Back from the Dead Again

God we are useless at keeping the blog going. Less try and remedy that going forward as we have a lot of great things going on.

First off what is in this blog post?

Well recently of course Vampire the Masquerade 5th edition was released by White Wolf Entertainment, and distributed by Modiphius. If you haven’t listen to our interview with Karim Muammar and Matthew Dawkins, then you should check it out as we chat about where the metaplot has been taken and what the ideas are that lie behind the new rules.

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We also were lucky at Darker Days Radio to have been given access to the new book a month ahead of release, and so we recorded a play through of the new game that we released on release day of V5.

The scenario we played was set in Manchester, UK, and involved some vampires who had fled the purge of London, and of course were hoping to start a quiet new life in the North West of England. Yeah – that didn’t happen. Instead the characters had to deal with the aggressive tactics of vampires who were of the Church of Caine.

Not only did we record this play through but we have made the scenario available for free.

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Gencon has also been and gone, and our own roving reporter, Chigg, was there to talk to the WW and Onyx Path teams.

And just when you thought you couldn’t get enough Vampire, this Halloween, as part of the Manchester “Halloween in the City” festival, Darker Days Radio, sponsored by White Wolf, and hosted by Fan Boy 3, will be running a demo event for Vampire the Masquerade 5th edition.

Interested in WoD and CofD gaming in Chile, then check out this interview.

Right that is plenty of updates from the podcast, what else has been going on?

Let’s start with my recent miniature purchase and gaming – Adeptus Titanicus.

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I was lucky enough to pick up a Grand Master box, which contained a hell of a lot of gear. Two Warlord Titans, six Knights, the rules and templates and tokens, dice, cards and titan control panels, and a load of terrain.

If consider the kits for the titans and knights, the plastic kits are expertly made, with forethought going into which sprue holds which pieces. In particular the endoskeleton of the titan is all on two sprues, while the third has all the armour plates. This means that to make life simple the armour plates can all be prepared and spray painted on their sprue, while the titan body is built, posed, and painted. This helps because the armour would obscure parts of the titan body. And damn can you pose these titans. Unlike a good deal of Games Workshop models these days, which are detailed and dynamic, but not poseable, these titans can be built to look like looming, stomping warmachines. There is all some consideration given to the fact that the warlord titans only come with vulcan canons and missile launchers. Future weapons will be in resin, and to accommodate them the warlord titan has been designed to allow weapons to be fitted with magnets, allowing easy swapping of weapons.

The knights, though small, are still very detailed, and look dynamic.

Carrying on the theme of options, the terrain that comes with the game are plastic buildings, which can be built however you like, as tall, long, wide as you like, and are modular, allowing buildings to be stacked to create great towers for titans to hide behind.

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Some familiar dice are included in the game, last seen during Epic 40,000 and Battlefleet Gothic, are the order dice, and that really is a clue to how this game operates. Adeptus Titanicus is about lumbering, colossal war machines, and they are not the most mobile. This means much like in Battlefleet Gothic, facings, speed, how able a titan is as turning, are all critical to maximising the potential of your titans, while also out smarting your opponent. You need to plan a number of turns in advance, otherwise you may find you can get your titan to fire at the enemy, and find them shooting you in the ass.

Much like Battlefleet Gothic, the game is about combined arms. Some weapons are not that powerful, but have many shots, and are useful in collapsing the void shields that protect a titan. With the shields down, other weapons then become more useful, as they are able to crack the armour of a titan. Smaller titans benefit from being more agile, and being faster, and so can gain benefit from shooting at the weaker armour of a titan in the sides or rear, or even being so fast, that they close the distance on a larger titan, and get so close that the void shields protecting the enemy are no longer in effect. Knights, though small are very capable at doing this, and moving through the dense city terrain and using terrain to their advantage in order to out manoeuvre a titan.

Game play, with all of the above in mind, is then an alternating activation game, where a player acts in a phase with a titan or banner of knights, and then the opponent does so, and so forth. The game is split into turns. At the start of a turn orders can be issued to titans and knights. Need to shoot early, give the First Fire order. Need to move fast, give the Full Stride order. The movement phase is as expect, with titans pounding forward, and using templates, you can work out the turning circles of the titans. In the repair phase critical damage is repaired, plasma is vented, and void shields are reactivated. In the shooting phase, well guns are fired, along with any close combat too (some titans carry massive power fists, or chain fists).

Damage is where the control panels come in for the titans. The panels track the plasma in the reactor core, the void shields active, the remaining armour, and the critical damage. As a commander of your titans you will be pushed to take risks. Want to move faster – that will generate more plasma. Want to reinforce the shields. More plasma. And these choices will get tougher as the game continues, as you are forced to choose between venting the plasma, raising shields, or repairing weapon systems. And if you are really unlucky, you may cause a plasma generator melt down!

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Overall I really love the old school feel of Adeptus Titanicus, while still finding it plays fast, and captures the feeling of massive war machines tearing chucks out of each other during the Horus Heresy. The components are well made, and the book is filled with great art, simple layout, and plenty of play options.

