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Log Horizon TRPG (Touno Mamare, Kinuno Boushi)
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Information 
Log Horizon TRPG
Kadokawa / Enterbrain / 7-Sided Box

Year of Release: 2014
Designer: Touno Mamare, Kinuno Boushi

Die Rolls: 2d6 + attribute, roll over. Defender wins ties.
Classes: Characters can choose 1 of 12 Classes, from 4 different Archetypes which share a combat role and some common abilities. There are also a large number of "Sub Classes" with little effect on gameplay.
Time System: Round-robin.
Distance System: Grid-based. Manhattan distances. Multiple characters can share the same grid square.
Meta-Currency: Yes. Can boost die rolls by 1d6, reroll all dice in a check, clear conditions, or be used to pay ability costs.
Non-Combat Options: Checks only. While the subclass system adds some complexity, ultimately every mechanic in LHTRPG that isn't combat is a simple skill check.



Setting

Unsurprisingly, the Log Horizon TRPG is based on the Log Horizon novel and anime series. The premise of the series is that 30,000 players of the MMORPG "Elder Tale" were transported via unknown means into the world of the game, known as Theldesia. There they find themselves members of a powerful group known as "Adventurers." They are individually stronger than the natives of the world (and the former NPCs of the game,) the "People of the Land," but far less numerous. They must find their place in this new world by defeating threats to the People of the Land in order to maintain their goodwill, for with their innate strength, their very existence poses a dire threat of its own to the natives - one which some say should be eliminated before it becomes manifest.

In the Log Horizon TRPG, it's suggested that players roleplay as a common Adventurer from Akiba, the focal city of the original work.

System

Character Creation

First, be warned that the terms used in the LHTRPG fan translation fly entirely in the face of the RPG terminology I've adopted in this forum - what I call "attributes" it calls "ability scores," what I call "abilities" it calls "skills," and what I call "skills" it calls "attributes." It's like musical chairs. I'll be sticking to my usual terminology in this thread; try not to let it confuse you if you read the fan translation afterwards.

Character creation in Log Horizon is a fairly straightforward process. Characters choose a race, which modifies their attributes (of which there are four; STR, DEX, INT and POW) and grants access to a handful of racial skills. Then they likewise choose a class, which modifies their attributes and grants access to more than a handful of class skills, as well as "archetype skills" common to all classes within the four archetypes - Warrior, Weapon Master, Healer, and Mage.

They also choose a starting subclass, such as Scribe, Tracker or Accountant. Subclasses are fairly inconsequential and are in fact described in the original work as being for "role-playing purposes." They do not affect attributes and may, but don't necessarily, grant access to an exclusive skill or two.

There's the usual bevy of secondary attributes, such as Initiative and Speed, but the LHTRPG is somewhat unusual in that Accuracy (the attribute you use to make a hit check) is always your highest attribute - you can make a weak melee fighter with immense magical power if you want and they'll still be good at hitting things, though your character may be subpar in other ways. For example, physical and magical defense are always based on STR and INT, so your magically gifted melee fighter won't be able to take many hits. DEX and POW are behind physical and magical evasion, though, so at least they'll be good at dodging magic missiles.

Players are also advised to write down their character's skills at this point. Every character can attempt every skill, with varying levels of aptitude. Skill rolls are generally 2d6 + the relevant attribute, but some of the abilities that can be taken later may grant an extra die or a small bonus to a skill.

After figuring out your attributes, it's time to choose abilities for your character. They'll be assigned 3 abilities by your chosen class for them, after which you can choose an extra three "combat" abilities and one "general" ability. Combat abilities, as you might expect, are specific to combat. General abilities may supplement a character's combat effectiveness, boost their skills, or passively boost their other attributes.

Newly created characters can purchase up to 350 gold worth of items. This generally suffices to buy a starter weapon, a piece or two of starter armor, and maybe a consumable or two. They keep any money not spent at this time. LHTRPG contrasts with many other TRPGs in that items have a 'rank', and characters of an insufficient rank (i.e. character level; LHTRPG uses the term 'rank' instead of 'level', as within the setting itself the characters are MMORPG characters, and may be level 80 and rank 1, or level 10 and rank 10) cannot purchase or equip higher-rank items. Thus, what you can afford is not always the limiting factor in choosing your equipment.


Character Advancement

After each game session, the GM in LHTRPG is advised to give every player (including themselves) several Log Tickets. These come in the varieties of "Character Rank Up," "Fate Point Get," "Treasure Get" and "Other Get."

Players can spend a Character Rank Up Log Ticket to rank up a character. This increases their max HP, adds a bonus point to every base attribute (base attributes are divided by 3 to calculate final attributes,) and lets them gain two more combat abilities and one more general ability (or, alternately, increase the level of existing abilities.)

Fate Point Get Log Tickets are normally spent at the beginning of a game session to gain an extra Fate Point.

Treasure Get Log Tickets are awarded by the GM to themselves. They're a way to compensate the GM for the treasure they 'missed' by not playing a character in the session. They award the GM an amount of gold roughly equivalent to the amount each PC is intended to receive in the course of their adventure.

Other Get Log Tickets allow players to acquire new Connections, Unions, or Sub Classes for their character.


Checks

Checks in Log Horizon are, in general, 2d6 plus the relevant attribute (however, it's fairly common for abilities to increase this to 3d6 or beyond, or conditions to decrease it to 1d6.) You need to meet or beat the target number. If performing an opposed check where two characters roll dice (such as accuracy versus evasion in combat,) the defender wins ties.

