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Cowboy Bebop RPG studio’s Knights of the Round: Academy blends My Hero Academia, Gundam and King Arthur

Anime-inspired RPG from design team Fumble GDR draws from shonen, mecha and school drama - plus Arthurian fantasy.

The design studio behind the upcoming Cowboy Bebop tabletop RPG has launched another roleplaying game inspired by popular anime series including My Hero Academia, Gundam and Sailor Moon.

Fumble GDR is taking the design reins on the Cowboy Bebop RPG revealed earlier this week ahead of its planned 2022 Kickstarter launch. Based on Shinchiro Watanabe’s highly influential and acclaimed jazz-space-western anime - which is also currently being adapted as a live-action Netflix series - Cowboy Bebop: The Role-Playing Game will be co-published by Don’t Panic Games and Mana Project Studio.

Before that high-profile project hits the crowdfunding platform next year, Fumble plans to explore an original setting in Knights of the Round: Academy, a tabletop RPG heavily influenced by several popular anime but not a direct adaptation of one particular series.

The upcoming RPG is described as combining aspects of shonen manga and anime - the hugely popular subgenre of action-adventure stories familiar through long-running series such as Dragon Ball, One Piece and Naruto - ‘90s “super and real robots” anime and school dramas. Among the main inspirations cited are My Hero Academia, which follows the superpowered students of a hero school; classic mecha franchise Gundam and transforming ‘magical girl’ series Sailor Moon.

Knights of the Round: Academy’s title alludes to its secondary influence: the legends and fantasy of King Arthur. The game’s setting is the planet of Brit'an, based on Arthurian Britain, with the sci-fi-fantasy backgrounds of players’ characters similarly referencing mythological aspects in lineages such as the Avalon, Bret’on and Sax’on. If that wasn’t enough of an unsubtle nod, regions include the almost-Camelot area of Kamel’oth alongside the relocated Wessex, Sussex and Essex, while named non-player characters include researcher Dr. Merlin and academy head Director Pendragon.

Despite the game detailing the world to some degree - including the fictional sport of Knightball, which is included as a print-and-play board game as part of the crowdfunder - its creators note that the setting is left deliberately “blank” beyond its general geographical layout and key figures, in order to encourage players to shape the world as best fits their campaign.

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Players take on the role of students at the Round military school on the war-torn planet, needing to navigate both the demands of school life and their various personal relationships with other students - including potential rivals and love interests - as well as outside threats from monsters. Characters’ backstories will also be fleshed out by narrative flashbacks during the course of play focused on individual students’ memories and growth.

Characters are created via a series of descriptive traits, representing personal skills and knowledge as well as specific items and relationships, which add additional dice to a pool of eight-sided dice when resolving tests. Some of the dice may be reduced to six-sided dice by increased threat or difficulty, while players can choose to spend the resource of Limit points to increase their odds of success with 12-sided dice - with the potential to enter an ‘overdrive’ state with magnified outcomes for critical hits and misses.

Knights of the Round: Academy is live on Kickstarter until October 28th, ahead of a planned release for the digital and physical editions of the core rulebook early next year. A quickstart set of rules is available from the campaign page.

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