Ep. 39 – What Makes D&D, FMRPG Updates

Welcome back!

We’re a couple of days late on this one, sorry. There is a little trouble with the audio on Adam’s line and we weren’t able to smooth it out so please accept our apologies about the sound quality on this one.

In this episode Brendan, Adam and Ben sit around and just sort of chat about where they are at with gaming in a style very reminiscent of older episodes. We talk about:

What really makes D&D, D&D?
What have we been up to lately?
FMRPG Friday Night Game Club
FMRPG Writer’s Group

We hope that you have as much fun listening to this episode as we did making it.

Art by Rich “Nerdgore” Sampson, Music by Legion.

Top Taylor Swift Songs about the Old Ones

Taylor Swift is a musical chameleon who has spanned the country and pop genres and created several chart topping hits. She is a one woman tour de force, working as both singer and songwriter, her dulcet tones acting as the voice of a generation of young women. She is also a fiercely devoted cultist of the ruinous powers that lurk behind the veil of humanity, which can be seen by examining her music with a critical eye. Join me on a journey through her musical catalog and into the very eye of madness.

Wildest Dreams

This song is perhaps her most somber, dark work. In the lyrics she exhorts an unknown third party as follows:

I thought heaven can’t help me now
Nothing lasts forever
But this is gonna take me down
He’s so tall, and handsome as hell
He’s so bad but he does it so well
I can see the end as it begins my one condition is
Say you’ll remember me
Standing in a nice dress, staring at the sunset babe
Red lips and rosy cheeks
Say you’ll see me again even if it’s just in your wildest dreams

This person she is addressing is, of course, Cthulhu, dead dreamer of R’lyeh. Taylor Swift realizes no heavenly force can protect her when he rises from his sunken sepulcher. She knows Cthulhu will “take me down” as he takes down all of humanity, proving that nothing lasts forever as all that is or ever was is unmade.

It should be noted Cthulhu is gigantic, truly immense in size. Further, in seeing its true face, Ms Swift’s mind will be shattered, and Cthulhu will appear eerily attractive in its horrid cruelty. The following line “He’s so bad but he does it so well” is a recognition of Cthulhu’s place in the pantheon of the eldest. Taylor Swift’s only hope is that once the dark work is done, once Cthulhu again returns to slumber that this monstrous creature remembers her in its dead dreaming. These memories will stand as the last tattered remnants of her existence.

Looking ahead she says:

And when we’ve had our very last kiss
But my last request it is
<chorus>
You see me in hindsight
Tangled up with you all night
Burn it down

The last kiss being, of course, when Cthulhu shoves her into its ravenous maw, tangling her flesh into its tentacles and devouring her completely as an eternal night falls and the world burns down around them. Truly a nightmarish vision of a grim future Taylor Swift is working to expedite. Absolutely haunting.

We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together

Another dark exploration of the hidden world just beyond the veil. The focus of this tune is Nyarlathotep, the crawling chaos. A closer look shall reveal the hideous truth.

We hadn’t seen each other in a month
When you said you needed space. (What?)
Then you come around again and say
“Baby, I miss you and I swear I’m gonna change, trust me.”

Nyarlathotep is the deity most likely to walk the earth in the course of its grim duties. To do so requires forcing its immense bulk and power into a feeble human form, which it can only do for so long before needing to return to the stars once more, literally needing “space”. As the servant of Azathoth, Nyarlathotep represents disorder itself. It only stands to reason that in its human guise it told Ms. Swift it is “gonna change”, for it is change itself.

As the song progresses, we witness Taylor Swift becoming more erratic and angry, increasingly emotional at the fickle nature of this vile fiend. She practically froths as she sings “I’m really gonna miss you picking fights, And me falling for it screaming that I’m right”. Nyarlathotep is an entity of madness, who destroys the minds of those who it comes into contact with. Taylor Swift has obviously interacted with this malign force, at great personal cost to her sanity, which is why she wows “we are never ever ever ever getting back together, like ever”, for she knows doing so will destroy her utterly.

 I Knew You Were Trouble

Perhaps her least subtle ode to the old ones. It is no mere coincidence that one of the most popular remixes replaces Taylor Swift’s anguished cries with that of a goat, for I Knew You Were Trouble is an ode the Sub Niggurath, the Black Goat of the woods.

