Monday, June 1, 2009

Reader Roundtable

We take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to bring you The Reader Roundtable!

Essentially, I'm asking for you, dear readers, to post comments to this entry. What kind of comments? Whatever is on your mind! Thought of something you'd like to see in a revised OVA game? Or maybe you thought of something you would not ? Or did you just want to stop by, say you like everything so far, but have nothing to contribute? This is your chance to help shape the new edition of OVA, and all comments are welcome.

Still here? Having trouble thinking of something? Well, take a gander at this short collection of quandaries and see if any of them match something buried in your subconscious.

1) Was there anything in OVA you had difficulty understanding or wished there were more examples of?
2) Did you ever make a character and couldn't find an Ability or Weakness you needed? How about a rule to handle a certain situation?
3) Any of the sample characters you found particularly entertaining...or boring?
4) Do you have a favorite anime you wish were better represented? If so, what?

Look forward to hearing from all of you! Those of you more content to lurk can expect a new update next Monday.


  1. I'm still quite confused as to how Arcane Magic is supposed to work in the new version. >_>

  2. Metalman from the forums here.

    I can't think of much that wasn't clear. I really look forward to the new edition. I was building some sample characters before I run my game and ran into a few snags.

    First one is the multiple transformation thing I mentioned in the forums, that was pretty much covered by magic and multiple transformation spells though.

    Also, Is there an ability that allows a character to split up into multiple selves? I think that's a pretty common sight in anime. I thought about using servant, but sometimes the character wants exact duplicates. maybe with some kind of power division?

    Anyway, Thanks for the game, man. keep on doing what you're doing. :)

  3. The thing I LOVE about OVA is that it's simple. BESM failed me eventually because it became GURPS with 2 dice. I already have GURPS. I don't need GURPS jr. Whatever you do, just keep that principle in mind: OVA's beauty, it's greatest beauty, is that I can sit down with some friends and in 5 minutes have a character and a game, while it's not so "lite" that it stops being an actual game. If OVA stays that way, I'll snatch it up in a heartbeat ^_^

  4. Um.. here's my question.

    Why does healing require a full round with no other actions allowed to be taken? That sort of makes the healer a sitting duck in combat, and a large group of enemies can just overwhelm the healer and the target, making things worse (due to the likely lost HP), and the healing was aborted, so nothing happened, basically starting the process all over again.

  5. Okay, let's get cracking here!

    Joe: It works as it always has. I did tweak the rules to be a bit to be simpler, as well as modify the Endurance cost. But the basic idea is the same.

    Chris: I plan to redefine (and perhaps, rename) Arsenal to be able to handle having a multitude of the same Ability. But yes, using Magic also worked well in this case. :)

    The multiple self technique is something that was considered even in the original draft of the game. It's really something I should include, being a ninja staple and all, but I've had difficulty writing it in such a way that it doesn't become superbly overwhelming. I'll certainly make it on my to-do list.

    Daniel: Yes! It's a difficult balance. One direction things become too complicated and it's not a simple game anymore. And ironically, if you go for TOO simple, I've found you actually make games more complex, too. For example, a certain game that lumps Strength and Dexterity into one attribute, forcing Players to wade through a variety of extra Advantages/Disadvantages to even create such mainstays as the Brick and the Speedster. So it takes a lot of consideration. It makes me happy when I see others appreciate this. :)

    Sagilt: The problem here usually lies in what you expect. If you've grown up, as most of us have, tossing around Cure IIs in Final Fantasy and Cure Light Wounds in Dungeons and Dragons, you get a very odd perception of how healing works. If you actually watch a lot of cinematic shows, you almost never see characters simply chugging a potion or waving their hands and getting instantly better. It's always a dramatic ordeal, and one that usually requires time and protection by the rest of the party. If it's any consolation, Heal no longer requires Endurance to use.

  6. One thing I thought of is giving abilities types. Some examples types are normal, superhuman, supernatural, and equipment. These types wouldn't have much in-game effect, but they would help GM's in being sure that his players' characters fit the theme of the game by banning certain types. If a GM wanted all the PC's to be normal humans, for example, he would ban superhuman and supernatural abilities.

    You can also use these types for some rules. One I thought of is for invention you can say you can make any equipment type ability.

    These were just some ideas I thought I'd share.

