Showing posts with label Anime. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anime. Show all posts

Friday, June 3, 2016

Kickstart Your Weekend: Ninjas and Badges

It's almost the weekend folks!  Here are a couple of kickstarters I think are worthy of your support.

Up first is Ninja High School a new game based on the comic of the same name.


It comes to us from +Jonathan Thompson and Battlefield Press, whom I have worked with in the past.
It's a D6 system, so it should be a lot of fun. I have been wanting to do something with D6 for a while now.

And we are nearing the last 10 or so hours of Gamer Badges by JBM Press.


https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1705440407/gamer-badges

I have to admit I love the idea of these.  Not just in terms getting the badges (which is fun) but also this is exactly the sort of thing Kickstarter is about; helping a small company get the capital they need to get a unique project off the ground.  Plus JBM Press are good people.

Enjoy your weekend!


Friday, May 3, 2013

Cartoon Action Hour Season 3

A while back I reviewed Cartoon Action Hour Season 2. A great, really fun game. Especially if you grew up in the 80s.

Well Spectrum is up with their new Kickstarter for Cartoon Action Hour Season 3.



Open for only about and hour and half so far (at the time of this posting) and it is doing well.
Lots of levels to pledge at including some early-bird ones to get some discounts.

Looking forward to this one.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hex Girls: Lord Salem on TV?

Faithful reader Danny pointed this out to me the other day.

On the new Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated there was a character, Hebediah Grim, who is very similar to my own "Lord Salem".



The episode was called Grim Judgement and I guess the character was the ghost of a Puritan judge (thus the mallet).

http://scoobydoo.wikia.com/wiki/Hebediah_Grim
http://scoobydoomysteryincorporated.tumblr.com/post/29064054832/happening-now-on-mystery-incorporated-a-puritan
http://scoobydoo.wikia.com/wiki/Grim_Judgement

I am not surprised they come up with a character like this.  Using a Puritan judge or witch-hunter is kind of a no-brainer really.

I will have to watch this episode sometime and see if I get any ideas.  Maybe for the game I can rework it into an CAH2 episode where the girls Lord Salem/Grimm are attacking actually are witches.  Maybe this is the first time we see him.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Open Core and Open Anime

O is for two games that are related. Open Core and Open Anime.
Both games are from Battlefield Press and both use quite a bit of the SRD, but they are not d20 or D&D.


Both are designed to allow the GM to create his/her own game with the tools provided.  Both also use the same basic roll system; 3d6 + Attribute + Skill. (or even 1d20 + Attribute + skill).   The system is modular, so you can take or leave what you like.

Open Core is based on the OGL but differs quite a bit from it.  Like a number of game, OC uses a point buy system for attributes and skills.  The number of points granted is based on the game's power level.  You have six attributes, three physical and three mental, that map nicely to d20 or even Unisystem.  These abilities then can be used for derived abilities, like initiative or health or even variant ones like SAN.

Skills are covered and use the same point buy system. And there are a lot of skills, though given the modular nature of the game and maybe the your own games focus, you might need to use all of them.

There are also a number of effects-based abilities which look very similar to BESM d20/SAS d20 or other open Super's games.  Though the "hows" of these effects may not be defined.  For example a "Fire" effect could be magic (fireball), tech (flame thrower), advanced science (heat ray) or anything really.   The aim is to describe what is happening and then GM/Players decide how it happened.

Also included are a list of Disabilities, things that can affect your character.  This is very similar to other games, in particular GURPS.  These grant a certain level of Character Points back to you.  Finally we also get Action Points, which work like Drama Points in Unisystem.

The next part of the book are the rules of play, which is heavy on the combat and things like chases and mental battles. The rules are simple really, using the same basic rolls, just applied in different situations.
There is a section on adventures and a quick overview of character creation.

The Appendices cover different play modes.  So for example Sorcery which adds "D&D/d20 Arcana" like spells to your game.  Another is an expanded wealth system.

Open Anime is a little different.  It is very, very similar to Open Core, but with more of an anime overlook.  What does that mean?  Well, for starters we start with the various Anime sub-genres and how these change how you view and how you play your character.  If Open Core is the Marvel Universe then Open Anime is the Marvel Manga Universe.

Open Anime is actually a game I have wanted to write.  When BESM disappeared there was a vacuum for a good Anime RPG.  With all the Open systems out there and the BESM-d20 system open, all the elements needed are out there.  Open Anime combines all of these using Open Core as their guide.  While I don't think it quite reaches the heights that BESM does/did, it is a rather good effort.  Good enough that I don't have any desire to write my own Anime game anymore, I'll just tweak this one.  There is a heavier emphasis on Magic and Magical Girls than say other types of Anime Genres.  Which I think is a little disappointing.
What gets me the most about this one is there seems to be a lack of what makes an Anime RPG an Anime RPG.  I think in the attempt to make this game more open and more flexible they lost a little of what makes Anime different than some other games.

Both games are fun and I'd like to see more from them.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Witch Hunter Robin for Unisystem

I swear I had posted this before, but a quick search brought up nothing.  So here is Witch Hunter Robin for Cinematic Unisystem.  If you are curious to see what else I have done with this character I have done write-ups for OVA, BESM 2r, Witch Girls Adventures and True20.

I worked up this character during during the early days of the working on Ghosts of Albion.  I was working on the magical battles rules and needed someone to try them out with.  I didn't want Willow fighting Tara and I had been watching the WHR fan-subs (and later the DVDs with my wife) I thought Robin would be a good choice.

So here is my full write up on Robin Sena.


Witch Hunter Robin is a fascinating Japanese animation by Sunrise (of Cowboy Bebop and Gundam Wing fame). I am that not much into Anime, but this one was great. A cross between “X-men” and “The X-Files” with parts of the old TV show “The Others” and CJ Carella’s “Witchcraft” thrown in for good measure. Any modern horror gamer should find something here to like. A great tale of government conspiracy, occult themes, and witches. What is not to love about all of that?

The 26 episode series (that is all they were going to make) deals with a witch hunter named Robin Sena.

Fifteen year old Robin is the newest hunter to be assigned to Solomon Toukatsu Nin'idantai (Solomon Executive Organization) – Japan, or STN-J. Robin though is different. She is European-Japanese working in an all Japanese environment (in one episode a co-worker makes fun of her Japanese, in another she eats Miso soup with a spoon). Her early childhood was spent in a convent in Italy. There her life consisted of prayer, chores and learning to use her craft. She dresses in a full-length black dress that is reminiscent of the Victorian age. But that is not what sets her apart.

Robin is a craft-user. A witch.

She is sent to STN-J after the death of another hunter. What Robin is really there for, and what she does are part of the drama and story.

Now “Witch Hunter Robin” is different than most American fare. It is by it’s nature, slower; it takes time to build up to the main plot. We need to see her reactions to the various day-to-day operations of STN-J. Like how she relates to fellow hunter Amon (is she crushing on him? does he want/need to kill her?), or what is the deal with Dojima anyway (great payoff there!). Or why she refuses to use the anti-Witch Orboro guns.

It lacks sex, T&A and some of the things that we have become accustom to on American TV, but the story is first rate. I don’t know much about anime really, but the visual style is fantastic. It is very easy to see this being remade as a live action drama. The musical score is also reminiscent of “the X-files”, haunting, dramatic and really just very, very good.

Robin’s Powers
Robin is a fire-starter, a pyrokinetic. She can create and manipulate fire as a force of will. She can set small fires or large ones at will, or even use her fire to block attacks of a mundane or magical nature.

She also has quite a store of occult knowledge, she knows about magical circles and the histories of various witch-types. So her classical training is a bit better than her co-hunters. She understands witches because she trained as one.

Robin’s weaknesses come in the form of her eyesight. As she uses her magic, her vision blurs. Unless she is wearing her glasses, she can’t see to hit her target.

Witches in Robin’s World
Witches is the world of Witch Hunter Robin are treated as another race of humans, much in the same way that the mutants are in the X-Men. Witches has a specific “witch gene”, which in a sense makes them more like psionicists or mutants rather than witches, but they draw connections with this and the witches of Salem and occult ideas, so an interesting mix to be sure.

The job of Solomon is to “remove” witches and seeds (witches whose powers have not manifested) who use their powers. STN-J’s policy is not to kill witches, but instead they use a drug “Orobo” to nullify their magic and knock them out (In Unisystem I would say one shot per levels of Sorcery, or Magic in BESM). Witches are then carted off to “the Factory”. What happens to them is one of the major plot points of the show, so I won’t reveal it here.

Robin in Your Game
There are a multitude of reasons Robin Sena (or any number of other STN-J agents) could show up in your game. Maybe Solomon HQ is setting up shop to take out the local supernatural population (whether you want them too or not) and in tow is Robin.

