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Fight Evil By Moonlight With These Anime Themed RPGs

4 Minute Read
May 31 2024

Jump into the world of your favorite anime and start saving the day with these anime inspired RPG systems.

The ven diagram of people who play tabletop RPGs and people who enjoy anime isn’t quite a circle, but there’s quite a bit of crossover between those two hobbies. If you, like me, have had an anime inspired game in mind and ready to play, there are a couple of perfect game systems out there. So live your anime dreams and jump into your perfect anime story isekai-style with these anime themed RPG systems.

1. Big Eyes Small Mouth

BESM is the anime inspired tabletop RPG system. And it’s made to be good for any anime sub-genre. But can’t that be any kind of story? Because anime is a medium and not a genre? It is! This is a very open concept, generic style system. Think GURPs. Now think GURPs with big eyes. You’ve got it! That said, there are a whole bunch of anime-specific trope, monsters, hero and villain types, etc. And BESM has spent four editions perfecting these.

2. Mecha vs Kaiju

There are a few rule-sets that end up being utilized in many different RPG systems. It’s because they’re simple, fun, and generic enough that they can be easily re-skinned for many different settings with very little alteration to the core. Powered by the Apocalypse is one of the most popular of these rule-sets that I talk about all of the time, but FATE is another very popular and very fun RPG operating system.

I’ve played a FATE based Pokémon game (would recommend, very fun even if we did make the GM swear off GMing ever again with our antics), but I’m always looking for a different game experience next time and Mecha vs Kaiju just may be the way to go. You’re familiar with mechas. You’re familiar with kaijus. And you’re probably familiar with the idea of them punching each other thanks to things like Pacific Rim. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a fantastic game to jump into for a few hours a week.

3. Anime 5E

Are you the kind of person who has played D&D and wants to expand out to other games, but aren’t sure where to dip your toe in the water? Anime 5E is a sort of happy middle ground. It’s definitely an anime game, but it uses a system a reimagining of “the fifth edition rules of the world’s most popular storytelling game.” Aiming for a happy medium between D&D and BESM, Anime 5E has all of the races, classes, skills, features, and everything else you expect to see on your character sheet. But in an anime setting.

4. Girl by Moonlight

Remember the 1999 Sailor Moon tabletop RPG? No? Honestly, that’s okay. It was from a time before tabletop RPGs were accessible and when tons and tons of rules were the goal for some reason. Also, it starts at $105 used on Amazon… Which made me consider selling the copy that I’ve had since 1999 for exactly two seconds. Luckily, there are better options now if you want to play that Sailor Moon inspired game, including Girl by Moonlight.

But this isn’t a one-trick-pony sort of game, and it knows that there are different kinds of magical girls; it’s a diverse genre. Do you want to be a heroic Sailor Moon style story? Or a doomed Puella Magic Modoka Magica story? Perhaps you want something a little weirder and a little closer to the periphery of the genre like Paprika or Serial Experiments Lain? Personally, I want an absolutely bonkers Lain inspired campaign to play in and I need to find more people in that niche.

5. Avatar: Legends

Is this anime? Does it matter? Avatar is the anime-adjacent show that almost everybody loves because it’s fantastic. Recently-ish their Powered by the Apocalypse based tabletop RPG system was published after a very successful Kickstarter campaign now now we can call become benders… or non-benders with swords and boomerangs and stuff. If you like Avatar, you’ll probably like Avatar Legends. And if you’re not sure about the system yet, don’t worry. The PbtA rule-set is very easy and very approachable so you’ll be saving the world in no time.

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