That Time I Went To A Resort And Threw Roses At People

The first time I ever tried playing a solo RPG with the intent to write a story about it was playing with Capes. It was a very early version of the Surging Shark and Magnetron duo where Magnetron was a villain named Magster. However, I never added the mechanics to it, so in the end it never felt like a true proto-SRV actual play. I can, at a later point if you guys want, post the story I wrote up for that, on top of another story where I utilized a Japanese card game and tried to translate it into an RPG, but for now, let us talk about the wonderful world of licenced RPGs.

Personally, a licenced RPG is a good way to introduce people to RPGs. Much like how the Pokemon card game was a gateway game to Magic the Gathering, an RPG based off a show could attract people to try Dungeons and Dragons. Now, granted, you can just tweak a system and make it based off anything. That’s how Titan World was made. But there’s something cool about a company trying their hand at a licence and creating a game out of it.

And sure, you do have cases where a licenced RPG (say… Buck Rogers) be the doom of a well-established company, much like what ET was to Atari and the second gaming generation as a whole, but then you have the Fantasy Flight version of Star Wars, which has a unique story telling die system that fits the theme of the sci-fi franchise.

Licenced games are also a way to introduce RPG fans to the source material, much like how the D&D movie introduced me to the franchise or even how the Star Wars D6 games fleshed out a huge chunk of the classical Star Wars lore. In this case, I was introduced to a game based off the famous magical girl series: Sailor Moon.

The long story short of it was that a reviewer named Iron Liz reviewed the game and it was the first item in that review show. At the time, I was looking for an RPG for me to sink my creative teeth into and figured “this will do!” and the rest is history.

And I mean that literally, as I read through the book. At the time, the internet wasn’t as widely available and as such, there was a load of information in this book. To give you a list of stuff you can see in the book, there was a thesis on the history of magical girls and what they represented (and a very detailed one at that), a comprehensive guide to the Sailor Moon lore (well, up until Sailor Moon R, with Super, SuperS, and Stars given brief summaries), and a brief snippet of how Japanese high school works based on an early account from a person named Maiko Covington.

The book was very in-depth that actually felt like a die-hard fan of Sailor Moon made this game. While it was made around my time, I never read it until about a decade and a half later. Though, at the time, I was unable to sit still and I glossed over most of the information. I recommend you guys don’t make that same mistake. If you ever come across this book and are a huge fan of magical girls, Sailor Moon, or even a bit of Japanese culture, read it. Comb through the pages. You will be blown away with a pre-2011 view of Magical Girls, an expanded summary of Sailor Moon that rivals any Wikipedia, and just all around some cool setting speculations.

While I can sit all day and gush about the game’s writing, I want to instead talk about a game I played with this book. It was using an adventure called Where’s Rini, based off a lost episode that never got dubbed. At the time, I was just made aware that, between the original Sailor Moon and the new season that introduced Uranus and Neptune, there was a season in between that covered the debut of Rini.

Who’s Rini, you ask? Well, if you asked me when I was watching Sailor Moon, I would have no idea and just assumed that she was Sailor Moon’s little sister who idolized her so much that she decided to become Mini-Moon in one episode. But, now? I can say without a doubt that Rini was Sailor Moon’s daughter from the future.

 This adventure, and our story for the day, takes place during that in-between season I mentioned: Sailor Moon R. It is right after the Scouts defeated one of the generals of the second arc’s enemy, the Negamoon Family. They also just liberated four characters from the mind control of the Negamoon Family and as thanks, one of them, Catzi, rented out a resort for the group to hang out at, including Tuxedo Mask. However, unbeknownst to the group, the new general, Emerald, kidnapped Catzi and brainwashed her to be a pawn in a plot to kidnap Rini and the Silver Crystal.

At the time, I was reviewing the book (in an incredibly cringy way looking back) and when I got to the adventures, someone asked if I would need players, to which I said I’d handle this solo, mainly so that I could write up my thoughts on it rather than wait for people to chime in a game that will most likely get canned within a month.

I decided to play, of the six characters to be chosen for this game, Darien Shields, AKA Tuxedo Mask, purely out of the fact that one of the subplots at the time the session was taking place was him purposefully avoiding Serena/Sailor Moon to prevent a dream he had about her dying in his arms from becoming real. While the reveal of who was sending the dreams was kinda messed up, I decided to go with it anyways.

I want to take a small break before I talk about the session in question to bring up Darien’s stats. The game runs on an attribute system a la GURPS, which I like because you can create cool ideas from both gifts and flaws. In order, Darien has the following gifts:

  • Access to a swath of Knight-related powers:
    • The ability to combine attacks with other people.
    • Has the Emotional attribute of Hope.
    • His cane and cape.
    • Knight Armor, though sadly it does not work with Tuxedo Mask.
    • His signature Rose attack, which acts as a special move that requires energy points.
    • Rejuvenation.
  • Several miscellaneous buffs such as attractiveness and acrobatics.
  • Has the ability to be at the right moment due to his natural senses.

And here is the list of his defects.

