Scene-based sessions (a la JTRPGS like Shinobigami)



For the last few weeks, I’ve been diving into getting to know story better at, and was trying to see how to better incorporate genre and scenes into fabric of a game session. One way is the 5-Room Dungeon, which more or less takes the five elements of a scene (Inciting Incident, Progressive Complications > Turning Point, Crisis, Climax, Resolution) and embodies them as dungeon rooms.

Just today, jumped a bit into Japanese TTRPG culture (where they are known as “Tabletalk RPGs”) after reading “10 Things I learned about Japanese Tabletalk RPGs”. One of the things that really stood out to me was the using of scene-based structure. From the post:

Double Cross, Tenra Bansho Zero, and Shinobigami all have a powerful focus on games being covered in “ Acts, ” “ Phases, ” or “ Scenes, ” which highly feature only 1 or 2 players in each scene. There’s even a large number of powers in their various games that only work in specific scenes such as the “ Introduction ” where each player dramatically reveals their character to the party or the handful of “ Main Phases ” where plot-driven adventure happens between each character. Those phases, in particular, tend to have at best minor conflicts and confrontations where even taking 1 damage takes you completely out of the scene. Many of these games then also have a “ Climax Phase ” which is typically a huge fight involving all the players against that adventure’s antagonist in a heavy boss-encounter.

This type of focus on scenes reminds me a lot about television, movies, and (of course) anime. Every encounter seems to act in vehicle to the narrative, yet with all the extra bits cut out. Sessions are incredibly fast-paced and large scale adventures can be explored and played through in as few as 1-2 sessions.

I’m really intrigued by the idea of manifesting scene as mechanics (that is, something that the game cares about and that players can make impacting decisions regarding), and about incorporating scene into the structure of sessions more.

Have you guys done this, at all? Have you played Shinobigami or a similar TRPG? What have your experiences been?


Thanks for the Links!!!

I’ve watched a few of these made into anime type things with subtitles…but at 2 or 3 hours, I’m done, combat takes too long.

I did not know the term TTRPG.

That said the structure of these is very similar to one off LARPs at conventions. Many of the concepts you would see in the LARP advice for their story tellers/umpires.

At the end of the session, the only way to know everything that was going on is the wrap-up portion.

Structure is only important in players need to be able to not be near the action, if it is not their scene. Or you have mature gamers not responding to Meta Data.

Based on my experiences, best done with at least 2 GMs one presenting the spotlight, one covering other aspects…

And for introduction phase, the non-focus characters are at half defense or something, making them cautious but not total push-overs…

And focusing on Manga, I’d allow the comedic relief character to be at half defenses and powers, except when it’s important(determined by GM), and double power for climax.

Or accumulate Luck points for silly and embarrassing things they do to their character during the game, and use those luck points at the climax…so while typically only the spotlight characters can accumulate luck points…the comedic relief can gain points with self deprecating actions!

Anyway just where it took my brain…it’s a different game, 2 GMs would be best, but alternatives like Hero Point acquisition rules might make something like ICRPG conversion easy!


Haha, I like this! Powers specific to genre conventions and obligatory scenes.

Yeah, different game, definitely; different genre.