I've been looking for a system to play a game in the Saint Seiya universe.

The problem with this anime is that it sometimes it runs out of pure logic. It's not like Naruto where strategy can solve most of the problems, nor like Yuyu Hakusho where strength wins. Being strong counts in Saint Seiya but most success is a combination of strength, guidance, and the most important thing: willpower.

The Saints fight to save Athena and their motivation is the biggest thing in the series. You feel like, when they win a fight, it's not only because they're powerful. It's because they understand why they can't be defeated. They can't lose because they musn't. If they do lose a fight, there will be nobody else to fight for them. It's a lot like many other shounen mangas.

I've tried BESM and it kind of worked. The adaptation was interesting and fun, but it lacked the willpower part.

So in the end I need a system that will let the players fight, feel powerful, have fun in combat and all that, but it will also have them worried, feeling weak when I want them to (especially if their "Cloths" are breaking). It must allow them to stay alive and keep fighting as long as their characters have enough motivation and even get stronger than the enemies for a split second (or long enough to use a special attack or something, in other words).

I can't find a system with this feeling.

Summary: I need a system that makes Saint Seiya feel like Saint Seiya.


3 Answers 3


I would be looking at games with some form of motivation mechanics built in - where the characters get bonuses or improvements based on their motivations and emotional states. Here's some games you might consider:

Primetime Adventures

PTA mechanics are very light, it does not have any tactical element, but it is very good at drama. It can emulate basically any story genre and would work well for pretty much any anime where you are not concerned with the actual game play being about tactical choices. Characters get "spotlight episodes" where they are more effective at dealing with problems than the other characters, which creates a natural narrative flow.

Blade of the Iron Throne/Riddle of Steel

If you do decide you want some tactical play along with your motivation mechanics, these two games do provide that. Although they're designed for Sword & Sorcery/Grim Fantasy, the basic rules of Spiritual Attributes (relationships, goals, ideals) are pretty easy to port, and much of the combat rules can be simplified if you aren't looking for hardcore swordfighting rules.

When you pursue your Passions/Spiritual Attributes, you get extra dice to succeed. When you want to improve your character, you spend down those numbers, so you have periods where you are very awesome, riding high on those pools, and periods where you are relatively weak, but you've improved your actual character stats a step, and will have to build it back up via roleplaying.

Hero Wars/Heroquest

Originally Herowars, then Heroquest, and now Heroquest 2, the core mechanics have been pretty close through the editions. Your character can have traits like "Strong 15" as much as "Brave 15" or "Doubting my own worth 13" and so on, and all of these traits can affect the character's success or failure. It can scale infinitely high, so if you wanted to do a game where you really focused on people powering up over time (or, getting more motivated) it works as well.

The only drawback is that all of these games tend to be somewhat rambly in the text, which can make the rules seem more complicated than what they are.

The Shadow of Yesterday

The Shadow of Yesterday is a fantasy game, but it is very easy to hack to any genre you want. Characters are powered by "Ability Pools" which drain down as you spend out of them, and are replenished primarily by interacting with other characters ("Spend some time talking about how you feel with another character, replenish your Instincts" etc.)

You gain XP by following Keys - motivations. Key of Romance, Key of Comradery, Key of The Vow, etc. These are also easy to hack to any setting as well.

Tenra Bansho Zero

The rules are moderately bound to the setting, so there'd definitely be some parts you'd have to consider which rules you'd use or how, but the core aspect that would be very valuable is the Fate-Aiki-Karma rules.

It basically works like this: 1) Roleplay in a way that's entertaining - get Aiki awarded from the other players.
2) Roleplay towards your relationships/emotions (Fates) - and that Aiki turns to Kiai -extra dice, basically action/hero points. 3) Spend out those Kiai for bonsuses, and after you've spent an amount, you will need to change or let go of your Fates - your relationships, ideals, and outlooks will need to change, you will have to grow as a character.

TBZ is very anime, so you can probably port some good amount of the rules with a bit of work.


FATE games, like Heroquest, let you take any character trait and make it something game-able and useable for advantage in play. "Loyalty to my friends" can be a way to get a bonus. When your Aspects work against you, you get FATE points, when you want to use them to get bonuses, then you spend FATE points.

FATE games are pretty popular right now as the genreless system for a lot of folks.


Which version of BESM did you use? The one I have handy, BESM 3, lets you use Energy Points to boost rolls in "moments of high drama or extreme emotion" (p148) for a maximum bonus of your Soul stat. The Aura of Inspiration attribute can help with this. There's even an optional rule where a player can spend 50 Energy to add a plot element.

I've played in two BESM games; it does a good job of letting you do ridiculous things but still feel like you're in danger.

My recommendation would be BESM 3.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The first time I tried to play Saint Seiya was with BESM 3rd Edition. \$\endgroup\$
    – Davi Braid
    Dec 25, 2014 at 21:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaviBraid - In what way did the Energy Point system not fit your willpower concept? Understanding that might help me make a better recommendation. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 26, 2014 at 2:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ Energy Points would work well as their "cosmo". But sometimes, the Saints find enough power to even land a hit on a god. In theory, the power of every being is limitless. So I kinda need something that makes the players feel like they're "gaining power from nowhere". Enough power to face enemies way stronger than they are. Even if it's only for a moment. \$\endgroup\$
    – Davi Braid
    Dec 26, 2014 at 8:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know of a system that simulates that, although there totally could be. It might be something you have to house rule; once per story, when they're on the ropes, they all get a +X to all rolls for a turn or something. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 28, 2014 at 19:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't know either. That's pretty much why I'm asking about it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Davi Braid
    Jan 3, 2015 at 21:40

Mutants & Masterminds (would post link, but stack exchange won't let me have more than 2, and this is the easiest one to find)

Of all of the system out there, I have found M&M is the best at making a character concept into a reality.... at least of the fairly-well grounded systems (ones with a good thick set of rules).

Honestly, I have found that for making any anime character (Saint Seiya would be included), the best system is Mutants and Masterminds. For making my anime characters, it beats out even BESM... and Mutants and Masterminds even has an anime/manga expansion that makes it work even better.

Window Window Roleplaying System

Window is an indie system with VERY open roleplaying system that lets you create d*** near anything... however, it throws out balance in the name of simplicity and versatility. However, it's a very simple roleplaying system to learn. It's free online, but you have to print out your own copy of the book.

Dreams (Roleplaying Adventure System Dreams) Dreams official page Dreams is another indie system that's kind of like an odd balance point between Window, Mutants & Masterminds, & Shadowrun. It's a system-in-progress at this point (only it's Player's Handbook equivalent currently out, and it's wiki is only partially filled out) but it's an open source system that also has physical books you can buy. It's a bit more grounded in reality than Window or M&M with a longer character creation time, but still pretty versatile, and a system I've run several campaigns in (I find it's basic version is easier to get into than it's full version).

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ How would each of these handle the special "willpower" requirement in the question? The answer should explicitly address that since it is the real problem. (Making anime-style characters isn't the issue.) \$\endgroup\$ Jan 4, 2015 at 19:10

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