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In BESM, it seems to be a lot easier to build a character capable of dealing massive amounts of damage than a character capable of taking massive amounts of damage. As a DM, I don't want to build every possible opponent with massive armor and defense attributes, because it feels unrealistic that everyone walks around in power armor or whatever. What am I meant to be doing to help balance combat? Or is this not meant to be an issue?

The game I'm running is fairly low on combat, mostly social interaction, but when a PC can one-shot just about anyone with a 26-point weapon, they're getting a little cocky. It's themed around high-school aged characters, like one of those shows that alternates between slice-of-life filler episodes and battles with season-long reoccurring villains. A lot of their fights are the result of social interaction going badly rather than storming the castle, so I'm not always sure in advance who they'll pick a fight with.

(We're in 3rd edition Tri-stat, not d20)

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You can turn "cocky trigger finger" into a liability: "good job, you just brought a knife fight to a cocktail party. You don't get the job offer, so you can't afford to fix your car, so you don't get a first date with your crush, and your romantic rival wins." – SevenSidedDie Jul 29 '13 at 15:45
up vote 12 down vote accepted

Unfortunately, in my experience, BESM can get very lopsided in terms of balance.

Most balance in BESM has to come from a mutual agreement between the GM and players to agree on what is overpowered. If the players aren't willing to work with you to dial it back a bit you're going to have to get a little more crafty. Look for defensive holes in their character sheets.

A 26 point weapon can have a very high damage output or a number of bells and whistles. What are the drawbacks of constantly flashing that around and obliterating foes? If you're playing in modern society, there may be social and ethical questions to using such a weapon at the drop of a hat. Is it costly to use? Maybe put a choke on the players support network (ammo source goes missing, vendor kidnapped, breakdown and it's out of warranty!, be creative.)

Don't just straight up take it away from the player, but try getting them into a situation they can't solve with a really big gun.

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This sounds alot like Hunter's Endowment system (vastly powerful techniques/items available if you're important enough to a conspiracy, but with steep penalties associated with their use) – acolyte Jul 30 '13 at 19:21

This problem exists in just about every kind of build-points RPG, and the usual solution is lots of GM input during character creation. Either put a hard limit the maximum power that characters can take during creation, or find some kind of consensus on what's overpowered; then build the characters' opponents to challenge the characters. It sounds like your players went for powerful attacks and neglected their defenses: they're glass cannons. Talk to your players, and see if they're willing to re-build their characters a bit to make them a bit more balanced between offense and defense.

If you don't want to change the characters already in play, or your players resist being nerfed, then there are two ways you can build your opponents to challenge your players in combat: lots of defenses (or high defense skills, like Ranged Defense (personal)), or powerful attacks. Build a glass cannon opponent, and have that opponent fire first. The players will soon realize they need some defenses to survive that.

Alternatively, take @SevenSidedDie's suggestion and have their itchy trigger fingers affect the plot to their disadvantage.

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