Since 2006 Jake has been designing indie tabletop RPGs inspired by anime and Japanese videogames, such as Tokyo Brain Pop and Classroom Deathmatch. In January 2011 Jake started the webcomic Modest Medusa, about an adorable young hydra who arrives in Jake’s home through a magical gateway — a broken toilet. Over the next eight years the strip revealed Modest’s homeland, Yeld, and that in turn brought Jake Richmond back to game design. In July 2016 he and his brother, Nick Smith, Kickstarted an introductory FRPG, The Magical Land of Yeld, to great success.
Though it’s not necessarily a beginner’s game — the core rulebook is 266 pages — in Yeld all the players play preteens (or, optionally, dogs). The characters (“Friends”) find a secret enchanted doorway and cross into Yeld for adventure and exploration. There they join the struggle against the land’s evil ruler, the vampire prince Dragul. The Friends also seek seven magical keys that open the portal back to Earth — but the keys are scattered across the land, protected by the dreaded Hunters from the Crimson Ministry. If the young Friends turn 13 years old before they return home, they’re trapped in Yeld forever, and they transform into monsters.
Characters have Strong, Smart, Tough, and Brave attributes (rated as a number of six-sided dice), and a Job like Freelancer, Shepherd, Oathbreaker, Soul Thief, Witch, Witch Hunter, or White or Black Mage. The player specifies the Friend’s starting age, chooses a birthday on Yeld’s 100-day calendar, and tracks the character’s relentless aging toward the fateful 13th.
Fights take place using tokens on an ordinary checkerboard. On your turn you can move a number of spaces equal to your Brave dice, then take one action. Task resolution is an opposed roll of your dice versus the Gamemaster’s Challenge dice; higher total wins. An attack is your Strong dice + weapon dice versus the monster’s Tough dice + armor dice. Casting a spell is a Smart dice roll against a specified target number. If your action succeeds, the monster loses Tough dice, and you start an Action Chain. The Friend you choose to act next gets a die-roll bonus, and if that roll succeeds, the next Friend in the chain gets a still larger bonus.
Some of Yeld‘s design features show Jake Richmond’s love of Japanese videogames. For instance, if you lose all your Tough dice, you die — but you can keep playing as a ghost, and your friends can revive you with magic or just by visiting an inn. And you’ll detect strong anime/manga inspirations in Jake’s illustrations of the Yeld rules systems: clean and precise drawings, with bold outlines, sharply depicted faces, and vibrant colors.
For eight years in the punishing webcomics field, thanks to multiple Kickstarters and a Patreon campaign, Jake has managed to make ends meet. But every freelance creator lives a tenuous life, and something as routine as the loss of a nine-year-old computer can make things difficult. This offer, with The Magical Land of Yeld, several other indie RPGs from past Bundle offers, and three Modest Medusa collections, helped Jake navigate this current crisis.
There were four titles in our Starter Collection (retail value $24) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks:
- Modest Medusa Season 1 (retail price $6): The first 100 webcomics collected with artist’s notes and bonus artwork. Includes the Modest Medusa coloring book.
- Tokyo Brain Pop (retail $10): Psychic Japanese schoolgirls at Atarashi High School. [Previously in the December 2013 Super Asian Bundle Blast.]
- Classroom Deathmatch (retail $7): Stage your own Battle Royale-style hunger games in this high-school game with an unprecedented body count. [Previously in the May 2017 Anime Blast 2.]
- Sea Dracula Wave 2 (retail $1): It’s about animal lawyers who argue their cases by dancing. Deal with it. [Previously in the February 2014 American Freeform offer.]
- The Magical Land of Yeld (retail $16): Children from our world venture into an enchanted realm — Modest Medusa’s original home. Includes the Friend’s Guide & Coloring Book (retail $5) and the Pirates of Yeld comic.
- Yeld Towns & Territories (retail $5): The first expansion introduces Town Quests, ideal for smaller groups of players.
- Modest Medusa Season 2 and Season 3 (total retail $12): These two collections bring Jake and Modest to Yeld and introduce the young hydra’s fantastic family.
- The Tulip Academy’s Society for Dangerous Gentlemen (retail $7): Wealthy young men at a boarding school live life to the fullest before they must graduate into a secret, ancient organization.
- Ocean (retail $10): A GM-less survival/mystery story game set in an abandoned underwater research station. [Previously in the October 2013 Bundle of Nerves.]