Tag Archives: OVA

Test Driving OVA Revised

We got our Kickstarter backer preview edition of OVA* Revised, so I decided to make a character with it to see how it differed from the original. To make it a thorough test, I decided to make the most complex of my current characters: “Rat” (Russel Andrew Thompson), my fantasy super in my wife’s GURPS campaign. His nickname comes from the fact that he is a homeless orphan. His super power is psionic luck, which enables to him to find regular food and shelter from weather. One day, as he was settling in to sleep in an alley, a man running by suddenly stumbled just as he passed Rat’s hiding place, dropping something as he recovered. On his heels were two security guards waving guns. Come morning, he discovered the dropped item: a watch, or so it seemed.

Long story short: it turned out to be an Omnitrix-like device that lets him transform into various elementals. Unknown to him, the device is powered by psionic energy (he doesn’t believe that magic or psionics exist, even though he can use both), and has tuned itself to his particular energy, so it wouldn’t work for anyone else even if he could take it off. (The campaign started in near future Earth, but with magic and psionics. Early in the first session we got teleported to fantasy world.) One major drawback to the watch is that the other forms sometimes whisper to him in the back of his mind, despite not being sapient in their own rights.

In GURPS the watch is Signature Gear that gets slightly more expensive as he unlocks new forms, because its point cost is determined by the total of his available forms. As of now he has Fire and Earth, and will be unlocking Air in the near future, triggered by a stressful situation the GM will put us in. Since we are supers, we started as 250 point characters; his Omnitrix currently cost me 91 of those. His super luck is represented by Serendipity (once per session, something improbable just happens to go my way), Luck (once per hour of game time I can make a roll three times and keep the best), Danger Sense (think Spidey Senses), and Enhanced Dodge. Everything else about him is what you’d expect from an 18-year-old kid who’s been homeless for most of his life.

As I said a moment ago, his Omnitrix’s cost is determined by his other forms. Each of them is built as a racial template using the rules for Alternate Form. I have each written on a separate index card for quick reference during the game. His Earth form gets extra Strength, Health, and HP, and damage reduction due to being made of mud. He can reshape his hands into any shape they could reasonably make, allowing him to deal crushing or impaling damage. His only special attack is Flying Fist, which, as you might imagine, involves him launching his fist at someone. It has a relatively short range, and it takes him a full round (second) to reform it again.

Fire gets extra Strength and HP, and also Dexterity. His brawling attacks are all deal half their damage as burning and the rest as crushing. He can fly 5′ off the ground by surfing on a stream of fire like Iceman does on ice, leaving a trail of fire behind him. His two special attacks are Flamethrower and Nova. Flamethrower does exactly what you think. Nova does a relatively massive amount of fire damage (4d6 in a game where the average human has 10 HP) to everyone within 2 yds. In D&D 4e it would be a close burst 1. Both forms are Monstrous, Ham-fisted (lacking proper fingers), and have Disturbing Voices. Both are also difficult to damage due to not having vital organs (Injury Tolerance (Homogeneous)). They also have a couple of other small things each, but you get the idea.

In OVA, Rat’s a bit of a challenge simply because I’m not sure how to even create the watch. I could choose to either buy each form as a separate transformation, but then each could only be used once each session, or buy the watch itself as Gear. The advantage to Transformation is that each point in it gives you two points to build the other form, but Gear is one for one.

So I chose to make it Gear, just like in GURPS, but I’m not sure how to handle the costs for the various forms. For now I have figured out the cost of everything they have in common, and added in the most expensive list of how they differ (In GURPS you pay for the most expensive and then 15 per additional, so I’m doing sort of the same thing in OVA). Gear is not my only option, though.

Naturally, the PDF isn’t complete, but in original OVA, you can attempt to use any ability in the game as long as it makes sense and the GM says yes; no telekinesis if your concept and background don’t include psionic potential, for instance. If Revised has the same rule, I won’t need to buy the equivalent of Magery 0 Rat has in GURPS (it represents his innate magical talent, although he hasn’t used it yet because of his disbelief).

