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Tabletop Game / Anima: Beyond Fantasy

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That's the only cover on the whole series not by Wen Yu-Li

In those times the World had another name. But everyone who knew it is gone.

Anima: Beyond Fantasy is a Role-Playing Game first published in Spain in 2005. It's a fantasy game of Sword & Sorcery with strong anime influences. It's more rules-crunchy than rules-light, with emphasis in chi-abilities, magic, psychic powers and the like. It has been translated to English and French, the English version published by Fantasy Flight Games.

The intended setting for the game is Gaïa, who might, or might not, be a distant future Earth after a planetary scope Apocalypse How caused by a Reality-Breaking Paradox event. Its tone hovers between Seinen and Dark Shoujo Fantasy. Most of the art in the handbooks and signature characters are by Wen Yu-Li, giving it a very distinctive and gorgeous look.

Set in the same world are the miniatures game (Anima Tactics), a (non-collectable) card game, and two video-games: Anima: Ark of Sinners and Anima: Gate of Memories.


Character Sheet for relevant NPC's in the Setting here. A constant WIP.

The game mechanics are heaviliy influenced by the old Rolemaster system by ICE, including the bulk of character classes being mostly a mix of basic ones (as in, Warrior meets Mentalist), or specialized versions of the same role (like Thief/Spy/Assassin). Character attributes may be rolled (on a D10) or bought with a point allotment. Character classes are pretty much just skill cost templates, and much customization can be done (although maybe not smart); still, nothing prevents your vanilla Warrior guy (known as Weapon Master) from getting a few Psychic powers, if you feel like it. The game uses mostly D100 rolls for checks, except for the odd D10 roll where Character attributes are involved.

Skill ranks, secondary attributes (like Hit Points) and special combat tricks like Martial Arts or fighting techniques are bought with Development Points, D.P.s for short. Special advantages and training are bought with Background points. In fact, being a psychic or spellcaster is NOT a part of the class choice, but one of these advantages.

The system is level-based, with a possible "Apprentice level 0" and a (soft) level cap of 20. Levels add some inherent bonuses to skills and characteristics coming from the class, but mostly they give you extra D.P.s to spend.

Supernatural powers all have their particular mechanics:

  • Ki Attacks are of the flashy, super-powered variety and come with a do-it-yourself rules that let players create their own techniques from scratch. Very flexible although slightly cumbersome, it gets expanded and streamlined in one of the Sourcebooks.
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  • The Magic system shows some of the Rolemaster roots, with Spell Points (called Zeon here) expenditures used to cast spells bought as a "list" with a common theme.
  • Sharing the Zeon Applied Phlebotinum but nothing else are the Arcana Summoning rules, that evoke strongly Final Fantasy signature summonings; unlike previous powers, summoning is handled by a set of special skills that must be developed independently for Summoning, Binding, and Banishing.
  • Psychic Powers are sort of the Jack-of-All-Trades of the Supernatural powers, lacking some of the raw power of the rest but not as resource dependent, and behaving more like a kind of skill than the other "pay for effect" powers without the "roll for everything" of Summoning.
  • Last of the Supernatural powers is Elan, that indicates whether a character is "synchronized" to one of the game's deities. Anima lacks traditional "clerics": divine powers come from following principles sponsored by the gods, behave like odd skills and advantages rather than like spells, and have nothing to do with organized religions, actually (but that is another story for another time...).

Combat is fairly lethal. Thankfully, the myriad weapon tables used in Rolemaster are gone, although fast adding and substracting is still a plus. Fights between opponents a couple of levels apart are very uneven affairs; high level characters with supernatural powers can annihilate armies without breaking a sweat. Later Sourcebooks even feature rules for enviromental damage caused by Physical Gods duking it out and combats where time is stretched by the Rule of Cool.

In spite of this, it is suggested that the game should be played at a "low" power level, severely limiting the availability of Supernatural skills, yet other two power level settings are suggested, and the "high power level" one uses the default Supernatural mechanics and character creation on the rulebook.

Anima: Beyond Fantasy contains examples of the following tropes

  • An Adventurer Is You
  • Battle Aura: Appears whenever a large amount of Ki is accumulated.
    • And with Arcana Exxet your wizard can have one too!
  • Black and White Magic: Plenty of Magic school "lists" to choose from.
  • Character Customization
  • Character Level
  • Creating Life: Entirely possible for the Power of Creation. High Magic allows for the user to create a true soul.
  • Critical Failure
  • Critical Hit
  • Damage Typing: A few kinds of physical, elemental (classic types and Light/Dark) and mystical damage.
  • Demihuman: Save for Sylvains, none of the traditional types.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Literally possible, with the right dominion tech.
  • Epic Fail: In order to invoke the Arcana "The World, Reversed", a character must have failed at every major undertaking in their life... and then fail the roll to invoke said arcana.
  • Experience Points
  • Fanservice: Too many examples to count.
  • Fantasy Character Classes: But the classes say only which areas are easier for you to learn. Nothing stops you from improving others.
  • Game Master
  • Game System: Anima: Beyond Fantasy uses its own system.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: The English translation of the game retains the use of Spanish demonyms for different nationalities ("Abelense", "Helenio", etc...), and contains a few missed words here and there.
    • Along the same lines: frustratingly, many lists contained in the books were translated fine, but not re-alphabetized from the Spanish. This makes it difficult to find certain things, especially in Those Who Walked Amongst Us. This is also likely the reason the core book has no index.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Sort of. You can play a Nephilim, a member of a Demihuman species reborn as a human.
  • Improbable Weapon User: The Zodiac-named Ars Magna weapon schools from the Ki Sourcebook. Many are Shout Outs.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Averted—a katana is pretty much the same thing as a long sword, stat-wise. It has a bit less durability, but oddly has a bit more Presence (meaning that while it's more vulnerable to attacks that sunder weapons, it has a higher chance to resist a Zeonic spell that would turn it into a rubber chicken or thereabouts).
    • If using the rules for making your own artifacts in Prometheum Exxet, a katana's higher Presence gives it a little more room for holding artifact powers, so katanas are just better, albeit not by a whole lot, so... played straight, but downplayed?
  • Kung-Shui: Dominus Exxet has rules for fights between warriors of high combat ability and the damage they do to the local area. "Local area" can be defined in miles, and "damage" defined in castles, at the highest levels.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Yes and no. A purely physical warrior is ultimately going to fall behind someone with access to supernatural powers, but it's expected that at a certain point, you're going to pick up some kind of supernatural powers to boost your physical combat abilities.
  • Point Buy: Every level you get some points to choose what to improve.
  • Rule of Cool: The ability "Style", whose main purpose is to exercise it. The rules even describe it as pure cinematography.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts: Also, Full-Contact Magic. Magic Knight and Kung-Fu Wizard are fully supported.
  • Special Snowflake Syndrome: The sourcebooks for the supernatural powers include new subpowers half for this and half Rule of Cool.
  • Tarot Motifs: The Arcana in both their pure and reversed forms.

Gaïa, the World Setting, contains examples of the following tropes


Example of: