Anima: Beyond Fantasy
Editor’s Note: The Anima RPG is no longer available for purchase (in English) from the publisher, so the link above is for the forums that remain. If you’d like information on purchasing a copy, visit its Amazon page or other resellers.
Almost a thousand years before the end date in the timeline of Gaia’s history, there was a religious movement that united all of humanity under one banner, give or take a few nations. It was this movement that provoked a response from almost all of the human and non-human peoples of the world, including the Sylvain (Light Elves), Jayan (Giants with horns and a third eye), D’anjayni (a species devoted to hiding their true nature at all costs), Ebudan (the Angelic knockoffs of the world), Daimah (a species loosely related to the animal kingdom), Duk’zarist (Dark Elves), and every other sapient and sentient species… a response that would have lasting repercussions all throughout the world. In the following list of five points, I will cover what the actual history of the movement was like, with what should be enough information to understand everything.
1) ‘Christianity’ Is A Fake Religion
To emphasize the point, I would like to introduce the organization known as Imperium, one of three Powers in the Shadows that tend to manipulate history for their own gain. The organization has a council called the Inner Circle as the second highest power in the organization, the highest power being a man named Barnabas. Together, they give the orders that translate to modifying history to their advantage. One of their initial plans was to give humanity, which they represented among the Powers in the Shadows, knowledge to let them get ahead of the other species. That… didn’t turn out so well. Then they tried to keep the human race ignorant of the truth of the world by giving them a religion to unite them. Three guesses as to which they modeled it after (the first two don’t count). This is implied by the events surrounding Point number 4, where the in-setting Christ figure’s crucifixion is stated to be an “allegory which only Imperium understood.”
2) ‘Christianity’ Is A Violent Religion
Abel, the in-setting Christ figure as manufactured by Imperium, had a lot of followers gathered to his banner. During one of his sermons about Heaven, which he claimed was where his father lived, a mage from an organization called the Order of Yehuda interrupted the gathering and used magic to kill some of the gathered. In a sorrowful rage, Abel picked up a sword for what seemed to be the first time and made it clear to his followers that his ‘father’ was not an entirely forgiving one, especially to those who used magic and other forms of the occult in the world.
3) ‘Christianity’ Had A Mind Control Agent
During the creation of their plan to take over the development of the human race, Imperium made a mind control system called the Auspice, one that would make the people closed-minded and homogenous. It was with the use of this system that people would begin to grow as a united front for Imperium’s plans, on top of being made blind sheep being led to the slaughter, so to speak. It would have lasted for a long time, too, had it not been for a woman named Eljared giving the people an immunity to it over 900 years after the death of Abel… but that is an article for another time.
4) ‘Christianity’ Had A Stupid Ending
The religion should have ended when Abel died. Abel, for lack of a better expression, was the ultimate blind sheep being led to the slaughter. His capture and execution by the citizens of Solomon were akin to the death of Jesus, except, by all rights, his death didn’t have anything fancy, like natural disasters or other scenes of nature making things dramatic. He just died.
5) ‘Christianity’ Had A Better Judas Iscariot
The whole betrayal of Abel by the equivalent of Judas Iscariot, whose given name in Anima was Iscariot, was orchestrated by Imperium to go exactly as the Biblical accounts told it. However, due to circumstances outside of their control, Iscariot received 30 pieces of magitech supercomputers that Imperium had given the city of Solomon, failing to retrieve them when the leader of the city at the time had successfully hidden them from the organization. Iscariot was able to access the power of the supercomputers and learned about the manipulation of history, thus seeing to it that he would exact revenge on the Powers in the Shadows through his family line… however, like with point three, that is an article for another time.
Over the years, real world religions have been used as models for game setting religions, much like this one, yet the extent of what was modified about this particular ‘religion’ is baffling. I only say this because I like to read and study what has happened in the real world, as history has always been a fascinating subject for me, even when I was young. The ‘christianity’ as presented in Anima does not bear much resemblance to the modern day real world religion of the same name, and its merits are few and far between. Still, this is just my understanding of the game lore. If only the licensors managed to publish more expansions for the game beyond what they did in the English Language…
Picture Refernce: https://wen-m.deviantart.com/art/wallpaper-The-Holy-Church-112605975
Samuel Kenneth Kauffman is, full disclosure, a real world Christian that follows the doctrines of the Free Methodist branch of the Protestant denominations (vastly different from the game setting version), an amateur Game Master, a gamer of both tabletop RPGs and videogames, a “professional” writer of fanfic, and is somewhat aware that he needs to improve his writing ability for more professional work in the industry. He is a fan of Anima: Beyond Fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, Starfinder (although that one is somewhat up for debate), 13th Age, the Wizards of the Coast Star Wars Saga Edition RPG, Fantasy Flight Games’ rendition of the Star Wars RPG, and, more recently, the Genesys RPG. Be sure to look out for his upcoming blog about roleplaying, gaming in general, and the writer’s life.
