Yokai Hunters Society (2020), by @Punkpadour, is a novel reconfiguring of Nate Treme’s Tunnel Goons. I love the specificity of the theme and the system — this is a game about hunting monsters (and preserving your secret identity) in 1889 Japan. Nothing more, nothing less. If that isn’t what you want to play tonight, you’re going to need a different game.

Four attributes (Courage, Self-Control, Sharpness and Wisdom) with low values — starting characters get four points to spread among them (zero is fine!). Roll 2d6, add the value of the tested attribute, ten and up is a success, nine is mixed, lower is failure. An optional wild card exists in the Cursed Die, which you can roll to add to your check, but if the value of that die exceeds your Curse Resistance, you lose a Curse Resistance point and wind up with a case of bad luck whether you succeed or fail the test. If a character runs out of resistance points, they make all rolls at disadvantage until they cleanse themselves. And that’s it: it’s a straight to the point sort of system.

The trappings are what sell me on the game. I love the idea of yokai hunters. Rather than cartoonish monsters, I feel like yokai have a complexity to them that discourages violent solutions (thematically, this game seems twinned with Vaesen, which delights in putting players and monsters at odds in complex situations with no perfect resolutions). That a character consists primarily of two randomly rolled traits and a unique mask, they tend to be wonderfully evocative while also being wide open for interpretation.

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