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Cowboy Bebop RPG will let you play as the anime’s characters, won’t touch the movie or Netflix series

Players will be able to take control of the Bebop crew or create their own interplanetary bounty hunters.

The Cowboy Bebop RPG will let you play as the characters seen in the anime series, including Spike and Faye, Dicebreaker can reveal.

Lead designer Michele Paroli confirmed in an interview at Essen Spiel 2021 that the upcoming roleplaying game would include Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine and the rest of the Bebop crew as pre-generated characters.

“The pre-generated characters will be the crew that we already know,” Paroli said, adding that the RPG would take place in the same timeline as the initial 26-episode series.

Paroli acknowledged that it was uncommon for a licensed RPG to hand control of existing characters to players, saying that publisher Mana Project was working with the studio behind the anime, Sunrise, on faithfully adapting its acclaimed series for the tabletop.

“We have to be very careful,” the designer said. “But this is our aim.”

Players will also be able to create original characters to form a crew of bounty hunters, as well as creating their own spaceship to replace the Bebop and Spike’s Swordfish fighter seen in director Shinichirō Watanabe’s seminal space-western.

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“You'll be able to create your bounty hunter,” Paroli confirmed. “You'll be able to create your own ship, your own bounty hunters and your crew.”

Paroli also revealed that the RPG would be based solely on the original Cowboy Bebop series first broadcast in 1998. Aspects from the 2001 movie spin-off and upcoming Netflix adaptation will not be included in the tabletop game, the designer added, as they are not covered by the licence held by the publishers.

Driving the gameplay will be a system based on design studio Fumble GDR’s Not the End. Players create characters from key traits and abilities arranged in a honeycomb-like grid of hexes, with applicable hexes adding additional dice to a dice pool rolled to resolve tests. Complications and increased difficulty see the addition of negative dice in a different colour, with the dual colour of dice inspired by Spike’s eyes.

Paroli said that playthroughs would follow the structure of the TV series, which combined its space-western setting with a distinctive visual style and jazz music. Paroli noted that the RPG itself would attempt to capture a jazz-like feel during play.

“We are trying to translate the jazz part [of the series] into the core system,” Paroli told Dicebreaker. “I shouldn't say that much because we're trying to release a playtest in a few... I hope weeks. I don't want to say months, but let's say months. There will be something like a time clock, where it will be a crescendo like a jazz session. I shouldn't say but - 3, 2, 1, Let's jam.”

Paroli aims to launch the Kickstarter campaign for the Cowboy Bebop RPG in the first half of 2022, with a hopeful release before the end of next year.

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