Author Topic: Anima Campaign  (Read 1373 times)

Demolition_Squid

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Anima Campaign
« on: November 16, 2011, 10:17:39 am »
So, after a long period of gaming with cynical bastards, I'm organizing a new group! Most of them have not done much RPing before, or are totally new. I'm going to be running Anima for them, because I love Anima, and I am told that my love shines through when I run it.

In my usual style I'm plotting out a campaign which should take them from level 1 to the highest level, starting out as a band of kids and teenagers in traditional Final Fantasy/JRPG style, and ending up the Saviours of the World. They will right wrongs, undo tragedy, and at several points will be faced with choices which will shape the very structure of the world they live in, and have implications for centuries to come.

Because I am bored at work, I have decided to put together campaign notes here. I know at least one person in the group is aware of this forum, so Mike, if you are reading this, stop reading it. For reals.




Go away Mike.


Okay!

So the game will open with the PCs being the children of miners in a mountain village which is cut off from the newly formed Sacred Holy Empire of Abel. Fifty years ago, the first Emperor finally succeeded in uniting the Old Continent under his rule, driving away most of the great evils of the age and putting in place an empire which will protect humanity from the demons, witches, dragons, and myriad other threats which have wracked the continent over recent years. Many countries are still trying to find their own place in this Empire, but the general feeling as the Church of Abel spreads across the land is that things are starting to turn around for the better.

What is not common knowledge is that a few hundred years ago, the Gods intervened to place a great Barrier between the world of Gaia and other worlds. They then moved the vast majority of the supernatural races to these other worlds, as mankind and these other beings had constantly warred amongst one another. Humanity in this age used technology to match magic, and threatened even to destroy the Gods themselves with it. One man was at the centre of this effort; a man called Vinder, whose legendary intelligence allowed him to surpass all the limits of mortality. His organization, called The Technocracy, was believed destroyed in the Age of Chaos which followed his attempt to steal the Gods power for himself.

The creation of the Barrier necessitated the power of the Gods being concentrated into a great crystal. This was known as the Heart of Magic, and granted its owner control over all aspects of reality itself. The Gods used this to create the Barrier, and then shattered it. Shattering the Heart of Magic split all magic into ten gems; the Diamond of Light, the Amethyst  of Darkness, the Ruby of Fire, the Aquamarine of Water, the Garnet of Earth, the Opal of Air, the Amber of Essence, the Moonstone of Illusion, the Pearl of Creation, and the Obsidian Shard of Destruction.

The fragmentation of the Heart of Magic left two other shards. One, the Gods took with them as they passed beyond the Barrier to no longer meddle in the affairs of men, and prevent the unification of the Heart again; this is known only in myth and legend, and is called the Soul Shard. The other was a dark shadow which none believe the Gods truly meant to create. The Impure Heart of Magic; the Jet Skull; The source of all Necromancy, which was seized as it fell to the earth by the most powerful wizard ever to live. A man known now only as the Lich King, who rules from his frozen spire in the far North, sending out legions of undead which can only be contained, and which even the Emperor does not have the strength to destroy.

These Gems of Magic are known across the world in myth and legend; the sources of the power which wizards can tap into and wield. Those who have held the gems themselves have shaped the world, but they have been thought lost for aeons.

Vinder, however, did not die. For untold centuries he has watched the world and humanity return from the brink of destruction after the Age of Chaos. The Technocracy is largely a shadow of its former glory, but Vinder has not forgotten how close he came to seizing the power of the Gods, and he believes that he can in fact challenge them again. If he obtains all of the Gems of Magic, and forces his way through the Barrier, he can reconstruct the Heart of Magic and redefine reality in his own image.

To this end he has started to track down the Gems. He already has the Pearl of Creation and the Obsidian Shard of Destruction, allowing him to recreate almost all of the technological wonders he had access to before the Age of Chaos. His most trusted Lieutenant, Katsumi, a fallen Priestess who has decided that the destruction of this world is worth it for the chance to see her Goddess again, has the Amber of Essence - gifted to her by her Goddess as the Barrier was formed, and which has granted her immortality.

The game opens as the PCs village uncovers the Diamond of Light. Katsumi arrives to claim it, and, after being told 'no' by the village elders, destroys the mountain that the village was on - the diamond, like all Gems, being functionally indestructible.

That would make for a rather short campaign if it ended there.

However, one of the Gods was tasked with the protection of the Barrier. Beryl will reach out and shield the PCs from the destruction, using the fabric of the Barrier itself to hide the Diamond and the PCs until Katsumi decides that there must have been some mistake.