  • The inability to attack innocent humans.
  • Only able to access Rejuvenation in his transformed state.
  • That recurring nightmare I brought up earlier.
  • A requirement to protect the Sailor Scouts when they’re in peril.
  • Amnesia (his backstory is that he was in a car accident that made him forget a good chunk of his youth)
  • And the two biggest defects which will be the focus of this story: Weakened Knight Power and Tainted by the Negaverse.

Now, why do these matter the most? Well, for one, Weakened Knight Power, at its highest state, restricts five Power Points from the character. This isn’t really much, as it results in 45 total Power Points to spend, but it does add up with how weak Darien is, as those five points could be used to buff one of his gifts or give him a new gift.

Negaverse Taint, though, is where it really hurts, as it weakens any and all damage against villains by either ten or twenty points, depending on the severity. Darien got hit with the hardest variant, nerfing 20 points of any potential damage he dishes out but gives him access to some of the dark side powers… that he can’t spend because he’s out of character points.

Narratively, it makes sense. Darien isn’t the main character of the show. He’s instead this protectorate whose role is to kick ass and get his ass kicked depending on what part of the show he’s in. Not helped by the fact that he got brainwashed that one time, so it makes sense in that regard too.

So, to translate: Darien’s means of attacks are something that hits for a guaranteed 30 damage… unless he’s attacking a villain, in which case it’s 10. Then there’s his cane, which counts as a weapon, but it’s total is 18 (weapons multiply the combat value by 2), which translates to -2 when fighting villains. There’s the idea of combining attacks with another character to increase, but that is a little too risky for my liking, and as you’ll see later, is beyond the case.

Now, someone will say “but wait, isn’t that Negaverse Taint and you’re fighting the Negamoon Family? Wouldn’t they be different enough for the taint to not count?” Well, in a way, yes, but if you’ve seen the end of Sailor Moon (either manga or anime), you’ll get the idea why I’m lumping these guys in the same group.

So, in short, I accidentally picked the hard mode for my first game. And I did it because I thought the idea of me playing Tuxedo Mask would be cool. How did it fare? Well…

The game began with Darien having an awkward vacation with his soon to be family, Serena and Rini. The other Scouts were busy. He’s greeted by Catzi and he gets to the hotel. Later that night, Darien is angsting about his life when suddenly he hears Serena yelling. She’s pissed at Rini for breaking her camera and Darien just goes “apologize to her.” Though after a skill check, he only managed to convince Serena to apologize in the morning.

That night, he has a nightmare about Serena dying at their wedding. He thought about talking to her, but he forgot about it and instead saw Rini running out in the snow. He sneaks out, only to be found by one of Catzi’s sisters, Bertie. So, Bertie and Darien go off on a journey to find Rini. In the middle of it, Bertie talks to Darien about him and Serena, but it got interrupted by an ambush from a falcon-themed Droid.

And this is where Darien’s Negaverse Taint kicks in, as his cane does a -2 damage to the Droid. Thinking quickly, Darien used his rose and caused the Falcon to retreat with one health. Darien and Bertie chase after it where they find Emerald, the Falcon’s commander, had killed the Droid.  This is where Catzi reveals she’s been turned to the dark side and is planning on doing the same to the remaining two sisters.

Darien, being Darien, goes “screw this” and attacks the villains. He does pretty okay, damaging Catzi severely, stunning Emerald, and even giving another Droid, this time wolf-themed, a cane to the groin. In other words: Wolfman’s got nards! He rescues Rini and she confesses that she only wanted to run away to worry Serena and him. After Emerald gloats about his choice being made, he quickly throws two roses at the two villains, injuring Catzi to the point where she’s unable to complete her mind control spell. Emerald gets pissed and she retreats with the Wolf-Droid.

Darien tells Bertie and the other two sisters to bring Catzi to Serena’s attention so that she may revert her brainwashing, all while instructing her to not tell Serena about Rini’s escape. He then scolds Rini for purposefully running away, as it nearly led to her and other people hurt or worse. He goes back to the resort where Bertie told Serena about Rini running away. Worried for the two of them, she has Darien and Rini sleep in her room, all while Darien resolves to tell Serena why he’s been avoiding her.

And that’s the session. Looking back on it, it definitely feels like I took a huge challenge with this game than any other game. For one, I played Darien as this nice guy who has the makings to be a father, but has the hesitation stemming from the nightmare. Then there’s the obvious “can only damage people with the rose” flaw, which requires a lot of energy to pull off with little payoff.  And then there’s one final challenge I unknowingly undertook. Care to guess what it was?

I played this game without using any Engine or Driver. Meaning no Mythic GM Emulator or CRGE to direct the plot, no UNE to call forth that scene with Bertie and Darien, and there were definitely no plot twists generated. This entire game was played using only the RPG system and a solid idea of where I want this game to go, using only successes and failures to tell the story.

Though, the idea of me playing through this adventure again, this time with the Engine and Driver, is starting to spawn in my head, so we’ll see…

However, there’s one other Sailor Moon game I played… And that, we’ll discuss next time.

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