[Let’s Study OVA: The Anime Role-Playing Game] Part 2: Taking Action and Combat

Posted: August 12, 2014 by pointyman2000 in Roleplaying Games

Welcome back! Today we’re looking at the basic mechanics that power OVA. Is it as fast and friendly as it looks? Only one way to find out.


The basic mechanic for OVA is surprisingly simple: Take 2 six-sided dice and take the highest result. If they roll doubles, add them together and use that as the result of the roll. This value is compared to a difficulty number. If the value is higher than the difficulty number, then the roll is a success.


Here’s where it gets interesting. Modifiers can add or subtract dice depending on the Abilities and Weaknesses of the character in question.

When handling more than two dice, the roll is still interpreted the same way. Any doubles, triples or other matched sets are all added together, and the highest value is taken as the result of the roll.

In the event that Weaknesses reduce the number of dice to less than zero, then the player rolls negative dice instead. These are still two six-sided dice, but are read differently. Rather than taking the highest value, the player takes the lowest value as the result of the roll. Matched sets do not get added together in this kind of roll.

Difficulty and Opposition

Difficulty numbers in OVA range from 2 (Easy) all the way to 12 (Nigh Impossible.) When going up against another character, the difficulty is set instead by an opposed roll.

Drama Dice

Here’s something interesting. Apparently when a roll is pretty bad, you can spend 5 Endurance to add a Drama Die. This is an additional die that you can add to the roll (even after seeing the result) to try and improve your chances.

Drama Dice can be earned in play as well by improving the game through your participation.

Miracles, on the other hand are an automatic success of a single action at the cost of 30 Endurance. This is especially handy in those really dramatic situations, but be careful, a GM may refuse a miracle if they feel that it is not appropriate to the situation.

Everything Else

The mechanics cover a host of other special cases including critical successes (by rolling boxcars, or two 6’s), extended actions, hampering others, teaming up and hidden rolls.

Scale rules deserve extra mention here as it allows for wildly differing combatants to go up against each other. Scale adapts depending on the situation, so where being small helps, they get scale advantage over the opponent, and when the opposite is true then the big stompy robot gets the bonus.


Now that we’ve gotten the basics out of the way, let’s move on to combat. OVA’s rules have been pretty much rules light to medium at this point, and I feel that it does a good job at being easy enough to teach and learn. Here’s hoping that combat continues that trend.


As with many systems, OVA combat begins with Initiative rolls. Initiative is determined by rolling 2 dice + any applciable bonuses and abilities – any penalties and weaknesses.

The highest roll goes first, followed by the next highest and so on.

Attacks and Defense

Attacking in OVA is resolved by a basic skill roll of 2 dice + bonuses, abilities & perks – penalties, weaknesses & flaws.

This is opposed by the Defense roll, which uses a similar pool of dice. The higher of these two rolls succeeds like in a regular opposed roll.

Interestingly (and perhaps appropriate to the genre) Countering is an option as well. This allows you to make an attack roll in response to being attacked. Whoever wins this opposed check is the one to deal damage. The catch is that countering causes the character to lose their next action.


Damage is resolved by taking the amount by which the Attack roll exceeds the Defense roll and multiplying it by the Damage Multiplier of the attack. So an attack with a Damage Multiplier of 3 succeeds in overpowering a defense by 2 points, then it deals 6 damage.

Everything Else

The OVA combat rules goes into other special cases again, including special conditions, health and recovery, special damage types and combat maneuvers.

I’m pretty impressed that the book covers most of the basics without taking up a lot of pages. combat is still pretty detailed, but has a medium level of crunch that is easy enough to learn, and the special cases are fun and interesting enough to encourage their use.

OVA is turning out to be quite the introductory-level RPG for me. It’s easy enough to learn, complex enough to give a sense of achievment and covers a wide array of situations and character types for almost any campaign concept.

Is it tactical? Sort of, but not in the positioning and counting squares sort of way. It keeps things light while still being engaging.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the GMing chapters of the game, and see if we can find some specific advice on how to run Anime-esque games using the system.

  1. Andrew says:

    There’s a couple of rules that aren’t right here.

    When building characters, a level 1 ability costs 1 point, lvl 2 is 2 points, lvl 3 is 4 points, lvl 4 is 8 points, and lvl 5 costs 15 points.

    As for skill rolls, you don’t have to roll above the difficulty number, you only have to match it to succeed. you’re able to beat a nearly impossible without any bonuses by getting 2 6’s.

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