Tabletop Game: Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine
Wishes will come true.Chuubo's Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine
is a tabletop game by Jenna Moran geared mainly towards playing pastoral slice-of-life fantasy, ala Studio Ghibli
movies, Adventure Time
, or Friendship is Magic
, although gameplay is flexible enough to cover a wide variety of genres and story styles, even to works as complex as Homestuck
or as symbolism-ridden as Revolutionary Girl Utena
. While it has its origins in another of Jenna's games, Nobilis
, and some of its tone comes from her Hitherby Dragons
project, for the most part, Chuubo's
is its own thing.
The setting is a town called Town
, which is surrounded by multicolored void, situated somewhere that's no true place. It's a nice place to live by all accounts, quiet, peaceful, and sleepy, a place where you can just get on with life, but even so, there are strange and interesting things to get involved with if you look around.Chuubo's
is intended as a transmedia project, initially focusing on novels and RPGs. One novel, Fable of the Swan
, has been released, and the RPG corebook and initial supplements - namely, a book covering the Fortitude region and a campaign book - have been funded via Kickstarter, with the corebook available from Drivethrurpg
. A Halloween Special
is also available.
- Absurdly Powerful Student Council: School's student council is managed by the Six Sins - shards of the former principal, Lord Entropy I. All of them share the Principal's goal of creating a new world (with differences as to the method), and are given great power over managing School. It probably helps that all of them have very powerful abilities.
- Academy of Adventure: Horizon's School, possibly blurring the line with Academy of Evil if you're in a Gothic game.
- Elaborate University High: The entire place is huge and is noted to be the tallest structure in Town, taller even than the Methodology Building in Arcadia, which is twelve stories high.
It is vast, baroque, and somber. Itís a lot bigger than it needs to be ó the grounds are a square mile, and most of that is one gigantic building whose facade completely dwarfs you as you approach. It has 6500 living students and over 12,000 ghosts and it would still be spacious at a fifth of its size.
- Academy of Evil: Many of the darker characters have studied for a while at the Bleak Academy, out far beyond the world.
- The Ace / Renaissance Man: A character type (exemplified by The Prodigy) and miraculous Arc. At their peak, a character with The Ace is more like a Physical God, capable of physically impossible feats such as surfing on sound waves, running faster than light and punching out characters out of movies.
- Alternative Character Interpretation: Explicitly invoked via Word of God, in a manner of speaking. All pregenerated characters can be customized extensively regarding who and what they are, allowing many different interpretations of them.
- Arcadia: The Region of Fortitude, by the docks of Big Lake, completely represents this trope, as it is an idyllic pastoral countryside where things pass by quietly and peacefully. This goes to the extent that its Region Properties include "Things canít move quickly," "Work must be fruitful," "People must remember where they come from" and "You have a home in Fortitude". Due to this and more, Fortitude is the preferred location of Pastoral-genre games.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: This trope is in full effect, as any wish made by Chuubo has a higher chance of going horribly wrong (as opposed to going entertainingly wrong) when it doesn't fit his nature, as represented by a chart. For instance, Chuubo's wish to have a best friend (because he was lonely) went exactly as intended and created Seizhi Schwan. His wish to have an icecream... didn't. The same applies to other methods of obtaining wishes.
- Because Destiny Says So / You Can't Fight Fate: This is basically what Afflictions and Imperial Miracles are. Afflictions are simply truths reinforced by the world (e.g "Turning into a giant snake never helps") that are protected by an Auctoritas (a sort of miraculous shield) and self-generating miracles. Imperial Miracles, on the other hand, state a destiny to be, and which eventually will come true, or is coming true, or has retroactively come true. Imperial Miracles are usually restrained in some way, or limited intentionally, because they have enough power to change the entire world. A Wish is what happens if you don't restrict an Imperial Miracle at all.
- Screw Destiny: Afflictions can be overcome by invoking sufficient Strike with miracles, something most miraculous characters are able to do. Going against an Imperial Miracle or Wish, on the other hand, is explicitly one of the hardest things in the game to do. Doing so directly will deal any offending character two Deadly Wounds, or just one if they're only working around part of the destiny; that in itself is enough to cripple most miraculous creatures, even those with Immortality.
- Big Lipped Alligator Moment / Reality Is Out to Lunch: Played dead straight with Breaks from Reality, which are intrusions of other worlds' laws unto our own. They cover anything from dissociations from reality, people growing extra limbs or having their faces melt off, sudden musical numbers, Transformation Sequences and summonings of Humongous Mecha. That is to say, they're elements of Spectacle and the like that really happen, not just for the purposes of the entertainment of the audience. In-Character, this is weird even for the context of the game.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: The Titov shrine family.