Or maybe you decide that Robin strikes out on her own. After all those 26 episodes were in 2002; who knows what she could be doing in 2004. So she ends up in your neck of the woods. Is going to be Hunter or Witch? Well that is for you to decide.

In any case Robin should be one of the most powerful witches in your game despite her age. That is sort of her purpose really. To continue her tale she would be naturally drawn to places with large numbers of supernatural events, whether you have her working for Solomon or not.

Robin is quiet, a little shy and withdrawn. She was shown to be uncomfortable in some situations, but that can be due to understanding the culture she was in. Also Robin is carrying around a few secrets with her, mostly to do with her real reasons for being at STN-J and her own origins. In the show Robin is rarely seen without her glasses when doing magic. She also owns a Vespa scooter and a bike (her driving skills are calculated with these in mind). When not hunting rogue witches she can be found drinking coffee or espressos. Lots of coffee.


Robin Sena

Race: Human
Occupation:Witch Hunter / Witch
Age: 15 (in 2002)
Gender: F
Height:5'1"
Weight: 105#
Eyes: Green
Hair: Auburn

Mother:Maria, dead
Father:Toudou, dead.
Grandfather(maternal): Juliano Collegrie, priest and high ranking officer of Solomon HQ.
Allies:Amon, Nagira, hunters from STN-J
Enemies:Rogue witches, rival hunters

Languages: Japanese, Italian, English

Attributes

Strength 2 Intelligence 5
Dexterity 2 Perception 2
Constitution 3 Willpower 6

Life Points: 33
Drama Points: 10

Skills
Acrobatics 0
Knowledge 4
Art 1
Kung Fu 1
Computers 1
Languages 4
Crime 3
Mr. Fix-It 0
Doctor 0
Notice4
Driving 2
Occultism 6
Getting Medieval 1
Science 1
Gun Fu 0
Sports 0
Influence 1
Wild Card 0


Qualities
Attractiveness 2
Contacts 3
Fast Reaction Time
Hard To Kill 1
Occult Investigator
Occult Library 1
Pyrokinesis 7
Sorcery Level 4


Drawbacks
Adversary 5 (witches, rival hunters)
Addiction 1 (Mild, caffeine)
Emotional Problems
Honorable 1
Impaired Sense 1 (Vision when using magic)
Obligation 3 (Solomon, STN-J)
Outcast (foreigner in Japan)
Secret 3 (witch, others)
Teenager
Zealot

Useful Information

Initiative 7 +1d10
Perception 6
Additional actions 0
Armor 0

Combat Maneuvers
Maneuver Bonus Base Damage Notes
Dodge 3 - Defensive Move
Punch 3 4 Bash
Kick 3 6 Bash
Magic 16 - By Spell type
Pyrokinesis 12 5 x SL Will x SL + Fire Damage
Telekinesis 10

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Witch Hunter Robin: True 20

Been going through a stack of True20 notes and thought I'd post some of the better ones here.

Here is another take on Robin Sena, aka Witch Hunter Robin.

Robin Sena

STR: -1 DEX: -1 CON: +1 INT: +2 WIS: +3 CHA: +2

Initiative: -1 Defense: 0 (-1 +1 leather trench coat)
BAB: +1 (2 -1)
Toughness: +1 FORT: +2 REF: +0 WILL: +7
Virtue: Determined Vice: Stubborn

Skills
Bluff: +6, Computers: +4, Concentration: +8, Craft (‘craft’ items): +8, Drive (Vespa): +2, Escape Artist: +1, Gather Information: +8, Knowledge (Foreign Culture): +4, Knowledge (Religion): +8, Knowledge (Supernatural): +8, Notice: +4*, Perform (ritual): +8, Survival: +4

Feats
Benefit (STN-J contacts and clearance), Quicken Power, Supernatural Focus (Elemental Blast)*

Powers
Fire Shaping, Elemental Blast (Fire)*, Elemental Aura, Psychic Shield, Psychic Blast

Languages
Italian (native), Japanese, English

Equipment
Leather Trenchcoat, Vespa Scooter, STN-J issued phone/com link, glasses*

Conviction: 5

*Robin can’t use these powers without the aid of her glasses. Without them she can not strike any targets beyond 20 feet.

Age: 15 (in 2002)
Gender: F
Height:5'1"
Weight: 105#
Eyes: Green
Hair: Auburn

Mother: Maria, dead
Father: Toudou, dead.
Grandfather(maternal): Juliano Collegrie, priest and high ranking officer of Solomon HQ.
Allies: Amon, Nagira, hunters from STN-J
Enemies: Rogue witches, rival hunters

I think this one compares nicely with some of the other versions I have done of her; OVA, BESM 2r, and
Witch Girls Adventures.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Willow & Tara: Cartoon Action Hour Season 2

I have covered a lot of this ground already, but I am surprised I had not actually posted this yet.
To follow-up on my review and write-ups of Cartoon Action Hour 2 I wanted to present my two witches.  The power scale here is a bit different than say the Hex Girls, but it is still very do-able in CAH:2.  In fact the power scalability here maybe one of Cartoon Action Hour's greatest strength.

Keeping with the 80's vibe of the game, I'll use pictures of action figures.

So I am obviously going to start with my versions of Willow and Tara from BESM 3.0 and OVA.  I think they both do a good job of capturing an "animated universe" version of the girls.  CAH should actually do a bit of a better job really since it is so flexible.

With BESM 2r I was going more for a different universe deal. Same characters, different situations.  With this I think I am more likely to go with the characters as they are in the Dragon and the Phoenix/Season of the Witch time lines.  Just different viewpoint on the same characters and events.  Plus it makes filling out the sheets easier since I have a very clear idea of who these characters are and what their motives are.

So going with Season 3 here there are somethings that are new to the world.  Like for example everyone knows magic is real.  While they don't hide they are witches they do hide how powerful they really are.
(For details on this world, you will have to wait till I post all of "Season of the Witch".)


Willow Rosenberg
Series: Willow and Tara, Season 3
Group: Willow and Tara
Appearance: Attractive 20-something woman with red hair.

Factoids
- Is off-the-charts smart
- Fantastic computer hacker
- Is a witch and can do magic
- Is in love with Tara
- Sold her computer company at age 25 so is very rich
- Can still be a bit insecure

Subplots
- Has anger issues
- Secret: Brought down the veil between worlds (outed magic)
- Fears loosing Tara and loosing control of her powers
- has made a number of enemies

Traits
Witch (Spell Caster Cluster), 8 (24 points)
 - TK (manipulate)
 -  Arcane Blast (attack)
 - Shield (defend)
 - Magical Sight (can see magical creatures, magical forces in the earth) (misc.)
Attractive 2
Computer Expert/Hacker, AF 6
Monster Hunter 2
Occult Scholar 5

Anger issues x1
Secrets x2

Base Oomph 5
Threshold 18
Battle Rating 8


Tara Mclay
Series: Willow and Tara, Season 3
Group: Willow and Tara
Appearance: Attractive 20-something woman with blonde hair.

Factoids
- Is empathic
- Artist
- Is a witch and can do magic
- Is in love with Willow
- Is a councilor
- Can heal by touch

Subplots
- Secret: Brought down the veil between worlds (outed magic)
- Fears Willow loosing control of her powers
- has made a number of enemies

Traits
Witch (Spell Caster Cluster), 7 (22 points)
 - TK (manipulate)
 -  Arcane Blast (attack)
 - Shield (defend)
 - Magical Sight (can see magical creatures, magical forces in the earth) (misc.)
Attractive 1
Books of Spells
- Albus Codex 2
- Journals of Tamara Swift 2
- Journals of Megan Mclay 2
Familar (MKF, adds +2 to Oomph), 4
Healing Touch (revives), AF 3
Monster Hunter 2
Occult Scholar 5

Secrets x2

Base Oomph 5+2 (7)
Threshold 19
Battle Rating 7

Friday, September 3, 2010

Those Meddling Kids, Part 2

So I have some links to share!

Allyson Brooks the author of MK sent me some character sheets to share with you all!
Character Sheet
Wild Card Sheet

Reader Bruce Hill sent me a link that includes both the Character sheet and a second adventure.
http://www.kidzworld.com/article/4962-meddling-kids-introductory-role-playing-game-review

There is some good life in this game still!

Thanks Allyson and Bruce for the links.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Those Meddling Kids!

I wanted to talk some about super heroes this week.  Really I did.
But I got sidetracked by the boxed set of D&D4. And what is it about an RPG in a box? When box sets were in vogue all I wanted were hard cover books.  Boxes of soft cover books were for kids!

