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5 Anime/Manga waiting to be used as roleplaying game settings

Posted by paradisio on July 1, 2009

I’m a big fan of crossovers, using pre-existing settings, etc. I think a few different anime worlds provide some great options for settings in your games. You can be obvious or vague. I realize some people will have an immediate aversion to some of these settings (mostly due to horrible, horrible censored dubs), but some of them may scratch a certain spot and provide some very interesting options. Most of these are based off of shounen anime/manga that I believe will make the easiest transition, so you have been warned!

One Piece – One of my favorite settings. What’s great about this setting is primarily the versatility and a clear goal: get to the end of the most dangerous sea on earth and get the treasure while competing with other superpowered pirates and the world government. Can range from wacky to serious and gives players a ton of options and a clear goal, but the real fun is in the journey. Lots of pre-existing ideas and settings you can toss or keep as well. Would be good in any anime based system (BESM/OVA) or even a superhero system like Mutants & Masterminds.

Soul Eater – I think there is a profound lack of school settings of games, something I think more DMs should experiment with since they allow a wide cast of characters and characters who have great opportunities for progression and development. Soul Eater takes place at a school lead by the Grim Reaper himself, half the students wield weapons the other half literally become weapons, who have the goal of becoming a Deathscythe, or a weapon of the Grim Reaper themselves. Mix in animal based witchcraft, cooky supernaturals, a lot of teamwork and an insane god on the verge of being reborn and you have a pretty cool setting with an interesting concept. I can’t really think of any specific setting to complement such an odd playstyle, but I recommend you actually try something new and let players control multiple character (them and their weapon(s) or even them and some else’s weapons.)

Naruto – Another setting I really like for sheer diversity, can compliment a wide range of special abilities, although not really like the standard Ninjas of myth it makes for an interesting setting that can compliment everything from superpowered schoolkids to mission based assassination. Dump a lot of interesting martial arts, action, special elemental abilities and supersized mythological creatures into a big melting pot and you have the setting. Once again, a diverse system that allows custom abilities is probably best.

Bleach – Take Exalted, dump it into the modern world and disassociate exalted from humanity entirely. In Bleach the souls of the dead frequently become lost in the human world and need to be sent to beyond by Deathgods/Shinigami. Those who don’t become corrupted or become consumed, turning into demonic undead who continue a vicious cycle. Mix in superpowered swordplay, some questionable moral ambiguity, a world for the dead, the living and the corrupt as well as some very interesting humans and you have a setting with some veryinteresting options in a wide variety of enivornments and enemies. Once again, good with any anime/supers game.

Bastard!! – Take a high fantasy game, dump it in post apocalyptic world that was blasted back to the middle ages. Add in swords and sorcery, epic magic, heavy metal references and you’ve got Bastard!!. Start the PCs out at extremely high levels and have them save the world from being blown even further back in time by a giant sentient machine of destruction and those who would have the world be destroyed again. No big moral quandaries, just being awesome and over the top. I’d recommend you not use something like D&D, I would actually recommend something extremely rules light and freeform for this type of game.

In conclusion the best thing about all of these settings is that you already have the groundwork laid out for you but you still have a lot of customization you can add yourself.

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5 Responses to “5 Anime/Manga waiting to be used as roleplaying game settings”

  1. jatori said

    One Piece. Definitely.

    Great list, as all of these have a lot more to offer than just their settings. I can’t even remember how many times I’ve harvested these 5 for villain ideas, magic items etc..

  2. greywulf said

    Amen to all these. I’d kill for a decent Bleach RPG setting for Mutants & Masterminds……..

  3. I figured Naruto would probably make the list!

  4. I once saw a Naruto D20, but shonen manga like these tend not to fit the d20 system. Some powers are artifact level, such as Kakashi’s Sharingan Eye, which allows him to copy any technique he’s seen before. Without a system carefully designed, every Naruto RPG character would have Sharingan and One Piece RPG character would have Luffy’s gum-gum ability.

    Another problem is that power levels are wildly variable. Shonen manga characters often surpass themselves in the heat of battle, or gain a dramatic power boost after a week of training. The main hero is often significantly more powerful than the rest, and there’s not always the same sort of class specialization you see in D&D.

    I’d like to add Fullmetal Alchemist to the list, though. It’s very Eberron-like: a mix of old modern-era technology (steam trains, basic firearms) and magical effects (mechanical limbs, flashy transmutation).

    • Paradisio said

      Yea, I was thinking about making a part two to this topic, maybe with some additional series and more details.

      The power up thing is kind of an issue, it can be worked around more in some games than others. Particularly rules lite game such as wushu are great for that kind of stuff, the other way around it is to intentionally play down your strengths until critical moments.

      I’m looking forward to the upcoming mecha and manga supplement for mutants & masterminds, it supposedly has rules for power-up kind of things, its unfortunate that it seems like it may never be released.

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