Saturday, May 31, 2014
Great Games I Never Played (Till Now) - Big Eyes Small Mouth d20
Well, it was bound to happen eventually. I have had this one for an awful long time. I picked it up at the same time as I bought d20 Slayers and d20 Mecha. It's from the same publisher, the (sadly) defunct Guardians of Order. GoO went out of business in 2006, largely (in my opinion) due to G.R.R. Martin and A Game of Thrones, the rights to which were the debt straw that broke their debt camel's back. It's too bad they didn't hold out for a few years longer, or else the Game Of Thrones craze might have carried them over.
BESM was their first game system, though not technically the one I am reviewing here. BESM d20 was a add on to D&D d20 or D20 Modern, which made the system capable of portraying anime style adventures. Largely this is accomplished by supplementing or outright replacing the character creation system. Normally I am against doing something like that, but in this case, it works pretty darn well.
The new core classes are pretty fun, and can be rather genre specific, like the 'magical girl' or 'monster trainer.' On the other hand, there are very generic classes, such as 'adventurer' or 'student,' which, instead of set abilites, give the player attribute points to develop the character's skills in any way desired. The system itself is clever, fun, and robust. This is pretty much what I had always liked about Guardians of Order products. In some cases, the changes seem more streamlined and cohesive than the original WotC product it was designed to 'supplement.'
Another great thing is that the character classes are all built with the same attribute systems and costs as the 'generic classes,' meaning they are all power balanced by default. So, if you want to make a player party of Power Rangers, it works fine, but if you want to mix genres and make a party of a Magical Girl, a Samurai, a Shapechanger, and a Giant Robot, it still works just as well. That in itself is a level of elegance which makes this a worthwhile addition for any d20 enthusiast's library.
Since nobody is really that into d20 anymore, this can be had on the cheap, if you can find it. If you can't find it, PDFs are out there, but might actually be more expensive to print than buying an original. As such I would only recommend this as a last resort.