystals. Either way, good reward. Going with the step-by-step process of playing Kancolle, it also tells me to name my base via random generator. This actually sounds pretty fun. Let’s try it.
[Naming Scheme: 6 = Prefix Table + Place Name Table + Organization Table]
[Prefix: 5,1 = Ultimate, Place Name: 6,3 = Buin, Organization: 4,6 = Market]
… We’re a market. … Alright, I know the story now. I’m the admiral of a black market and these ship girls are my enforcers and the escort is being harassed by police… Oh God, can I be this guy? … It’s a solo game, what am I thinking?
… Wow, I’m noticing a trend that I like to play the villains. We also get to name the Fleet this way too.
[Naming Scheme: 6 = Prefix Table + Place Name Table + Team Table]
[Team: 4,5 = Group]
So, the Ultimate Buin Group is made. Now we get into the first act of the game: base shenanigans. How this works is that we randomly select a scene to act out, which is usually done with a task resolution. Each scene falls under a different category which gives you a different benefit. For example, an Everyday scene will recover energy. This helps in planning out our mission accordingly.
Because it’s a one-shot, no need to recover energy. We don’t need to increase relationship scores, since we’ll be depending more on our weapons. And I’m not quite sure how we’ll be able to do advantages outside of getting items. So, our plan is simple: our three scenes will be a recreation scene, a training scene, and an expedition scene. Let’s roll them out!
[Event: 12 = Pet-sitting]
Back in the day, we just called ourselves the Black Market. Nowadays, the popo’s put a bean on that. Now we have to get a cool, hip name: The Ultimate Buin Market. Didn’t roll off the tongue as well, but it helps roll the money into our pockets. After five years of being reduced from top of the class to bottom of the barrel, I’m climbing my way up the crime syndicate. And I’m not alone.
I have purchased a new phenomenon from Japan called Ship Girls. Back in my days, we call them mercenaries, but like everything in Japan, they had to push the envelope. These girls are outfitted with wrist-mounted guns, waist-mounted torpedoes, and some even fire airplanes by shooting with a simple bow. It’s madness. These girls are also named after battleships from Imperial Japan. I chalk it up to Japan’s crazy ways. I spent what little money I had on three girls from the ‘Kongou-class’. The bigger, the better, right?
But Ship Girls aren’t the only things sweeping the market. Genetically reproduced dinosaurs shrunk to pet size have also caught the eyes of people. Because the ethics are… sketchy, people turn to me to sell them. And boy howdy, do I sell them. One of the Ship Girls, Kongou, was asked to take care of such a minisaur. A T-Rex. They can still pack a bite as I have discovered… I didn’t need that pinkie anyways. Needless to say, taking care of a T-Rex was gonna be tough.
I’ve decided to write in a bit of a first person perspective with a bit of noir flair to it due to the whole black market nature of the idea I have. Now to do task resolution. I’m aiming for her to make a Brave check. Now, while “Optimistic” is a bit away from “Brave”, it’s a defect and I risk screwing up big time, so I’d rather go with a merit. The distance between “Assault” and “Brave” is about three spaces, so it’d be 8 for Task Resolution.
Contrary to popular belief, attacking the T-Rex only makes it more angrier and not pacifies it like Kongou thought. Damn T-Rex raided our supplies. These girls are becoming more and more expensive by the minute!
So that was a bust. The T-Rex reduced all my base Supplies by 3. I have a starting supply rating of 5, so now I have 2 points for each set of supplies. I’ll only need the supplies for when I’m refuelling the girls, so it’s no major loss. However, that expensive Bauxite! Anyways, onto our next scene.
[Event: 8 = War Games]
Word got out as soon as I handled the T-Rex. One of my importers managed to get themselves on the run from the police. Time for me to put my Ship Girls to good use, but I want them to, at the very least, train. I set up an underground fighting ring pitting one of my Ship Girls, Haruna, against some punk kid. Hey, I get money out of it and manage to train my purchases at the same time.
The trait is Flashy, which is a charm trait. The closest trait I have with Haruna is her Cruel Defect. When I do a check with a Defect, I have to roll on the Accident table after I resolve the task, regardless of if I fail or succeed. The distance between “Cruel” and “Flashy” are two spaces, so 7.
Boxcars are the critical successes for this game, and when I make it, I regain energy points. However, I have maximum energy points. I could have spent some to reroll the previous result, but I doubt we’ll need the supplies so soon. Let’s see how I fail though.
[Failure Check: 3 = Any character with a relationship to said character will tick their support box]
I assume that means I can’t rely on Kongou or Kirishima in case I need their aid. And I guess correct. At the very least, I gain a Firepower rating for Haruna.