Sometimes the strangest titles are also the strongest. Anima: Beyond Fantasy, I believe, exemplifies this concept. It has odd origins, being of both Japanese and European design, and it never really got popular in North America, despite a competent translation and vivacious artwork. The game is pure fantasy, and its setting runs the gamut from high magic to weird tech. I recommend it to players and GMs looking for a more robust fantasy experience. Here follows four of its core systems, each of which make it accessible and fantastic.
1) The Basic System Is Solid And Familiar
Anima’s dice-rolling mechanic proves far more simple than it may appear. It’s a target number system, meaning players need only roll d100 and add it to their skill plus attribute bonus. Sound familiar? It’s really just an expansion of the d20 mechanic common in D&D and other Wizards of the Coast titles. While the addition is slightly more advanced, the system is easy to get used to. The expanded number system allows for more variation in bonuses (and penalties) that the GM can hand out. Want to give a -3 situational modifier, but add 8 for a cool action description? The d100 system can handle the additional specifics and variance. Most bonuses and drawbacks are in increments of 5, but they aren’t limited by this factor.
2) The Magic System Is Robust And Varied
Never have I seen a game that melds several separate systems together in one fabulous, interconnected package. Playing a psychic? Your powers operate using a separate mechanic from the wizard, so as to better represent your psychic nature. Want to play a martial artist with Dragon Ball Z-level powers? Your Wuxia madness will be wildly different from the psychic’s powers, and you get to create your own if you wish. Each player needs only to learn their own system and how their powers function. The GM does the rest, melding the results of each dice roll with the basic system. The fighter of the group could be swinging a massive two handed sword while the wizard collects magic, preparing to cause a catastrophic conflagration. The wizard’s unique system informs how long they need to prepare, how accurate their projection of energies, and how powerful a spell they can release. The psychic could be focusing on their own manifestation, using their unique stats to determine how many points they can invest in powers and how draining their usage is. Still other mechanics of supernatural expertise exist within this one grand system, and they all work together wonderfully. Each character truly feels one-of-a-kind.
3) The Critical System Is Wild and Heroic
With the capacity to cause earth-shattering consequences, the system has to allow for unconscionably high results. When you roll a 90-100, you achieve what’s called an Open Roll. You can roll again, adding the new result. You get to keep doing this, though your crit range shrinks by one each roll. While most starting characters will achieve results from 60-120 on average, the Open Roll system allows them to get 300’s or higher. The target number system is graded by 20-40. When you achieve inhumanity (that is, a state that allows you to transcend your mortal limitations), you can eventually roll as high as 440, called a Zen result. The examples provided for Zen skill checks are just as incredible and heroic as you might think. Zen supernatural power results let you annihilate cities or relocate small islands. Anima’s capacity for exciting (and sometimes hilarious) feats is near limitless.
4) The Combat System Is Rich And Complex
Most fantasy games are judged based on the strength of their combat system. While I don’t necessarily agree with this metric, I will happily report that Anima’s combat system proves to be very strong. Fighters can play defensively or offensively, as a defensive character can wait to be attacked and use the margin by which they were missed as a bonus to their counterattack. Agile fighters can incorporate acrobatics into their attacks, achieving back-striking bonuses. Stealthy combatants obtain bonuses for attacking from the shadows without needing to belong to the Thief or Assassin archetypes. Characters can be built in whichever direction players wish. Want to wield a huge weapon for clearing out large groups of foes, then switch to a dagger for precision work? You can do so, and will receive the benefits you’d expect for each type of weapon. Want to embarrass your opponent by parrying each of their strikes, then artfully place the tip of your rapier against their throat? You’re covered there as well. The system of benefits and drawbacks for combat is staggering in scope.
The greatest criticism I have of Anima: Beyond Fantasy lies with its complexity. It is not a game I recommend to new GMs. Players can get the hang of everything just as quickly as they would with D&D 5th, but the GM needs to be somewhat experienced in order to aptly and deftly weave all of the systems together. If you’re experienced with other games and want to take your fantasy roleplaying to another level, let me know and I’ll happily provide more info about this gem.
David Horwitz is a gamer and freelance writer with an obsession for exploring new forms of leisure. If you’re looking for an inquisitive mind and a deft hand, or just want to chat about gaming, contact him at www.davidhorwitzwrites.com/contact
Picture Reference: https://lustmordweltschmerz.wordpress.com/2013/06/27/critical-failure-your-character-has-died-anima-beyond-fantasy-character-creation-part-1/
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.