Iatro, a taoist monk with ice powers, and his childhood friend Atrus, now a hired assassin, return to their wintry floating island home of Shadowdelve at the summons of Persephone - Iatro's lost love (he made the mistake of advising her to forgive those who killed her parents - "Persephone is the one who got away" is one of Iatro's traits) and Atrus's sister. ("Persephone is the only one who understands the darkness in my heart")
Persephone begs them to help her fight the growing corruption at the heart of Shadowdelve and Iatro, a leaf in the breeze, agrees but Atrus says 'fuck that' ("I was too smart to stay a soldier" is one of Atrus's tags) and after a kung-fu sparring match convinces Iatro to fly him and Persephone away in his snow plane. (Iatro is sort of a 'Tao and the Art of Snowplane Maintenance' kind of monk.)
But as they're looking for fuel to gas up the snow plane they're surrounded by ember ravens, demon robot emissaries from the ember core at the heart of the system. Wrapped up in the meditative practice of pumping gas, ("Savors the moment" is one of Iatro's traits) Iatro doesn't notice the encroaching doom until Atrus calls his attention to it. In the distance, they hear Persephone scream ... and FIGHT!
Exploding gas stations! Daredevil snowmobile tricks! Tai chi hurricanes!
After beating back the ember ravens, they find Persephone with some kind of spidery cyborg mutation growing out of her chest, surrounded by three-eyed robot soldiers. "A manifestation of the anger in her heart," Iatro says, before one of the robots punches him into a wall.
More FIGHT! Robot venom! Consumed by fire! Two-gun John Wooish mojo! Ice-fu! Martial arts anti-chest-spider surgery that leaves Iatro with third degree burns on his hand! But Persephone is saved and the robots are defeated .
As they lie in the rubble we have a flashback to them lying under a cherry blossom tree in the spring, apparently before Atrus & Persephone's parents are killed, their romantic interlude interrupted by Atrus sneaking up on them. After some big-brother little-sister arguing, Iatro reminds Atrus that his sister is the only one who can truly understand him. ("I can teach Atrus" is one of Iatro's tags.)
Persephone realizes the futility of her vengeance and agrees to get off this rock. But that's when the six-story-tall Boss Robot arrives, stomping through the graveyard to fuck up our heroes. "You hold him off," Persephone says, and makes a dash for the snow plane. Atrus climbs an abandoned temple to get a better vantage point with his sniper rifle; Iatro decides now will be a good time to do full-lotus meditation in the snow.
Fortunately, the flaming Boss Robot trips when its foot plunges through the earth into an underground crypt - and misses the meditating Iatro by a foot, allowing Iatro to channel ice magic into Atrus's rifle shells. Which Atrus then proceeds to accidentally drop off the roof - but he manages to catch one, and hanging upside down from the eaves, gets a shot off through the knee of the boss robot, and the ice magic destroys it.
In the aftermath, Persephone and Iatro kiss - and he decides to leave the monastery. And Atrus decides to give up his assassin ways and take Iatro's place there.
High fives all around.
More 'trad' than the games we usually play at story games night, Anima Prime still gives plenty of opportunity for player contribution - from the rulebook: "As long as something is reasonable, the players can describe it as existing in the story." We were even narrating what the NPCs did in fights - 'And then the robot knocks me into a wall' - because the game encourages that. It also encourages the players to mix it up - to narrate in all of their different skills and traits as they go, creating varied and textured action and 'refreshment' scenes. It's a little like Danger Patrol in the way it gives players narration rights, but for us it went a lot less gonzo than Danger Patrol tends to go - the tone of our play reminded me a lot of the Last Airbender, without much slapstick or over-the-top. I think Anima Prime may give the players just the right amount of incentive to create without encouraging them to go overboard.
And you can read the rules for free:
Edited by Ben Robbins on Oct 8, 2011 11:16 PM