To say it was overkill was like saying the sky is blue. Haruna spared the kid and his Ship Girl, yes, but she at the very least made good on her promise of kicking their asses. I notice her grow stronger with each fire of the guns. I figure that she’ll be perfect for taking on the cops solo. No need for her allies to aid her with this fight.
I also get some money off that as per narrative purposes, and I’m going to generate how much I make.
About 75 bucks. Expensive money match is expensive. So, now we have one more event before heading into battle.
[Event: 9 = Bauxite Transport Mission]
The importer managed to smuggle some of the Bauxite on a small lifeboat while being chased by the police, but I was in the middle of my war game with Haruna, so I sent Kirishima to go grab it, since I know Kongou might wind up destroying more of our supplies.
I need to make a supply check. Thankfully, Kirishima’s “Reading” trait is one away from “Supply”, so I can easily make the check of 6.
Boom, baby! That scores me [roll: 2] two Bauxite! Not much, but after the T-Rex, I think we can use all the Bauxite we can get.
Unfortunately, he only smuggled a little out. I understand. I wouldn’t let the pigs onto my case if I smuggled some more of this Bauxite. Kirishima managed to find a note on the import and was able to decode it to be an SOS message. The way she warned me about this message seemed pretty grim. I equipped my Ship Girls and headed off. To my surprise, they seemed more than eager to fight whatever it is that this SOS message has.
Something about… a fleet from the abyss?
And that brings us to the end of what is called a Cycle. Normally, we have two cycles per scenario (or 3-4 if you want a long session), but because this is a one-off to demonstrate the rules, I’m going to end the Naval Base (rather the underground market) Phase and going off to the Fleet Battle phase. And from the chart here, it’s gonna be a looooooooooong battle.
Who am I fighting?
[Encounter: 6 = 1x Ri-class Heavy Cruiser (Flagship), 2x Ri-class Heavy Cruiser, 3x To-class Light Cruiser (Elite)]
The Solo rules tell me to half the result, so I decided to take out one Ri-Class and two To-Classes. And if you’re confused as to what Ri-Class and To-Class are… They’re essentially these things. And if they give you the idea that these may be evil, corrupt versions of Ship Girls… Well… No one knows for sure if that’s true or not, but personally, I say yes, since I’m a Madoka fan. We’ll also roll upon the Battlefield chart.
[Battlefield: 3 = Crossing the “T” (Advantageous)]
As the girls and I travel to the location of the SOS, we found a conga-line of two Ship Girls and some strange dog-like metal monster. I could have gone past them, but they opened fire. The girls began to fire while I hid in my ship, waiting for the gunfire to finish.
The way the Crossing the “T” figure looked, I just had to make it as if they were going in single file only to collide into these guys. The Cruising Formation, if I read correctly, is pretty much the Initiative. Though it’s a bit complex. First, there’s the fact that you have to choose your number instead of rolling for it. I’m not gonna lie: there’s a lot of crunch to this battle. There’s eight phases to this battle. Eight.
Makes me feel like I’m actually in a war though, so I give it props. So I begin with giving Kongou a six, the highest number for Cruising Formation. The rest are random.
- Haruna: 1
- Kirishima: 3 (Her special power, Brains of the Fleet, allows her to roll an extra die: 2)
- Ri-Flag: 2
- Ri-Class: 4
- To-Class: 4
Now… Here’s where the tricky part comes in. I have to also do a Reconnaissance phase. Now, if this was a game with players and a GM, I would see this work. But for a solo RPG where you can see the numbers right in front of you… Yeah. It ruins a bit of the mystique, risk, and reward of this phase. So instead, I will make it so that if anyone succeeds at a Recon check, they get a free hit. Their target number seems to be 9, so we’ll have each of the fleet target one person.
[Recon Checks: 7, 8, 9]
The last one, the To-Class, hits Kirishima…
And reading through the rest of the combat phase’s rules to find out how to do damage nearly blew my head up. Granted, I know how to work it, but I think there’s so much crunch…
Alright, so this is how damage works: You take the firepower rating from your character and the firepower from your weapon selected and roll that many D6’s. So…
You then divide that by the victim’s armor class. Which in this case, is Kirishima’s 11, which results in one hit. She needs to take five in order to sink. Because of this, I’ll say she got bumped down to 2. So, hopefully, combat begins proper and I didn’t mess up the rules. The only thing that helps with this is that this only goes for two rounds, and then it ends with a torpedo phase and a night battle phase. In the interest of time, we’ll do one round, much like how we did only one cycle. So, let’s begin the fight.
