Yay! BESM d20 is out! It's got all kinds of neat things. The power level is a little higher than most d20 games, but everything is laid out and is mad customizable.
But then, it's mostly pretty balanced with itself. Everything is utterly modular. It integrates some d20 Modern stuff, mostly feats and such, and a point-value calculation for the PHB classes. If you run a game, you'll have to decide what you will and won't allow. I'd be perfectly willing to substitute in some of this stuf when running normal D&D, only I'd remove combat skills and up the BAB of the adventurer to cleric type.
Adventurer: bad base attack, no good saves, but +5 character points per level do do with what you will, and all skills are class skills, with 4 SP per level. Spend 1 CP for a +1 save, 3 for +1 BAB, 1 for 4 Skill Points, varying for the various attributes. Darn cool.
The rest are mostly just "packages" of abilities that fit the general flavor of what they're trying to do. Full list: Adventurer, Dynamic Sorcerer, Giant Robot, Gun Bunny, Hot Rod, Magical Girl, Martial Artist, Mecha Pilot, Ninja, Pet Monster Tamer, Samurai, Sentai Member, Shapechanger, Schoolgirl, and Tech Genius.
The mecha are just basic types, not really anything custom yet, so you'll have to wait for d20 Mecha. It has defects, but they're of the kind you really don't have much control over (there's no "lazy" defect, for example, but there is a "Not so Tough").
You buy ability scores on a 1 for 2 basis. 1 point nets you a +2 ability score. Races are bought witht he same points as ability scores. Half orcs cost -5 character points, while being a "construct" costs 4. Pont values are calculated for everything.
Dynamic sorcery in the hands of a min-maxer is begging for trouble, but it has energy issues, so that might (might) balance it out. I'll be playtesting it with Kim, so I'll see how mean it seems to be in play.
My only complaint is that a character with the "Magic" attribute is worse off than someone with "Dynamic Sorcery," as far as energy goes.
Skills: there's a lot of these. Too many for my taste. I'd like to see Navigation, Survival, Wilderness Tracking, and Wilderness Lore as one skill, Sleight of Hand and Pick Pocket as one skill, Power Lifting removed, and Bluff and Seduction rolled into one.
Attributes: Neat stuff. Adventurer, Damn Healthy!, and Regeneration and Reincarnation can make the character I've always wanted: the lightweight who never goes down! And with Alternate Form and Super Strength, I can probably build a "Breath of Fire" style Brood class for maximum coolness.
Feats: Mostly out of other d20 Open Source stuff, though a few of the old Kensei and Gun Bunny attribute abilities are now feats. There's some logisitcal problems with Combat Martial Arts and Brawl (mostly since the latter now does normal damage in BESM d20), but nothing too serious. Concealment is pretty cool - Lets you hide a greatsword in long hair or just a light loincloth and can't be found except with a search (at -8, even!). Blind fighting here allows you to actually fight your foe normally, so long as he's right next to you.
There's some rules for called shots, but I haven't gone over them completely yet. Energy points are cool. You get 1d2+x per level, where x is your lowest mental ability score modifier. You can spend 5 energy to increase and ability score by 1 or gain +2 hp temporarily. When you hit 0 energy, you fall unconscious until you get at least 1 back, which will probably be in an hour. With dynamic sorcery or energy bonus, you get more energy points to play with.
I'd have liked some easier ways to increase AC than spending skill points or CP. But since I can snag 4 Skill Points for 1 character point, I guess it's okay. The game assumes proficiency with whatever weapon you want to use.
The whole thing is great. Cool powers, an almost classless system, artwork is beautiful, and some neat takes on the whole d20 thing at large. It's just not something you want in the hands of the group's powergamer or rules lawyer.
And the "Gamer's Creed" at the beginning is inspired.
d20Mecha is also on its way, and it's got a dynamic creation system for vehicles and giant robots, supposedly.
(insert witty phrase)