Finally, my a long time of being a dice-rolling dweeb have paid off for this one (1) evaluate.
The Meikyuu Kingdom gentle novel is an odd duck in lots of regards, as it’s intimately entwined with the passion of tabletop roleplaying. For these unfamiliar with tabletop roleplaying—which might be within the minority as of late—it’s the gaming passion which sprung up out of the creation of Dungeons & Dragons. While I will not go into an excessive amount of depth because the period of livestreamed gaming has made the passion extra seen than ever, tabletop roleplaying is an element board recreation, half improv theater. Meikyuu: Labyrinth Kingdom, a Tactical Fantasy World Survival Guide is about on this planet of Million Dungeon, which is the setting for the Meikyuu Kingdom roleplaying recreation.
To perceive my evaluate of the sunshine novel, I feel it greatest you perceive my expectations stepping into (and going ahead for future volumes).
Meikyuu Kingdom first got here on my radar in 2013. I had identified of tabletop roleplaying scenes in different nations for a while, however the Tenra Bansho Zero Kickstarter—an official translation of a Japanese tabletop roleplaying recreation—actually kicked off my curiosity in getting a maintain of those video games at the moment. Meikyuu Kingdom existed as a fan translated pdf with rumors of an official release, and so I downloaded it and eagerly awaited an official model (thought sadly as of this writing the fan translation remains to be all that’s accessible).
In some regards, Meikyuu Kingdom the RPG and the sunshine novel have an identical destiny. Both are initially acquainted, however maintain a variety of promise in sudden methods.
The preliminary pitch is well-worn territory to most followers as of late. There are dungeons stuffed with monsters and treasure. Adventurers journey into the harmful locations to struggle and loot. They head again to city to re-up, re-arm, and set out as soon as once more. It’s a loop all of us are used to at this level.
But what set Meikyuu Kingdom aside was not this side of its retro styling, however the different half of its gameplay loop: area administration. Meikyuu Kingdom’s “other half” of gameplay revolves across the maintenance of a kingdom between the participant characters. While this sounds novel, it’s truly one thing Dungeons & Dragons as soon as had as a part of its core gameplay loop. Adventurers delved dungeons in early ranges, however finally reached some extent the place they retired and constructed locations to name their very own: mighty fortresses, arcane towers, and the like. As D&D has progressed this assumed later tier of play has fallen away from being a “core” tenant of the sport, so a part of my preliminary curiosity in Meikyuu Kingdom again within the early 2010s was that it put this pillar of play again into the forefront. I hungrily learn the fan translation, yearned to start out a recreation, however couldn’t discover any takers and have not thought a lot about it for a few years.
Until this evaluate got here throughout my sprint.
So Meikyuu Kingdom is in some methods anticipated, in different methods shocking. It’s an isekai story about falling right into a fantasy world—wait, do not go away but! The protagonist is definitely a middle-aged man, and fairly than have a magic energy or deus ex gizmo it is his actual life expertise that makes him an important match for this new world. Taiga is likeable and succesful, and whereas he spends most his time asking fundamental survival questions then fixing these points, he comes throughout as real and right down to earth. Taiga shouldn’t be egocentric or entitled, and his calm within the face of hazard makes it clear why the opposite individuals of Million Dungeon would gravitate to him (not like different isekai protagonists I’ve skilled).
Taiga’s companions are a enjoyable bunch too. Troach and Mizuho get a good quantity of focus and contribute in their very own distinctive methods to the success of the newfound kingdom. They have a kind of straight/foil comedy duo routine that is not riotously humorous however it did get just a few good chuckles out of me. The actual star of the present although is Astoria the Wing Blessed, who fully steals the highlight and delivers on a variety of nice meta-jokes, widens the world-building significantly, and simply makes a splash as a gregarious sellsword. My solely grievance with Astoria is that I wish she had proven up earlier within the novel.
The setting itself is both wildly unique or comfortingly acquainted, relying in your expertise stage. Million Dungeon is a megadungeon, stuffed with the kind of weirdly particular flora, fauna, and wacky geological expectations cooked into the dungeon crawling fantasy style—a time period I’ve seen known as “Gygaxian naturalism.” There are travelling retailers on floating goldfish who cross nice caverns and deal in data. There are invisible gelatinous cubes—ahem, slimes—ready on the backside of pits for unwary adventurers. Pieces of starlight assist present illumination within the deep cavernous expanse of the world under. Again, it is both unusual dungeonpunk weirdness or “no place like home” relying on how acquainted you’re with rolling handfuls of polyhedrons.
The negatives are few, however vital. First, if you’re anticipating a variety of direct hyperlinks to the sport itself…I do not assume there may be an excessive amount of right here to attract you in. It may simply be my outdated man reminiscence (I did learn the Corebook 8+ years in the past now…) however nothing actually jumped out at me as particularly Meikyuu Kingdom about this, versus the Million Dungeon setting itself—and even that’s only a megadungeon. I feel this can be a profit to of us who are usually not aware of the RPG and makes it simpler to get in, however it feels extra like an introduction for brand spanking new of us and the creator’s blurb reinforces that this was the intent.
Furthermore, all the thrill in regards to the area administration side for me largely went unfulfilled. I notice that my expectations have been at fault fairly than the work itself, however I nonetheless anticipated extra with the precise development and upkeep of a realm. As it stands, they’re ranging from scratch and it reads like your commonplace fantasy survival stuff—find fireplace, find meals, struggle monsters, discover environs, and so forth. That all is smart given the setup, however it finally ends up feeling like commonplace “adventurers in the dungeon” faire. Ultimately, the distinctive components particular to Meikyuu Kingdom —, the dominion half—do not feel like they ramp up into prominence shortly sufficient on this first quantity. The main forged find yourself functioning as a small tribal unit with restricted sources, and if you happen to squint their issues are usually not all that completely different from a typical adventuring occasion.
My hope is that future volumes will lean into the dominion half extra. As the dimensions of Taiga and firm’s kingdom grows, hopefully their issues do as effectively. Things like bigger provide bases, rival kingdoms, political subterfuge, that kind of factor. If the creator grows the scope and continues so as to add in additional of the excessive fantasy conceptual components that make Million Dungeon distinctive, I see this being an actual contender down the road.