- Canon: Word of God is that the novels aren't "the official setting" in the sense of their being what unquestionably happens. They're a view of the setting and people are free to accept as much or as little of them as they want for their own games.
- Character Customization: Worthy of note here. All of the pregenerated characters in the campaigns come with a number of variants you can choose from (including gender-flipped).
- Character Name and the Noun Phrase / The Fantastic Trope of Wonderous Titles
- The Clan: The shrine families.
- Continuity Nod: From Nobilis. The corebook refers to Lord Entropy, Iolithae Septimian, and Excrucians, among other things.
- Cosy Catastrophe: The sun died. Chaos drowned the world. Then a new sun shone in the sky, and people started picking themselves back up and getting on with their lives. The apocalypse is only as much a thing as any group wants it to be.
- Cursed with Awesome: Two miraculous Arcs are based around this: Wounded Angel, which is very versatile, powerful, and offers many abilities, but in exchange forces you to live with a blasphemy inside you; and Accursed, which allows you to destroy just about anything, but makes you lose MP when you are caused wounds (which is worse because it also makes your MP a secondary health bar).
- Daywalking Vampire: Some vampires are strong enough to resist the sun and not spontaneously burst into flames. This is mostly for gameplay reasons - after all, a sun deity walks through Town regularly.
- Death by Newbery Medal: Lampshaded like crazy with The Prodigy's general character and story. She's The Ace at anything a normal human can do, but her Training from Hell and losing someone or something in her life left her a bitter Ice Queen. Even her general quests lampshade this.
- Death by Origin Story / Came Back Strong: Fortitude PCs in "The Glass-Maker's Dragon". They die and come back on a miraculous Arc.
- Decade Dissonance: Town has this in spades, partly due to the Fantasy Kitchen Sink, and partly because the death of the sun messed up the game's timeline. Fortitude is rustic and a bit behind the times; Horizon is based on Victorian London; Old Molder is a ruin of an attempt at an industrial revolution retaken by nature, and is populated by deviant scientists and similar people who live independently; Arcadia is very similar to contemporary Japanese shopping districts, with many modern attractions, goods and such. Other examples litter the setting.
- Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu? / Pals with Jesus: Much less blatant than in Nobilis, despite the same potential for regularly meeting and being friends with gods and miraculous beings of all sorts. Though some canonical characters know or are gods of some sort, it usually doesn't get acknowledged. For instance, the Child of the Sun is the new resident sun god of Town, but she's not even aware of it at the outset.
- Enemies with Death: The setting frequently speaks of the Headmaster of the Bleak Academy, who is basically Town's boogeyman and some sort of avatar of death, or Death, or Death Unending, or perhaps 'the lord of death's dominion'. He is the closest thing the setting as a whole has to a real antagonist, both as a force that could physically end Town and as its philosophical opposite.
- And yet there's still a canonical story about a normal human's chance encounters with him at the laundromat.
- Direct Line to the Author: The corebook and the setting book on Fortitude are written with the framing device/conceit that the author is literally living in Town and writing the game to share her experiences.
- Dying for Symbolism: The sun, Jade Irinka, who was also the angel of the houses of the sun and in fact the concept of suns in general, died in the backstory. With her death all hope and joy in the world could have died and the world would have plunged into chaos. But sometime after she died a new sun appeared, and with it things were basically alright and hope returned to the world. It's all very symbolic.
- Dysfunction Junction: Of the eight pregenerated characters for the Glass-Maker's Dragon campaign, six have some kind of major psychological hangup.
- Eldritch Abomination: Several. A number of them are known as "Mysteries", and are fought by the rats of Fortitude using their cunning and knowledge. Some may have previously been Abhorrent Weapons.
- Humanoid Abomination: The Riders are this in general, and are generally noticeable because in place of their eyes there is the night and falling stars. However, due to the metaphysical changes in reality that occurred when the sun died, many are rather benevolent and don't want to unmake reality or Town anymore.
- Eldritch Location: Every Region of Town has Properties, a set of metaphysical truths about that Region, which can enhance actions taken in accordance with them. The main Regions are Fortitude, Horizon, Arcadia, Big Lake, Little Island, Bluebell Park, Old Molder, the Walking Fields, and the Outside, though there are sub-Regions, minor Regions, and lost Regions as well.
- Elemental Powers: Characters on the Spiritual miraculous Arc slowly obtain knowledge, creation, destruction and control over a particular element, although it's usually something local or specific as compared to the Nobilis counterpart of this ability, which was cosmic in scope.
