Kickstarter! OVA: The Anime Role-Playing Game by Clay Gardner!

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This much-awaited (much, much, MUCH awaited) Kickstarter project is the brain child of my friend Clay Gardner (with gorgeous illustration work by Niko Geyer) and pretty much SHATTERED its goal within hours – JUST hours. It’s called OVA: The Anime Role-Playing Game and I am so excited to start playing this game. I love anime, and I love tabletop RPGs, so I feel like this was made for me. And it seems, a lot of people feel the same way. The original goal was $7,500 but at the moment of writing this, they’re sitting pretty at $90,728. Holy crap, right?

“OVA: The Anime Role-Playing Game is exactly what it says in the title, a tabletop RPG lovingly crafted to capture the diverse worlds of Japanese animation. Save the princess (or prince!) from a fire-breathing dragon, tackle invading squadrons of giant robots, or find true love amid campus hijinks—everything you need is inside!”

Clay was sweet enough to take a moment of his time and answer a few questions about his awesome Kickstarter campaign. I figure the man behind the project would be able to tell you a little more about it than I can. So let’s start!

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The Interview: with Clay Gardner

01. Tell us a little about your Kickstarter. Where did the idea for it come from and who is all working on it?

I wrote the beginnings of OVA around ten years ago. I was just getting into anime heavily, and I wanted to represent the shows I was enjoying in role-playing form. But at the time, I felt constrained by most games available. Many great and fun systems existed, of course, but nothing seemed to let me create the character I wanted to. Even point-buy systems, which on paper were supposed to open up possibilities, always seemed to punish making cinematic decisions. Having a character good with both a gun and martial arts had very little to do with a character’s effectiveness in the game, but almost always resulted in a crippling reduction in available points. And so too with multiple flashy attacks, or really anything done for the sake of “being cool.” I wanted a game that embraced doing things for the fun of it, and soon, OVA took shape. I released it as a PDF in 2005, with a print run following the next year.

This Kickstarter is for a new, revised version of OVA. The game holds onto the same ideals I had a decade ago but is improved with all the experience I’ve gained in the time between. A brand new layout, art done by a single talented artist Niko Geyer, and many refinements and expansions to the rules make the game better than ever before. It’s OVA as I knew it always could be.

02. What was the hardest part about putting together a campaign like this?

I hope it’s not too much of a cop-out answer, but I feel like getting the whole thing together was the hardest part! By itself, each element was a lot of work, but being able to juggle creating a video, the page graphics, all the groundwork for promoting the kickstarter, and all the text the project required at the same time…well…I’m glad it’s all done!

03. What has the process been like getting OVA: The Anime Role-Playing Game together? What came first – stories, characters, worlds, etc? How do you keep it all organized?

Because OVA already existed in some form, working on the new edition sort of jumped between everything in no particular order. I’d spend some time creating a new character, who’d inspire a new rule or revision. Or maybe a new rule would change the way I thought a character should be written. But I think it was always about characters at heart. That is why we play role-playing games, after all, and I wanted to make sure that every part of the new OVA was dedicated to making the process of realizing a character as simple and fun as possible.

As for how I keep it all organized, I tend to jot down all my ideas in text files before introducing it into the actual manuscript. After I had the manuscript more or less complete, I began typesetting the book while making small revisions I felt were appropriate. I guess you could look at each file type like a different draft, with the actual InDesign layout file being my last pass for the text.

04. What advice do you have for others who are thinking about starting their own RPGs or Kickstarters?

Take the time to make your page look as good as possible. While a solid idea will get support based on its own merit, a professional presentation instills confidence in a project and shows that you’re the kind of creator that is serious about bringing a product to completion. Show finished, polished examples of your work in action, and if possible, make graphics that spell out exactly what each of your pledge levels offers.

If you’re kickstarting a game (be it an RPG, a board game, or even a video game) give visitors a way to try it out. Whether you offer a print-in play version, a condensed copy of the rulebook, or just a demo, people appreciate being able to know what they’re getting and not just acting upon a sales pitch.

Oh, and plan to take the whole first day off so you can dedicate it to your Kickstarter. *laughs*

05. And finally! If you were to sit down at a table to start playing OVA, who would be your ideal/dream RPers to play with? Can be anyone, living or dead. Who would they play?

That’s a tough one! If we expand the “anyone living or dead” magic to include breaking language barriers, I think it would be fascinating to play the game with Japanese story-telling greats like Hayao Miyazaki and Osamu Tezuka. And of course Ryo Mizuno of Record of Lodoss War fame. I wonder how he’d feel about OVA’s rules in comparison to systems like D&D and Sword World that formed the basis of so many of his stories?

What characters would they play? Ones from their own tales? New ones whole-cloth? Hard to say…but it would be kind of magical if one of them took up the Game Master’s hat instead!

Keep Pledging for Rewards!

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Right now, the goal is to hit $100k and I fully believe they can do! Let’s help get them there – if they get there, a new reward will open up, and I would love to get my hands on it. So what are you waiting for? Go kickstart this project!

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