The song begins:

Once upon a time a few mistakes ago
I was in your sights, you got me alone
You found me, you found me, you found me
I guess you didn’t care, and I guess I liked that
And when I fell hard you took a step back
Without me, without me, without me

It is possible, perhaps even likely that Shub Niggurath came to Taylor Swift when she was alone in the woods, which she admits was the culmination of a series of mistakes. In its guise as a fertility god, we can imagine Shub Niggurath lifted her into the air with oily black tentacles to show her the teeming masses of its vile children. Finally, it released her, dropping her to ground before disappearing once more into the darkness, leaving her alone again. It must have been terrifying.

The chorus of the song starts:

I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now
Flew me to places I’d never been
‘Til you put me down, oh

This confirms our suspicions about what occurred based on the first verse.  Taylor Swift feels shame at the languid embrace she experienced, and abandoned now that Shub Niggurtath has left her behind. Her shattered mind grapples with what she experienced during the brief moments of their encounter. As she wails near the finale, “And the saddest fear comes creeping in
That you never loved me or her, or anyone, or anything, yeah”.

Of course it did not, Taylor. Shub Niggurath is incapable of love, leaving only a swath of devastation in it wake. How nightmarish to be caught in those tides. How much more terrible still to hasten that end.

FMRPG Bonus Episode James Vail of Xas Irkalla

In the second of our series bringing you in touch with the thoughts and insights of game designers themselves, Full Metal RPG is proud to present our interview with James Vail, creator of Xas Irkalla and lead creative at Atramentis Games!

In this Bonus Episode James Vail Skypes in to talk about art, music, game design, Kickstarter and most importantly, his game: Xas Irkalla!

We hope that you enjoy this episode, the second in our game desinger series.

You can find the Xas Irkalla Kickstarter here: www.kickstarter.com/projects/855767…a?ref=user_menu

Atramentis Games here:
atramentisgames.com/

Xas Irkalla G+ Community here:
plus.google.com/u/0/communities/1…98215259221352589

Xas Irkalla on Facebook here:
www.facebook.com/XasIrkalla/

Special thanks to Zach from The Tabletop Radio Hour without whom this podcast would not be possible. Check out The Tabletop Radio Hour if you love RPG podcasts!

Logo art by: Rich “Nerdgore” Sampson

Music by: Legion, GNR

GenCon Vampire 5th Edition Alpha Playtest

Greetings, cultists and devotes. The Full Metal RPG ecclesiarchy  attended the most recent GenCon, the 50th Anniversary. Our merry company of rot and corruption answered the call of our good friends at the Wrecking Crew to assist in demoing the newest iteration of a game near to our black hearts – Vampire: The Masquerade

The alpha edition comes with a scenario to play through titled Rusted Veins, a coterie of characters for use in playing the scenario, and a new rule set. Written by Matt Dawkins, Rusted Veins takes you back to city of Gary, Indiana, used as the setting for the prior adventures “Ashes to Ashes” and “Dust to Dust”, and focuses on the machinations of the nominally Camarilla Prince Modius and his rival, the Anarch Baron Juggler.

Gary is an economically devastated city. It has passed through Late Stage Capitalism directly into Terminal Stage Capitalism. Situated firmly in the Midwestern Rust Belt, it is a town where there occurred a systemic breakdown at nearly every level: Governmental, economic, corporate, and social. Abandoned factories line the riverfront like tombstones denoting the death of the American heartland, and driving down any major street yields a view of decaying buildings stretching out before you like a mouth full of broken teeth. No one stays in Gary because they want to, they remain because they have to. For kindred it is much the same. Anyone with any skill or ambition left long ago for the more urbane destinations of Chicago or Milwaukee, leaving Modius and Juggler to their squabbles.

I will avoid discussing the plot in any detail, as I am almost certain they will make this play-kit publicly available at some point for you, dear reader, to experience. Suffice to say, it starts with a pretty basic fetch quest handed to the coterie from on high, and then things take a turn for the worse. Every group I ran through the scenario ended it differently. It was fascinating how people interpreted the characters and how they had them behave as they moved through the world. There are a couple obvious stand out characters with regard to the story, who are absolutely essential to have in the game, and two who suffer a bit in terms of agency and interaction with the main arc. You could easily not have them played at all and it would not affect how the scenario runs. The remaining two characters are what you make of them, and can either be along for the ride or a serious thorn in the side of others if they chose to be.

Rules Alterations

There are a couple key changes you notice right away when looking at one of the provided character sheets. First off, willpower is now rated 1-5, not 1-10. There is a new trait, Composure, that replaces Conscience, Courage, and Self Control. Finally, there is no more blood pool, only a series of check-boxes listed as Hunger. We will examine these topics in the subsections below.