First up is Kongou. First, she makes a Wild Firing Check, which, if successful, will add 2 points to her Firepower at the expense of -2 to evasion.
[Wild Firing Check: 6]
She makes her check (she needed a 5) and thus she is able to have 5 Firepower for this round.
[Firing Check: 8]
She also makes her Firing Check at the Flagship. Now she gives her some damage, which as I noticed is an additional 2d6, totalling to 7d6.
[Damage Check: 23]
So she takes 1 point of damage. Now it’s the To and Ri’s turn. Now we evade. … I have no idea how to do this, so I’m taking a stab in the dark. Based on the Abyssal Fleet’s designated trait, we must roll over or at the trait based on the same kind of checks we use for skills. In this case, the target check would be 5, since both Haruna and To have Manuvering. Haruna also gets a +1 because of her Evasion.
[Evasion Check: 4]
She missed and To does his damage.
[Damage Check: 13]
So she only gets hit once. Meanwhile, non-flag!Ri fires at Kirishima. The Evasion check is still five because they share the Enemy Awareness trait.
[Evasion Check: 5]
And she makes it. Now Kirishima and the Ri-Flag exchange blows. First Kirishima.
[Attack Check: 9]
Now for Damage.
[Damage Roll: 20]
Nicking her for just one. Now it’s Ri’s turn.
[Evasion Check: 12]
Not enough, I’m afraid, since that isn’t true Boxcars.
[Damage Roll: 33]
HOLY CRAP! That’s 3 hits for Kirishima! Finally, it’s Haruna’s turn.
[Attack Check: 4]
Aaaaand she misses.
Alright, that’s all the fighting. Well, now we do torpedoes! I’m gonna assume my character outfitted them with Torpedoes when he went to rescue his friend… Even though according to the chart, Battleships don’t have Torpedoes. Screw it, they have Torpedoes, we don’t, so boom! To save you all the trouble, I will list the checks for each character and see if they miss or not.
- Kongou’s Torpedoes DC: 8. Check: 7. Miss.
- Haruna’s Torpedoes DC: 7. Check: 7. Hit. Damage (7d6): 24 on Ri-Flag, which translates into 2 damage.
- Kirishima’s Torpedoes DC: 12. Check: 2. Critical Failure. Accident: 2 = Unexpected Result. Electronic Warfare is now a Defect.
- To’s Torpedoes DC: 8. Check: 6. Miss.
- Ri’s Torpedoes DC: 12. Check: 13. Hit. Target: Haruna. Damage: 18.
- Ri Flag’s Torpedoes DC: 8. Check: 8. Hit. Target: Kongou. Damage: 28.
Well, I can say that’s a loss, especially since Kirishima got sunk… Hey! You sunk my battleship! Let’s finish off the flagship though. Nightfight time!… Right? (I have to make a skill check to see if we do it. If we don’t, we fail.)
[Night Fight check: 7]
My DC was ten, so we fail.
The battle was long and rough. In the end, we couldn’t beat the threat and we went with our tail between our legs. Kirishima fell, or rather ‘sunk’. I assume it’s not like she has cement legs, so I’ll hire some muscle to pick ‘er up. It’d be expensive to repair though. And to think: I spent a fortune on battleships when I should had spent it all on Destroyers. Small, cheap, but very easy to use.
Hm… Maybe next time.
As for the friend, the police managed to apprehend him. Unfortunately, the guy was a rat and told me where my market is. Something tells me this is going to hurt. A lot.
And that’s where we’ll end the game there. I… liked it. On one hand, the task resolutions are very unique and I’d enjoy them any day of the week. On the other hand, the combat is pretty crunchy and it required multiple readings just to get the hang of stuff. If anything, I may need to do a simpler RPG. This might also be a lesson that I’ll need to take time to look at a new RPG with their rules to make sure I don’t miss anything, even if I do just a quick skim. This might mean that I won’t be doing a weekly update.
If there’s one thing I wonder about, it’s this: the anime says that the ship girls are reincarnations of Japan’s WWII ships… so would that also extend to non-WWII ships? Imagine one of the Sea Shepards’ boats as a Ship Girl. Now that would be a Whale War! Oh, wait… Even better! If they were the reincarnations of WWII’s ships… and Godzilla is Pearl Harbor reincarnated… Oooooh, that could be a cool conflict.
This RPG was pretty formulaic, in that it gives you a set template for each session. Now, that’s a hit or miss depending on how you like your games. I wish to thank the person who translated the game and I apologize if I screwed any of the rules up. Well, that’s all for today. Bon voyage, gamers.