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Self-Indulgence 5: 1d666

May 6, 2010

I’ve been playing tabletop role-playing games for a damn long time. I got into RPGs before I got into comics, anime, or any of my other hobby save video games. I got the Marvel Super Heroes RPG (The one made by TSR) for my 11th birthday, making that the summer between my 5th and 6th grade years.

Over the years I played the gamut of RPGs. I got into D&D shortly after that. Once I hit high school, World of Darkness was taking off and I got into it around the time the first edition of Werewolf the Apocalypse was released. Soon came Call of Cthulhu and Warhammer Fantasy and all sorts of other games.

Most of my closest friends are people I bonded with over pens, paper, and d20s. One of the people I get together with on a regular basis is someone I’ve been gaming with since 7th grade, and I still keep in touch with the other guys I’ve gamed with since those days despite almost all of us living on separate sides of the country.

This is anime-related because my absolute favorite gaming experience came during a session of Big Eyes Small Mouth.

Big Eyes Small Mouth (BESM) is an all-purpose anime RPG system. It’s designed to be cinematic and rules-light in order to best capture the nature of an anime series. It plays fast and loose and leaves plenty of room for interpretation and improvisation. Since my Game Mastering style tends to be of the “OK, let me come up with something off the top of my head since no one else is willing to be GM” variety, said loose rules work in my favor.

This particular gaming session was born out of such an impromptu gaming session. One of the aforementioned middle school friends was back in town for a week, so we got a few people together to do some sort of gaming before he had to leave. I pulled out BESM, since this old friend of mine just happens to be a big anime fan as well, so I knew he’d get a kick out of it.

I decided to go with the classic high school setting for this game. We had done this before during our old Project A-Ko campaign from a few years before, so we weren’t treading on new territory here. We rolled up characters and ended up with:

  • Your classic geeky girl with glasses that’s good with technology.
  • Token exchange student girl who is seemingly normal but has a “mysterious past.”
  • A baseball fanatic who fights like Shouma from Rival Schools.
  • An animal lover who has a giant rooster as a pet/Pokemon.
  • And an underaged heir to a mafia family (who also likes Uzis).

Not the most over-the-top group of characters, but they worked just fine. After having them play out a few token school scenes setting everything up, I had them go on your classic “senior trip.” The class went to a tropical island modeled after Hawaii. Hula dancing, surfboards, volcanoes, the whole shebang.

Then I threw in the apocalypse cult.

Turns out that a group of native cultists wanted to trigger a series of events that would result in the world ending. You know how those silly cultists like to blow up the world. My friends saw this coming, since most of my games end up being “OMGENDOFTHEWORLD” and shit like that, but it still amuses them because they expect it from me.

They fought the cultists in a museum, where they failed to stop them from stealing an artifact that would help them start the ceremony. Then they fought them in their hotel lobby. Again, they failed, and this time it resulted in everyone being knocked out and carted off to the cult’s underground facility.

Stuff happened. People betrayed people, namely said “mysterious” girl who revealed herself to be with the cult. She had planned on being the sacrifice that would trigger the apocalypse, and she needed some friends to become sacrifices along with her. She pleads with the group to join with her, but that doesn’t go down very well with the other players.

In the end, the world nearly ends. The girl was being tossed into the mouth of an underground volcano, thus tipping over the first domino, when the Uzi kid pulled a fast one.

When the player who made the Uzi kid rolled his character, he decided that one of his “important” items was a locket. He said that he wanted it to do something at an important moment in time. Figuring that he’d forget about it when said “important moment” occurred, I let it go. Thing is, he remembered and he used it to save the world.

The player decides that there’s something inside of the locket that allows for two people to transfer souls. I make him roll dice, telling him he needs a DAMN GOOD roll for this to work. He gets that damn good roll. He swaps souls with the girl. She is in his body and he’s in her’s, but now Uzi kid is falling into the mouth of the volcano. He saved the world, but now he’s going to die.

I give him a shot to save himself. Again, he needs a damn good roll to live. He gets that roll and survives, meaning that this 10-year-old mafioso boy is trapped in the body of a 18-year-old exchange student, while his former body is being buried under rubble as the underground facility crumbles in the wake of the ceremony failing.

He was happy that he saved the world. He wasn’t too happy that he was essentially playing a female character. He was even less happy that the adventure had to end after roughly 10 hours of marathon gaming without the opportunity to remedy his character’s predicament. But it was still a gloriously awesome session.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 17, 2010 10:37 AM

    When it comes to tabletop gaming for a real anime-fan, you might want to look into Standard RPG System… It even has some really good settings like the Polyphonica world.

    The problem is I’ve yet to find translated materials from this XD

  2. Landon permalink*
    May 18, 2010 10:39 PM

    Sounds similar to the system used by Savage Worlds. They both seem to be “cinematic” RPG systems that are streamlined to emphasize fast-paced storytelling. Savage Worlds was designed for pulp action, but it’d easily handle an anime storyline. The main difference is that there aren’ any anime/manga/whatever series that have been pre-adapted for players.

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  1. Self-Indulgence 7: Half-Life « Mecha Guignol

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