Monday, November 9, 2009

OVA Replay

While perhaps not as robust as its Western counterparts, Japan's RPG scene has been plugging along for quite a few decades now. Arguably the most unique aspect of their version of the hobby is the replay. Right next to the latest translated American RPG and a new indie offering, you'll find volumes of them. But what are they?

A replay is much like it sounds, a written record of a gaming group's adventures. They read like a play, but are complete with player commentary and even character-generation sessions. They're the rough equivalent of our RPG novel lines and often serve as an introduction to curious Japanese would-be gamers.

You may be more familiar with them than you think. Ever seen Record of Lodoss War? While parallels to D&D are easy to make, it may surprise you to know that Lodoss was actually a series of serialized replays. Depending on which version of the story you listen to, it actually was a (heavily homebrewed) Dungeons and Dragons campaign!

That's all well and good, but what does it have to do with OVA? Well if replays are such a gateway to gaming in Japan, I see no reason to let them have a monopoly on the concept. I hope to do this with a quarterly ezine called - appropriately enough - Replay. While there will be news and letter columns too, the crux of the publication will be a rotating selection of replays from gaming groups just like yours!

Of course, this requires gaming groups willing to do it. Taking a tape recorder (or a stenographer) to the table may be a turnoff to some players, and since this will be a free, or at least bargain, publication, there's not much room for paying gamers for their time.

So what do you guys think? Does the idea of following RPG adventures every few months sound exciting? What would it take for you to contribute? Is fame, glory, and perhaps art of your group's characters enough incentive?

I leave it to you, readers!


  1. They have the monopoly on the concept because it is a Bad Idea. I can't imagine a Replay in its pure form being even remotely interesting. Sorry.

  2. Well obviously some editing is involved. I sincerely doubt every digression, rules argument, or "uh" or "um" is transcribed verbatim. But fair enough, as I did ask for opinions.

  3. How would this differ from sites like RPGMP3 (with recordings of actual play for download), and the Actual Play section of Not trying to be argumentative, I'm just curious how you plan to differentiate it.

  4. Well, ideally there will be some artwork to go with it, at least a piece to establish all the characters. That and it would be OVA... :) But in the end, probably not all that different. Maybe edited a tad more. I hope to make it very readable, almost like a serial radio play more than a rambling "We're a bunch of guys having a good time."

    A thought I had is placing all the actual story text and dialogue in black, with OOC asides and rules talk set off in grey. This way, if you want a good story, you can just skip the extra fluff. If on the other hand it interests you, or you're interested in a single case while reading, you can.

  5. I think it is an outstanding idea! It gives plot ideas and charaterts to other games. I could read about a game, and use one of their characters as an NPC in my campaign. Plus having artwork or bios of our game's characters or world would be a huge incentive. There are many pluses, and I can't think of any negatives, aside from maybe a lack of content. You could simply release it with a schedule of "When I get enough content, the Replay gets posted." Either way, posting story-arcs, adaptations and all of the above would be a really engaging aspect of the game.

  6. My group meets weekly online, and I already save all the game transcripts and edit them to readablity myself, not to mention doing a fair amount of art. I recently lost the first few game sessions due to a computer crash, but we're early enough in the game where it shouldn't matter much to a reader. (But we've had enough sessions that everyone's pretty much settled into their characters.) With the permission of my group, I'd love to volunteer!

    Personally, I don't think it's a bad idea at all! RPG transcripts can be very entertaining. Record of Lodoss War aside, have you ever seen The Gamers (or The Games: Dorkness Rising)? 'Nuff said!

  7. There was that novel I got a while back which was basically a KoDT style group's fantasy game seen from both within and outside the gameworld. More a parody than an actual record of a game though.

  8. Are we talking a book, like written prose versions of a groups adventures? or is it an audio thing like penny arcade's dnd 4e podcast?

    I'd buy a quarterly mag with prose replays, as long as they were interesting to read. Extra rules or stats for enemies would make it a useful GMing tool as well!

  9. Nick: Glad to see it's not all doom and gloom here! :)

    ixloriana: Hmm, I hadn't considered that. Online play is certainly more condusive to proper logging of events. Once the book is released, be sure to look out for more details on submitting your group's hijinks :) I'm not familiar with The Gamers, but I'll have to check it out.

    Chris: Book. Well, ebook. The idea is to release it as a free download and perhaps offer a Print-on-Demand version for a marginal fee. Of course, if it becomes popular enough, expansion into a larger publication with an actual cost is possible. But at the moment it strikes me as a niche thing that might be good for promotion and little more. But it'd be nice if I were pleasantly surprised. :)

  10. I hadn't thought of that... of including things like enemy and NPC stats. With the inclusion of artwork and maybe even other things a GM could use, this is starting to sound like a very worthwhile thing indeed! Plus it appeals to my love of all things papery and booklike. Very cool. Ooh, with every post to this blog, I get more excited for this book!

    OVA is actually really really conducive to online gaming. Especially since, unlike a lot of games, OVA doesn't need a map and miniatures. We just open a chat in AIM (which has a dice roller, which conveniently uses d6s automatically) and start playing. We share some pictures via links (I especially like to make maps and draw NPCs) and I post setting information on a LiveJournal group for players to look at if they want. It works out really well!

  11. I thought I had touched on Nick and Chris's ideas for including NPC stats, but after rereading, I realized I hadn't. It really is a good idea, and really broadens the appeal of Replay. So yeah, I'm pretty excited too, ix. :)

    Glad to hear OVA translates well to something as modest as AIM. Portability was always a goal of the game, and that includes using it over the interweb.

  12. When I consider a tabletop RPG, I look for character sheet pictures and replays if I can't page through the rulebook. (If it's a video game, I search Youtube for gameplay.)

    There are replays in the forums, but they're hardly regular; the story could cut off and never be continued. A replay magazine sounds interesting, but I don't know how much people would pay to read it. Perhaps it could have a back page for advertising from RPGnow or others to cover cost?