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BAFF! Basic Action Final Fantasy

david-adhinarya-lojaya-combs

Those who follow my blog know that I love crossovers and conversions- and have in fact already converted concepts such as Pokemon and the Steven Universe characters to the BASH (Basic Action Super Heroes) role-playing system. And given that Final Fantasy is one of the greatest science fantasy franchises ever -which incidentally is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary- the time seems right to try a BASH conversion of it as well.

Of course, given that nearly every FF game, series or movie takes place on a different world, it is impossible to describe all of them here. But we can discuss the themes that keep recurring; you can go from there. You’ll of course need a copy of BASH Ultimate Edition as well.

The Elements

These are forces or substances that provide powers to certain monsters, characters or items. There’s always at least four- Earth, Wind, Water and Fire– and often Ice, Lightning, Holy and Dark. Sometimes Poison is considered an Element as well. In BASH terms these are considered damage types. Powers or attacks that do not use any of these are referred as Non-Elemental.

Affinities

Creatures and objects often have Elemental Affinities, so that they take less (or more) damage from certain Elements. This is usually based on which elements are “opposed” in the setting. See a typical list of opposites below:

Earth vs Wind

Water vs Lightning

Fire vs Ice

Holy vs Dark

Poison has no opposed element, but its damage may still be resisted or increased by certain abilities.

The affinities, and their corresponding BASH traits, are:

Absorb – Absorption Power

Immunity – Immunity Power

Resistance – Resistance Power

Vulnerable – Damaging Weakness* (double damage)

Weakness – Devastating Weakness (triple damage)

* = not the BASH Vulnerability Weakness

The Summons

Known by many different names -Espers, Eidolons etc.- most Final Fantasies include these- creatures of enormous power from a far realm that can be summoned for help in combat. In some versions, they just appear, deliver a magical effect, and vanish- making them no more than a vision that takes place during an otherwise-normal spell. But in some settings, they actually materialize and take part in the battle. To simulate this, use the Summoning Power with the Limitation: Summons Only. All Summons are creatures with 60 Hits and at least one Power that fits their “theme”. For example, Shiva The Ice Goddess always has Diamond Dust, a Special Attack that does ice-based damage. The basic form of this Power gets you a specific Summon; for 1 extra character point you can call three of them, and for 2 extra points you can summon any of them. Note that Summoning often requires Magic Points to use (that is, it has the Energy Cost Limitation.)

Limit Breaks

Most main FF characters can use these: abilities that can exceed their personal limits, usually in dire circumstances. Typically they are attacks, but they can be any Power, even Healing. A Limit Break must be high in Level -at least 4 or higher- and always has the <Situational> Limitation (Usually, Only when Hits are below 25% maximum).

Spells: As in most classic Fantasy, FF spells always have the Limitations <Casting> and <Energy Cost>.

Spell names: traditionally, level 2 spells have the suffix “a”; 3-level spells have the suffix “ga” and 4th level spells have the suffix “ra”. Example: Fire, Fira, Firaga, Firara. 5th Levels spells have unique names.

Status Effects: These effects are caused by certain abilities, spells and items. There are two types: “negative” statuses that hinder the target, and “positive” status that are beneficial. These are some of the most common:

Negative Statuses

Status – BASH equivalent

Berserk – Boost (Brawn, only while berserk) [Usable on Others] Linked to Mind Control <Only to cause the target to attack using only physical attacks>

Blind– Confusion

Charm– Mind Control

Confuse- Confusion [Friend from Foe]

Fear– Daze [repels enemies]

Transform- Shape Shifting [Usable on Others] <Only into a harmless animal such as a frog>

Petrify- Immobilization [Target Only] Linked to Increased Density 1 [Usable on Others]

Poison– Continual Damage (Poison)

Seal– Nullify

Sleep– Daze

Slow– Slow [Lethargic]

Stop– Immobilization [Target Only]

Stun– Daze <one Page only>

Zombie– Shape Shifting [Usable on Others] <Only into a zombie>

Positive Statuses

Status – BASH equivalent

Auto‐Life– Healing [Usable on Others] <Delay (only when target reaches 0 Hits)>

Flight– Flight [Usable on Others]

Haste– Super Speed [Usable on Others]

Invisible– Invisibility [Usable on Others]

Protect– Armor [Usable on Others] <Physical Attacks Only>

Reflect– Deflect [Double-Maker] <Spells only>

Regen– Healing [Usable on Others, Regenerative]

Shell– Resistance (Spells) [Usable on Others]

EquipmentWeapons, Armor, Shields, Accessories and other Items are considered Standard Equipment unless they have magical or technological properties- in that case they are Special Equipment, possibly boosted with Equipment Enhancements (see Awesome Powers #6.) Particularly powerful items might be Powers with the Gadget Limitation.

