Nyarlathotep And the RPG Sausage Maker

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.

PPPS. (」・ω・)」うー!(/・ω・)/にゃー!

9 Responses to “Nyarlathotep And the RPG Sausage Maker”

  • fencedude

    She’s the Chaos that crawls up to you with a smile, Nyarlathotep!

    I will never be able to hear the name “Nyarlathotep” in anything other than Asumin’s voice again.

  • omo

    I wish I can just loop Asumiss saying “–hotep!” repeatedly

  • Caitlyn


    I can’t believe this dumb show ended up being my favorite thing this season. It’s Asumin Heaven.

  • omo

    Yeah, I can’t believe it either, in that how much I enjoyed the first ep. Although in a Gintama sort of way, this show is very funny and you can get to the funny part without going through all the crud that Gintama has in terms of episode length.

    I think the Nyaruani shorts are a good example.

  • Vendredi

    Well, SAN points after all are simply a game abstraction of losing your sanity – in the novels, simply being near various otherworldly deities was enough to drive most people insane, let alone seeing them.

    Also, this season in particular seems chock-full of well, “moe shows with absurdly niche interests/plot hooks”. Upotte! is the other one that immediately comes to mind, but we’ve also got zombies in Sankarea, ghosts in Tasogare, drool in Mysterious Girlfriend… light music clubs come off as decidedly vanilla compared to this.

  • omo

    Indeed, SAN points are an abstraction, however it is explicitly mentioned in the anime. That’s pretty ballers.


    Remnids me of a doujin game a guy I know had that used the CoC rules for romantic commedy (When Our Eyes Met It Was a SAN Check was how the name translated, but I don’t recall what the original Japanese was). Tried getting a copy, but the circle never returned my e-mail. Of course this was ten years ago.

    More on topic, it’s too bad that there aren’t any Japanese games out there that are in the US fandom’s consciousness enough that you could really do the reverse with.

  • omo

    I wonder. I mean anime has that impact, as a cross-cultural bridge. Westerners learn about Japan and certain IP via the anime, when the original idea/thing/historic figure/story was just some cultural item not attached to the anime. But anime itself isn’t like a video game system.

  • ToastCrust

    It’s quite an accomplishment, I think, when I hear that when /tg/ saw some specific screenshots from this show, they were really pleased. The CoC crowd is often pretty hard against anime, haha.

    With a Lovecraft derived nakige (sort of) and super robot AVG around already, it was about time Japan figured out a way to make a comedy out of the mythos anyways.

    And Nyarlko has that really great novelty where the transition of the figures into girls was done with a pretty strong attention to the roots, in the same way Koihime Musou kind of occupies a special spot because of the way they paid a lot of attention to adapting trivia knowledge of 3 Kingdoms into various quirky character elements.

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