Dice Pools and Success

Dice pools are assembled as usual, with an attribute + a skill giving you the total number of dice to roll. Different colored Hunger die are placed into the pool first, one a one to one basis with the characters current Hunger rating. More on Hunger below. You round out the pool with normal dice and roll. Anything showing a 6+ is a success, and difficulty is the total number of successes you need on a roll to achieve your goal.

A roll of two or more 10 results on your normal dice is considered an exceptional success. 10s no longer explode, and 1s do not cancel out 10s. The botch mechanic is gone.

If you come up one success short on a roll, you may Succeed at Cost. You accomplish your goal, but you generate a complication in doing so. It is up to the player and storyteller to determine what that means. For example, if you are breaking into a house, you may succeed, but you drop your wallet as you enter, leaving it behind.

Willpower

Willpower is no longer spent for extra dice on a roll. Instead willpower is spent to re-roll any dice you would like to on a roll. You can keep any dice that show a success and only re-roll the failures. Given how powerful this mechanic is, it makes sense the willpower pool is now smaller. It can have a huge impact on the game when employed correctly.

Hunger

Hunger is an abstract representation of the current state of the kindred you are playing. As you employ disciplines and heal, you make hunger rolls to do so. A roll of 4+ and you are fine. The power activates or you heal a point of superficial damage. On 1-3 result, you active your power or heal, but you first increase your Hunger by 1. This increases the number of Hunger Dice in your dice pool.

Hunger dice have a couple of mechanical ticks. A roll of 1 or 2 is called a Fang result. Roll two fangs, and you have generated a Compulsion. Compulsions represent your vampiric nature coming to the fore, and are aptly named. They represent a complication for your character and how that character interacts with others and the world.

In practice, complications either need to occur more frequently, or have their severity increased to have any meaningful impact on the game. I only had two complications show up in all five games I ran, and they had no real impact on how the characters worked beyond one of the Brujah being slightly more punch happy, and said Brujah was already pretty punch happy.

A roll of one or more 10 results on your hunger dice represents a Messy Critical. A Messy Critical is as close as the new system comes to a botch. You succeed at what you were trying to do, but at great cost to yourself. In one of my games I had a character generate a messy critical when attacking a police officer with feral claws. I ruled he killed the man, but in so doing got his hands stuck in the officers body armor and was going to have to spend time and take damage extricating himself from the situation. A messy situation when you are surrounded by his armed, angry friends and wearing him as a bracelet. An exceptional success always overrides a Messy Critical.

As a final note, having Hunger rolls, a Hunger meter, and Hunger dice all having similar names but representing functionally different things caused a lot of confusion among the players. I eventually went back to calling Hunger rolls Rousing the Blood from the pre-alpha rule-set, and that helped a lot. Hunger and Hunger dice are linked enough that keeping their names the same worked out well.

Composure

Composure is rolled to resist frenzy and spent to avoid compulsions. The compulsions encountered in my play-throughs were never bothersome enough to warrant spending composure to resist them. For frenzy, you roll your current composure, seeking to roll under your humanity for the die to be considered a success. Thematically, this works well, as it represents less humane vampires being closer to their beast, and thus more likely to frenzy. From a rules perspective, this is an inversion of the usual process and caused a great deal of confusion for my players when we encountered it.

Humanity

Humanity has has significant alterations. It is still rated 1-10, but gone are the Hierarchy of Sins. Instead you have Touchstones, which are three mortals who hold special meaning to your characters. Having a touchstone be damaged causes you to lose a humanity. Having a touchstone destroyed loses two. If you are responsible for the injury or death, you lose more. Embracing a human causes you to lose an additional humanity. The worst case scenario, then, is to embrace your own touchstone. That will set you back quite a ways on your humanity track. Effectively you can kill humans when feeding or in combat without any effect. It is up to the Storyteller to decide when your character does something so heinous that she wishes to impose a humanity loss for the action.

Other Rules

There are changes to Initiative and Combat, but I don’t want to bog down too deeply into those, as I consider them ancillary to a Horror game. Necessary, but not the primary focus. Suffice to say, combat is fast and deadly. Vampires can destroy humans easily. All is right in the world for people who want to rip off someone’s jaw bone and beat them to death with it. Celerity level 1 is almost comically broken in a gunfight. I am hoping someone takes a look at it and either addresses it with regard to multiple combatants or changes the wording entirely.