Well in that vein I ended up with another "new" (new to me) RPG that honestly I am a little surprised I didn't know about; Meddling Kids.

I guess it was out in 2004, but somehow I missed it in the tsunami of d20 books.  But it is now at DriveThruRPG so I picked up a copy.  The company is still around, but they don't support the product that much.  I am still searching for more information (I'd love a character sheet) but until then I am on my own.

So what is Meddling Kids?  Well it is an introductory RPG for "kids of all ages" but recomended for ages 7 and up.  The writing is very clear and concise and frankly one of the better "intro" games I have seen.  It is designed as an intro game and is listed as "Stage 1 of the Starter System". I don't know if other stages were produced or not, but the feel here is one of "this is your first game so have some fun, and when you are ready we will have more for you".  As with most starter sets there is lot the seasoned (or grizzled in my case) player can ignore, but it was still a very fun, light and fluffy read.
The premise is simple.  You create a teenage mystery-solver who belongs to a clique of other liked minded teens.  Like in the TV show that this is so obviously taken from, different teens of various social standing and family incomes mix together well in a group united by their love of solving a mystery.  Or maybe it's the talking dog. Or dune buggy. Or chimp. Or genie. Or...you get the idea.  If you grew up in the 70s-80s then you know what I mean.

Character creation is simple.  You create a background for your character, then are given points for Stats and  Abilities.  Pretty simple.  Since we are talking about cartoons your Teen is put into an Archetype.  So think Jock, Brain, Fluff, Goof and so on.
The system is a simple one of Stat  plus a roll based on Abilities plus a d6.  Compare to a Target Number or resist the roll of something else.

What sets MK apart though is the use of the "Wild Card" character.  This is a character, usually an animal, that hangs with the clique and is run by the GM.  Not an NPC or even GMPC (though very close).  The Wild Card is the one that helps in the adventure/mystery.  So yeah, think Scooby Doo, or even Jabber Jaw or Captain Caveman.  It is a fairly clever idea really and one of the only games I have read that encourages a GMPC like character.

The book is small, less than 100 pages with pretty clear large fonts, so this is not a hefty tome to learn, it is a simple game that does exactly what it sets out to do and it does it rather well.  It is a great game to teach the little guys how to play using something that both parents and kids will know all about.

There are a lot of comparisons that could be made between this and Cartoon Action hour or even BASH (which has a similar feel to it).  But MK really does it's thing rather well.

So obviously a game using this based around the Hex Girls makes a lot of sense.  Though there is no magic system really, though the Wild Cards have some magic like abilities.  Plus the game is aimed a teen characters, not really young adult.  But fortunately there is a good solution.  I can do a "Season 0" or pre-season, and deal with the adventures the girls had before they discovered their magic.  I would cheat a little and give the girls each one of the magical Wild Card abilities, but under only under special circumstances, say once per "scene" or something like that.  It would be hard to do with a group that has played the Witch Girls Adventures, Unisystem or Cortex versions first though.  It could also be a link in my life-span development chain, put it in between Little Fears but before Witch Girls.  Truthfully it should go after Witch Girls, but in WGA the characters would develop their powers.

So what would be a Intro Season or a Season 0 of Hex Girls be like?
Well lets go with the mythology set up so far.  We know the girls know about magic (from "The Witch's Ghost") and Thorn has some (can read a spell at least).   So.  Let's start at the begging.  They are not big stars yet, they are touring around local clubs and solving mysteries.  These will be of the Scooby-Doo variety; a haunted house, a spooky amusement park, sightings of a ghostly pirate ship.  No overall story arc or main bad guy, but a string of Monster of the Week episodes.  And nor more than 6 total.  After that I think most kids will be ready for other games.

What are the girls like?  Well younger. Let's make them all teens.  Thorn is 18, Luna is 19 and Dusk is 16.  This would be right about the time that Thorn and Luna formed the HG and brought Dusk in as their second drummer (all great bands have had at least two drummers).  So this might even be a bit before TWG.  So much for continuity...I'll say it is right after since that make the next thing make more sense.
Who is our Wild Card?  That is easy.  I am going to rob from myself (and Charmed) and say the Wild Card character is the ghost of Thorn's Great-great-grandmother.  She is here to guide the girls to their magical destiny.  She can only rarely interact with others and only the girls can see her.  So in Meddling Kids terms she has "Ken" with their "clique".
So the game takes place right after The Witches Ghost and was the basis for the Hex Girls song, "Those Meddlin Kids".  Sure. Why not.

Thorn
Archetype: The Fluff  (she is the center of attention)
Strength: 5
Moves: 7
Smarts: 6
Health:  6

Free Ability: Flirt

Intuition (8 pts) Smarts+1d6
Leadership (5 pts) Health+3

Monster Mind (6 pts) Smarts+3
Musician, strings (4 pts) Smarts+1d6
Singer (4 pts) Health+1d6
Weirdness Magnet (3 pts)

Luna
Archetype: The Brain (to cover all her music knowledge)

Strength: 5
Moves: 6
Smarts: 8
Health:  5

Free Ability: Bookworm

Level-Headed (3 pts) Health+3
Musician, string, electronic (8 pts) Smarts+1d6
Popular (8 pts) Health+2
Steel Memory (3 pts) Smarts+3
The Whiz (music) (4 pts) Smarts+3

Dusk
Archetype: The Temper (fits well with the image I have of her)

Strength: 7
Moves: 7
Smarts: 5
Health:  5

Free Ability: Stir the Pot

Fearless (6pts) Smarts+1d6
Intimidate (7 pts) Strength+3
Musician, drums (4 pts) Smarts+1d6
Rich (7 pts) Health+3 (though she keeps this hidden)
Hip (3 pts) Smarts+2

Gram
Archetype: Wild Card (Ghost)

Strength: 4
Moves: 7
Smarts: 9
Health:  4

Quirk - Speaks and acts like she did in the 17th Century.  Has all the girls call her "Gram", she calls them "dearie".  Likes the girls' music, but thinks it is too loud.
Call to All
Ken (2 pts) no roll
Specter (16 pts) no roll
- Fade
- Super Fly
- Transform
Telekinetic (8 pts) Smarts +7

Again, I like these builds. I think they work out nicely for starting characters and players which is exactly the point of "Meddling Kids".  Gram needs to be better defined obviously.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cartoon Action Hour, Season 2: Review


So a while back I picked up a game I had known about for a while; Cartoon Action Hour. I had heard a lot about it, how it was perfect for umlauting cartoons like G.I. Joe and Transformers and even He-Man and Thundaar. Well I'll be honest, I didn't watch many of those cartoons as a kid. I know of them, yes, and I watched episodes here and there, but my preferences were running much more to fantasy and slowly into horror and cartoons were not a good source for that then. But I wanted to get this game to see what the big deal was and to see if it could in fact do all these different kinds of stories. So I bought it.

 Well. It lived up to the hype.

Cartoon Action Hour: Season Two (CAH:S2) is an updated version of the earlier Cartoon Action Hour. You don't need the first game obviously to play this one, but it does come with conversion notes. Both were written by Cynthia Celeste Miller of Spectrum Games, a name that often comes up when people talk about Genre Emulation and Indie Games. Her other efforts were "Slasher Flick" and "Wild West Cinema", both games I also know of, but don't (yet) own, and like CAH, both come highly recommended. In addition to doing the writing for this game she also did all the layout, and she is also a drummer in a metal band, Slaygound. That is pretty cool if you ask me.

CAH is divided into "Channels" and not Chapters or Sections. Clever huh. Channel 1 (which we didn't have in the 80's but that is ok) is the obligatory "What is role-playing" and a definition of the cartons we will emulating; the Retro-Toon. The book goes one to explain why the Retro-Toon, and not say toons of the 90's and more. For example this game really focuses on the black and white morality of the toons of the age. G.I. Joe was good and Cobra was bad. End of discussion. While you certainly could play a bit more loose with the morality of the game (the He-Man episode "The Witch and the Warrior" comes to mind as one where evil may not be so evil. BTW also written by Paul Dinni. Mr. Dini and I will be in "witch-aholics anonymous" together one day. ) I would say don't. That is missing the allure and appeal of this game. Miller takes a bit of time and page space to break down why and how these toons worked the way they did and I think that it would be an injustice to run the game differently. Not to say your game can't be "dark", but this is not World of Darkness nor is it even Buffy.

Channel 1 ends with the best overview of 80's cartoons I have ever read. Frankly I'd love to see more of this, but this is fine as it is. Nearly worth the price of the PDF alone. Well….sorta, it is good, but we still have the whole book to read.