Leveling Up– If you are planning on running a FF campaign rather than just a few sessions, you should use the Optional Experience Points rules (UE, page 130) to allow the PCs to level up. Preferably, use Method 2 to simulate the games more closely.

Credits: My thanks to the Final Fantasy Wiki and the fan-made Final Fantasy D6 role-playing game for providing inspiration and ideas for this article!

Art by david-adhinarya-lojaya-combs.


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Iron Man: Rise of Technovore

imrotv

A few years ago, Marvel produced several Anime-style movies probably in hopes of helping sell their characters in Japan. Iron Man: Rise of Technovore was done in 2013 by Sony’s Madhouse studio, and could be described as “Iron Man vs Akira” -the latter being a reference to the movie that helped introduce Anime to the Western world. (Note: I saw the film in Japanese with subtitles, I don’t know if other versions are available.)

In IM:RoT, a new character named Ezekiel, who can manipulate “technovores” -a kind of artificial microbes- attempts to hijack a satellite created by Tony Stark for anti-terrorist purposes, and use it for his own, mysterious agenda.

I found several parallels to Akira (though that might just be me, or coincidences). Akira is about some teenagers from a dystopic future who are experimented on by the military and turned into monsters with great powers who then tear the city apart. Ezekiel is also (apparently) the result of experiments who gained powers and had an apocalyptic agenda. Unlike Akira though, he’s not motivated by anger but by cold, detached logic. In fact it’s Iron Man who has the Akira role as he seeks revenge for the apparent death of a friend. Ironically Stark calls Ezekiel “a brat” but Pepper Potts points out to Tony he has been acting like a child himself.

Another Akira parallel is that, while set in the present, it had some dark moments. Ezekiel’s first attack killed 300 people; War Machine (apparently) dies; SHIELD spends most of the movie trying to arrest Iron Man (admittedly he went off to deal with the problem on his own); we see terrorist activity involving The Punisher; Ezekiel compares the human race to ants; Ezekiel monsters out; and the world almost ends. There are also moments of curious contrast to those, like Ezekiel’s all-white sanctuary and Pepper resting in Tony’s Mansion.

Overall, I find the movie very uneven. Many characters are just “off” especially Tony who goes as far as working with The Punisher -a known killer- to reach his goals, or Nick Fury who should have known better than to send his agents after Iron Man; there are several plot holes, like the fact that Tony *just happens to have* what is needed to defeat the Technovores without even knowing it; and questions are left unanswered (like, who or what was Sasha?)

On the positive side, the movie looks good; there’s a great attention to detail, especially in the scenes involving Ezekiel. And the action scenes, all of them, do not disappoint.

If you are a fan of Iron Man (and Anime) you will probably enjoy this movie. Just don’t expect it to make much sense.


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Re: Zero- Deconstructing Rpgs. HARD.

re zeroDeconstructing role-playing game cliches seems to be in fashion on Japan. For example there was the recent Konosuba Anime series that I reviewed earlier in my blog. But Re: Zero adds a twist to the idea that is both intriguing- and terrifying.

Basically, the series takes the concept of “save-scumming” -the practice of starting over a video game from a progress saving point until you win- and shows us what it would be like if something like that happened in real life. The results range from humorous- to gruesome.

Subaru is your typical Japanese teenager who finds himself mysteriously transported to a magical medieval world. He assumes things would be just like in a game: that he would have great powers and a destiny to fulfill. Nope. But at least he does meet Emilia, a beautiful half-elf girl he falls for. While trying to help her recover a stolen item, both of them get killed!

And then he finds himself right back at the beginning, just as he if had “started the game over”. He does remember everything -including his dying agony- but no one else does.

There is no explanation -at least, not in the early episodes- for why this happens. And Subaru dies A LOT. In ways varying from peacefully in his bed to TORN TO BLOODY PIECES. Honestly, if the rest of the stuff in the series weren’t so good, I would have given up on it by now.