- Evil Overlord List: Going against Rule 34 (no, not that one) is explicitly a bad idea. See Scaled Up, below.
- Expy: The Rats of Fortitude are basically an entire culture of Reepicheeps.
- Face Palm: Some characters can actually earn XP by producing amused head-desks among the other players.
- The Fair Folk: The miraculous Arc Creature of Fable makes a character more like a creature from a fairy tale or mythology, with the ability to do stuff in-between scenes, have an iconic appearance and become a supernatural hunter. The overall thematic fits that of the Fair Folk.
- Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Magic of many different kinds, Deviant and Nightmare Science, Robots, Vampires, Youkai, Charles Atlas Superpowers, Enlightenment Superpowers, Eldritch Abominations, Anthropomorphic Personifications and Gods of all sorts inhabit the setting. Any and all of these can be PCs.
- Fisher King: A main characteristic of the A Keeper of Gardens miraculous Arc - a character takes dominion over one or more areas (Gardens) and is able to shape everything in them like it was made of clay, creating guides and guardians and even bringing things to life.
- Footnote Fever: All over the place, usually to clarify rules and make lemony comments.
- Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: So many of them that it's the actual villainous ones who are unusual and surprising.
- Genre-Busting: The game offers eight different types of genres to play in, serving to set the mood and atmosphere of any particular game. They don't entirely conform to what the general conception of those genres are outside of the game, however.
- Gone Horribly Right/Gone Horribly Wrong: Very common consequences of a Wish.
- Gothic Horror/Halloweentown: Much of the atmosphere of Horizon is based on this, what with vampires, ghosts and undead horrors being very common, as well as gothic ruins, cemeteries and the like. Due to this the region is the preferred location of Gothic-genre games.
- The Hero's Journey: Considering the Quest system and the way Arcs work, the general cycle of the Hero's Journey is a generic Quest Set that can work for several kinds of Arcs.
- The Road of Trials is referenced as one of the game's Genres, involving some of the most difficult times of a character's life, and usually involving many dangers, enemies and Breaks From Reality.
- Immortality: Several varieties of it show up.
- Complete Immortality: Some miraculous Arcs (Child of the Ash, Keeper of Gardens, Creature of Light and Primordial) grant this. A character with this Immortality cannot be hurt at all or even age unless they desire it. Only extremely damaging things like nuclear explosions, high-level miracles and Imperial Miracles can bypass it, and even then they can regenerate from this damage more quickly than anyone else.
- There are some example mundane Immortality skills as well, although depending on their strength they're more like Healing Factors. Theoretically any kind of immortality could be expressed via a combination of Skills and Afflictions, however.
- Implausible Deniability: Players can twist or bend wounds, both physical and mental. "She turned me into a duck... I got better" is a totally valid statement.
- Also, the official story is that the first Lord Entropy decided to suddenly leave School's operation, jump into an incinerator, and fly up the chimney, despite the current Lord Entropy II/Lady Attaris II's hands constantly dripping their precursor's blood. Oddly, this is actually how Entropy II/Attaris II remembers it (well, kind of; it's somewhat foggy). Memory alteration may have been involved.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: The Glass-Maker's Dragon campaign has this in spades. Many events from both the campaign's and the setting's backstory play a prominent role in the story and their effects on the main characters, and they raise a lot of questions. Why did the glass dragon break, and is it going to come back to life? Why do so many things happen around Chuubo? Why did the Headmaster of the Bleak Academy pour a blasphemy into Leonardo de Montreal, and is it related at all to the recent Outside storms? Why are the dead spontaneously coming back to life?
- Kaiju: Sometimes, the fishermen of Fortitude bring in a kaiju as their catch. Occasionally a PC can turn into a kaiju, or turn others into one.
- Large Ham: Anyone with the Larger-Than-Life character trait, which actually earns you XP when people salute or fist-pump after you give a speech. The standout here would be Jasmine "The Ideologue" Apocynum.
- Another character trait allows characters to earn XP by being so over-the-top that it leaves the other players speechless. Leonardo de Montreal, Nightmares' Angel, has to take the cake here, going into an A God Am I rant when explaining why he hadn't bought any more milk after finishing it off.
- Lemony Narrator: As in Nobilis 3e, Jenna's Author Avatar narrates.
- Little Bit Beastly: The Tenko, or shop foxes, have fox-spirit ancestry, giving them both fox and human ears (and sometimes fox tails). They're lithe and agile, and have a touch of elegance and magic. Cutting off their fox ears removes their magic and turns them all the way human. They stand out in Town, getting a lot of (positive) attention, which can be a bit of a pain sometimes.