Channel 2 is about creating the series. This is an important step away from the normal Player make Character, GM makes World process of many games. In CAH:S2 everyone has to work together (see that!), so the GM makes the world first, with of course input from the players. Then when the world is defined the players can start on their characters. What does making a world, or a Series, in CAH:S2 mean? Well typically it means what sort of show are you going to do? Will this be soldiers fighting a multi-national terrorist organization? Robots from another planet? A hulking barbarian in world where magic and technology collide? All these are possible and there is even a "Character Sheet" for the series. I liked this sheet and I can see using it to plan out say a Buffy RPG or Supernatural season; it is flexible enough to use in any game. I love it when I get something like that. Once that is done and the tag line is created ("A Real American Hero!" or "More than Meets the Eye!") then it is time to create our stars.


Channel 3 is Character Creation. Character creation is a point buy system based on a number of "Proof of Purchase Points", with the amount allocated set by the GM when she makes the series. Guidelines are given. There are no set traits a character has or can have. Players need to come up with a concept and then they build that into a list of traits ranked 1 to 5 (or so, again set by the GM). So a "gigantic transforming robot" might have the following traits: "Robot 1, Transform 3, Plasma Gun 3" and then something that makes him unique "Leader of the Transbots, AF 4". This unique feature or features is called an "Action Feature" and it comes into play later. Think of G. I. Joe, Snake Eyes was the Ninja with a Sword so his Action Feature might be "Sword master, AF 6" since he never talked that is a negative trait "Never Speaks, X2". Miller does provide a list, but is very much against providing one. The purpose of the character creation is to find out what the character can do; not create a bunch of numbers to define them.  
I also liked this character sheet quite a bit.  The one from CAH 1 I think had more detail, but this one is great.  Now here is point of serious untapped potential.  Nearly any character from any game can be converted to a CAH:S2 character in a few simple steps.  Take Eric from the D&D cartoon.  We have stats for him thanks to the box set of DVDs, but in CAH he has traits like "Brave" and "Magic Bow, AF, 5"  So for his combat rolls he gets +5 and Snake Eyes above gets +6.  See, two different cartoons, two different series and concepts and we can already pit one against the other.  Cynthia Celeste Miller has written the Geek Rosetta Stone!

Channel 4 is Rules of Play and it is pretty simple, but good stuff. I want get into all of it since that has been covered elsewhere, but I like the "Setbacks" and the return from "Commercial Breaks"; again something I could see using in Buffy or one of the Anime RPGs I have reviewed. The dice mechanic is based on a d12, so nice to see it get some love. Roll a d12 add the appropriate trait and that is it. Sometimes there is a target number, sometimes there is a contested roll. The mechanic is not difficult. In fact I think the best way now to do "Animated Unisystem" is swap out the d10 for a d12. You can add "Oomph" to a roll like Drama Points, or you can have an issue with one of your "Sub plots". For the Snake Eyes example there is the issue with his former master and his arch rival.

The interesting thing about this is, it is on the same level as BESM 3.0 or even OVA. Use one to get ideas for the other, or combine them all for an Anime fueled 80's style retro-toon of mammoth quality.  Add CAH:S2 supplement "Going Japanese" and you are set.

Channel 5 is for Game Masters. It has all cool new rules and ideas for this game. How to run commercial breaks, sub plots, allies, hazards and threats.

Appendix 1 (dropping the style for a bit. Was UHF 1 too obscure?) We are given three complete series to run as our own with stars, enemies and even faux 80's television histories. "Warriors of the Cosmos" fills the Thundaar/He-Man void, "Strike Force Freedom" is the obvious nod to G.I. Joe and "Transbots" is about, well, Transforming Robots. With all the bases covered here (more or less) GMs should have not problem creating their own series.

What Else? Well there are conversions for Cartoon Action Hour 1. The bickering between the evil Kargorr and heroic Bravesteel is entertaining; very much in the vein of Space Ghost Coast to Coast I felt.

All in all this is a crazy fun game. Easy to learn and play. Some thought has to be put into the series and then the characters to get the full feel, but there are plenty of characters and series in the book. Plus this is a game that screams for splats. Do a series bible up, list some potential traits, add some ready to run characters with histories, put it all in a PDF and there you go. I am surprised with the flexibility of a game like this the Miller has not included some sort of Open License for it.

So in the tradition of RPG Net:

Style: 5
This game is stylish as all get out. Proof you don't need an art budget of thousands to get your point across.

Substance: 4.5 to 5
The funny thing about this is the subject matter can be a bit fluffy, but this game does such a great job of emulating it. I would like to have more examples; say something like Scooby-Doo or even a magic-centric series.

Name: Cartoon Action Hour: Season Two
Publisher: Spectrum Games
Author: Cynthia Celeste Miller
Category: RPG
Reviewed: PDF
Pages: 145 (including covers)


Like OVA, CAH:S2 takes a very simple approach to emulate their medium perfectly.  By begin simple it allows either game to go after all sorts of genre.
 
Links

Friday, June 11, 2010

Willow & Tara: OVA

To wrap-up OVA I present my two witches.

Now at this point you might ask what is that OVA brings to the table that I didn't cover in BESM 2, 3.0 or d20?
And the truth is, not a lot, but that is fine.  It presents the material in a new way. By focusing on the concept of the character first, not just what the numbers add up to, was a good way to think about what the character is supposed to be.

The OVA sheets should sit nicely next to all the flavors of BESM and should be used with those games as well as a reminder of what the character is supposed to be.  I guess this is the reason that some many people like Fudge and Fate so much these days.

That is also what I like most about Anime as a genre/medium.  Emphasis is placed on the character.  Take the recent Witchblade anime and compare it to the Witchblade American comic.   In the anime we get to know Masane first as a mother. Ok a bit of an air head, but she is not an ass-kicker.  Sarah Pezzeni is.  As the series progresses we see Masane as something more than just the Witchblade wielder.  Just like Robin is more than a firestarter witch or Kiki is more than flying.  There is character development that you just don't quite see in American fare.  Now granted, sometimes I want a plot driven show or just watching stuff blow up real good.  That is fine.  But in game I want it to be more character driven.  I invest in these characters; I want to know what they will do.  I want to be pulled in and even surprised.

Shall we?
For the witches I wanted a more powerful game, so I set my power cap at 15.  That is crazy, but I think it works here.  In Mutants and Masterminds terms that could be between PL 12 and 17.

Willow Rosenberg
Human Intelligent Super Witch
29 years old (2010)

Abilities and Weaknesses
Beautiful +2, Filthy Rich +2, Item, Doll's Eye Crystal (adds to Endurance for casting) +1, Inventor +2, Magic, Arcane +6, Occult Knowledge +5, Smart +5, Telekinesis (part of magic) +6
Guardian (Brianna) -2, Loves (Tara) -2, Minority (Lesbian Jewish witch) -1, Quick temper -1

Attack
Blast +6
Spell +6, by spell type

Defense
Barrier +6

Health 40 Endurance 40


Tara Maclay
Human Empathic Witch
29 years old (2010)

Abilities and Weaknesses
Animal Companion (can talk) +1, Beautiful +2, Magic, Witchcraft +6, Occult Knowledge +5, Perceptive +2,  Psychic +2, Sixth Sense +3, Telekinesis (part of magic) +6
Guardian (Brianna) -2, Loves (Willow) -2, Minority (Lesbian witch) -1

Attack
Blast +6
Spell +6, by spell type

Defense
Magic Circle +6

Health 40 Endurance 45

This is obviously much later in the future than my previous builds.  Nothing new here really except for the addition of their dependent daughter Brianna (long story, I'll share it someday).  I gave them different types of magic, something I tried a bit in d20 Modern.  I think in future builds or revised ones I will explore this more.  I would like to see how it works in-game.

Now that I have OVA builds for Willow, Tara, Ivy, Rachel and Robin I should figure out a one shot to use them all in.  Maybe STN comes to Ohio?  Wow, that is even a stretch for me.

While I am on the subject of OVA I might head over to the American side of Cartoons for a bit and do Cartoon Action Hour.  It is a similar game in terms of character creation and I want to compare them while this is still fresh in my mind.

So many games.......

Monday, June 7, 2010

Play Ivy For Me: OVA

So according to the official OVA RPG blog there will be a 2nd edition of the OVA RPG.
I have liked what I have seen so far of OVA, so the second edition should be fun.  July 17 is the release date.

Until then though I wanted to bring out some characters I have been dying to stat up for any game.

I just finished reading the latest Rachel Morgan book, Black Magic Sanction.  Like all the others it was fun ride and great to see Rachel, Ivy and Jenks again.  Given the nature of the series I thought an anime roleplaying adaptation would be perfect. Plus I am wrapping up OVA and just finished the book so it fits; for me anyway.

