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