Okay folks, time for a system review. My Tuesday night gaming group recently finished the pilot campaign of this game, and with a monthly game now starting up, I think it’s a good time to lay down my thoughts on Anima: Beyond Fantasy.
First, the book itself. I am completely serious when I say that this book is worth buying solely for the artwork. It’s stunning. Nearly every page has a, well, awesome image on it. In fact, that was the reason the GM in my group originally bought it.
The tone of the game is reminiscent of 80’s and early 90’s anime. By that I mean it has Style, and yes, the capital and the italics are justified. Think Berserk! and Vampire Hunter D, think secret techniques, think swords that can cleave through five mooks and a building in a single swing, think flashy magic, think sprays of blood, think adventure, think action, think awesome. The genre we’re talking about is “dark fantasy.”
Now for the system. First off, beware, because the system is crunchy. Usually, I’m a huge fan of crunch-lite systems, for the simple reason that I don’t like rules getting in the way of the story. Anima’s system is actually fairly functional crunch, however. The only dice you will ever need is a set of percentile dice (2d10), and you use these for all rolls. When you’re making a combat roll, you only need to roll your percentile dice, apply modifiers, and determine what happens. How much you hit by matters, as damage is decided by percents. If you just barely hit your enemy, you might do 10% of your weapon damage, but if your dice explode several times, and your enemy defends poorly, you might deal 200% of your weapon damage.
In addition to standard swordplay, there are also rules set up for the use of Ki techniques, Xeon, Psychic powers, and summoning. Ki techniques are often employed my martial artists, technicians, or warriors, and can have effects from modifying your stats, to creating a weapon out of thin air, to the classic Kamehameha. Xeon is closest to standard magic, allowing wizards to call down fire and energy upon their foes. Psychic powers cover the manipulation of objects and minds, and a powerful psychic can command others to do his bidding, unleash psychic assaults, and move things with his mind. Summoning, while difficult and dangerous, can bring powerful allies onto the battlefield.
So it’s pretty standard dark fantasy, but the execution is so stylish that it easily makes this worth a purchase and at least a miniseries.
A few recommendations:
Know which rules apply to you, because if players are clueless, the pace of combat can absolutely crawl.
Get a portrait for your character. Find one, draw one, commission one, whatever you have to do, but know what you look like, and make sure everyone else does too.
You start badass, and get exponentially more badass as you advance in levels. Own it.