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Shin Megami Tensei tabletop RPG, based on Persona's video game series, gets an English release after 20 years

D&D, but it stands for Demons and Demi-fiends

Cover art for Shin Megami Tensei RPG: Tokyo Conception cover art
Image credit: LionWing/Atlus

An English language version of Shin Megami Tensei - The Roleplaying Game: Tokyo Conception, a tabletop RPG book based on the popular video game series of the same name, will be released later this year.

Localised by LionWing Publishing, Tokyo Connection is a nearly 20-year-old book making its way across the Pacific Ocean in a language other than the original Japanese for the first time. It adapts the setting and plot of Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne for tabletop campaign play, letting players interact with and recruit demons while also meeting the factions fighting for control of Vortex World Tokyo.

Players will choose amongst three classes - humans, fiends, and demi-fiends - and do much of the activities you remember from the video game, including conversing with demons using a system called the Talk Flow chart. Each class will have access to a unique set of Talk Skills that give them their own approach when chatting with demonic denizens. Depending on how this negotiation goes, players can gain items, gems or a Demon Card, which likely lets them summon the Demon in combat. Flubbing this parley means fighting for your life or watching as they scamper away into the ruined city.

20 best upcoming TTRPGs you NEED to play in 2024 Watch on YouTube

Another large portion of play will involve players’ managing their connections with Tokyo Connection’s three main factions, the Assembly of Nihilo, Mantra Army and a rogue Demon element led by Lucifer. Each is vying to appeal to, or control, the mysterious Kagutsuchi, a moon-esque Demon floating in the centre of the Vortex World. The RPG adaptation will allow the group to form their own faction with goals that may or may not align with the powers-that-be.

Plenty of familiar systems from the SMT video game series have been translated to the tabletop, including status conditions and the affinity system, while also throwing in plenty of familiar analogue mechanics: LionWing mentions exploding dice, critical hits and misses, pre-made scenarios and long-term campaign structures inside the massive book. There are also roughly 100 pages dedicated to a demon bestiary, from low-level minions to notable names such as Jack Frost, Metatron, Baal Avatar and Ahriman.

If you’re unaware of the history behind the SMT tabletop RPGs, it’s probably because you live in the broader Western World and haven’t been enjoying 30 years of officially released books that have brought every SMT video game into the world on pen n’ paper. The Shin Megami Tensei RPG Basic System was first published in 1993, while Tokyo Connection’s original Japanese book. came out in 2004. This isn’t even the latest in the series, as SMT 5 had an active development period between 2005 and 2010 full of adventures and modules.

LionWing Publishing's playthrough of SMT RPG: Tokyo ConnectionWatch on YouTube

Lionwing’s portfolio is full of localised tabletop RPGs from Japanese designers, including Group SGR’s Picaresque Roman, Little Witch Academia-esque Fledge Witch, the tokusatsu-inspired Convictor Drive: Armored by Grief and Eldritch Escape: Tokyo, a game that seems to draw on Call of Cthulhu’s cultural dominance in Japan. Shin Megami Tensei - The Roleplaying Game: Tokyo Conception can be preordered as both a physical book and digital PDF on their website and is slated to release in the second half of 2024.

Looking for other tabletop games drawing on the legacy and design of JRPGs, Fabula Ultima is the closest we’ve seen Final Fantasy XIV pick up dice, while Elden Ring also enjoyed an official RPG adaptation… but only if you can read Japanese.

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