- Mad Scientist: Deviant scientists are a thing in Town.
- Then there's Leonardo de Montreal's Nightmare Science, which is like deviant science, only more biological.
- Make a Wish: As one would expect from the title, Wishes play a big part in the setting, and they are powered by the wishing power of the heart (Miracle Points, or MPs), although their source is not just limited to the Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine. No matter how world-changing or impossible, a wish can make it happen. A big part of wishes is dealing with their aftermath, and the rules go deep into detail on how to handle them.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Many game abilities can be interpreted as such. For instance, the low-level Arc abilities of The Ace, Become Somebody and Creature of Fable can be interpreted as those of ordinary people being really good at what they do, instead of being outright 'magical' abilities used by demigods.
- Defied with Become Somebody's Commanding Aura and Reject abilities. Both allow characters to turn other people or things into something more or less like them by communicating with them, but it's explicitly a psychic attack instead of something that could be hand-waved away like 'charisma'.
- Mundane Fantastic: In spades. Magic, monsters, gods and the like are all a common, everyday part of life in Town. See also Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here, below.
- Mundane Utility: Given the focus of the game on character interaction, it's very common for characters to figure out ways to use their skills and miraculous abilities for mundane uses.
- Mundane Wish: This is best exemplified by Chuubo himself, who has on at least one occasion used the amazing, potentially world-breaking powers of the Marvelous Wish-Granting Engine to... wish for an ice cream.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: All miraculous creatures are immensely resilient towards damage of any kind, although how exactly they resist this damage (that is, whether they just mitigate the harm, avoid it just in time or spontaneously develop new abilities to counteract it) is up to them.
- Non-Combat EXP: The quest system, bonus XP emotions, and the generally low violence levels work together to ensure that really all XP is non-combat XP unless the combat is a plot-relevant action or part of a quest.
- The Nothing After Death: The Bleak Academy is sort of a metaphor for this trope, along with the Far and Sunless Land.
- Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here / No Big Deal: Horizon School has the property "People must accept that what is happening around them is normal", even if that includes a possibly cannibalistic philosopher-ogre teaching class (and a cat — not a talking cat — teaching the class before that), the vampires and ghosts walking the halls, the Principal's constantly blood-covered hands, or that no more and no less than three events will occur to every student between each class. Chuubo himself (or, in Shokyou's case, herself) is also supernaturally Ordinary in a setting that explicitly refuses to accept such a thing, and hence absolutely does not turn into a snake. Not that it would help, anyway.
- One-Winged Angel: Characters on the Child of the Ash miraculous Arc gain an alternate form and the ability to turn into a giant creature of some sort, usually a giant robot or a snake in the case of Chuubo. Not that it'd help or anything.
- Ordinary High-School Student: The default assumption for PCs is that they're around 15 years old and possessed of one or more miraculous abilities. One of the pregen PCs (the titular Chuubo, AKA The Wishing Boy) is explicitly described as being a totally normal kid, who has a magical engine that grants wishes and who occasionally turns into a giant snake, not that it helps.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: The living world and the ghost world are usually separate, but sometimes the two can bleed through into one another.
- Our Vampires Are Different: The vampires of Town typically feed on negative emotions rather than blood, though some prefer their traditional diet; even so, they generally object to assault and murder.
- The Outside World: The Outside, naturally, serving as a contrast to Town's Small Secluded World. The Outside in itself is an amalgam of many interpretations of the trope, serving as either a physical outside or a psychological state of mind of confusion and disorientation. Like just about anything else in the game, its exact nature is deliberately ambiguous and subject to interpretation.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: Masks are effective disguises, no matter how small they are.
- Point Buy System
- Power at a Price: Wounds can grant temporary Skills, Bonds, Afflictions and even minor miraculous abilities so long as there's some kind of drawback to them. Taken one step further with the miraculous Arc Wounded Angel, which allows you to ritually bind your wounds and obtain several miraculous abilities from them, as exemplified by Leonardo de Montreal.
- Wound That Will Not Heal: Deadly Wounds cannot heal on their own, and require Quests to recover from them. Additionally, Empowered Wounds bound with Wounded Angel cannot heal at all unless the Recover ability is used to do so, such is their damage.
- Power of the Void: Characters on the Accursed miraculous Arc obtain an ability called the World-Breaker's Hand, which allows them to completely destroy or banish anything from the world with a thought or a wave of their hand.
- Primordial Chaos: The Outside can easily be interpreted as this.
