Played a game of Ryuutama with Nico and Richie Cyngler. Improvised a setting based on the steppes of Central Asia using a bunch of stuff I already had in my head. The PCs are humble farmers and artisans from the Heavenly Kingdom, a quiet and pastoral realm where nothing has changed in a thousand years, who venture north and west across the Altai Mountains to the endless barbarian steppe and the mysteries that lie beyond it.
Ryuutama is mostly about travel. There's a whole system of survival and navigation rolls that takes up most of the game. I need to hack it to take more advantage of random encounters, and there's a thing where the DM is technically an omnipotent dragon that never came up, but otherwise it's pretty good. It's kind of cute and anime, which is not a thing I realised I want in my games until I had it. The PCs were trying to get from the mountain town of Alashankou in the pass known as the Dzungarian Gate to a gathering of nomads on the shores of Lake Balkash, which harbours a city of frog women in its depths. One of them had a dream that she would find her one true love somewhere to the west, another wanted to kill interesting new monsters and make the best possible hats out of them. I put together an encounter table and we spent most of the session stumbling across stuff and having to deal with it.
Here's a version of the table. This isn't exactly what I used but it's close enough.
- A sapient quadrupedal iceberg, relic of an ancient glacier, ambling across the plains.
- A wind wizard in a sail-propelled cart, gathering the feathers of exotic birds.
- A herd of sheep-sized, frill-necked dinosaurs grazing by a river.
- Nomads hunting a golden-antlered hind to make a headdress for their shaman.
- A woman in tortoiseshell armour who wants to trick you into a griffin-guarded cave.
- An egg with legs, arms and a moustache that runs faster than you and steals stuff.
- A tree whose leaves make whistles that conjure storms.
- The wedding of a frog woman to a rusalka, interrupted by a former lover.
- Nomads escorting the portable tomb of their khan, whose body must never rest.
- The north wind, BURAN, in the form of a shaggy old man with snakes for legs.
I thought the wedding would be cute but it turned out horrifying. I blamed it on cursed fermented mare's milk from a carnivorous horse. That should probably be on the table.