  7. Hey there.
    this new edition will be my first time playing the OVA system and so far im enjoying every new update i recieve via igoogle each monday.

    my question is: how will OVA handle the different genre's of anime and how they interact without causing headaches for the gm who then has to figure out a way to let the shonen fan play in the same game as the realistic detective or historical samurai without breaking down into a gibbering wreck?

  8. Daniel: This is actually a pretty neat idea, and one to definitely consider if I were building a new game from the ground up. As it is though, each Ability can be interpreted countless ways. Weapon can be something as mundane as a pocket knife or as magical as a legendary ancient sword. Flight can be a rocket pack or magical wings of light. Strong can be natural ability, divine enhancement, or cybernetic additions. Clearly defining any of these as natural, supernatural, or equipment is making a big assumption and restricting how a Player can use the rules. If a Game Master wants to restrict Abilities, he or she will need to do so with descriptions. "You can use any Ability as long as you can justify it as a piece of modern-day equipment," or "You can use any Ability as long as you can justify it as part of a magical medieval world," etc.

    Broken Serenity: OVA basically takes a hands-off approach to this problem, and after hearing years of play with groups as diverse, or more so, than these, it seems to work. Anime is all about mixing genres, and if you don't try to box up Players with rules like "You must spend X number of points," it just tends to pan out. Of course one player may prefer to solve a solution through good ol' detective work and another would rather smash everything in sight. The key is to reward all kinds of play. Maybe busting everything up is impossible due to explosive materials and a gas leak, forcing the detective to come up with a quick plan to stop the villain. Or likewise, perhaps there's simply no leads and a rash ambush actually works out. As long as everyone gets their time to excel, I think everyone is happy. If not, your group would probably not be a good fit together regardless of the system.

  9. ah ok sounds better than other systems ive tried then, im sold! :)

    1) Look forward to the revised OVA
    2) The art examples on this blog are fantastic
    3) Endurance in the original rules handled many things - measure of how much damage a character can take (with health), powered abilities/perks, expended for miracles and drama dice. In fact, it had to many uses it was often priority to up endurance first. Should there be a difference between health and endurance?
    4) Anything that gave DV 0 was huge - too huge. Will you favor penalty dice to defense instead of DV 0, for example entangle perk.
    5) Will kamikaze get a look over? It is a great idea - but it puts much power into the hands of the defender. They choose when to use it (usually after seeing the attacker roll their dice), the attacker gets no say about risking a DV 0, and it encourages players to create characters with the highest attack dice possible otherwise they are kamikaze bait.
    6) Look forward to the revised OVA!

  11. Erinak:
    1) Glad to hear it!
    2) Also glad to hear it. :)
    3) The difference between Health and Endurance is a bit more concrete in the revised game. For one thing, Health is pretty hard to get back, while Endurance is pretty easy. Players trying to take advantage of Endurance's easier recovery will find themselves getting a -1 Penalty that much sooner than if they had taken a more balanced approach. I'm still considering possibilities for the Drama Dice mechanic, so be sure to check by the forums in case I present some oddball ideas there.
    4) I'll definitely look into it.
    5) From context, I assume you mean Counter. The rationale here is if you attack someone who is significantly more skilled than you, you can get burned. Dice are random though, and someone who continuously counters is eventually going to get some heartache for it. Another drawback: While this isn't explicitly stated in the original book, if you have already lost your upcoming action, you cannot counter again. In a fight with a lot of combatants, this makes loading up your Attack dice over a proper Defense a pretty bad idea. Defense Rolls are unlimited. Counters are not.
    6) Still glad to hear it. ;)

  12. That is right I meant counter.
    Kamikaze stuck in my mind because the event example I remember they used kamikaze with counter making it even more devastating (and somewhat anti-climatic) in a 'boss fight'. It was one opponent, but good point about multiple opponents.

  13. I hit post too early! While the boss fight was one example - I was more concerned about a player character with high defense - but very low attack dice. With counter, it sent the message to her she should 1) never do anything offensive or 2) build characters with at least high enough attack dice that counter was risky. I don't know if that sends a good message and we came up with an alternate rule where she could have the choice to roll her defense dice if ever countered but her attack would be nullified if she went that path as a compromise.