But it is good. The characters are interesting, if quirky -even the sadistic assassin introduced early on-; some are annoying yet have their tender sides. And the animation is top-notch. But above all, the thrill of “HOW is Subaru going to avoid dying again the next time?” just keeps pulling you in.

I’m convinced this show was at least partially written for sadists (and/or masochists who fantasize being in such plights) not just because of the carnage but also the emotional suffering of the characters. I suspect many fans must scream NOOO NOT HIM/HER!! while watching this show.

I’ve decided to continue watching the series, for now anyway. But I’m on the fence; it it never rises above being a “death-of-the-week” gimmick, I may quit before its run ends. And even if I watch it to the end, I’ll definitely evaluate if it was worth the stress.

I leave it to you to decide for yourself if you want to give it a chance.


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My Hero Academia: Superheroes from Japan!

my-hero-academia

Japanese Animated series starring superheroes are a rarity (American-style ones, anyway) and good ones, even more so; I think the last one I enjoyed was Tiger and Bunny. But My Hero Academia has impressed me so far. What I like about it is that it *gets* what heroes are about, in a way even many American comics, shows and movies don’t.

The story takes place on an Earth where, a few decades ago, humans with superpowers (called “Quirks”) started being born. By now, 80% of the population has powers! But not all quirks are equal; while some people do become superheroes (or villains) most just carry on with their lives.

The main character, Izuku Midoriya, never manifested a quirk. This ruined his dream of being a hero like his idol, the World’s Greatest Hero, Sup- err, I mean, All Might! However, he still insisted in applying to the Hero Academia, even tough he was ridiculed by it. But one day, he found himself trying to save a classmate from a villain -never mind that it was the same kid who had bullied him all his life; he just had to do something! His courage inspired All-Might (who secretly cannot use his powers for long anymore due to an injury) to recover and save the boy. Impressed, the hero revealed to Izuku that his quirk was actually passed on to him, and in turn he had chosen Izuku to be his successor!!

Now equipped with a copy of All Might’s power (tough one that hurts him since he’s only started to learn to control it) Izuku has entered the Hero Academia, and although it will take at least three years of training, he will one day be the Greatest Hero of All!

Other characters include:

Katsuki: Izuku’s rival, who has bullied him since they were kids and hates him more than ever now that he has mysteriously gained a quirk. However it seems that he is slowly heading for some redemption. Has the power to create explosions.

Ochako: A nice girl with anti-gravity powers who befriends Izuku at the Academy. May be his love interest.

Tenya: A super-speedster who was suspicious of Izuku at first, but then realizes he’s a true hero. A by-the-rules-all-the-time type.

Eraserhead: the homeroom teacher. Has the ability to cancel other people’s quirks with his stare AND uses “living cloth” strips to entangle people. Sounds like a cynical ass but deep down he may mean well.

There’s many more, but these are the main ones in the early episodes (I’m only up to #9 or so) so I’ll leave it there, besides I want to leave it to the reader to check the show and discover them on his or her own. (You can watch it in places such as Crunchyroll.) There’s also the manga it is based on, of course.

Recommended for: Fans of American Superheroes, Anime, True Heroism, and Good Characterization.


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My Fifty Years as a Fan

50

As I post this, I’m now 50 years old. Mine has been mainly an uneventful life; yet I feel very grateful for my existence. I have friends, I have family, I have my health- and I have Fiction. As far as I can remember, Fiction in one form or another has formed part of my life, helping me escape the dullness of my reality. So today I want to take the chance to celebrate it. (Warning: this is going to be long. 😛 )

It all began for me in the 60’s as for most people: with TV cartoons. In particular, there was one about a little turtle (sorry, can’t remember the title) who wanted to fly. After many attempts, it succeeded in the end… because it got KILLED and became an angel! O_O What?? I know, it was a joke, I get that now but boy was I PISSED as a Kid! And I actually did something about it, too: I took a book that (conveniently) had printing only on one side of the pages, and used it to draw my own version of the story in which the turtle fulfills its wish without dying. Yep, that was my first fanfic! Oh, and I was in the story, too- making it a self-insert as well! How appropriate. XD

Next came comic books. In Spanish, at first. There were two types: translations of American companies such as DC or Gold Key (no Marvels- probably due to some copyright or distribution issues) as well as original ones made in Mexico featuring characters such as Kaliman or Fantomas. Comics in English started being sold here in the late 70’s; I was floored by my discovery of the Marvel Universe (I already knew Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four and The Avengers from the cartoons, but had no idea there were so many more!) From then on I actually would spend my lunch money once a week on comics. 😛 I ended up becoming known as the local “comic book kid” and my collection, by the time I stopped, had soared to about 700. I still have it btw.