- Reality Warping: Most characters with access to miraculous abilities can do this, honestly, but the ones who do it most blatantly are the ones with access to the miraculous Arc Reality Syndrome - which allows them some variant power of a Wish, such as the titular Wish-Granting Engine.
- Retcon / The Reveal: The "Revelation" power from Creature of Fable works like this. The character declares that some aspect of reality was hidden all along up until that point, and even though it's a lie and an illusion, it then becomes true. However, if the reveal is too implausible, complicated or just not good, it ceases to occur, as an Unreal effect.
- The Roleplayer: Characters advance a lot faster when properly roleplayed.
- Running Gag: As you may surmise from reading this far, turning into a giant snake in Chuubo's doesn't help.
- Scale of Scientific Sins: Leonardo checks off every single one.
- Scaled Up: Turning into a giant snake does not help in Chuubo's. Which is a bit of a problem when that's often one of the Wishing Boy's powers.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The reason the Titovs are so messed up. It may or may not be Iolithae Septimian.
- Sealed Evil Inside A Person-Shaped Can: Characters on a Wounded Angel Arc become the cage of a blasphemy in exchange for the great powers they receive from the Arc. The blasphemy will be released if the Can loses all their Divine Health Levels.
- Shadow Archetype: Chuubo and Leonardo are a mutual case, unsurprisingly given that Leonardo's title can be The Rival. They both constructed machines of wondrous power (although Leonardo would be quick to point out that his is the Incomparable Nightmare Engine and attempting to compare it to anything else is therefore impossible), but Chuubo's uses the wishing power of the heart while Leonardo's relies on the secrets of the Bleak Academy, which is explicitly antithetical to the heart's power. Chuubo values friendship so much that he wished for a best friend, while Leonardo has renounced it. Chuubo aspires to ordinariness while Leonardo needs to be special and important so badly that he was willing to run off to the Bleak Academy. It's even suggested that Leonardo may be secretly envious of Chuubo.
- Billy Sovereign, the bully, is this to Seizhi. He is to Leonardo as Seizhi is to Chuubo, only with an antagonistic relationship instead of being close friends. He is everything Seizhi is not: Brutal, a jerk, angry, resentful and he doesn't technically exist or is aware of what it's like to do so. Even his abilities are a mirror to Seizhi's: where Seizhi has Existing as a skill, Billy has Survive (it's what allowed him to survive being burned alive by Leonardo), and both have the same miraculous Arc as well.
- Slice of Life: The beating heart of the game. Slice of Life moments are good for getting XP, regardless of your game's genre.
- Small Secluded World: Town as a whole fits the trope, both before and after Jade Irinka died. It's relatively small, quiet, and isolated from everything else.
- Stock Footage: What Transitions are meant to emulate within the context of the game.
- Story Arc: The Arcs of the game play with this in an attempt to erase the distinction between character development on a narrative level and on a game level. The result is that any game's story centers entirely around characters without any inherent need for an external plot.
- Transfer Student Uniforms: School's are noted to be black and red, known as the 'dead colors', and are also meant to be worn by the dead (due to the notion that ghosts and vampires are both immigrants from the land beyond the grave).
- Troperiffic: Consciously done. This game revels in including tropes from many genres and settings while at the same time making sense of it.
- Universal-Adaptor Cast: The main cast of the Glass-Maker's Dragon is one as a result of covering many basic archetypes, and due to the game's structure.
- Void Between the Worlds: The Outside used to be this, but when the Sun was killed/stolen and brought there, the Void started boiling. On the up side, it's a livelier place now. On the downside, the affected Void expanded, boiling over and covering most of the universe in layers of weird sort-of-quantum-mechanical effects. Town is now the only place left that can be said to genuinely, unambiguously exist.
- Whole Plot Reference: The Glass-Maker's Dragon campaign is a subtle one to the Enuma Elish, with most of its main characters representing figures from that myth in one way or another. They both deal with creation myths, the role their gods and creatures of power shape the world around them, and conflicts with literal or metaphorical chaos.
- The Wild Hunt: The Great Hunt of the Excrucians.
- The Woobie: Invoked for the Offering you Comfort XP condition. If a character with this condition evokes the impulse to comfort them in the other players, they can get XP.
- Stoic Woobie: Invoked for characters with the Aww! XP condition, who can gain XP from the other players by being both stoic in the face of difficulty, and adorable in how they deal with it.
- You Dirty Rat: Firmly averted. The talking rats of Fortitude are heroes, adventurers, and good friends. Sort of like an entire race of Reepicheeps.
- Youkai: There're a few hundred or so youkai of various sorts in Town.