So what do you need to know with out getting to spoilery? Well.  Rachel Morgan is a witch living in Cincinnati in a world where everyone knows about magic, witches (like Rachel), vampires (like her roommate Ivy) and even pixies (like their business partner Jenks).  Rachel has so problems keeping herself out of trouble and then problems about getting herself much deeper in trouble once she is there.  Ivy is a bad mood away from going total bloodlust psycho thanks to years of mental (and physical) abuse from Cincinnati's former Master Vampire. And Jenks...well Jenks is a pixie and that means a lot in this series.

It is a very cool set of books and if you have not read them and you like modern supernatural then these are a treat.  I have mentioned them before but had not got around to doing any stats.  That changes now.

Like my Witch Hunter Robin write-up I am using the rule of a power cap of 10.  I want Rachel and Ivy to be about the same league as Robin, but obviously more powerful due to their world, age and experience.

Rachel Morgan
Concept: Trouble prone witch with a deadly secret. or two.
"I'm a white witch damnit!"


Abilities & Weaknesses
Beautiful +2, Combat Skill, Splat-gun (a paint ball gun filled with potions) +2, Combat skill, Hand to hand +2, Magic, Arcane (Earth Magic in the book) +2, Magic, Witchcraft (Ley Line Magic in the book +3),  Magic, Demonic (combining Earth and Ley Line) +5, Occult Knowledge +3, Perceptive +2, Weapon, Splat-gun +2
Code of conduct -1, Guardian, Jenks and Family (though they are more often her guardian) -1, Impulse Control (Rachel often acts before she thinks) -2, Obsession, help Ivy -1, Rivals (Al, Moral and Ethical coven, Trent) -3, Secret (demon spawn) -2, Special Weakness, Jerk Magnet (Rachel has terrible taste in men) -1.

Attacks
Hand to hand, +2
Splat Gun +2, special damage. Hit target falls asleep.

Defense
Take down +2
Magic Circle +3, ley line based

Health 40, Endurance 40

Character Notes: Rachel is a 25 year old witch and former IS runner.  She is now an independent runner for Vampiric Charms and no that is not a escort service.  Rachel is tall with long red, red hair and green eyes.  She has a demon mark on her wrist from her personal demon, Algaliarept "Al".  She has discovered a great many things in her short time as an independent and maybe one day she will be able to live to talk about it all.
She awful taste in men given that they either leave, are secretly thieves or are really ghosts.
If nothing else Rachel is a survivor and she might be the secret to the survival of all the Interlander Races.  If they don't all kill her first.

Ivy Tamwood

Concept: Living vampire with issues.  lots of issues.
"Damnit Rachel, you are going to get me killed. Twice."


Abilities & Weaknesses
Agile +2, Beautiful +3, Combat Skill, Sword +3, Combat skill, Hand to hand +3, Filthy Rich +2, Occult Knowledge +2, Perceptive +2, Quick +2, Strong +2, Weapon, fangs +1, Weapon, Sword +3(extra damage), Special: Vampire*
Code of Honor/Conduct (friends) -1, Impulse Control  -2, Love Interest, Rachel (Ivy is in love with Rachel, even if Rachel isn't) -1, Needs Blood -2, Obligation (Master Vampire) -1, Obsession, Survive her 1st Death -3, Rivals (rival vampire clans) -1, Special Weakness, Afraid of Rachel's Magic (Ivy won't use any of Rachel's magic) -1.

Attacks
Sword +3, damage: 2
Hand to hand, +3
Fangs +1

Defense
Parry +3

Health 50, Endurance 50 

Character Notes: Ivy is a member of the Tamwood family of living vampires.  That means she is stinking rich but one day she will die and rise as a soulless monster, a dead vampire.  She will do anything to stop that and she thinks Rachel is the ticket.  Of course the fact that Ivy is also in love with the head strong witch has nothing to do with it.  Almost nothing.  Ivy suffered years of mental abuse from the Master Vampire Piscary to mold her into the type of Scion he wanted. In fact Piscary had been molding her whole family for centuries to get the qualities he wanted.  So Ivy, with her dark hair, husky voice and slightly Asian features, is a knock out.  Even supermodels think she is hot.  But most of the time Ivy is in a bad mood.  She tried to go of off blood and that made difficult to live with, then she went back on to the blood and that made things even weirder.

And there you go.
OVA does not have a vampire ability really, so I just combined things that made Ivy who she is; quick, strong, agile, needs blood to live.

I like the OVA versions of them and can't wait to try them out in Ghosts of Albion or Witch Girls Adventures. 

OVA Witch Hunter Robin

I spent some quality time with OVA this weekend.  I generated a few characters and it was one of the fastest character creation system I have played with in a long time.  Character creation was a snap.

To start with you work from your concepts and then basically figure out how much these concepts are worth.  What I liked about this game that abilities and weaknesses are roughly equal to qualities and drawbacks, so a +4 quality in Unisystem might give you a +4 ability in OVA.  I would also say that they are roughly equal to abilities in BESM 3.0.

What I like about this character creation is it does focus the player on what the character is all about.  Look at Kiki from "Kiki's Delivery Service", she is young, is looking for her place in world of witches, and can fly.  Not a lot really to be honest, but enough to build a story and a character concept around.  We know she can fly, can cook (sort of) and knows her way around the city.  She has a talking cat and a push broom.  OVA starts the same way.

Looking at Robin Sena we can do the same.  I have detailed Robin before both for BESM and Witch Girls Adventures.
What do we know about her?  Well she has secrets. Secrets about who she is ans what she is doing at STN-J. She is a witch, but rarely casts spells but instead uses something more like pyrokenisis. She knows a lot about the occult and can hunt.  We also know her Japanese is not great because she didn't grow up in Japan.  She also needs glasses in order to see to use her powers. She doesn't fly, but does have a Vespa scooter.

Using the rules I decide to set a power cap of 10.  Nice round number.
Finding the abilities and weaknesses I come up with this:

Robin Sena



Abilities & Weaknesses
Combat Skill (fire) +3, Magic, Witchcraft* +3, Occult Knowledge +3, Pyrokinesis (altered form of TK) +3: (Area Effect, Extra Damage),  Impared Sight -1, Secret -1, Haunted by Visions -1, Shy -1, Obsession (Discover the secret of her birth) -1, Code of Conduct -1.

That gives us a total of +6.  Just under the 10 I set.

Health: 30 (i reduced this to refelct her age)  Endurance: 40

Attack, Flame Strike +3
Defense, Magic Circle +3

I gave her "Magic, Witchcraft" instead of "Magic, Arcane" since I felt that it was better fit concept wise.  Though either would have worked fine.  I'll detail later the differences.

I like it.

I seems to be "missing" some crunch that I would normally like, but that could be partially my reading of the system and just the way the game is.   As an Anime game I think it works great.   Parts of it remind me of Cartoon Action Hour, which is cool.  I'll look into OVA again when I talk about Cartoon Action Hour.

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.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Anime RPGs: BESM recap

Ok, so I have worked through three different versions of BESM.  Each one had something to offer my regular Unisystem games and each one gave me a alternate game when I felt the need to recharge my batteries.

Yes, Unisystem pretty much offers everything I need in a system.  But playing and reading other games, especially other genres of games, can help me build out the game I am playing.  BESM added a need dose of light to my games.  Trust me, I have a stack of Horror games that can provide me plenty of dark, Anime games helped me focus on some of the things that horror games often overlook.

One of the issues in my games (at least in the past) was "what does it mean to be human?".  I had many characters that were were closer in nature to the monsters they hunted rather than the humans they protected.   To help with these issues games like World of Darkness are good, but full of angst that I may or may not want in an adventure where the characters go to the beach on a bright sunny day.  Anime games help with those "days off" stories where there is a lull from the action but it is a good adventure for character development.

BESM, and other Anime games, were very influential on my Season 3 game "Generation HEX" in terms of tone, pacing and story.  It also helped me see the value in a 2d6 mechanic for Unisystem.  BESM 3 only solidified that.

Some Crunch
One of the things I like to do with a new system/game is find some gems and convert them over to what-ever system I happen to be using at the time.  Often that is Unisystem.


Unknown/Undeveloped Power
1-5 point Quality
Prerequisite: Approval of Director/Chronicler

Some characters are born with their gifts turned on or readily apparent. These characters my start the game as normal humans only to have their powers or gifts turned on when it becomes dramatically appropriate.
To represent this the player pays a certain amount of Quality points at character creation (usually 1 to 5) to have the Director/Chronicler develop the new power over time as part of the story campaign or all at once when it is needed. The Player and Director/Chronicler need to agree to this. The player pats the points now and the Director/Chronicler gives them the power that costs the amount paid plus 50% rounded up at a later date. This payoff should be no more than two or three episodes. Longer than that should increase the amount of interest paid on the power. The character is loosing potential at the beginning of the game (making them weaker than other characters) for a larger return.
So a character that is to develop magic at some point can pay 3 points now and get a return to 3 + 1.5 = 4.5 rounded up to 5 points later to buy Sorcery/Magic.