If you roll two or more sixes on your dice, you score a critical, and automatically succeed at what you were trying to do; if it's an opposed check, your opponent has to roll a critical as well to defend against you, regardless of their base aptitude. If you roll ones on all dice (easy with 1 die, hard with 3,) you fumble and automatically fail at what you were trying to do.

LHTRPG's meta-currency, known as Fate Points, can be used to manipulate checks in various ways. Each Fate Point spent can add an extra d6 to the check (in contrast to systems like Night Wizard, these do count towards the calculation of Criticals and Fumbles.) After the roll, a Fate Point can be spent to reroll the entire check. Finally, a Fate Point can be spent to remove any one condition from a character, or used to pay the cost of certain powerful abilities.


Combat

The Log Horizon TRPG's combat is the focus of the game. It takes place on a square grid, in a fashion that will feel very familiar if you've played any TRPGs of similar design such as Grancrest or Night Wizard. There is no diagonal movement. Multiple characters can occupy the same square, and melee-range characters typically have to in order to attack their enemies; defenders would also be advised to stay in the same square as their most vulnerable allies.

Rounds of combat begin with a Setup Phase, followed by characters taking turns in order of their Initiative. If characters are tied for initiative, they decide amongst themselves who goes first (though PCs always go before NPCs.)

Perhaps the most novel aspect of the Log Horizon TRPG is the fact that all ability costs for PCs are based on Hate. Hate represents what an MMORPG player might call "aggro" or "threat." The PC (or PCs, if tied for it) with the most Hate is known as the Hate Top, and takes extra damage every time they're hit, equal to their current Hate times the enemy's Hate Multiplier (which is often 2, rarely lower, sometimes higher.) All other PCs are known as Hate Under, and enemies take a -2 penalty to hit rolls against them. The GM is encouraged to have enemies attack the Hate Top if possible.

Obviously, you want the tank of the party to stay the Hate Top - but this isn't trivial, as they lose a point of Hate every time they're successfully attacked. The mage or assassin can't just obliterate every enemy with their most powerful ability, and the healer can't keep every PC's HP constantly topped up, or they'll be competing with the tank to be Hate Top... and as the tank tries to gain even more Hate than the other party members, everyone will take more damage. The balance is delicate, yet the game pulls it off.

Also noteworthy is the design of the support class abilities. The Hate system ensures that a tank can take the worst hits just by remaining Hate Top, and as long as they generate sufficient Hate, they can use their abilities as they see fit to hurt or debuff enemies or support their allies. The primary healing abilities of the healers are all usable without spending their turn, so they can likewise focus their turns on whatever they like - including extra healing if necessary, but like the tanks, they can also deal respectable damage or support their allies in a variety of ways other than just HP recovery.



Personal Opinions
Quote:Elder Tale, the fictional MMORPG that figures in the backstory of the Log Horizon novels and anime, is inspired by classic games in the genre like EverQuest and Final Fantasy XI. Thus, it's only fitting that the Log Horizon TRPG appears to be based upon classic F.E.A.R. titles (back when their Standard RPG System wasn't completely standardized, wasn't called SRS, and used a square combat grid) such as Night Wizard 2E and Seven Fortress. But by standing on the shoulders of giants, the LHTRPG manages to largely avoid the balance issues those games had while adding a few subtle twists to make that familiar, easy-to-learn system feel fresh again.
   
The most novel thing in the LHTRPG is the Hate system of ability costs, which makes it take real teamwork to keep the party alive during combat. The question you're asking in battle is never "am I going to need the mana I spent using this ability more later?" but, as it should be in any sufficiently tense battle, "is this more or less likely to help the party survive?" Along with the smart ability design and solid game balance, it makes for some of the most enjoyable conflicts I've had in a game of this type.
   
Sadly, the game isn't perfect. There's no rules for anything outside of combat that you haven't seen before, or that amount to anything more than standard dice rolls with minor situational bonuses. And though the ability design makes playing defensive and support roles much more fun than other TRPGs, some passive abilities and conspicuously weak builds (such as sword-wielding Kannagi) put pressure on players to choose between having a character that can perform their role effectively in combat, and a character that's versatile or has the flavor that they want.
   
The most glaring problem, however, is simply that the amount of content available for the LHTRPG doesn't go very far. While there's been a commendable amount of free online 'mini-supplements' for the game, those are no substitute for a proper expansion book, not when some other TRPGs originally released at the same time as the Log Horizon TRPG have seen four or five expansions released since. The LHTRPG supposedly has its first expansion book coming, but no release date has been announced. In the meantime, characters in an ongoing campaign inevitably run out of interesting new ways to be built out as they rank up, and the combat, as solid as it is at its core, quickly loses its luster.
   
The Log Horizon TRPG is well worth playing a few times. But you may want to look elsewhere for that months-long, world-spanning fantasy campaign you were thinking of running.
- Anzelotte

In Summary

Pros:
  • Classic tactical grid combat that will appeal to any fan of miniatures and maps
  • Solid game balance, with defender and healer roles that are actually fun to play
  • "Hate" adds an innovative and exciting twist on ability costs and the defender role
Cons:
  • Characters rapidly run out of build options as they rank up
  • Limited non-combat options, none of them particularly novel or interesting
  • The online post-release support, while 100% free, falls far short of many other TRPGs


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Log Horizon TRPG (Touno Mamare, Kinuno Boushi) - by Anzelotte - 07-12-2016, 10:33 PM

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