A new Japan localization of the Dungeons & Dragons starter sets from Wizards of the Coast features an anime-style iconic party designed by mangaka Chomoran.
Dungeons & Dragons has been the most famous fantasy tabletop roleplaying game since its creation in 1974. But as envisioned by creators Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, D&D has had a very medieval European flavor, particularly with its artwork. Even the later depictions of the Monk character class and settings like Kara-Tur had Western-style art.
But with the new Japanese localization of D&D, Wizards of the Coast is trying something new that might attract manga and anime fans.
The product release of the localized versions of D&D Fifth Edition starter sets was announced via D&D Japan and its official social media. The release is part of the D&D x JAPAN Artist Project:
— ダンジョンズ＆ドラゴンズ (@wizardsdndjp) April 4, 2023
The translated text from the initial Twitter post reads:
Popular illustrator #チョモラン (@huusen_uri) designed the characters in the "Deluxe Play Box" "Dragon of Mount Ice Spire" with original settings, and released the PV.
Please take a look at the popular voice actors who are in charge of the voices of the characters!
The Deluxe Play Box is a version of the D&D Starter Set: Dragons of Stormwreck Isle and Dungeons & Dragons Essentials Kit that is localized for Japan. But what makes them unique are the iconic characters included.
Iconic characters are a staple for most of the previous editions of Dungeons & Dragons. The iconic characters are designed to represent the usual composition of most D&D parties: a fighter, a wizard, a cleric, and a rogue. Plus, they are ready-to-play avatars with complete stats, abilities, and gear with character sheets that can be used by players or as NPCs by the Dungeon Master. They are also often referenced in the rules when giving examples of situations when playing Dungeons & Dragons.
While the North American versions of the starter sets have their own iconic party, the Japanese release of the starter sets is different, not the least of which is the new anime-style artwork by Chomoran.
Chomoran (チョモラン) is best known for working on manga and anime such as Sachi's Monstrous Appetite (Ano Hito no I ni wa Boku ga Tarinai), Bloom Into You Anthology (Yagate Kimi ni Naru: Koushiki Comic Anthology), and Zerozaki Kishishiki no Ningen Knock.
The iconic characters included in the Japanese D&D starter sets are:
- Turalish (Fighter/Dragonborn) Gender: Male Age: 28 (voiced by Shozo Hirakawa)
- Atria Dawnguard (Fighter/Human) Gender: Female Age: 17 (voiced by Nagi Kashino)
- Rafari (Cleric/Half Elf) Gender: Male Age: 15 (voiced by Yuki Aikawa)
- Cal Skiprock (rogue/lightfoot halfling) Gender: Female Age: 18 (voiced by Atsumi Tanezaki)
- Oldscar (Wizard/High Elf) Gender: Male Age: 256 (voiced by Kensho Ono)
Did you notice that there are voice actors attached to each iconic character? This is because the localization of these starter sets includes an exclusive commercial for the Japanese market, with potential future plans using these iconic characters in other products.
These new iconic characters developed specifically for the Japanese tabletop roleplaying market have similarities to classic JRPG protagonists. They look like they’d feel right at home in a Final Fantasy or Genshin Impact setting. But why is Wizards of the Coast taking extra effort to appeal to the Japanese TTRPG crowd?
As surprising as it sounds, the world’s most popular tabletop roleplaying game is only a runner-up in Japan. The most popular TTRPG in Japan? Is it Paizo’s Pathfinder? No. R. Talsorian’s Cyberpunk 2077? Also no. The crown belongs to Chaosium’s Call of Cthulhu.
The horror RPG based on the works of H.P. Lovecraft has been outselling D&D in Japan for many years, even before the recent boost it enjoyed from the Open Gaming License Controversy that angered D&D fans. With the additional marketing boost from the recent Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves film, WoTC is aiming to overtake Call of Cthulhu in the Japan TTRPG market.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves opened with $71 million on its first weekend and is currently running in theaters worldwide.