Pony Thought of the Day: Pony BESM

If all goes well and the planets align, shortly after this goes up I should be holding the first meeting (pre-game discussion and character creation) for an FIM-themed BESM game! We will be playing using a modified version of Big Eyes, Small Mouths Second Edition (a.k.a. The Good One), a sadly out-of-print roleplaying game designed for anime-esque campaigns. My modifications can be read here–four new character templates, a handful of new Attributes, a skill-cost chart with a few new skills (the ones with specializations listed are new or modified, all the others use the default specializations), and a new game mechanic designed to reflect the power of friendship and solve one of the game’s problems, which is that it’s fairly common to make a character that has an Energy Point pool and no abilities that use it.

None of which makes any sense to those of you unfamiliar with BESM (likely all of you). It’s Saturday and tomorrow’s post is proving unexpectedly difficult, I’m afraid, so I was somewhat strapped for a PTOTD.

0 thoughts on “Pony Thought of the Day: Pony BESM

  1. I've been working on a pony setting for the new Fate Core – also, have you seen Golden Sky Stories? It looks like it would be just about perfect for a FiM hack.

    I need to check out BESM. It's one of those systems my old gaming group turned our collective noses up at, but I've heard a lot of good stuff about it. Second edition's the one to look at, you say?

  2. Mmm, pony RPGs. After this last Everfree Northwest, I've pretty much become a connoisseur of pony-themed RPG mods and homebrews. I've actually heard of some other unconnected people taking a look at modding BESM (Big Eyes Small Pony?), though I haven't played it myself.

  3. I haven't even heard of Golden Sky Stories, what is it?

    Yeah, in my opinion Second Edition is the best, though it does require some GM experience to keep characters from getting unbalanced. I'd recommend if you don't have an experienced GM to stay in the 20-30 character point range, higher-powered campaigns can get ridiculous.

  4. I *hate* GURPS. I don't like super-granular, rule-heavy systems.

    But yeah, even separate from my hate, it seems to me a cartoony system like BESM is a better fit for a cartoon.

  5. There are only two major problems with the Tri-Stat system used by BESM and SAS: powers are exponential, making it possible to create a character that can destroy the universe and everything in it at character creation, and the combat rules are utterly frustrating because of the way the “roll for attack, roll for dodge” system works (Roll under your ACV, if you succeed you hit…except the opponent gets to roll their DCV, and if they succeed your attack misses).

    (Math problems discussion here, feel free to skip if it's not your cup of tea: Basically, if you have an ACV of 4 you have a 16% chance of hitting (roll under 4 on 2d6), but if you have an ACV of 8 you have a 72% chance of success. Sounds reasonable, until you remember that an equivalent opponent has defense chance of 41%, so you have a whopping 30% chance of hitting them. As you get skilled your chance of hitting an equal opponent starts going DOWN again after ACV8 because their defense chance scales faster than your additional hit chance. And with the damage numbers involved even without min/maxing your probably one shoting them. So massive whiff factor, one shot combat.)

    The former can, of course, be solved by talking things out like adults and not being the person who brings a character drastically more powerful than everyone else to the table. The latter? Quite a bit trickier, and something I wish I had a solution to… I actually got into an argument with Mark MacKinnon over it, back when they first released the Sailor Moon RPG that grew into BESM. It took weeks of emails to get him to admit that they had never play tested combat, which is why it's either one-hit-kill-rocket tag or a painful slog that takes 50-60+ rounds to resolve a simple fistfight, but that it was so hard-coded into the system math that they couldn't fix it without major changes.

    Thankfully, MLP is far less combat oriented than most RPGs, so it probably wouldn't be as much of a problem, but when we were trying to play Sailor Moon or Silver Age Sentinels? Oy vey… We ended up moving to Champions for superheroes, which is crazy complicated, and not something I can casually recommend. The character creation program takes all the math out of the equation, but character creation still takes a couple hours.

    I like your hack a lot, Froborr! The one I'd been looking at was Friendship is Roleplaying (http://mlprim.com/), which is pretty nice, but a little complicated, and has pretty lousy dragon rules. A more flexible system like BESM could work pretty well!

  6. For the curious, how to destroy the planet at character creation:

    Important note: first edition lists Earth as having 120 armor and 240 health.

    We buy a level 6 attack for maximum destruction, so that's a base of 90 damage. (24 pts.)

    We'll take the defects Backblast, Drop Shields, Fixed, Limited Shots x3, Only In Space, Static, Unreliable, and Uses Enegry * 2. So that's 255 damage onto our orbital laser cannon. We're already to the point were two shots of this will crack the Earth down to the core, but that's not good enough.

    We're only going to take two weapon abilities, Area Effect and Spreading, which brings us down to 225 damage.

    The spreading attack trait impacts within two meters of the initial attack, but each of the hits has an area of effect equal to 75 meters. In other words there's no way they don't overlap. So it hits sixteen times for a total of 16*225=3600 damage. Which is far more than enough to utterly obliterate a big old bite out of the planet, and all the attendant destruction that follows from it… Heck, at 3K damage who knows what else might get caught in the destruction.

    If the planets are in alignment, the Backblast will take out Mars or one of the outer planets as well, and if not than probably carry on into space until it hits something. Who knows what kinda momentum 3600 damage has in a vacuum? ;p

  7. The combat roll issue is easy to solve! Make an attack one roll, trying to roll under the target number (Attacker's ACV+Relevant Skills+Bonuses)-(Defender's DCV+Relevant Skills+Bonuses). Defender doesn't roll anything.

    Sorry, I've been using that hack since BESM 2.0 came out, so I completely didn't even think to include it in the notes I linked.

  8. As for balance, yeah, it's a problem. The corrective is that versatility is very expensive; at low power levels, encourage players to make characters that specialize. At high power levels, encourage players to make characters that are versatile. And, of course, be ready to wield GM-fiat “No, I don't care if the rules say it's allowed, you can't have the planet-killer beam.”

    Also, Spreading doesn't work that way–you only hit a target once. Likewise Area Effect. Also I'll have to double-check, but IIRC you can't combine them.

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