D&D General With 5th ed coming to Japan, let's look at the original release(s)

DarkCrisis

Sith Lord
Japan got introduced to D&D with the old BECMI stuff. According to this page:




It was as translated/adapted Rules Cyclopedia.

rules.jpg


But look at that art!

You can defiantly see where the manga/anime Lodoss War got a lot of it's imagery. (or vice versa)

pcs.jpg


And the monster designs! Love the Dark Elf
drow.jpg


I'd love to own a set of these. Cool stuff, huh? D&D Basic was huge in Japan at the time. Even got them to spawn their own RPG called Sword World. Apparently Call of Cthulhu is the most played RPG over there ATM. Think 5E can reignite the fire for D&D? A lot more competition over there now-a-days.
 
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Iosue

Legend
To be accurate, Japan was originally introduced to D&D in 1985 through BECMI, using the original design and layout, by a company called Shinwa.
time_ma_chine-img600x450-14881864920tcqhv16801-1.jpg

They did well for a while, helped by such tie-in media as "replay" stories in magazines and the Lodoss novels/anime, but they were a victim of their own success. Having introduced TRPGs to Japan, they soon found themselves undercut by much more affordable domestic TRPGs like Sword World. Shinwa tried to survive by appealing to its hardcore base by shifting from D&D to AD&D (2nd Ed.) in 1991. But this was a disaster, as almost none of their customers made the switch.

Shinwa sold the license to Media Works, a local RPG publisher. They put out the entirely localized three-volume Rules Cyclopedia version in the OP in 1995. A member of the group that played in the original Lodoss games did the translation, which is why it calls back so heavily to Lodoss. (The anime of which came out in 1991.)

Media Works lost the translation license when WotC bought TSR. WotC already had a deal with Hobby Japan to do MTG cards, so Hobby Japan got the D&D license, too. They put out all of 3rd Edition and 4th Edition, with the same layout as the originals rather than Media Works's culturally localized versions. The books looked great, just like the American ones, but they were simply too expensive to really reach a wide audience. Why pay well over 5,000 yen for a foreign game's hardback when you can get all three volumes of Sword World in easy-to-carry paperbacks for 3,000 yen total?

Initially, WotC had no plans for a Japanese translation of 5e, but they did allow Hobby Japan to do and publish a Japanese translation of the Basic Rules. Eventually, Wizards gave the license for non-English versions to Gale Force 9, and Hobby Japan was able to the get the translation license from them. Thus Japan got PHBs, and MMs, and DMGs, and many other books. But then Gale Force 9 and WotC had legal troubles, and Gale Force 9 (and thus Hobby Japan) lost the translation license, and had to cease selling of its existing stock in June of this year.

Now WotC is doing their own translation, so we'll see how that goes. I guess there's some cachet in giving Japanese role-players the same kind of product that everyone else in the world gets, but I sometimes wonder if it would not be better to do entirely localized versions like the Rules Cyclopedia above...
 



What do you mean with 5E coming to Japan? Have they been embargoed this whole time? I mean, what about those folks I have been playing with for years in Japan using FG. Pretty sure somehow they managed to get past the embargo...

But I do love the images of the classic stuff. Cool to see.
 

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
It was translated into Japanese, I think.

Of course, at this point they have their own local RPGs, not to mention their own version of the CRPG genre. But if you're curious you can dig up FF1...the Evil Eye (which evolved into the Ahriman, the big, yellow floating monster with the giant eye and the killer gaze in later games) was actually a Bihoruda... not to mention the Marilith, Mind Flayer, and Remorhaz...um...Remorazz...
 

Iosue

Legend
What do you mean with 5E coming to Japan? Have they been embargoed this whole time? I mean, what about those folks I have been playing with for years in Japan using FG. Pretty sure somehow they managed to get past the embargo...

But I do love the images of the classic stuff. Cool to see.
As I noted in my post, WotC did not originally authorize translations of 5e. Hobby Japan did a translation of the Basic Rules out of the goodness of its own heart (and probably hoping to regain the license). Hobby Japan did get the license from Gale Force 9 in 2017, and then released translations of all the core books, and adventures up to Icewind Dale. Production on that and Tasha's was halted when Hobby Japan lost the license again.

Now WotC itself is reissuing translations and has started a Japanese D&D site. (They also put a Japanese commercial up on their YouTube channel.) I don't know if they'll be using the same translations as Hobby Japan, but right now the product list on the Japanese D&D site consists only of the core books and the Essentials Kit (called the Deluxe Play Box in Japanese).

Edit: Re-checking the site now, it looks like all product is scheduled for a winter release.
 

Haplo781

Legend
Japan got introduced to D&D with the old BECMI stuff. According to this page:




It was as translated/adapted Rules Cyclopedia.

View attachment 259827

But look at that art!

You can defiantly see where the manga/anime Lodoss War got a lot of it's imagery. (or vice versa)

View attachment 259828

And the monster designs! Love the Dark Elf
View attachment 259829

I'd love to own a set of these. Cool stuff, huh? D&D Basic was huge in Japan at the time. Even got them to spawn their own RPG called Sword World. Apparently Call of Cthulhu is the most played RPG over there ATM. Think 5E can reignite the fire for D&D? A lot more competition over there now-a-days.
Maybe if 1DD goes hard on anime/wuxia influences and gives us badass martials.
 

beta-ray

Adventurer
Now WotC is doing their own translation, so we'll see how that goes. I guess there's some cachet in giving Japanese role-players the same kind of product that everyone else in the world gets, but I sometimes wonder if it would not be better to do entirely localized versions like the Rules Cyclopedia above...
Thanks for the publishing history, pretty interesting stuff.

It is a tough question. I love the very localized look… but it would also be good that players from different regions play with the same rules.

I think at least it would be good for D&D in Japan to be available in a smaller softcover size, like what Paizo does with its Pathfinder books… Would love to see an all Japanese art edition too.
 

As I noted in my post, WotC did not originally authorize translations of 5e.
Sorry, the sarcasm / satire / humor, etc of my post didn't come through. Translations do/did not affect availability. 5E came to Japan and every part of the world* at the time for everyone. It just wasn't translated or as accessible to every part of the world to the same degree.

i.e. it was available (in English) to anyone who wished and were able to pay the international shipping and brokering fees. (*Except perhaps with a few countries such imports were/are illegal).

But none of that is a very interesting discussion, and not worth continuing (now that I hope my point is clear). What is interesting (to me) is the history and artwork you and others have shared. Also the thought of localized artwork is pretty cool, but probably not reasonably affordable. Just because it was done before, doesn't mean it would make financial sense today.
 

I feel curiosity about the ideas provided by the own Japanese community, based not only in their classic folklore, but also the current manganime culture as source of inspiration.
 

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