So I've had Anima: Beyond Fantasy for a while. I'm in love with the system and warming to its main setting. I've purchased copies of all the english released books to date, my group is eagre to play and yet… we're in an odd place. We're all excited by the idea of Anima, but while we've had small scenarios and practice sessions the idea of someone running a game always ends up feeling 'intimidating'.
To explain: we're experienced role players, but when we explore Anima's systems we always end up feeling like each number on a character sheet is integrated much more deeply into the system and seems to 'matter' a whole lot more. This could just be an odd perception of how everything works, but its like the interplay between attack and defence stats;
in most systems you're usually rolling against a static defense (with perhaps some stunt modifiers in the case of Exalted), whereas in Anima the attack roll-off, resulting damage and/or counter attacks makes for a much more detailed interplay between the numbers. In several play tests we found that balanced characters tend to find it very difficult to take the advantage in a straight up brawl (which is rather refreshing!), but at the same time it raises questions about just how far a GM needs to go to bring a challenge to the table.
So with the above in mind how do you, as a GM, manage the creation and implementation of Monsters and Antagonists in your games?
Do you like to pre-plan every encounter in advance? Or do you like to pluck an opponent's statistics from this air when your sand-box approach leads your group into an unforseen encounter?
It just seems like running a game of Anima off the cuff is much more difficult than many other systems, owing to actually needing to know the power level of a foe: their base presence, DP, Attack and Defence maximums etc. As a prospective GM, am I looking at this all the wrong way? Does Anima lend itself to having a GM conjure up a random beastie in the heat of the moment, or does the group really need to break while he/she works out a 'fair' encounter?
Also, how do you deal with a player's summoned beasties? We had a mage who leaned heavily into conjuration magic in our very first game, and he ended up with a multitude of homonculii running around that brought combat to a crawl. Now at the time I (foolishly!!!) let him create his own gribblies, since I was still trying to deal with the minutiae of the system… but in future I'll follow the game's advice that I, as the GM, should be assigning half of his creation's DPs as I see fit. You know…? To avoid that little problem of him having all power bases covered…
But what are your thoughts on this? Do I intentially give each creation a weakness that can be exploited? Or do I just finish each creation to a theme and see what happens, for the sake of fairness?
Any advice on either of these problems would be extremely welcome. We'd all love to get in to this wonderful looking game, but it really does seem to have a very different feel than anything we've dug into before.
Many thanks - Chrome
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Anima is a lot of fun! The system is a bit… huge… but even then, as you play it'll get more comfortable, I have some tips:
To your first issue, with off the cuff vs. planned. In general with most rpg's I've learned to "plan" very little, but have an idea. If you plan too much, and the players don't follow it themselves, you end up railroading and making it less about their story, more about yours. Ideally, you want to find a nice balance of both, but I know that's hard. I try to sit down to the table with a plethora of ideas, just to keep the availability of things to do, and places to go at a maximum.
As to your question about the monster, personally with Anima, Power Creep is inevitable. Currently a character design I have written up uses created beings, with the fuse spell to make an amalgum creature of awesomeness. Something I've learned about Anima (and rpgs in general, but more over with Anima,) balance matters little if everyone is having fun. If the players are trouncing your early encounters, you'll learn from it. Put them against something challenging that could wipe the floor with them, but pull your punches so you can get an idea of what to do in the future tomake challenging, but not necessarily insta-lethal encounters (unless you like insta-lethal, then do your thing!) Don't be afraid of the players doing the super powerful stuff, more often than not in Anima, it's the really cool stuff! As far as finding challenges, Those Who Walk Among us was a major boon.
As far as antagonists, the Gaia book provides a plethora of awesome plot hooks, ideas for villains, and places to go/things to do. I'd suggest taking a hook and going with it. There are a few things to keep in mind when planning for an anima campaign though:
Power Level: Keep in mind, that by the time the players reach about 5th level or so, they're going to start getting the attention of powerful people/organizations. They may already at that time, before even realizing, be embroiled in the massive shadow conflicts that the common folk know nothing about. By Level 10, they should be actively involved in shaping the fate of Gaia, along with the rulers of nations and power players in secret organizations.
Tone: Whether you want dark desparate fantasy, or an anime-esque action fest, Anima can do both, even in the same game or session. With the Mass Combat rules, you can have your party do Dynasty Warriors-esque feats of action. Have fun with it.
I wish I had more, but I'm at a loss :)
Thank you for your reply :D
I'm sorry this is response is quite so late, I've just had a lot on my mind the last few days. So really it sounds like I just need to read around the setting a little more, grab my group and just jump in. Oddly enough I feel a little more confident about doing just that, so thank you very much. Might have given me the boost I needed!
This might sound odd but in regards to balance watch a few action animes. From what i've noticed from the system and charecter creation PCs are Anime Absurdo Stupid Powerful.
Think about how the heroes are in relation to the Main Bosses/Grunts(think stormtrooper effect) also using basic rules PCs and Enemies can die really fast. Find a balance you like but remember you can easily butcher someone using bare bones fundamentals. One trick ponies are great (i got good at them in D&D 3.5), shirtless dude with stupid high attack but low LP and Crap defense skills are GREAT shock value. OMG critical hit on me no, *returns favor* enemy is DEAD.
These are just ideas but seriously if your players are anything like me they have spent countless hours tweaking the pro's and cons of charecters super powers (if they rolled well then they do have them). 10 (or higher with inhumation) in physical stuff plus strategic ki abilities is basically Goku.
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