Our standard OVA chargen option is Ground Zero with leeway: try to have your character come out to 0 points, but don’t compromise your character concept to get there. Thus I aimed to do the same here, but he ended up being 4 points, simply because the Omnitrix itself is 5. His psionic luck is represented by Lucky, Sixth Sense, and Evasive (Psi). His general thievishness by Art of Invisibility, Perceptive, and Dextrous. Because of his life on the street, he’s rather thin (but always lucky enough to find just as much food as he needed to live) and looks quite a bit younger than he is, thus Ageism and Weak. His Code of Conduct in both games is that he will never steal from anyone else who is poor, and will try to help such when he can.

UPDATE 2014-06-06: Using Clay’s suggestion and replacing Gear 7 with Transformation 4 + Walking Arsenal 4, Rat now costs 5 points instead of 4. I have also updated his elemental forms.

So here he is in all his glory (DX (Damage Total originally) is multiplied times your attack’s margin of success to determine how much damage you deal):

Abilities (17)
Lucky 2
Sixth Sense 2
Evasive (Psi) 1
Art of Invisibility 2
Perceptive 1
Dexterous 2
Combat Expert 1 (A couple of months of on-the-job training…)
Gear (Omnitrix) 7-2 = 5
Transformation 4 + Walking Arsenal 4 = 8-2 = 6
*Endurance Use (5) -1
*Room for Two (other forms’ voices whisper frequently) -1

Weaknesses (-12)
Ageism 1
Poor 3
Weak 1 (-1 DX) (…but still has a weakened constitution.)
Coward 1
Code of Conduct 1
Overconfident about his thieving abilities 1
Secret (Omnitrix) 2
Pacifist 1
Doesn’t believe in magic or psionics despite having both 1

Gear (Omnitrix)
Combat Expert 2 (+2 to attacks)
Vigorous 2 (extra Endurance)
Life Support 2
Tough 2 (extra HP)
Bizarre Appearance -3
Focus -3

Earth Form (17-10=7)
Combat Expert 2 (+2 to attacks)
Vigorous 3 (extra Endurance)
Life Support 2
Tough 3 (extra HP)
Armored 2 (-2 attacker’s DX)
Resistance (Earth) 2
Strong 3 (+2 DX)
Affinity (Earth) (affinities are free)
Awkward Size -2
Can’t hold anything -1
Slow -1
Bizarre Appearance -3
Focus -3

Fire Form (17-9=8)
Combat Expert 2 (+2 to attacks)
Vigorous 3 (extra Endurance)
Life Support 2
Tough 3 (extra HP)
Flight 1
Agile 1
Strong 3 (+2 DX)
Resistance (Fire) 2
Vulnerable (Water) -1
Awkward Size -2
Bizarre Appearance -3
Focus -3

One nice thing about Rat’s OVA version is that it takes up less than half the space of the GURPS original. All told, creating Rat was about equally complicated in both games. The only major difference is that I had already figured all of the details (especially the elementals’ appearances and special attacks) while making him in GURPS; making him in OVA would have taken quite a bit longer, otherwise, but that would have true regardless of system.

One major change over the original OVA is the removal of the Power Move ability. Previously you took ranks of PM that determined your various special attacks’ DT, then created the actual attacks using various modifiers just like in GURPS, modifying the amount of Endurance each attack costs. A separate ability increased your damage with other attacks. In Revised you build the attacks in the same way, but every attack you make is affected by the new Attack ability, which folds in Martial Arts (+DX bare-handed), Power Move, and Weapon (+DX for weapon attacks), all of which were removed as redundant in Revised.

That kind of simplification and clarification was one of Clay’s main goals when creating the new edition, and he’s done a pretty good job so far. For instance, previously there was a lot overlap between Acrobatics and Agile, so it was hard to know which to use. They have now been mostly combined into Agile, and some parts moved to the new ability Dexterous, but it applies only to skills requiring fine motor control.

