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In retrospect, men appreciate that it was a colourful apocalypse.
-- Uresia: The Grave of Heaven, S. John Ross
Big Eyes Small Mouth is a multi-genre roleplaying game created by the now-defunct Guardians of Order. Conceived as a system to allow people to play out games in the style of anime series, it was first released at Gen Con in 1997. The name comes from a common generalization of the typical anime and manga character designs, which have proportionately large eyes and small mouths.
A number of supplemental rule books have been released, with additional rules and character creation options to provide specific advice for running games in a certain genre. For instance, the supplement Hot Rods and Gun Bunnies contains information on running a Gunsmith Cats or Riding Bean-style game, while Big Robots, Cool Starships has rules for designing Mecha running Space Opera-style games. Most of the extras in the supplements were folded into the second edition of BESM.
There are two other kinds of supplements produced by Guardians of Order. Stand-alone game worlds such as Uresia: The Grave of Heaven and Centauri Knights, and licensed supplements based on various anime series, such as Slayers, Serial Experiments Lain and Sailor Moon. Licensed supplements that were mostly or completely background information about the show's world were released with the misleading title of "Ultimate Fan Guide".
BESM uses Guardians of Order's Tri-Stat system, and was their flagship product for that system. Characters are defined by three statistics: Body, Mind and Soul, as well as a number of Attributes and Defects. Tri-stat is a Point Buy System. A D 20 System version of the game has also been released. Guardians Of Order had a third edition of BESM ready when it collapsed. The rights were sold to the game company White Wolf, which published it (for a short while anyway; the now discontinued third edition book sells for over $100 on the Internet, but you can buy .pdfs) and now provides what support remains for the Tri-Stat system.
See also Silver Age Sentinels, GOO's superhero RPG that used a similar rules system.
This tabletop game provides examples of:
- Bare Your Midriff: the amount of art that exhibits this would be surprising were it dealing with any other genre. Even hardcore mercenaries show up with their midriffs bared.
- Bigger on the Inside: The Dimensional Portal attribute uses this trope by name.
- Catgirl: One of the sample templates, and the creation of a space opera catgirl character was used in third edition as the chargen example.
- Fan Service: About half the art.
- Minmaxers Delight/One Stat to Rule Them All: For attributes, Extra Actions. Even the book recommended only giving players access to two levels unless they were supposed to be vastly more powerful than humans. Also, if you can have only one stat at 8, for God's sake make it Soul. Body + Soul gives your HP, Mind + Soul your Energy Points. And the most common roll based off just one stat is Soul-based anyway.
- Resurrective Immortality: This is what the Reincarnation attribute does. The various levels determine how long it takes for the character with the attribute to come back after being killed, and how easy or hard this is to stop.
- Super Mode: The laughably weak Alternate Form attribute. Without installing some kind of drawback, you will be one point per rank in AF more powerful than if you'd just bought the powers for your native form and called it good. Meaning that with two ranks of Alternate Form, you can afford +5 HP, +2 ranks of armour, or a single combat technique. Also, there has to be some reason you don't just drop into Omnikill Mode and stay there, even if it's just social.