She will then explain the danger that the world is in; that this madman is seeking to gather the Gems in order to tear down the Barrier and unleash Hell - which is true in so far as it actually matters. She will mark them for destiny - essentially linking them with two of the Gems that the campaign will centre around recovering (I have six players, so that should work out roughly correctly). As though saving the world weren't enough, the Gods will allow the kids to obtain one wish upon the reunification fo the Heart - something which they can use to bring back the dead and restore their home!

Of course, first they have to gather up all the gems, most of which have laid dormant and hidden, or are being manipulated by powerful creatures or wizards for their own nefarious ends.

The Emperor is also likely to take an interest, seeing as how something just blew up one of his god-damn mountains. I have not yet decided whether he will try to seize the Diamond of Light and relieve the kids of their epic quest as it is too important to leave up to them (thus setting up conflict with the Emperor and the Empire as a secondary source of tension), or whether he will accept the word of children that the Gods themselves have blessed them in this task, and try to offer aid and assistance in their quest (thus giving me a way to feed plot hooks beyond following rumors). I'm leaning towards the former, because it'll add to a suitably epic moment where the Technocracy faces off against pissed off knights who the PCs have been running from/developing a rivalry with over the course of the campaign.

The kids are going to get wrapped up in all sorts of things of course. The Gods they are talking about and to are NOT the same as the God revered by the Church, who is in fact just one aspect of a greater pantheon; the former God of Bravery as he was revered by humans before the Age of Chaos. There's all manner of weirdness that they are likely to trip across as part of the greater overarching story of recovering the Gems. They are also the Chosen - despite being children, in very short order they will be heads and shoulders above even trained warriors. As they grow into their powers, they will be able to match and beat the strongest heroes and villains to walk the land, if they work as a team.

There's a few questions I need to address:

Death - if one of the PCs dies, replacing that character could be troublesome. They were, after all, The Chosen. If you just elect another Chosen to replace them, then that implies they are expendable and SOMEONE will see the thing through to the end anyway. On the other hand, combat is dangerous and it should be possible for PCs to die if things go badly for them. It isn't too uncommon in the genre, but I need to decide how I want to handle it regardless and make sure the players are on the same page.

PC Imbalance - One of the characters will be starting off with one of the Gems - the Diamond of Light. All of the gems grant an awesome power and will get more and more powerful as the PCs advance; I think the Diamond of Light will simply negate a deadly attack once per day at the start of the game (which the PC will not be aware of and which will hopefully not overshadow anything too easily), but I need the players not to feel like that character is the 'lead'. On the other hand, starting off with six of the gems in their posession cuts down on the game time and adventuring, and makes them too much of an obvious target from day one. I'm not sure I like that.

Empire - if I decide the Emperor is a secondary antagonist, I need the PCs to understand the Empire WILL mess it up if they don't intervene. I need to think of how to evoke that without making it simultaneously seem like the Empire are incompetent - they just aren't destined to be able to see it through.
Truly, though our element is time,
We are not suited to the long perspectives
Open at each instant of our lives.
They link us to our losses: worse,
They show us what we have as it once was,
Blindingly undiminished, just as though
By acting differently, we could have kept it so.

-Reference Back, Phillip Larkin

Cain

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Re: Anima Campaign
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2011, 10:42:36 am »
You've read too far, Mike!

Demolition_Squid

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Re: Anima Campaign
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2011, 10:45:54 am »
Damnit Mike!  :argh!:
Truly, though our element is time,
We are not suited to the long perspectives
Open at each instant of our lives.
They link us to our losses: worse,
They show us what we have as it once was,
Blindingly undiminished, just as though
By acting differently, we could have kept it so.

-Reference Back, Phillip Larkin

Cain

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Re: Anima Campaign
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2011, 10:53:10 am »
How about with character death - it is possible to bring someone back, not not easy at all.  It will take significant sacrifice (maybe shave a couple of levels off everyone, and a bunch of cash) in addition to a dangerous question to do so.  I leave the in-game mechanics of that to you.

As for the Empire...it doesn't need to be incompetent per se.  Any sufficiently large empire is going to have numerous competing factions.  Individuals within the secret police, separatists, religious fanatics and trade organisations may all want the gems, and could put significant political pressure on agencies within the empire to make life difficult.  It's not that the Emperor is evil, or incompetent...but, well, he's got lots of issues demanding his attention, and he may not initially realize the scope of the issue.  And even when he does, he'll need to win influential groups and individuals around, some of whom may not be willing to play ball (see above).

Cain

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Re: Anima Campaign
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2011, 10:54:01 am »
Also, for PC imbalance - give the gem to the weakest character.  Longstanding RPG tradition, that (Frodo with the ring etc)

Demolition_Squid

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Re: Anima Campaign
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2011, 11:11:43 am »
How about with character death - it is possible to bring someone back, not not easy at all.  It will take significant sacrifice (maybe shave a couple of levels off everyone, and a bunch of cash) in addition to a dangerous question to do so.  I leave the in-game mechanics of that to you.