The Director/Chronicler must work to make the payoff worth it not just in terms of points, but also in terms of drama.

This selection also works well for younger characters.

Characters
One thing that BESM 2r/3.0/d20 was missing were some iconic characters for me to convert.  So I have to turn to it's sister game SAS.  And since GoO was a Canadian company I should use one of Canada's finest superheroes.

Mother Raven
Human Witch
This represents Mother Raven at the start of her career. As she progresses she will increase her levels of magic to a max of 8 and increase her skills and loose her recurring nightmares (loss would be something she would have come to terms with). Given that this is "Silver Age" I would imagine she would be "Grandmother Raven" now.

Life Points: 26
Drama Points: 10

Str: 2 Dex: 3 Con: 3 Int: 4 Per: 7 Will: 7

QualitiesAcute Senses (Sight) ("Raven's Eyes")
Attractive
Contacts (The Guard)
Hard to Kill
Iron Mind ("Raven's Will")
Magic (no TK) 6
Nerves of Steel
Supernatural Senses ("Raven's Warnings")

DrawbacksAdversary (Various, in particular General Winter)
Dependent (Daughter)
Honorable
Minority (Ojibwa Native American)
Recurring Nightmare (life without Raven)
Secret (identity Katherine McCloud)
Spell Focus* (All powers require the use of her Raven staff)

SpellsShadow Form, Illusion ("Raven's Tricks"), Darkness, Pocket Dimension, Negate Powers (drains Willpower), Sunkiss (Blindness, LP damage SLx5, SLx8 to vampires)

SkillsAcrobatics 1, Art 5, Computers 1, Crime 2, Doctor 5, Driving 1, Getting Medieval 3, Gun-Fu 0, Influence 5, Knowledge 8, Kung-fu 2, Languages 5 (English, Ojibwa, Crow, Chippewa, Tlingit), Mr. Fix-it 2, Occultism 7, Science 3, Sports 1

From the d20 version:
IDENTITY: Katherine McCloud (Secret, known to Anisinabe)
OCCUPATION: Teacher, speaker, writer, painter, adventurer
FIRST APPEARANCE: Amazing Presentations, Vol. III, #45
FORMER ALIASES: None
PLACE OF BIRTH: Sunset Lake Reservation, Ontario, Canada
AFFILIATION: The Guard
TERRITORY: Empire City
HEIGHT: 5'8" (173 cm)
WEIGHT: 160 lbs. (73 kg)
EYES: Brown
HAIR: Black

The old ways had been abandoned in Sunset Lake Reserve by the time Katherine McCloud was born; it was a familiar story in Northern Ontario. The Ojibwa sank into despair, suffering from poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and rampant diabetes. The ancestors and spirits of the world were all but forgotten to gambling and alcohol. Katherine excelled in school, but the instability of her home life took its toll. Her father was often gone for months, and they had to take in her mother's mother. Both parents were alcoholics, but her mother would try putting life in order each time father left. Yet whenever he returned Katherine's mother would take him back, beginning anew the cycle of abuse.

By high school, Katherine turned to drinking and drugs as a panacea for the pain and anger she felt, and for the strange visions that plagued her dreams. She dismissed her grandmother's foolish talk of spirits, and refused to admit she was spiralling out of control; Katherine could no longer ignore life when she discovered she was pregnant at 16. She exhibited a supreme effort of will to finally live clean, which her grandmother noted proudly.

Without the alcohol, her grandmother made sense, and Katherine turned to her grandmother's spirits to ease her burden. Drumming circles and sweat lodges brought the image of the Raven, growing ever stronger. As she neared her delivery date, grandmother sent her on a vision quest into the wilderness. The Great Raven appeared, speaking of the need for change. Katherine's role was to become a symbol for her village, for her daughter, for all Anisinabe - the people of the land. She awoke in her mother's house, now a mother herself. Her grandmother taught her to be a good parent, see the spirits, and represent her people. In time, she became a powerful teacher herself, reaching out as a writer, painter, and speaker.

During Katherine's 20th summer, Lady Starbright pursued General Winter across Ontario, until Winter knocked the hero unconscious and deep into Sunset Lake. Katherine desperately struggled to save her while the General's wake turned the village from summer to winter. Raven helped Katherine save Starbright, before both women co-operated to drive Winter off.

Starbright liked Katherine immediately, and offered to teach her. Katherine accepted, knowing she had a greater responsibility. She left her daughter with her grandmother, and let Starbright show her the world. Starbright introduced Katherine, now Mother Raven, to the American Sentinel, Slipstream, and others, while Raven guided Katherine's abilities, teaching her to draw from his power, to create shadows, and cast visions.

An early mission with Starbright against Artificer resulted in tragedy; Artificer lashed out indiscriminately and killed a young Ms. Matthews. Her son, Samuel, forever blamed the women, calling them false heroes; his hatred grew over the years, turning him into Katherine's frequent enemy.

Raven still whispers secrets in his hoarse caw; Katherine learned to take strength from sorrow, and thus faced Starbright's death by joining the Guard. Raven even taught Katherine to touch the sun, as he once did to bring fire to mankind, but only at great need, and at great cost. Now, she travels to protect and teach, but always returns to the one who needs her most: her daughter.

And what is a hero without a super villain. If Mother Raven represents what is best about motherhood and power, then here is the worst.

Bloody Mary

There are many strange and terrible things in the world, but few target innocence so ruthlessly or cruelly as the monstrous Bloody Mary. She has been called demon, fiend, and vampire, but is she truly otherworldly, or just an example of human capacity for evil?

Bloody Mary was first reported as the perpetrator in a nation-wide kidnapping case, where a dozen children from across the United States were abducted. Street kids were whispering, “Bloody Mary got ‘em,” weeks before the FBI had a name. The Baron recognized something supernatural was involved, and helped the FBI. Mary’s plans to use the children as livestock were upset by the Baron, the FBI, and the appearance of Pan & Belle. Mary was defeated, but escaped.

The story of Bloody Mary, however, was told by street kids for years, but no one ever believed them. She was first called La Llorona by children of Mexican immigrants, and known to stalk children through mirrors. Haitian kids knew she could reach through the tinted windows of Jeeps. She was a demon, or a spirit possessing an evil woman, or even a corruption of the Virgin Mary; she fought with angels, and used children for slaves, living off of their blood and fears.
Blood Mary has been seen several times since then. Mother Raven and Lady of the Lantern teamed up when Mary invaded Empire City, once more chasing her away. Some children say she is building an army of demons, a hellish warmachine powered by the souls of children, to conquer the spirit world. Others believe Mary is mad, perhaps driven insane at the loss of a child, and simply trying to restore her old life. Finally, a few believe she is pure evil, hunting children because she loathes their innocence and can feed off their souls. Many children believe once she’s seen your face, Mary can track you to the ends of the Earth.
In 1997, a doomsday cult in San Francisco, the Temple of Mars, summoned Bloody Mary to tear apart the dimensional veil. They offered 100 refugee children as sacrifice.
Whatever they intended, few seemed to realize the horror they were dealing with. Many died as Mary opened a hellgate, but Pan & Belle appeared and drove her back. Meanwhile, Mother Raven and Slipstream arrived and dealt with the demons ... but during the fight, one incarnation of Belle gave her life to keep the children safe.
The FBI does not know how to deal with Mary, and calls in help whenever she is believed to be involved. The Baron clashes with her whenever their paths cross, but she tries to avoid his territory. He does not know if she truly travels between Heaven and Hell, but has seen her vanish into the spirit realms, and has even seen her personal, nightmare dimension. Mary barely acknowledges these forces, except when they directly interfere with her machinations. She sees most superheroes as bothersome distractions, but regards a few (like Red Phoenix and Sentinel) as hated angels.
Pan & Belle most often crop up wherever Mary is spotted, and much bad blood lies between them. Mary is the embodiment of everything they oppose. She eagerly anticipates the day they, and all the children of the world, lie chained at her feet.

