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Rage of Bahamut and Elan Against the Odds


Michael Hopcroft

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One of the more interesting and exciting anime series of the current season is based on a pretty bad PC game. But Rage of Bahamut has some intriguing features for BRP.

 

The series involves a fairly standard conflict between Gods and Demons with mortals caught in the middle. But it's the character of those mortals that makes the show interesting. The show features two rival bounty-hunters, Favaro and Kaesar -- former best of friends until Kaesar's father was hanged and his family disgraced. For this, he blames Favaro, and is hunting him to the ends of the Earth. Favaro, for his part, has no interest in Kaesar's revenge but loves pricking his pride by outwitting him at every opportunity. Favaro is clever, very good at what he does, and (tries very hard to be) carefree -- he also tends to spend his money as soon as he earns it and brag about his prowess to anyone who will listen.

 

But this time it'll cost him, because his boasts are overheard by a mysterious, powerful woman who forcibly enlists him in her efforts to get to a distant city. Turns out she's stolen something very significant from the Gods that both the Gods and the Demons want for themselves -- and will go to extraordinary lengths to get. And soon the forces hunting her are hunting him too. Favaro is in way over his head -- and loving every minute of it...

 

How does this relate to BRP? Well, many BRP games feature obscenely powerful gods/demons/Elder Things/pan-dimensional entities that are totally not on the level of the PCs. They are so powerful and so intelligent that mortals can't hope to cope with them, which frequently results in a grim or even horrifying game. Mind you, this is usually deliberate. But how do you manage a game with all these where the players are playing clever, swashbuckling-like heroes who relish the thought of a challenge that in theory they should not conceivably be able to handle -- whose plans consist largely of improvisation and raw chutzpah -- and they don't get stomped on by the GM for their insolence? How do you handle a player who dares to sass off to Nyarlathotep?

 

After all, if there is one thing CoC Investigators are not known for, it's panache...

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Your description of what characters do in the show is too vague, tell us more details.

 

First of all, is it a shonen anime (cartoon for kids)? Shonen anime are all about character growth, to the point that often anyone/anything that poses a challenge/threat for (one of) the main character(s) becomes an underling immediately after the challenge/threat has been overcome, as the point generally is not if the character will rise to the challenge, but what self-discovery or new power will make them rise to the challenge. This is a very hard thing to simulate in a traditional RPG, but possibly a level-based system might be more suited to the task?

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If you want your PC to dance with gnarly-hotep you have to figure out why the PCs don't get squished.  This could boil down to temperament, hidden knowledge, rules and limits the big bad live by, weaknesses, strengths, obligations, alliances or something else.  These things can be intellectual, social, physical or magical in nature.

 

The PCs should have one or two tricks that are secret from the big bad that let them get away once.  After that, play should revolve around the PCs gaining another trick or two for the next encounter.

 

Big bads with godlike resources have secret agendas too, as well as many irons in the fire.  Some of the PCs interactions can be through flunkies of the big bads, or with rivals of the big bads.

 

You might want to let the PCs have some sort of Fate point system to give them a little mechanical freedom.  Be careful about rolling the dice too often, this can kill an otherwise well organized plan.  Allow enough randomness to make it interesting but if the PCs come up with something clever, let them run with it.

70/420

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Reminds me of the Fantastic Four's encounters with Galactus.  They can't possibly fight him, but they've often been able to out-maneuver or trick him.

 

If the Big Bad deity has enemies or rivals, is contacting them a good idea?  Will an opposing entity be willing to thwart the PCs' opponent just for giggles or will he exact some horrible price for aid even if he's aching to pull one over on the other super-being?

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I think it only requires a slight shift in perspective.  Often players are conditioned to hit the nails with their hammers.  The trick now becomes staying ahead of the crushing boulder while the GM hints at Watchers and Ultimate Nulifiers.... or something.

Yet the case seems hardly hopeless in a good version of a campaign like this. The designs of a "small g" god can be thwarted. You have to be darn clever and darn lucky to do it, but it's possible.

 

Rage of Bahamut's most recent episode has a good example. Favaro has to rescue the person who got him into this mess from a demon prince's flying fortress. The odds against him are overwhelming -- the demon prince and his minions have alarming power levels, the demon prince has tricked the man obsessed with hunting Favaro into doing his dirty work for him, and so forth. How does Favaro win?

 

He improvises. He finds things in the local environment that he can use to slow down his adversaries. He plays his rival's obsession with vengeance to his own advantage. He does exactly what the demon prince (who he doesn't even know about) would not expect anyone to do. And, as is his wont, he does it with style.

 

Thwarting a god or a demon prince is one thing. If you can do it gracefully, it's even better,

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I don't know anything about this anime, but it seems something that at rpg.net you would be advised to run using Fate. In Fate a player can "invoke" aspects (descriptors) of things and places to gain positive modifiers to rolls.

 

I think you might try to do something similar with BRP. In MRQII (and therefore also in Legend and RQ6, I believe) sometimes you can be allowed to use a skill to increase your chance of success with another skill by the 10% of the first skill rating. I think you might want to riff on that idea. For example, the game master disseminates "useful clues" in their adventures. Characters investigate places and people using their skills, and the GM takes note when what they discover is a "useful clue" (depending on both what the players chose to investigate, and if they rolled well). At any moment (?), a player is allowed to try to use a clue they previously discovered, in order to overcome a somehow related obstacle or threat. If it turns out that the clue they had discovered was a useful one, they get to add 10% of the skill they used to find it out to one (or more, depending on how realistic/heroic you want the game to be) skill(s) they are going to use against the obstacle or threat, for one (or more) roll(s). Perhaps a player shouldn't be allowed to use the same clue more than once, or more than once per play session, but might use multiple clues against the same obstacle or threat. Probably character sheets should consist also of a page where players take note of the clues they have found and the skills they used to find the clues.

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