In the 70’s I also discovered Anime. Well actually I had seen “cartoons” such as Speed Racer before, I just didn’t realize they were from Japan- much less the potential in them! That changed with the Giant Robot show Mazinger Z in 1972. While barely known in the US, in Hispanic America it became very popular, to the point people still remember it today. It became my favorite anime then and while I have seen better ones since, I still have a lot of appreciation for it.

I met some fellow geeks in high school- wow, I wasn’t the only one?- who introduced me to Dungeons and Dragons and therefore to the concept of role-playing. We didn’t get to play much, but I found the whole idea that you could mathematically describe even magic mind-blowing; I began collecting rpg books for its own sake.

In the 80’s, something unexpected occurred: one of my hobbies led me to a profound revelation. I used to read Fantasy novels- not many, but I was a fan of Piers Anthony, especially his Incarnations of Immortality series. In them, concepts such as Death or Nature were physically embodied by humans as if they were jobs that had to be passed on. The bad guy was The Devil, who was supposed to not be an Incarnation at first. But in the last two novels, it was revealed that not only was the Devil a human too, but so was God, and the Devil had been trying to undo the injustices caused by the current, uncaring Divine Officeholder all along! I was raised Catholic and I got very nervous as I realized where the novels were heading; I even considered dropping them. But after some thinking, I realized that was silly. What kind of faith you have if you allow something made for entertainment challenge it? Even more: I realized that I had never actually thought about religion. Like most people, I just accepted what those who raised me taught me to believe. But people are free willed, and we should decide by ourselves what we believe in.

In 1996, I played my first RPG video game- Super Mario: Legend of the Seven Stars. OK I mostly bought it because it was a Mario game, but I so greatly enjoyed the experience that buying the guide/then the RPG/then playing for hours till I found everything became a habit for years. Too bad they don’t make game guides anymore (online walkthroughs aren’t quite the same.)

The coming of the new millennium… was not a nice time to me. Because of the recession, I lost many of my resources- Blockbuster Video, my local movie theater, local bookstores- all gone. Worst of all were the comics. The things DC and Marvel did to characters I had followed for years left me aghast. DC started it with the “Secret Identity” event where the rape AND murder of Elongated Man’s wife was a major plot point; and Marvel’s lowest point came with the “One More Day” story where Spider-Man makes a deal with Mephisto (aka as Satan) to save his aunt’s life, erasing his marriage from history in exchange! By the time DC decided to revise its history *yet again* with 2005’s “Flashpoint” event, I threw up my hands and gave up on comics altogether. Not on the characters- I still follow Marvel and DC in movies, cartoons etc; just not in the comics. I keep hoping some day things will improve… but from I’ve heard, that’s not the case, yet. Oh sure, there are exceptions, I hear good things about comics like Batgirl or Miss Marvel. But not enough.

Things improved with one thing, tough: the Internet. It put me both in contact with old friends (such as Liz, a lady from the States I had befriended via an animation newsletter in the 80’s) and an the RPGClassics Agora, a website where I posted my first online stories and spent a lot of time chatting with people of similar interests. However problems both personal and with my computer led me to reduce my activities for a while.

Finally, last year, something happened. After being paid to do a video on my computer, I found the experience so enjoyable I started my own Youtube channel. That felt so fulfilling I started this Blog as well- another experience that’s been greatly rewarding. 🙂 And recently, I started my own webcomic- that one has been harder to pull off, but I still enjoy it. (You can see it here, if you want: http://raitokomikku.thecomicseries.com/comics/1/ ) Oh btw, I also made a special video to celebrate some of the events mentioned above. You can find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1L9a0FV8OoA&feature=youtu.be

So what’s next? Well, who knows? That’s half the fun- taking things in as they come, enjoying what you can, learning from what you can’t. I guess that’s the lesson I learned after 50 years of life, and now share with you all.

Before I finish, I want to send a message to some very special groups of people: To TV Tropes.com, especially to my fellow players in the Justice Avengers Forum Game; and also to the Basic Action Super Heroes RPG Facebook group, where I hang out and post ideas often. Thanks to all of you for your support in recent times. May we have fun together for many years more! 🙂

 


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Magical Girls in Basic Action Super Heroes!

