Sunday, April 17, 2011

Anima RPG Review

    I have a large selection of RPG books on hand, some better than others. Today I thought I'd write up a review of one of them. In fact, I'm going to review one of the most beautiful and useless RPG books I have - the Anima RPG.
    A lot of people were probably sold on the art for the game. It has some great art, no lie, and in some ways you can even say it is well-done. Just... not a well-done game. Even a brief flip through the book shows that there is just page after page of tables and text, as dense as a year-old fruitcake.
    There are a couple of ways to approach the book, so let's start with it as a game. There are a huge number of ability scores to keep track of, including basic combat scores, Ki ability, psychic ability, magic, and so forth. It's like they threw everything into one book without trying to make systems work together - and as the guy who wrote Dungeons The Dragoning, that I think they just have a mess is saying something.
    Secondary abilities - which would more properly be called skills - are pretty normal looking, though they do share some of the Dungeons and Dragons style of splitting some things off from each other (Swim and Athleticism are different skills, as are Hide and Stealth).
    Building a character is kind of a mix of point-buy and standard levels. Start with some points, get more as you go up in level to improve your abilities. Really, it's not a bad way of doing things. Classes give costs and distribution of points, which again actually works pretty well. This is honestly the strongest point of the RPG, and it is all fucking downhill from here.
    Immediately after the character creation section is a section about nonhuman characters. It starts by saying it's a game about playing humans and how humans are the most fun to play, and how the GM must approve you playing one of these reincarnated superhumans. Now, if this was in the GMing section in the back you'd just be able to look at it as an option and mostly ignore it. But right after character creation? Everyone is going to want to be a special snowflake.
    After this comes the section on skills and you begin to see the signs of madness. While most of the skills are fairly normal looking entries, some (notably the medicine entry) are either oddly specific or just MATHS.
    Without getting into too much detail - because this book is nothing if not full of details - the book just continues to devolve more and more into tables and charts. There's a combat table that makes THAC0 (which really isn't hard to remember) look like child's play.
    Martial arts are surprisingly similar to the way I handled sword schools in DtD, lists of abilities and effects that you use to point-buy techniques. Magic works on MP, there's a summoning section after that with the Tarot, then a section on psychic powers...
    And none of it seems to flow together. Sure, most characters will only use one of the sections, two for some, but there doesn't seem to be any real thread that connects them - they don't even use the same statistics! It's like all the late-development splatbloat of 3.5 put into one book, with Binders, Psions, and Wizards all competing for space.
    I'll be honest. I haven't really gone over this book in detail. It's a book that resists reading. The layout is beautiful and awful at the same time. Let's start with beautiful. The art is pretty much universally good, and they put a lot in - there are very few places where you can open up the book and not see art. It's also clear that the editor wanted a *very* tight book.
    Unfortunately, it's that tightness that makes it so hard to read. The margins are thin, especially at top and bottom, and there is almost no white space at all. Everything is locked together like a puzzle of pictures and charts, every chapter ends with the last sentence at the bottom of a page, chapters start with only a very thin header right at the top of the page, and all of it leads to a book that is just a solid block of... stuff.
    And that's overall one of the worst things about the book. It could really have done with more fluff, something to break up the pages. The elements used in the book are really quite nice. I really wish I could make a book that looked like that. Some of that, anyway. The way it never seems to end is less than ideal.
    Overall, I'd have to say Anima was a game with a great art editor, and whoever was in charge of development and design of the system just dropped the ball massively. It could have been a great game if they had used more formulas and fewer tables, reserved half of the subsystems for other books, and someone had a print editor on hand to explain the concept of white space.
    At least it's not Eoris.

17 comments:

  1. Eoris shall one day be used in the only way it should: To play Dark Heresy with all the mutants in there.

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  2. i have myself played a couple of games of anima RPG.

    it is indeed a rather complicated system.

    fighting is basically a % system wich is a (how much you hit) - (how much he dodged/blocked)= severity of the hit and/or miss. depending on the result you hit for X% of you weapon damage (can go up to 200% or more the is a one page table for all that in the book)
    its not all that complicated once you get used to it.

    the magic system is not that bad, you accumulate mp depending on your stat in it(aptly named magic accumulation), and when you have accumulated enough, you nuke the shit outta stuff(seriously! magic can be very versatile, but is mainly exceedingly deadly!).
    excess magic can be used to boost your spells.
    If you accumulate magic without using it, it ends up going back to your pool, but you lose 10 mp for the act, same goes if you accumulated too much and did not use it all.

    psychic powers work on a strange system:

    you buy psychic points with DP (developpement points)to then unlock a psychic powers tree (1pp) unlock a power within an unlocked tree(1pp) and then you can either keep unlocking or use some to boost you "psy stat" (psychic potential) or keep some as kind of like "will points".

    a note of warning: psychic powers, if failed to activate/botched, will incur fatigue points, witch can lead to being unconscious on the battlefield.

    i never personally player a fighter or a ki-user type so i haven't studied those zones in depth.

    the system is good fun, if slighly confusing due to the book layout (the rules for magic are in the magic section instead of the basics section, same goes for ki and psy. ect.) the way the game will go depends mainly on the dm and his knowledge of the system.

