Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Anime RPGs: OVA

Open Versatile Anime
This is a new one to me, but not a new game.  I just got it and I like what I see so far. The system is very different that BESM, but it has some good character creation guidelines that I think would work nice with any game.  The book is a thin 125+ pages, but that is really all it needs due to it's system and design.

OVA stands for Open Versatile Anime, and it's a pun in Anime circles.  It also stands for Original Video Animation.   There are the perfunctory introductions for the RPG player, the Anime fan and people in general.

OVA has some artwork from Niko Geyer, the same artist from BESM.  This sorta gives OVA the same feel.  Going to his blog you can see some of the art in OVA and it is nice.

Character creation is the heart of OVA, and there are some good things here.  The character creation has the player starting with a conversation with the Game Master and even other players.  This would seem pointless in other games, but important in OVA.  It helps with the next steps and helps decide what sort of game will be played. The interesting  part here is that the rules encourage players to come up with their character before reading the rules.  So the next step is the Concept stage.

Many games have something similar.  Here though it is an actual step.  Typically this can be something as simple as "magical girl with a flying cat" or "darkly handsome swordmaster with a dark past".  In the world of Anime RPGs these are actually very common concepts.   Since OVA is an Ability based system (more on this) the concept help define what a character can and can't do.

Abilities and Weakness
This is the heart and soul of OVA.  Abilities (sometimes called Attributes, sort of confusing) combine the various numbers you would normally see in other games.  In Unisystem this would be combining Attributes, Skills and Qualities.  So things like "Magic", "Weapon" and "Cute" would replace all the other numbers that could be combined to create these; ie Dex + Armed Mayhem for Weapon.  This makes for a very focused sort of character, which is exactly what you would expect in an Anime.  You can add all sorts of other Abilities as needed.  So our Dark Swordmaster can add Hobby (Origami) as a hobby, which would be appropriate.
Weakness are the same, only like Drawbacks, such as "Easy to Anger", "Bizarre Appearance" or "Obsession".  
Abilities are ranked from 1 to 5, with 5 being the best of the best.  Weaknesses are ranked -1 to -3.  Characters should start around 1 or 2 with no abilities at 5. Character creation is matter of agreeing on how many points is the power cap.  You can choose 0, so Abilities have to equal Weaknesses, a top point say 20 or so points of Abilities where 5 can be free and 15 are bought with Weakness points.  All really easy to be honest.

There are number of sample characters covering a variety of anime tropes. Some have a lot of Attributes and thus a lot of Weaknesses, others have much fewer.
There is a stat block for "Basic Statistics" which includes the concept, age, height and weight and other basic information.   It makes for a very simple character sheet that is also surprisingly full of information. There are good number of Abilities and Weaknesses, and what is not here can easily be converted from other sources.  Though I could not find anything that was "missing".   There are Power Perks and Flaws, which act like Power Feats in M&M.
The system is an easy one, roll dice go for a target number.  Combat is similar.
There is a good DM's section and a bunch of sample characters and NPCs, all of which can be used to design other characters or use as NPCs or PCs.

The system is simple and really easy to play.  The character creation is similar to another new game I grabbed "Cartoon Action Hour 2".  In fact I bet you could easily convert between the two systems without too much trouble.  Where CAH2 does not give too many examples of Abilities/Powers, OVA does.  You could some of the Abilities in OVA as ideas for CAH2.  Sort of defeats the purpose of creating your own as CAH2 suggests, but a good place to start.
I also suppose that you could use the abilities from BESM 3 as well.  I would bet that you could take any BESM 3 character and convert it to OVA with just a couple of edits on the sheet.

OVA certainly feels like the spiritual successor to BESM.  There is a lot of similarity in feel and purpose.   While BESM is crunchier than OVA, OVA is more flexible.   The powers are fairly well defined and easy to use/grasp.

I am going to test this theory here in a bit and try to convert a BESM character over to OVA.  Most likely Robin Sena from Witch Hunter Robin.

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