Wednesday, 1 Dec 2021

Big Eyes, Small Mouth Has SO MANY Options For Creating Anime TTRPG Characters

I love anime, and I love Dungeons & Dragons. Putting the two together, however, is an iffy venture. A big reason for that is that many D&D players find anime – or perhaps just the idea of acting out anime – to be cringey. They’re not down for empowering friendship speeches, over-the-top villains, or the often bizarre humor. Because of this, game designer Mark MacKinnon decided to make his own tabletop RPG set in an anime multiverse. The final product – Big Eyes, Small Mouth – fully embraces the wild, weird multiverse of anime.

BESM Fourth Edition just hit digital storefront DriveThruRPG last month, with the physical books set for a summer release. Its big appeal, and even bigger ambition, is that it gives players the tools to play a tabletop version of any conceivable anime. Seriously, any anime.

MacKinnon and the design team accomplish this by keeping the actual rules rather simple. The only die used are d6. There are only three core stats as opposed to D&D‘s six. Since the foundation is so basic, it allows players to go crazy with the truly fun part of the game: creating their totally original anime OCs.

GMs are advised to give their players Power Levels to keep them balanced and know what kind of adventure to expect. Lower Power level games will have characters with a few neat skills and maybe one superpower. They’ll be great for a Ghibli-esque romp. Higher power levels allow for full-on Dragon Ball Z brawls that shake the planet to its core. But whatever Power Level is chosen, it only sets in place certain ceilings. The players totally free to choose their actual abilities at all levels.

The book does offer a healthy amount of templates to help with the process. Like other popular TTRPGs, there’s a menu of race and class templates. Players can freely combine these by “spending” a certain amount of character points based on their Power Level. That’s where the “any anime” thing comes in. There’s magical girls, martial artists, and ninjas, of course. But have you ever dreamed of being a sharpshooting mecha-loli? Well now you can!

Feel free to think even weirder. You could be a half-orc Pokémon Trainer or slime idol girl if you so choose. Or how about a shapeshifter who’s into the street racing scene? As long as you have the points for it (and the GM allows it), you can be it. The real challenge, of course, will be coming up with the backstory for such oddball creations.

BESM Fourth Edition is available now for $29.99 as a PDF. There’s also a “Naked” version that’s the core rules with less GM guidance for about half the price. For those who are curious but on the fence, a free “Primer” version PDF gives the basic rules but less templates.

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