“Magical Girls” have long been a staple in Japanese Animation. However they have also become popular around the world, and have influenced shows such as Star vs The Forces of Evil, Steven Universe and Winx. They are certainly worthy of being included in a BASH campaign, either as a NPC or even the focus of an Anime themed game.

MAGICAL GIRL

magicalgirl by Sonia Leong18 Pts (8 Stats, 10 Powers)

The typical Magical Girl is a teenage girl who has been granted superhuman powers by someone or something to fight a specific evil, usually a group of magical villains and their minion monsters. Often a whole team of Magical Girls fight together.

Brawn 1 Agility 2 Mind 1

Powers:

Special Attack (+3 with Mind Damage) [Close Range] <Casting> 3 pts

Martial Arts 1 (Defensive and Reckless styles) 1 pt

Weapon Technique (+1 to Hit with one weapon) 1 pt

Super Jump 1 (1 pt)

Restore 4 (4 pts)

Variations on a Theme:

-The Cute Witch is not a superhero; rather, she’s a student of magic, possibly in a school of magic or a Fantasy World. Substitute all Powers for X Mastery (Magic) with the Casting Limitation (and possibly a Gadget such as a Magic Wand) and Flight with the Limitation: Gadget (Broom, Easily Taken).

-The Magical Idol is either a Pop Idol who is secretly a Magical Girl, or a Magical Girl who uses her Powers to perform. Add Illusion 2 (Sight & Sound, for her shows.)

-Some Magical Girls are actually Princesses of a  magical realm. She could be a Cute Witch as well.

-The Dark Magical Girl is any of the above types, except she’s a Villain, often the Arch Enemy of the other types.

Recommended Advantages & Disadvantages:

Instant Change is required. Very common are Appeal and Sidekick/Pet (usually a talking animal). Mentor and Grimoire for the Witch. Celebrity for the Idol. Royalty for the Princess. Devoted Henchmen for the Dark Magical Girl.

Typical Disadvantages include Age (Youth), Normal and Rogue’s Gallery. If The Witch or The Princess are foreign to modern Earth, they should have Outsider. The Princess might also have to deal with rivals or usurpers (a Revolting Development) and the Dark Magical Girl might actually be the Alter Ego of an otherwise innocent girl.

Recommended Skills: Athletics/Acrobatics for the Magical Girl. Cute Witches get Occultism. Magical Idols get Perform (Singing and Dance, usually). Magic Princesses usually study Social Sciences/Law or History (of their Kingdoms). Dark Magical Girls get Deception/Any.


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Kyokai no Rin-Ne: Japan’s Ghostbuster

Rin-Ne

This 2015 Anime series is based on a Manga by Rumiko Takahashi, one of Japan’s greatest female artists. Like many of her series, this one features an ostensibly male protagonist, but female characters loom large as well. Humor and The Supernatural, also typical Takahashi story elements, are central to the show.

The story is about a teenage boy named Rinne. His grandfather married a Shinigami (soul collector) so he’s one in part as well. His job is to help spirits stuck on Earth due to their regrets to move on their next life. For that, he needs to buy magical items- and he’s broke. Enter Sakura, a girl who discovers his secret thanks to her ability to see ghosts. She basically gets him to let her come along on his cases in exchange for paying for the items he needs.

Not every ghost needs to be exorcised by force, though; in fact one of the good aspects of the show is how creative they get when helping the ghosts overcome their regrets. Sakura is also helpful in this, as she’s more empathic than Rinne.

Other notable characters include: Tamako, Rinne’s grandmother who looks young and HATES to be called grandma (always punishing the offender with a double-noogie); Rokumon, Rinne’s cat familiar who can change between cat, cat-with-human-face and Giant Flying Cat Head forms; and Tsubasa, a human exorcist who uses more violent methods than Rinne and has an unrequited crush on Sakura.

Curiously, for a Takahashi series there is no (immediate) romance (or romantic conflict) between the protagonists. In fact neither even considered the possibility until other people started messing with their lives. Still my money is that they will end up as a couple anyway.

This show is low on action but high in humor, clever ideas, and touching moments. I recommend it not just to Takahashi fans, but also fans of Anime, Humor, and Ghost Stories.