Final Thoughts

The new vampire promises to be very good, even exceptional provided they continue their strong writing and focus on noir urban horror. As the global jyhad rescinds into the background, a more personal struggle for survival in the final nights takes center stage. The world is relentlessly bleak and the future is anything but certain. Welcome to YOUR World of Darkness.

FMRPG 039 – Crit Hit 2017 Recap

The gang’s all here!

The Warlord Amanda joins Brendan, Adam and Ben to recap the games played at Crit Hit 2017!

Links to Hot -ass Kickstarters and such the like. Don’t wait!:
Xas Irkalla
www.kickstarter.com/projects/855767…a?ref=user_menu

Spire
www.kickstarter.com/projects/gshowi…g?ref=user_menu

Atramentis Games website:
atramentisgames.com/

Art by Rich “Nerdgore” Sampson
Music by Legion, The Blues Brothers, Will Smith and GNR

FMRPG SHDWSWRN 013 – Collecting Vampire: The Masquerade

In this episode Brendan, Ben and Adam gather to lend a hand to anyone who is thinking about putting together a collection of Vampire: the Masquerade. If you are not familiar with the game, but would like to become so, we give an outline of some of our favorite books and let everyone know where to get started with a collection.

Skip Ahead:
00:00:30 – Intro
00:16:06 – Forever Knight Episode 09
00:32:15 – Main Conversation

Brendan’s List
Starter:
Vampire: the Masquerade 2nd Edition Core
2nd Edition Player’s Guide
1st Edition Storyteller’s Guide
Player’s Guide to the Sabbat
Storyteller’s Handbook to the Sabbat
Add Clanbooks to taste – (Bradstreet covers; Lasombra, Tzimisce, Giovanni recommended.)

Advanced Reading:
Children of the Night
Children of the Inquisition
Destiny’s Price – Mage: the Ascension 2nd E.
Giovanni Chronicles I
Montreal by Night
The Book of Nod

Ben’s List
Starter:
Vampire: the Masquerade 2nd Edition
2nd Edition Player’s Guide
Sabbat Player’s Guide
Storyteller’s Guide to the Sabbat
Any Clanbooks

Advanced Reading:
Vampire: the Dark Ages Core Book
Dark Ages Companion
Giovanni Chronicles I & II
Transylvania Chronicles I & II

Adam’s List
Starter:
Vampire: the Masquerade 2nd Edition Core
2nd Edition Player’s Guide
Player’s Guide to the Sabbat
Storyteller’s Guide to the Sabbat

Advanced Reading:
Ghouls: Fatal Addiction
World of Darkness: Sorcerer
Mediums – Wraith: the Oblivion 2nd Edition
Damnation City – Vampire: the Requiem 1st Edition
The Black Hand: A guide to the Tal’Mahe’Ra

Art by: Rich “Nerdgore” Sampson
Music by: Our Lady of Shadows, In Strict Confidence, Fred Mollin, Bell, Book & Candle, and Bauhaus.

FMRPG BONUS EPISODE – JUSTIN SIROIS AT CRIT HIT 2017

At last!

Brendan, Adam and Ben are joined, IN PERSON by none other than Justin Sirois of Severed Books at Crit Hit 2017. Justin talks to us about he the genesis of Beneath the Inverted Church, teases it’s sequel and talks about the challenges and rewards of self-publishing in the game industry.

Check out links below for BtiC on Amazon:
www.amazon.com/Beneath-Inverted-…e+inverted+church

And Severed Books on Etsy:
www.etsy.com/shop/DungeonDealer…l2-shopheader-name

Keep up with Justin at: www.etsy.com/shop/DungeonDealer…l2-shopheader-name

Art by: Rich “Nerdgore” Sampson
Music By: Legion and GNR

FMRPG 038 – Roleplaying an Intellectual Property

In Episode 38 of Full Metal RPG, Brendan, Adam and Ben are joined by the Warlord Amanda to discuss roleplaying inside of and Intellectual Property such as a film, television series or novel.

Each host then presents an IP game that they recommend

Brendan – A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying
Adam – Star Wars Saga Edition
Ben – Stormbringer
Amanda – Firefly

Here’s a cheat sheet to hear what and when:

Intro: 00:00:30
IP Gaming Explored: 00:15:13
Reviews: 00:42:41
Outro: 01:26:01

Art by Rich “Nerdgore” Sampson. Music by Legion, Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers, and Guns N Roses