As for the Empire...it doesn't need to be incompetent per se.  Any sufficiently large empire is going to have numerous competing factions.  Individuals within the secret police, separatists, religious fanatics and trade organisations may all want the gems, and could put significant political pressure on agencies within the empire to make life difficult.  It's not that the Emperor is evil, or incompetent...but, well, he's got lots of issues demanding his attention, and he may not initially realize the scope of the issue.  And even when he does, he'll need to win influential groups and individuals around, some of whom may not be willing to play ball (see above).

That could certainly work. In the 'core' Anima setting, resurrection is all but impossible - your soul is actually absorbed into the Barrier, your memories and experiences fuel it, and then 'you' get spat back out in order to reabsorb more memories and experiences. There's absolutely no reason I have to stick with that, though. I could even make it a function of the Diamond of Light that the party starts with - it can return those people specifically linked with the Gems back, but at some drain to their overall power/experience. I guess the fact that the God of the Barrier is also taking a direct interest could also be used to accomplish the same result.

The Empire point is a good one. It is a relatively new institution which is imposing itself on hundreds of years of rivalry, with a strong religious focus which is going to be unpopular in the more remote regions.

One of the things I want to play with is that one of the players (Mike, actually  :lulz:) has played in my previous Anima campaign and has some vague notions about who the big players in this time period were. You've got the Church and the Inquisition, the Knights of the Seventh Heaven forming (big knightly order who work directly for the Emperor) and yeah, the secret police are just starting to get established - the last thing they need are a bunch of inexperienced do-gooders running around knocking over their carefully positioned  pawns just because they might be a little less moral than they could be.

The Emperor himself is a genuinely good person; being a soldier and a man who had the charisma, personal strength and tactical skill to actually make this work. He is seventy years old now (though canon has him living to 130 IIRC, and because of his bloodline he's still pretty much as healthy and strong as he would have been in his forties). He may even see a bit of himself in the PCs by the time they actually get to him. But like you say, he has to deal with the running of a huge empire, and although he's no fool, he can't personally go off dealing with every supernatural threat which pops up - even if this really is dangerous, he probably won't immediately realize it.

I may hold off on having them meet anyone higher than a local Noble until they've gathered a significant amount of Gems. The destruction of the mountain makes it clear that something is going on, but what the PCs will actually see they may not even be able to comprehend, let alone get anyone to believe. (The Technocracy have orbital laser cannons. Which is just awesome, and therefore needs to be used).

Plus, I figure that The Technocracy will have woven itself into the fabric of all of these new institutions as they have been formed. Vinder may as well be a God for all the average person can understand what he is, what he has, and how it works - so there's a lot of people willing to do whatever he asks for the power he can give them. He's also got practically unlimited wealth through the ability to just create gold from magic, which enables him to bribe people and put his servants where he wants them to be.

Having them be a shadow within the Empire's shadowy institutions - particularly a corrupt sect of the Inquisition - could be a fun way to go. Perhaps they've even got the ear of the Emperor himself through a high level advisor. The PCs can then work to expose this inner threat, which can work as a way to prove the seriousness of the situation to the Emperor personally beyond any reasonable doubt. When it turns out your Lord of War was actually a Cylon all along you really have to sit up and take notice, even if the person who exposed this to you is sixteen years old and wearing far too many belts.

Also, for PC imbalance - give the gem to the weakest character.  Longstanding RPG tradition, that (Frodo with the ring etc)

Yeah, I'll really have to wait and see what people want to play... hard to make plans before that.
Truly, though our element is time,
We are not suited to the long perspectives
Open at each instant of our lives.
They link us to our losses: worse,
They show us what we have as it once was,
Blindingly undiminished, just as though
By acting differently, we could have kept it so.

-Reference Back, Phillip Larkin

Cain

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Re: Anima Campaign
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2011, 11:24:03 am »
It's also possible the Empire suspects the PC's collusion in the destruction of the mountain.  After all, they survived.  The Empire would be foolish not to suspect involvement, or the possibility they have been replaced/possessed/otherwise compromised by magical means.   The Empire's secret police would likely watch, but do little more, at least in the early stages.  But that seed of suspicion, aided by a corrupt cell of Inquisitors, could certainly form the basis of some kind of conflict without it involving the Empire picking up the Idiot Ball.

I've been re-reading the Malazan Books of the Fallen recently, so the idea of a non-idiotic Empire which nevertheless makes mistakes is one uppermost in my mind currently.