Bloody Mary  (Unisystem)
Character Type: Demon? (has Faerie and Vampire like attributes as well)
Attributes: Strength 3, Dexterity 4, Constitution 3, Intelligence 2, Perception 5, Willpower 8
Ability Scores: Muscle 12, Combat 12, Brains 20
Life Points: 55
Drama Points: 10
Qualities: Dimensional Travel (requires reflective surfaces), Fast Reaction Time, Hard to Kill 7, Hypnosis, Immortal, Iron Mind, Nerves of Steel, Regeneration, Supernatural Senses, Telepathy, Vampiric Attack (“Spirit Bleed”, Willpower)*
Drawbacks: Adversary (Various, in particular General Winter), Attractiveness -1, Supernatural form (bloody tears, looks supernatural and evil)
Skills: Getting Medieval 2, Influence 4, Kung-Fu 2, Notice 4, Occultism 8

Spirit Bleed Attack: On any touch-based attack Mary can drain 1 point of Willpower. Victims drained to 1 point are completely under Mary’s control. Anyone drained to 0 become zombies.

Maneuvers
Name Score Damage Notes
Dodge 12 — Defense action
Grapple 12 — Resisted by Dodge
Kick 12 8 Bash
Punch 12 6 Bash
Claws 12 6 Slash

Bloody Mary  (Mutants & Masterminds)
PL: 7 (105 pp)

ABILITIES: STR: 11 (0) DEX: 13 (+1) CON: 11 (0) INT: 9 (-1) WIS: 20 (+5) CHA: 13 (+1)

SKILLS: Bluff (+1), Concentration (+5), Diplomacy 1 (+2), Disguise (+1), Escape Artist (+1), Gather Info (+1), Handle Animal (+1), Intimidate 2 (+3), Streetwise 6 (+5), Notice (+5), Search (-1), Sense Motive (+5), Sleight of Hand 2 (+3), Stealth (+1), Survival 10 (+15)

Languages: English, Spanish, Creole, French, Latin, Portuguese

FEATS: Favored Opponent (Children) (1), Fearsome Presence (1), Attack Focus (Melee) (1)

POWERS: Dimesional Pocket [4], Environmental Control (cold) [4], Immunity [2], Mind Control [4], Mind Shield [5], Obscure (Darkness) [4], Shapeshift (animals only) [4], Super-movement (dimensional, requires a reflective surface) [1], Super-senses (innocence, magic, portals, ultravision) [4], Drain (Intelligence & Wisdom) ("Spirit Bleed") [1], Blast ("Soul Wound") [2], Regeneration (Resurrection) [1]

COMBAT: Attack 0 [Unarmed +0 (Bruise)] Defense 10 (10 flat-footed) Init 1

SAVES: Toughness 0 (0 flat-footed) Fortitude 2 Reflex 3 Will 7

DRAWBACKS: Disability (Holy Gound) -4, Noticeble (looks supernatural) -3

COMPLICATIONS: Enemy (Angels, Those that protect children), Obsession (Kill all Children)

Abilities 17 + Skills 7 (26 ranks) + Feats 3 + Powers 79 + Combat 0 + Saves 6 – Drawbacks -7 = 105 / 105

To make these more "Anime" I would alter Mother Raven a bit to be more of a kindly old grandmother type that has a ton of power.  Bloody Mary would be more inhuman looking.  Abnormally thin with long claws. Something like the Witch in Left 4 Dead.

Next week I want to look at some of the newer games and see what they can offer me.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Big Eyes, Small Mouth d20 (and SAS d20)

Why BESM d20?

Well again, it seems like a logical next step.
My conversions to BESM Tri-Stat version went so well that a conversion to BESM d20 seems logical. Plus I have done numerous d20 conversions so far and Silver Age Sentinels also has Tri-Stat and d20 variants and are very close to Mutants and Masterminds (with SAS d20 and Mutants and Masterminds both written by Steve Kenson).  So yeah, it seemed logical.

Plus despite that fact that Guardians of Order are no longer with us, the "Anime d20 SRD" rules were released as open gaming content. So if I wanted to I could release an anime d20 supplement or an entire new rule book using the rules of the OGL.

The other advantage to using this set of rules it is fairly easy to convert Unisystem to BESM and BESM to BESM d20. I can also convert d20 Modern or M&M to SAS d20 and SAS Tri-Stat. And both SAS and BESM d20 are built on an odd mix of d20 and Tri-Stat, so in the end it seems that BESM and/or SAS d20 stats should write them selves by now.

Well…

What happens is I get some interesting differences depending on if I start fresh, convert from Unisystem, convert from BESM Tri-Stat, or even from one of the d20 games. I will not bother with the details here (mostly they end up being differences in saves and amount of skills) but all of them are close enough for me to feel there is a good sense of "inter-system reliability" and that was sort of the point of this long experiment; can I represent certain characters more or less the same way under multiple systems.

So when looking at this conversion I am going to be focusing on BESM d20. I am grabbing things from SAS d20 as well since the systems are largely compatible. (nitpick: and by "largely compatible" I mean "powers were cut and pasted from one version to the next" with BESM 2, SAS, BESM d20 and SAS d20 I figure I have paid for the same blocks of text now four/five times). BESM d20 seems closer to D&D3.x and SAS d20 closer to M&M, but that is to be expected. I am also freely dipping into "BESM d20 Advanced Magic", but more on that later.

Overview
A lot of what is in BESM d20 can be found in BESM and SAS d20. A lot. So much that I wish I had just one omnibus edition with say a d20 conversion chapter. Almost all the attributes have the same (or similar) point spread across all the systems and to convert to d20 from Tri-Stat is often just a matter of doubling the points. BESM d20 includes rules for converting the D&D and d20 Mod classes to their point system so I am not at a lack of choices. I did notice right away that BESM d20's Dynamic Sorcerer is not 100% compatible with SAS d20's Costumed Wizard; and similar inconsistencies have popped up. There are also minor balance issues between the SAS classes and between the SAS and BESM classes. Converting the lot to Unisystem might help, or might make things worse. So my first conversion rule is giving any character an extra 5 "fluff" points to spend as they see fit. I found that these points usually balance everything out well. See defects below for more on this.

Levels, Classes and Hit Points
Ok, lets get this out of the way now. BESM d20 and SAS d20 both have levels, classes and hitpoints. I typically find that people can deal with one, but not the other, and rarely both unless it's D&D. On the surface level can convert roughly to M&M's PL, rough enough that I am going to say it's fine and not worry about it. But Hit Points do not work with M&M's Damage system. On the other hand levels do not work well with Unisystem.

And then there are Classes.

While some don't like this, I think it works well in terms of Anime, but less so for Supers. Ok for the most part these can be ignored since they only decide what powers a character will get and when, what Hit Die, attacks and saves. BESM d20 offers a classless option which should work fine for the class haters out there. Also BESM d20 deconstructs the D&D classes by what they get with points to show their relative merits (useful for anyone playing D&D). We can convert the Classes to archetypes but we are still stuck with levels. It is d20 after all.

The Classes in BESM d20 seem to work better for me. The SAS d20 classes felt too restrictive. One thing I wanted to do was stat up my son's favorite female super heroes Fire and Ice, but the closest thing that seems to work is "Adventurer" with maybe some "Acrobat"? Not very satisfying.
At this point I go to my d20 Modern and Mutants & Masterminds conversions to get an idea of what level I want. I have a basic understanding of their skills, so I can work backwards from that point. I also have knowledge of what types of magic (lower case m) they can do, so I can work backwards from that point as well. In the end I think I want to use the lowest possible level (so I have room to work up) and given them the 5 fluff points. Willow comes out to about level 13 and Tara level 12 total.

Magic and Dynamic Sorcerery
Like BESM, BESM d20 has a "Dynamic Sorcery" power, "Dynamic Powers" in SAS and BESM 3.0. This is used in BESM d20 to emulate the power of wizards. Its roots are in Anime of course to mimic the special magical effects of characters that are not really Vancian-style wizards. Witch Hunter Robin for example could have dynamic sorcery limited to fire. Using Dynamic Sorcerery is one of the benefits (and one of the problems) of BESM (either Tri-stat or d20).

Dynamic Sorcerery is primarily used for improvised casting. It is bought in levels and how many levels you have decides on what it is you can accomplish. It's not cheap, 8 points per level in BESM d20 (4 points per level in BESM 2.0 Tri-Stat, 20 points per level in SAS d20), but limitations on powers (like the fire only stipulation for Robin above) drops it to 4 or 2 (or 2 and 1, or 15 and 10) points per level. Ranks in the power determine what level of spell you can cast. So to cast a 0-level d20 cantrip you need 1 rank of Dynamic Sorcery, to cast a 9th level d20 spell, you need a Dynamic Sorcery rank of 10. The parallels between this and Cine Unisystem's Magic/Sorcerery should be obvious. Buffy's Sorcery includes Telekinesis, d20 BESM has TK as a separate 4 point per rank power.

So Dynamic Sorcery is a way to do spells and on the spot magical effects.

