I’m not really a fan and I am not familiar with Lovecraft’s creation, but it seems that Nyarlathotep’s transition into anime/light novel (in the resulting Haiyore! Nyaruko-san property) is via the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game. There were no “SAN” points in the novels, I think?
I think the first time I heard about Japanese tabletop RPGs was almost around the time when I first heard of 2ch. Of course, that just means I didn’t find out about something that geeks everywhere have enjoyed since who-knows-when, in Japan, until then. There were, as expected, games that are popular and exported, and games that are domestic. Queen’s Blade is probably the best example out there in terms of an anime based on a tabletop game. Nyaruko-san anime is actually based on the light novel of the same, which I assume got its inspiration from Call of Cthulhu.
The history behind the CoC game, though, is still the game adaptation of the source material. Tabletop RPGs make good use of fantasy material given their wordy and rich world building necessary to field games like this, at least in a way that will sell to the same crowd. A lot of IP can be contextualized and translated into some existing game system and the various RPG systems and frameworks enable role playing, a way for players and fans to interact with the IP.
The amusing thing in Nyarlathotep’s case is that it not only allows for player interaction, but localization. It’s easy to localize a system. I can play New Love Plus because all the moonrunes come at me with a steady, player-regulated pace in a way shared by other games of the same genre. A 3DS is not so different, from one region to another. I have context, I have the help of user interface designs, and I have experience from using or playing other games. If I can play Dominion, I can play Tanto Cuore, or the Nitro+ version of Dominion. But that’s still just another form of lateral translation of experiences. It is still one step further to get to the case of how I relate to Nyaruko-san–someone who plays table top games in general and enjoys anime, versus a specific regurgitation (the anime) of a localized-for-foreign IP (CoC (game and books) Japanese ver.) based on a local IP (CoC game) that was adaptation of another local IP (CoC novel), and the IP itself. I mean, seriously. I haven’t even gone into the Azuma-style of database elements about Nyaruko-san yet. This is all very dicey, in a chopped greens sort of way.
So in my mind, I think of how sausages are made. This is it. This is cultural sausage. The game system provides the proverbial sausage grinder. The anime/database elements is like, the sausage skin. What’s inside will probably drain you of your sanity points. What’s amusing is that Nyaruko-san makes whole sale references to Lovecraft text, starting with the tagline “Crawling Chaos.” This is some special sausage if that much of the original can get through.
PS. When I game, it’s usually a sausage party, get it?
PPS. After writing this post I washed my hands. With soap.