I came to this game late. I picked up BESM 2.0 at a game auction and really dug it’s simple style, flexibility and shear “funness” of the game. GoO may be no more and BESM 3.0 is the current version, I still need to do something with all the BESM/Tri-Stat books I bought.
BESM uses (used) Guardians of Order's Tri-Stat system, which they use for a variety of Anime-based games. The main feature of the Tri-Stat system is the Tri-Stat, or Body, Mind and Soul. All skills, attributes and defects as well combat roles are made with these three in mind. They range up to 12, but cannot go over.
Skill Levels are similar, ranging 1 to 5, with 0 as unskilled or unable to use this skill and 5 representing the human maximum in most cases. Tri-Stat's Attributes and Defects size up pretty well to other games Qualities and Drawbacks respectively.
Of particular interest to me is magic.
Magic vs. Dynamic Sorcery
Where do you use what where?
To me Dynamic Sorcerery feels more like Mage's magic system while Magic seems more like WitchCraft's the Gift with extra points for metaphysiscs. In BESM d20 dynamic sorcery allows you to cast d20 spells of the same level. So in that respect it is more like Cine Unisystem's Sorcery or Magic. In BESM 3.0 Magic (now called Power Flux) feels more like Magic from Mutants & Masterminds. So there is still some debat even among BESM players about which one does what. My prefernce to scrap the whole deal and use Cine Unisystem's Magic system.
I picked up "Cold Hands, Dark Hearts" a while back and there are a lot of really cool ideas in it. It really plays like a dark horror animated game. It is also largely compatible with other flavors of BESM, though some of the points seem a bit high to me. But if you wanted to play a BESM game out of the box that feels like an Eden or White Wolf game it is a great place to start.
In the end, I really, really liked BESM 2nd Ed revised. But it was missing something...I am not sure. I am going to talk about BESM 3.0 in a bit, so maybe that will help.
What Did I Get Out of This?
Well my journey into discovering Anime went hand in hand with BESM. The roots for a couple of on going projects started here. While I never got the chance to try out much of an "Animated Series" it did give me ideas to use in my second season Unisystem game "Season of the Witch". I also started work on a multi-genre, multi-game idea of a school for magical kids. It would be part horror, part anime "magical girl" trope, and part supers. Over the years "Generation HEX" would morph and change, but the ideas are still growing.
The combat and action in a typical BESM game is fast and deadly. It actually sort of spoiled me for other so called fast and furious combat systems. BESM is a great design, hampered though by some flaws, but nothing that can't be overcome.
All in all. BESM 2r is still the standard in which all other Anime games must be measured against. Despite (or maybe even because of) it's flaws the game has style and character that no other game (even BESM d20 and BESM 3) have been able to duplicate.