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  3. "At least it's not Eoris."
    Shit that was just begging for us to demand you to review it.

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  4. Sunslayer - I didn't want to get into too much detail with it, but the main problem isn't the individual systems in the book. On their own, they all look (more or less) fine. The problem is that there are literally four magic systems (Magic, Ki, Psychic, and Summoning) and none of them really interact with each other or even share much in the way of mechanics. Heck, they don't even share stats - they have (multiple) different Primary Abilities for each of the magic systems. Looks to me like they were unwilling to just back up and say "We can leave this out", and that made the book feel bloated.

    If someone is willing to give me Eoris, I'll happily review it. I don't have the books in any form, but I think everyone has seen the Character Sheet Of Truest Horror.

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  5. From what I've heard of Eoris, I think it would be alright as a philosophical novel series, but as an rpg it is just pretentious as fuck.

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  6. From what I hear, Eoris isn't particularly complicated.
    If you think about it, there's not much more on the sheet than you'd see in many rpgs, it just focuses on a different kind of information and it's arranged by a moron who hates your eyes and your brain.

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  7. lawfulnice- eh, it was around 2 am, and i worked a few hours later and i felt lyrical, indeed the systems seem to have been designed apart, and the only thing that is common between 2 styles is the summonder and mage- both use magic accumulation.

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  8. The ideas are really good. Magic accumulation is fairly novel, IMO and really make a mage/wizard how I'd imagine one would as opposed to how DnD3.5 does it.

    I've played a few sessions and char gen was painful while playing wasn't quite too bad (though I was the only one who never got to any of the magic types since I played "bard" with the Archer equivalent class). I'd play MnM for point buy tbqh and ORE for something innovative.

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  9. You know, I always confuse Anima RPG with Eoris so often that it's funny.

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  10. Hey you know there is already a White Wizards Workshop? It makes LARP props. http://www.whitewizardsworkshop.webs.com/

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  11. This is why they have in the country of origin. (spain?) Redone the Core book to make the systems mesh better. Its more like the original core book was a sample (They originally made the core book not expecting it to do too well) So now that it has they have more and more books coming out to fix problems they never considered having to deal with.

    Also Anima really, really resists multi-classing. To be truthful no one character could ever hope to touch on all four of the types. At best you could hope for is three but you'd be horribly strained. Two is stressful enough.

    But you are absolutely right. I personally love Anima's system, but I can't disagree with you either. It took me a year to get into it. (Mostly due to being busy, but that is besides the point.)

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  12. ill bye it from you if you do not use it

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  13. So... you didn't like Palladium much, then, did ya?

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  14. Just played my first few Anima sessions. Tons of fun, every bit of creating and leveling your character is incredibly complex. This is not the RPG for newbs or pure "role" players. "Roll" players who can sit through several days of learning new systems then building a character can find an incredibly fun and flexible system. The huge explosion of secondaries force a lot of party cooperation and building a character to a "role" out of combat. The different systems for melee, martial arts, magic and psionics really make characters feel different in combat. Initiative every turn combat system was refreshing, made for less of a total slug fest as each of the characters doesn't just take turns beating each other. Turn order shifts often. I don't mean to be rude but as I happened across this as I was looking for some build ideas, I thought I would counter what I read with what I have experienced actually playing the game.

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  15. I think you guys should really see what Eoris is about before being so adamant in believing the game is bad. I hope the new website may change your perspective, after all, the game was made for people like you. Please, be sure to check it out. I feel it is only fair after all you have said. In any case, I apologize if Eoris has offended anybody.

    http://eoris12.wix.com/eoris

    By the way, my name is Daniel. You may ask me anything at all about Eoris and I will try to be of help.

    Best wishes.

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  16. I actually liked the "complexity" of Anima. in fact, I understood the system perfectly within 4 days or so, so for me personally I could withstand its learning curve. but maybe that's just me. besides, I am a sucker for all the heavy Final Fantasy themes.

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  17. Anima is a very complex game. But once you master it, when you truly learn how it works, there is no other game that can compare in its degree of customization.

    But of course, with rpg or any other kind of game, there are many different tastes. Somebody who likes something simple and easy will probably do not understand Anima fully or will not like it, while somebody who rather have a great range of variations and is not bad at math will totally fall in love with it.

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