Now BESM d20's "Magic" attribute ("Power Flux" in SAS and BESM 3.0) also allows the character to perform magical feats, seemingly similar to Dynamic Sorcery, but they caution using the two together. Magic then becomes a descriptor and then the extra 10 points per rank are used to buy other attributes/powers. This makes it most similar to M&M's "Magic". Then to power those magical attributes/powers, the character must pay some cost from their Energy Points (like Essence in WitchCraft) So a Techno Pagan then could buy Magic and use the points to buy Mechanical Genius or to be a Super Scientist. BESM d20 Magic then in Unisystem terms is a means to buy Supernatural Qualities. In this respect BESM's Magic + Energy Bonus is most similar to Classic Unisystem's The Gift + Extra Essence and Essence Channeling.
Magic becomes a means to buy other powers, that can sometimes be called spells, sometimes called powers.

Willow then could have a level of Magic, use the points to buy TK and use the associated Energy Points to power her TK OR she could do it with a level in Dynamic Sorcery. Tara would do the same to power her Empathy and the Sight qualities, but those "feel" more like magic and less like dynamic sorcery. BUT keeping track of Energy Points is not how Cinematic Unisystem works (otherwise it would have Essence) so, I am going to limit how Dynamic Sorcery and Magic are used together (as the rules suggest) and treat them much the same way I treat Sorcery and The Gift. Separate, but equal (and not in a Kansas Board of Education way).
Magic and Dynamic Sorcerery are also known as Power Flux and Dynamic Powers respectively in other Tri-Stat books (SAS and BESM 3.0).

So which one should I use to represent the magic I want?
Good question.

I have spent a lot of time working this out and the truth is for d20 BESM I want to go with Dynamic Sorcery. It's more cinematic in it's feel, it's parameters (in d20 anyway) are a little better defined. Thanks to "d20 Advanced Magic" it is also a better choice in terms of multiple spells. Plus at this point in my game Willow and Tara are whipping out spells left and right. For a BESM d20 "Willow and Tara" or "Charmed" game, I would say each witch character gets a special power with the Magic descriptor added on and then Dynamic Sorcery as well. To use TK they use their Dynamic Sorcery with a power level equal to that of their power level in Dynamic Sorcery. Sure it's expensive, but cheaper than buying DS and TK at the same time.
Note: BESM d20 vs. SAS d20. I am further making my options for BESM d20 over SAS d20 clearer here. The Dynamic Sorcerer in BESM is much more powerful than Costumed Wizard of SAS d20. Not only in terms of points given (twice as much for BESM) the cost for the dynamic sorcery power is 8 points per level compared to SAS's 20 per level. Now the arguement can be made that BESM is way overpowered. But this can be controlled though the use of the character points. In the end BESM d20 has a closer fit for me and what I want to do.

Powers into Qualites
Again the basic conversion is divide the BESM d20 power cost by 2 to get the Unisystem quality cost, unless the BESM one is 1, then it stays 1. There is so much overlap between BESM d20/SAS d20 and Mutants and Masterminds that whatever works for one will work for the other.

Defects into Drawbacks
If BESM d20 and SAS d20 have one edge over their d20 brethren then it is in the use of Defects. The issue here is that both games use point systems along with levels, so defects give you more points. This makes it sometime unwieldy for other d20 games, it makes it perfect for converting them into Unisystem Drawbacks or Mutant & Masterminds.
Again, as with Powers, divide the Defect points by two to get a Unisystem equivalent, with some rounding. 1 point defects remain 1 point, 2 points = 1 point and 3 points = 2 points. Most defects never go beyond 3 points. Now if you remove the "fluff" points option I have above then it is possible to convert them on a one to one basis; keeping in mind that a Unisystem character should never have more than 10 points in Drawbacks.
Since all the drawbacks are "scaled" in BESM and SAS they can be converted more on an as-needed basis too.

Skills
Skills convert on a 1 for 2 basis, so every one rank of Unisystem gives you 2 ranks of d20. That works fine as a base, but the two games are not powered the same. So to get a level based on Spell power, you end up with a higher level character (Willow is 13th level here) and a lot more skill points to spread around. Fortunately there are a lot more skills in d20.

Silver Age Sentinels vs. Mutants and Masterminds
I have mentioned it above quite a bit, but I'll detail it here. These two games have a lot in common. Yes both have Steve Kenson's name on them, yes both are d20 (and thus maybe not interesting to Unisystem players) and yes both are about superheroes.
But what you don't get from reading one or the other game is how well they can work together.
When doing my conversions I have decided that in my d20 Supers game, SAS represents my Silver Age (1956 - 1968) while M&M is the modern age. So I just roll back any dates of the characters back 40-30 years, where necessary.

The great thing is that this has brought greater definition to my "Superhero World". It is a mix of Mutants & Masterminds, with SAS as part of it's history and elements from BESM where needed. No cute and fuzzy fighting seizure monsters, well, not yet anyway, but there are dragons and some other magical beasts.

Willow and Tara in BESM / SAS d20
Why always these two? Lots of reasons. But here are my salient points.
- I am interested in how witches in particular will convert. I don't really care about demons, vampires or other stock creatures; every game has those.
- Eden has Willow and Tara sheets on their site (used to anyway), this allows people not overly familiar with Unisystem, but d20, to make judgments on my conversions.
- I like Willow and Tara. If want to do all this work on converting then you can pick your own characters.
Now I also use them as "out of the box" characters. That is I try not to make up any special rules regarding them. I have another character I use that for. But the idea here is take something that I know very well (and most people here have some idea about) and see if I can re-create them using another system.

Instead of using "The Dragon and the Phoenix" canon/timeline, I am going to be using my "Willow & Tara: The Animated Series" timelines; so the same as BESM 2r. Truth is, vampires and demons, especially the kind that show up on TV are not much of a threat to humans that can leap tall buildings in a single bound.

I don't feel the need to post their full stats (unless anyone wants them), but here are their levels.


Willow D. Rosenberg
Female Human
Classes and Levels: Student 2, Adventurer 2, Dynamic Sorcereress 9 (13)
Strength 9 (-1), Dexterity 11 (0), Constitution 11 (0), Intelligence 18 (+4), Wisdom 16 (+3), Charisma 17 (+3)
Student (to cover her time during 1st and 2nd seasons), Adventurer (starting in 2nd season and into 3rd where she 'buys' more tech and magic skills) and finally Dynamic Sorcerer. I'll make her a Student 4, Adventurer 2, Dynamic Sorcereress 7 (level 13).
Compare this to her d20 Mod incarnation who is a Smart Hero 5, Occultist 1, Mage 7 (level 13)


Tara A. Maclay
Female Human
Classes and Levels: Magical Girl 3, Student 2, Dynamic Sorcereress 7 (12)
Strength 12 (+1), Dexterity 9 (-1), Constitution 12 (+1), Intelligence 16 (+3), Wisdom 18 (+4), Charisma 16 (+3)
Magical Girl (to cover her time before meeting Willow and to power her Sight and Empathy) and then Dynamic Sorcerer. Maybe a level of Student in there too.

Her companion is the ghost of her dead mother (or grandmother if you want her to start earlier). She also has MKF as a companion, and in true anime fashion Miss Kitty is a talking cat. I could also make her a Magical Girl 5, Student 2, Dynamic Sorcereress 5 (level 12). Compare to her d20 Mod incarnation, Dedicated Hero 6, Mystic 6 (level 12).

I'll say they pick up the bulk of their Occult Knowledge while they are students.

While I am not as thrilled with these versions as I am the BESM 3.0 or the Mutants and Masterminds ones, they are still pretty good.

What gets me about BESM d20 is the huge amount of untapped potential here.  There is just a ton of stuff in this book for the taking.  Same with SAS.  Speaking of SAS, the best super-hero history I ever read was in the pages of SAS.  They are the same in both the d20 and Tri-Stat versions (another grumble).  SAS looks like it should mix well with M&M but I guess they are really too close to each other that their differences are more obvious.  It's a shame that SAS never really got it's due. It does read like a rough draft of M&M at times.

Is BESM d20 Anime?  Well I guess I have to ask, what is Anime?  BESM d20 is a good d20 version of BESM.  I am not convinced though it taps into that collective known as "Anime" as well as BESM 2 or 3 does.  I have played more BESM d20 than BESM 3 so to me it came off more like "Cartoon Cinematic d20".  Which is in itself not so bad.  I have mixed BESM d20 and D&D3 and gotten something a bit more cinematic. I have also mixed BESM d20 with d20 Star Wars for some really weird stuff, but all of it fun.

As I wrap up BESM (all versions) I have to reiterate what a shame it is that we lost GoO.  I know companies come and go all the time and each time something unique to the industry is lost.  Not to say there were not issues with GoO; there were plenty, and they were hardly a model of how to run a business.  It is just too bad that what they provided to the game industry is now gone.
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