  14. Erinak: Well, part of the issue is the rules are not being used correctly. Your example of using Kamikaze Strike and Counter in unison is impossible for two reasons: 1) You can only declare a Kamikaze Strike as your action on YOUR turn. It would not be possible to do so during someone else's (such as declaring it for a Counter). 2) Even if you could, Kamikaze Strike's text states that all future Attack rolls to the user are compared to zero. Even if you countered, you'd automatically have your result nulled. I'll make sure this issue is clearer in the revised game, so I appreciate you bringing this to my attention. :)

    As for your second character example, I think it pretty much stands to reason a poor fighter but good defender will, well, act DEFENSIVELY. Dodge continuously until the attacker makes a really poor strike and punish him with a counter, perhaps. Or leave it to buffer friends and find some other way to contribute. But if you're not good at attacking, trying to do so will logically place you in a bad position.

    But I've thought about the ramifications of Counter on and off ever since I created the rule. You've inspired me to give it a little more. But feel free to keep house-ruling as you like. I think all GMs do. :)

  15. I've only recently come across OVA and while I find it a pleasingly simple system, I haven't yet had a chance to actually play with it yet. So with that qualifier there are a couple of things that caught my eye.

    In my new found interest in the system I've been reading what examples of play I can find and about the game in general online. One thing that seems to come up regularly and from what I can tell reading it myself is that there is a lot of incentive to go for the throat right out of the gate in combat. I.E. break out your biggest move and flatten the opposition as quickly as possible at minimal cost to yourself. This seems a little anti-climactic and not really in keeping with the build of up of increasingly powerful moves that many (most?) anime seems to favor. Is this something you'll be addressing in the revision?

    Off the top of my head I'm thinking something like this. Power Moves have a cost based on level. The more powerful, the more it cost. These moves are powered by mana, fighting spirit or what have you. Normally characters have a very small amount (definately not enough for more powerful attacks) of these MP (for lack of a better term) avialable to them, or maybe even none at all but they can gain them a few ways. In tense situations (like combat) they gain them at a set amount per round (which could vary from character to character via abilities and weaknesses). They gain them when something bad happens to them, they take damage, or come under a negative status effect or the like (this is to help simulate the reversals of anime combat and help level the playing field when getting stomped). They can use their action for the round to charge up and gain them faster at the expense of doing something else (the infamous power up, or gathering of power for the big spell and the way of using big effects outside of tense situations). Excess MP fade away at the end of the tense situation, or out side of tense situations immediately if not used (no saving up). I don't know if you could treat Endurance as something to charge up and use rather than deplete or if it should be a new pool of resources separate from Health and Endurance. I'm not sure I've explained it well, but hopefully I have. It looks more complicated written down than in my head.

    On a different note, there is one other thing that bothered me in the rules. That being how open some abilities are like Power Move, Arcane Magic, and Witchcraft. Open ended abilities are fine, but not necessarily appropriate for every character. I would like to see a little more structure regarding power level and variety. Take Arcane Magic for instance. You could break that into two abilities. Arcane Magic (Versatile), Arcane Magic (Static). Versatile would function as the current version. Static would allow you to make a set number of spells per rank that never change, with the ability to purchase additional spells independent of rank with build points or xp. The advantage of Static casting would be a lower cost to cast compared to Versatile. You could break down any of the open ended abilities that way.

    Well at the risk of being that guy that read the rule book and then wants to go an change things without having even played, those are the two things that really stood out to me.

  16. J. Cayne: You have some great thoughts here! You have a point, and that's an unfortunate pitfall of most RPGs. OVA fairs a TAD better in the fact that Endurance doubles as extra Health. So if you blow off Endurance from the get go and then don't succeed in taking down the opponent, or even miss entirely, you're that much closer to being taken out of the battle yourself.

    I do like your idea of charging MP as the battle progresses. However, taken into consideration such things as "damage taken" and such can result in a lot of tedious book-keeping.

    But it's interesting...I'll definitely have to see if I can reconcile the concept with how Endurance currently works.

    Also good thoughts on Magic. Thanks for your comments. :)

  17. First of all, thanks for taking the time to read my long winded comment. :)

    The dramatic combat system is something that I can't get out of my mind, as it's something I'd really like to work even if only for my own use. This morning it occurred to me, rather than adding a new mechanic (MP), why not expand on existing ones (Drama Dice/Endurance). Also rather than just making it so you can't unload at the start of the fight, I thought it might be better just to encourage genre appropriate behavior.

    I know you're planning on rolling Power Move into Attack, but please bear with me.

