A hit Japanese indie RPG that combines roleplaying with the hidden traitor of social deduction games like Werewolf is headed to the West with an English-language release.
Like a typical tabletop RPG, Picaresque Roman: A Requiem for Rogues sees players creating characters led by a game master through a story-driven session. Characters can choose between five classes, known as ‘main gigs’ - Yakuza, Info Broker, Swindler, Heartbreaker and Gambler - that each feature unique abilities and stats. The game plays with a very specific player count of either four or five people, plus the GM.
The main gigs are combined with side gigs, which provide a character’s general backstory and narrative hooks. There are 21 possible side gigs, with examples of potential characters including eye-catching martial artists, jaded lawyers and celebrity idols. As with main gigs, side gigs also define a character’s abilities with a unique skill and traits. Tests are resolved using a 2d6 system, with players rolling two six-sided dice.
What makes Picaresque Roman a little different from the norm is the focus on competition between the players as they progress through the scenario. Each player is attempting to earn the most influence by discovering hidden information and stealing from a VIP character controlled by the GM that typically serves as the focus of the story. Influence can also be used to hinder rival players, with the option to alternatively work together against the GM.
In addition to the VIP character under the GM’s control, one player is a hidden traitor - similar to social deduction games such as Werewolf or The Resistance - who is working to secretly help the GM and VIP. If the traitor remains undiscovered, they can steal influence back from the players by the end of the game.
Among the inspirations said to have influenced Picaresque Roman’s setting, tone and gameplay are the Yakuza video games, gangster anime series Baccano and pirate mercenary manga Black Lagoon. The game takes place in a Japanese region only known as The City, described as a hub of crime and corrupted power filled with assassins, criminals and more. There are some supernatural elements involved too, with the mention of a domed sky and a clock tower frozen at 4:32.
The doujin RPG - a self-published title - was originally created by Japanese studio Group SGR, which has since released five editions of the game, and will see an English translation courtesy of tabletop studio LionWing Publishing. The localisation label previously released Gundam-inspired mecha board game Embryo Machine, anime card game Gun and Gun and Kradia: Wild Hunt Festival, inspired by JRPGs such as Monster Hunter and Final Fantasy.
LionWing will launch a Kickstarter campaign for the English release of Picaresque Roman: A Requiem for Rogues on August 24th, with a full release date still to be announced. The new release will maintain the original book’s format and monochromatic manga-style artwork while also adding additional illustrations from the fifth edition’s original artist and other visual changes.