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Building For Story Rather Than Mechanics

May 09, 13 Building For Story Rather Than Mechanics

This past Saturday, my monthly game group got together to start up a new Anima: Beyond Fantasy game. This group has been playing Anima for about two years now, and sadly, the previous campaign came to an end as real life took precedent. Work schedules changed, families grew (congratulations again, by the way, to the new parents), and, all in all, life just took the wheel for a while. This isn’t a problem, of course, as life should always come first before a hobby. When it doesn’t, that’s how you know that there is a problem. Anyway, as things stood, our previous campaign got lost in the shuffle, and rather than try to animate the dead, we decided to start anew.

With a new campaign came new characters, though some of the players chose to simply re-imagine their previous ones for the new game. One of our newer players brought a new character to the table, one much different than we were used to. This character stood out. He had a unique personality, interesting flavor, useful abilities, and was altogether a really intriguing build. One that, at first, I worried might now prove a workable one. Now, this isn’t to say that this player built boring characters before, but this one just seemed different. Different in a good way. When we paused the game to go and collect pizzas for the group, another player mentioned this to him, complimenting the character’s build, to which the aforementioned player simply stated “I built this guy for story rather than mechanics.”

Genius. Pure genius. Now, it should come as no surprise now that I am a player and a Gamemaster, both who adore fluff more so than crunch, but there is something to be said about building in a bit of crunch to a character. In some games, Anima: Beyond Fantasy among them, it is all too easy to build a character that quickly becomes unplayable if the crunch is completely ignored. However, here was a new character that was instantly able to peak the group’s interest. This character was not necessarily the most powerful of the group, though. In fact, the character spent most of the first encounter curled up in a ball, nursing his wounds, and using his Sheele companion (a fairy-like creature based on one of the many trees of magic) to shield him for as long as it took the rest of the group to fight off the other enemies and come to his rescue. Not the most incredible of introductions, admittedly, but definitely a memorable one.

It is quite likely that this group will be playing these characters for some time to come, so it is important that their characters are a joy to play. Our group tends to be a dynamic bunch, so having someone stand out like this is something really spectacular. I applaud this player for his creativity in designing the character, and hope that this trend of building for story over mechanics continues. I look forward to the games to come and am curious to see just what sorts of trouble our masked little sneak will get into.

Image Credit: Fantasy Flight Games

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About 

Joshua is a freelance writer, aspiring novelist, and avid table-top gamer who has been in love with the hobby ever since it was first introduced to him by a friend in 1996. Currently he acts as the Gamemaster in three separate games and is also a player in a fourth. When he is not busy rolling dice to save the world or destroying the hopes and dreams of his players, he is usually found either with his nose in a book or working on his own. He has degrees in English, Creative Writing, and Economics.