Lately, I’ve been spending the past few weeks staying up late because of Magical Burst. It’s an indie tabletop RPG by the translator of Maid RPG, and it’s been loads of fun–playing magical girl pretend was never so good!
The funny thing is, we’ve barely rolled any dice at all. A huge gamut of our gaming sessions are purely roleplaying, where we build up our magical girls as characters–the contracting process for a magical girl takes an entire session or two. The characters themselves are quite varied, from emotionless killing machines to Alpha Shoujo types, not unlike CCS.
One character even wished for “someone to love”, and got an NPC lover who is essentially Chikane Himemiya, of Kannazuki no Miko infamy. Fun times!
I think the game allows us to address the flaw of the mother show of our game, which has received criticism by not fleshing out its characters enough. Well, we at our Magical Burst game are indirectly trying to address that problem, since the characters come first.
In a sense, we’re all working on a collaborative story, despite having ownership of just one character. Each session is written by all the participating players, including the DM, but the astounding thing is that there is no railroading going on.
One of the more recent sessions involved a pure-hearted magical girl meeting up with an amoral magical girl (who, upon getting contracted, proceeded to brutally murder the bullies tormenting her). We all expected sparks to fly and a possible battle between magical girls, but the two became good friends instead. And it totally works–no one forced anything to happen, everyone just rolled with things, and the outcome even sets things up for more tragedy–what would happen when pure-pure girl learns the truth?
I guess it works like a dream since all players come from a writing background.
In terms of the game itself, the mechanics make Magical Burst particularly interesting. The Overcharge System exists to depict the unpredictable and dangerous effects of magic–magical girls could take Overcharge points from using powerful attacks, adding extra dice to their rolls, or just plain desperation. Exploding dice helps emphasize the double-edged effects of powerful magic–while getting consecutive 6s will allow you to snowball into a very powerful roll, it could just as well wipe out a few city blocks!
The magical change/mutation tables are easily the best part of the rulebook, with lots of odd, weird and wonderful mutations.
Some of them include:
- Blood Smell — Your body smells of fresh blood. It is a coppery, unnerving smell.
- Doll Joints — Your body has joints like a well-made doll.
- Technicolor Yawn — You periodically feel sick to your stomach and throw up a strange rainbow-colored substance. Sometimes it forms into cute little creatures that scurry off to never be seen again.
- Magical Boy — You become a boy. (!!!)
- Relationship Delusion — You become completely convinced that you have a deeper and more significant connection with someone then you actually do in real life.
Also, our DM has seen it fit to include characters from Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica itself, albeit in an alternate/post-ending universe. Mami got merged with Celty Sturluson from Durarara, and the concept totally works.
All I can say is that I spend five hours of my weekday playing this game, and it’s damn lovely.
Interested to play? Then subscribe to Yaruki Zero Games, the developer’s blog. It comes up with meaty Magical Burst stuff regularly. Right now we’re using the 2nd Edition rules, but I fully trust the author to come up with more stuff along the pipeline!