All told, I really like the new OVA – it improves greatly over its already-great predecessor. That said, if we were starting that campaign anew and my wife asked us which system we’d like to use, I’d still have to vote for GURPS, simply because I actually found it much easier to create his alternate forms in GURPS than in OVA. But with the improvements to OVA, I can’t see anything else replacing it as our go-to game for pick-up games, one shots, and mini-campaigns.

* (For the non-otaku among you, OVA means “original video animation” (or sometimes “original animated video”, OAV), what we Americans might call a “Direct-to-video release”. In this case it’s a pun, and the full name of the game is Open Versatile Anime.)

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Kickstarter Roleplaying Gems – Ending Soon!

We’re really excited about – and backing! – two soon-to-end roleplaying-related Kickstarter projects.

OVA (Open Versatile Anime) is our favorite rules-lite system, and has what may be my favorite dice mechanic. This is the KS is for the long-awaited Revised edition.

The game is definitely anime-flavored, but since the word anime covers such a huge variety of genres, the game is designed to handle them all. It doesn’t have stats, just abilities and weaknesses. Abilities for starting characters are generally ranked from 1-3; weaknesses at -1 to -2.

Those numbers tell you how many d6s to add to or subtract from the base two when making a roll (not surprisingly, negative dice are bad). To make a roll you toss the appropriate number of d6s, then add up any that match; the result is the single highest result among them. For instance, if you have “Attack! 2”, you’d roll 4d6 to attack someone, whether it’s with your fist, laser eyes, or BFG 2000. If the result was 2,2,3,6, the possible results are 3, 4, or 6, so you rolled a 6. That number is opposed by the defender in combat, and compared to a Target Difficulty otherwise.

One of my favorite things about the game is its physical size. The first edition’s book is so small and thin that I carry it around everywhere in one of the flaps of our backpack so I’ve always got it for a pick up game. OVA Revised is supposed to be about the same size.

As I write this, OVA has 6 days to go and has long since reached its goal, but now is the prefect time to get in on the ground floor of the new edition, and get some exclusive d6s in the bargain.


The other project we’re excited about is a story game called Kingdom. That’s right, the confirmed GURPS geeks are enthralled by a story game – that should tell you something!

I can best describe the game using a gameplay example from the Kickstarter itself:

We’re playing with a colony ship as our Kingdom. We’re still years from the target system when we pick up the signal. Could this be first contact with an alien intelligence? Unfortunately, it’s light years out of our way. This is our Crossroad: do we change course to investigate?

The colonists are excited even if it means abandoning our carefully calculated settlement plans. But by now all the players suspect that Captain Browning (ahem, *Acting* Captain Browning) cares more about looking like a good leader than being one. He’s in charge and he wants to keep it that way. My character tells the Captain that the data’s conclusive: the signal is definitely not natural. But she also mutters that if we’re abandoning the plan and just making things up as we go along, pretty soon everyone is going to want a vote.

I’m Perspective so what I predict is true. A Touchstone character showed us what the people wanted. But the Captain has Power. He decides what we do. And I just told him that if he does what the people want his precious authority is going to be a thing of the past.

Captain Browning carefully straightens his uniform, then flips the switch to make a ship-wide address…

To get a really good handle on the game I suggest taking a few minutes to read over the rest of the Kickstarter. Being as unfamiliar with story games as I am, I simply can’t describe better than he does.

We’re excited about using the game in two ways. First is to combine it with Microscope (Kingdom‘s predecessor and companion) to really flesh out the backgrounds of our game worlds (especially since my primary game world is the world of what I hope will be my first book).

Our second use is one suggested by Ben Robbins on the KS: Take an occasional break to investigate other parts of the world in detail. For instance, if the party just captured a lieutenant in an evil organization, once they’ve broken him we can switch to Kingdom to roleplay out the events he’s describing instead of the players just sitting there listening to the GM.

Kingdom has nearly two weeks to go but has likewise reached its goal (by more than 600% already!), but some of his bundles, like getting both the PDF and deadtree of both Kingdom and Microscope for $45, are unbelievably good values.