    You take attack for your baseline DM, much as the currently rules for Weapon. You get so many points to build your attack as with the current weapon, but they can never cost Endurance to use. You get one attack you can build and you can spend points to build additional attacks. You tag the built attack as martial arts, sniper rifle, fire flare spell, or whatever. If you're a martial artist you can use the built attack as your baseline when using martial arts, but if for some reason your stuck in a situation where must use something else like a gun you just use the base ranks for DM, but don't get the extras of the built attack.

    Ranks in Power Move are additive to Attack (2,4,6,8,10). I.E. if you have Attack 3 and Power Move 2 your DM for a Power Move would be 8. They still cost the base 10 endurance to use. Power Move ranks do not give you any additional die to throw, instead they represent a potential that must be activated. You build one Power Move, and tag it as well. If it's tag matches one of your attack tags you use that as the base it's added to, otherwise you just add it to the base Attack ranks. For instance your Power Move is a special shot for your sniper rifle, then you tag it as such and add together your sniper rifle Attack with your Power Move to get the final results.

    Dramatic Combat! Each round of a tense situation each player gains 1 Drama Die. If they are hit they gain a Drama Die, and if they suffer a status condition/negative effect they gain one. If they spend an action charging up they gain 1 Drama Die. They can spend 5 Endurance and gain a Drama Die as per the current rules. Drama Die can also be exchanged for 5 Endurance.

    To use a Power Move they must spend 1 Drama Die per rank to activate it. So lets say someone with Attack 3 and Power Move 3 wants to use Power Move at 2 ranks. They must spend 2 Drama Dice along with whatever Endurance necessary to activate it.

    The upshot of this is that using a powerful ability up front cost extra Endurance, and essentially becomes cheaper as the drama of the situation builds, since you can spend Drama Dice rather than endurance.

    I realize this is a bit muddled. I'll try to write up more concisely and post it over at your forum for some feedback.

    On a separate note, there are a couple of abilities that aren't really covered that you sometimes see. Power Nullfication (like Teach from One Piece) and some sort of vampiric drain type ability (i.e. hurts them heals you) which could probably be added as a Perk for attacks.

  18. I've actually been considering alternate ways to handle Drama Dice, and this is an intriguing thought. I already came up with a Drama Dice pool instead of just costing Endurance. But the idea you can turn Drama Dice back into Endurance is interesting...

    Thanks again for writing. You definitely have a neat idea here, one that would definitely be a great houserule with some work. But maybe we'll see something like it in the actual book just yet. :)

    If you are going to use something like this, you might want to consider making Drama Dice harder to gain. As it stands, you're potentially racking up 5-10 Endurance every round. Not so good!

    Vampire is already in the Revised Game. However, I'm not familiar enough with One Piece...can you describe what you mean by Power Nullification? Going by the sound of it, I think a highly limited version of Witchcraft would do the job...

  19. Hmm, my initial thought was that there was enough other cool stuff to use the drama dice on it wouldn't really come up except as the tough guy that won't go down. But I think you're right, it would ultimately just make things a drag since everyone would have so many more HP to go through in essence. Instead of regaining Endurance, they should be able to be spent for a cost break on Endurance requiring abilities, that's really what the original premise was shooting for anyway.

    You're right about witchcraft, it went right over my head. In One Piece, people that consume devil fruits gain a superpower of some sort. Teach can turn off devil fruit powers when he's touching their wielder. That's basically just suppression.

  20. First off, I want you to know i love OVA; I'm psyched that you are revising the game.

    I would like to address the book itself; I treat books well, but my copy has started to fall apart, the pages near the front pulling away from the glue, and the whole thing seems to starting to lose contact with the binding. I hope the new book will be more sturdy.

    I seem to recall that building inhuman characters is fairly difficult. Anything insubstantial, or illusory, beastlike or mechanical sometimes was difficult to represent.

    Asfor Dramatic Combat, why not start the fight beieng able to onlu unleash a certain amount of power/endurance, and each round, that value goes up? Less book keeping.

  21. Malckuss: Unfortunately, various copies of OVA could come from no less than 4 different printers, and I have no good way of knowing which any copy came from. When the new edition goes to print, I'll do my best to make sure it can stand the rigors of gaming. :)

    As for non-humans, I'm going to include a few more Weaknesses to make such things easier to do without much fuss. Now that you've mentioned it, I'll give it some extra consideration, too.

  22. I've played a few times and I'd like to see smaller number for health and energy. If everything was divided by 5, I could keep track of players with a few poker chips.