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Big Eyes, Small Mouth is a roleplaying game that was designed to simulate the action of anime and manga. It is frequently referred to by the acronym BESM. The title alludes to the common anime drawing style of characters with huge, expressive eyes.

BESM uses a point-based character creation system. Characters are evaluated based on three "Stats", against which all action checks are made. These are supplemented by Attributes, which give the characters unique abilities.


The initial edition, designed by Mark C. MacKinnon, was released by Guardians of Order in 1997. Soon after that, RPG writer David L. Pulver began writing supplements for what was essentially a fairly simple game, adding a detailed system for the creation of mecha with his book Big Robots, Cool Starships. Skills were added with the next supplement, a genre book called Hot Rods & Gun Bunnies. At the same time MacKinnon and his colleagues were using BESM's system (now referred to as "the Tri-Stat System") as the basis for licensed games based on anime properties such as Sailor Moon, Dominion: Tank Police, Demon City Shinjuku and Tenchi Muyo! All of these innovations were incorporated into a second edition, which was released in 2001 to a very strong reception.

The first edition was a slim, grey-covered book. A vast promotion and beta test was organized, and included a number of demo-team members from around the world.

Since then, the other anime licenses that Guardians of Order obtained used the BESM system as their core rules. Instead of publishing complete games as they had done previously, the licensed books were published as "Ultimate Fan Guides". In addition, several genre based supplements were published for the game, as well as two original settings — Centauri Knights and Uresia: Grave of Heaven.

A version of BESM adapted to the d20 System was published in 2003. Sales were good but the critical response was mixed. New versions of Centauri Knights and Uresia were released under the new version.

The third edition of BESM was scheduled to be released in April 2006 after Mark C. MacKinnon had announced that the release would be delayed from its original release in the Summer of 2005. The third edition was at that time planned to come in three forms: BESM 3rd Edition (deluxe), BESM 3rd Edition (standard) and Vanilla BESM, an inexpensive and simplified variant created to introduce non-RP gamers.

The rules allow for games to be played in any anime setting, from high-school romantic comedy to pet monster shows to dark horror, the rules are made to allow players to play in any such setting.

3rd EditionEdit

Mark MacKinnon announced that as of August 1, 2006 Guardians of Order was going out of business, and that "BESM Third Edition is finished and ready for press. Another company will be publishing it and providing future support. It's the most elegant version of BESM and the Tri-Stat System that I have put together and am very proud of it. If you pre-ordered the book from us, more information will follow."

On September 9, 2006, ArtHaus Games, whose titles are published by White Wolf Publishing, announced that it has acquired the RPG. The announcement stated the company was "extremely confident" that a release date of January 2007 would be met and confirmed that those who pre-ordered and prepaid for the book would be "in good hands", though it was also said that they have not taken on Guardians of Order's liabilities. [1]

BESM 3rd Edition was released by ArtHaus on January 24, 2007. The new edition features a change in the Tri-Stat game mechanic from a "roll-under" to the "roll-over and hit a target number" found in other games. The book is now standard 8.5 x 11 in format and features full color interior art. The Deluxe Edition was not released, and ArtHaus has not announced any plans to follow up with further releases or the previously-announced Vanilla BESM.

Ultimate Fan GuidesEdit

Starting in 2001, Guardians of Order replaced the company's previous practice of producing stand-alone games for anime series for which they had obtained licenses with Ultimate Fan Guides — a series of supplements for BESM which combine information on the episodes, characters and themes of anime series with statistics and game information for those series.

The Ultimate Fan Guide series was controversial among BESM fans. Although the books were usually well put-together and almost always featured many full-color pages with stills from the series involved, many fans believed the information provided in certain guides was incomplete and unreliable.[citation needed] In addition, there were occasional editing errors that lead to embarrassing omissions.[citation needed]

Many anime series whose first RPG treatment was in the Ultimate Fan Guides series were also adapted to the d20 System edition of Big Eyes, Small Mouth. The Slayers guides were adapted into a stand-alone d20 game under the title The Slayers d20.

Due to licensing consideration, the three-volume set of fan guides for Slayers does not include any information from the movies and OVAs distributed by ADV Films. This means that there has never been an official BESM writeup for Naga the Serpent, a popular character who does not appear in the television series.

Chapters that PlayEdit

The following chapters are know to play, previously played, or open to playing the game:

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