April 8, 2013
A Look At the Crunch Of Anima: Beyond Fantasy
Anima: Beyond Fantasy is a tabletop game few gamers have actually heard of. Produced by Anima Project Studio, a Spanish game developer, and redistributed for its English speaking audience by Fantasy Flight Games, Anima: Beyond Fantasy is an amazing game of epic high fantasy. Mechanically, Anima is somewhat complex. It holds many similarities to Dungeons & Dragons in how its base mechanic works: you have a number of attributes that give you a modifier that you apply to various other skills and abilities, you have a class and levels, and you determine success or failure by rolling a dice, adding relevant modifiers, and trying to beat a set difficulty. However, that is pretty much where the similarities end.
Anima uses a d100 (100 sided/percentile dice) rather than a d6 (six-sided dice) or d20 (20 sided dice). Leveling up happens less often than in games such as D&D, as its level 10+ is about the equivalent of D&D level 20+, and upon leveling up you are given a number of points in which to purchase whatever improvements for your character you like. Your choice of class determines how much various improvements cost and grant you special bonuses to certain ones. For example, for a warrior, purchasing ranks in “attack” costs 2 points per increase and they are given a bonus of +5 to attack every level. Wizards, on the other hand, get no automatic bonus to attack each level, raising their attack costs 3 points per increase, but they are given automatic skill bonuses to occult knowledge and magical awareness. This system of “leveling up/point buy” allows for an incredible level of customization while maintaining the semblance of balance that leveling games provide. There are also a good number of classes to choose from (20 in total) ranging in focus and ability.
One of the greatest complications with Anima is that it uses a variety of sub-systems to control the various disciplines of the game. Magic works different than summoning, which is also different from psychic powers, which is also different from domine martial techniques. Now, personally, I like the differentiation. Magic and psionics are not the same in flavor or effect, so why should they be the same mechanically? Magic draws on a pool of energy (Zeon/Mana) that the spell-caster uses to fuel their spells. Once they are depleted, they can no longer work magic. Psychics, on the other hand, draw on the powers of the mind and can thus use their abilities more freely, but they can risk harm if they push themselves too far. Summoners use the same pool of energy as spell-casters, but they rely on learning the true names of monsters and other beasts to call into battle or in making pacts with great beasts in order to call upon their powers at need. Techniques rely on separate pools of energy entirely, and require their user to draw upon these different pools and combine their energies to achieve wondrous feats. Learning these various sub-systems of the game can be difficult, and can feel disheartening at first, but the trick to Anima is not trying to learn everything. Specialize. Learn how to play the game one character at a time.
As if it wasn’t obvious, I adore Anima: Beyond Fantasy. It is my favorite role-playing game. For those who haven’t had an opportunity, I highly suggest checking it out. I guarantee that there is something in the game for everyone.
Image Credit: Anima Project Studio