Moving on and staying in the Warhammer 40,000 universe we got sent a review copy of the new Warhammer 40,000 rpg, Wrath and Glory, by Ulisses Spiel North America.

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Unlike the previous 40k rpgs, and older editions, and new, for Warhammer Fantasy RPG, the percentile dice system has been abandoned. The core difficulty the previous edition was balancing the power disparity between a lowly guardsmen of the Astra Militarum, and a super human Adeptus Astartes.

Wrath and Glory uses the current setting of 40k. Cadia is destroyed. The Cicatrix Maledictum, or Great Rift, is a galaxy spanning warp storm that has split the Imperium in half. Ancient heroes have risen, and new gods are coming to life. The 40k universe is darker than ever, but with some hope, and also the chance for high adventure.

Within the book you can play all manner of people from the worlds of the Imperium. Guardsmen, Commissars, Techpriests, Underhive Gangers, Space Marines, and even the towering ubermensch known as the Primaris Space Marines. But, if it takes your fancy, players can be Orks, Eldar, heretics devoted to the Chaos gods.

The 40k RPG thus has to deal with a game where Space Marines, Inquisitors, and Imperial Guardsmen might be in the same player group.

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To accommodate this, the game works on the idea of tiers. Tiers offer a number of Build Points, which are spent at character creation. Depending on the character template used, a certain number of points must be committed first, before being used to purchase equipment, skills and attribute increases. For this reason at tier 1 space marines are not an option as they require more points that on offer. This use of build points then attempts to even out the characters.

Character creation is thus pretty simple, and has some built in restrictions to prevent min maxing and other things.

The rule system it self is pretty easy. Attribute plus skill equals a dice pool. Roll that many D6. One of those D6 is typically another colour, as this is the Wrath Die. Much like V5, the dice rolled are counted as a success if they are a 4+. If you roll a 6, that counts as two successes. The terminology is icons, and exalted icons. Exalted icons have further effects, which we will get to later.

Thus like V5, the aim is to get enough successes vs a target number (typically 3).

If you have enough successes, then any excess exalted icons can be used as a shift, in order to gain further bonus effects. The easiest example is using excess exalted icons and shifting them to generate further extra damage dice for an attack (damage is typically a damage value of a weapon plus the number of successes generated from the extra damage dice). Other examples are for example encrypting data, and the cipher created is especially secure.

Furthermore, exalted icons can be shifted and banked for later use. An exalted icon is then spent to generate a Glory point, which is a pool of points that are collectively used by the group.

The Wrath Die is a die in the dice pool, which is a different colour to the rest. When a 6 is rolled on this die, a Glory point is generated, and in combat the attack counts as a critical hit. A 1 on this die means that a complication has occurred.

Glory then is a pool of points that can be spent to increase a dice pool, increase damage, increase the severity of a critical hit, or to gain the initiative in combat.

Players also have a personal pool of points called Wrath points. These points are used for rerolls, restore shock (something we will talk about soon), and more. Wrath is gained through roleplay, achieving objectives, and Campaign cards (Wrath and Glory uses optional cards that help with the gameplay).

Like Glory and Wrath, Ruin is a similar pool of points, but that the GM uses to cause complications, and to empower particular NPCs.

Beyond the basic types of rolls there is of course combat. Wrath and Glory use a quite simple system for combat, where you use the correct dicepool for the attack method, and seek to gain a number of successes (icons) equal to or greater than the target’s Defence. Damage, as we explained earlier is rolled, and compared to the target’s Resilience (which combines natural and worn armour), and any excess is dealt as wounds. If the damage dealt only equals the Resilience, then Shock is dealt. Shock is a measure of mental strain in the face of battle.

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As expected Wrath and Glory has a wide selection of weapons, gear and psychic powers to use in the game, plus a horrific critical hits table to represent the mortal injuries that can happen in the thick of battle.

Wrath and Glory also introduces a way to deal with tasks and actions that are time limited and where success is critical. This could be defusing a bomb, piloting a ship though a canyon as Ork fighters pursue you, or repairing a titan reactor. Threatening tasks use the Wrath deck (which is also a critical injuries table), where each round a card is drawn, and on the card are some keywords. These keywords are also the keywords different character types may have. Therefore, in a round, the party can only take an action if one of the team bears that keyword. This then creates the unpredictable nature that is needed to make such tasks dangerous, and a sense of urgency as rounds are wasted due to a bad draw.

Wrath and Glory is rounded out with examples on how to run investigations, social interactions for politics, rules for how Corruption takes hold as the powers of Chaos mutate you and infect your mind, example campaign types and of course a bestiary which is diverse, but still a small sample of the antagonists present in the 40k universe.

With Wrath and Glory it is more than possible to run a diverse range of campaigns. Necromunda gangers, no problem. An Inquisitor retinue investigating a conspiracy on some back water Imperial world, easy. Guardsmen on the fringe of known space fighting the invading forces of Tyranids, yup. Orks on the world of Vigilus as they fight other mobs for scrap, yeah why not! The system is more than capable for any of these games and more.

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I would highly recommend the new 40k rpg for the simplicity of the system, and the range of games it can cater for.

Looking forward, given how prolific GW is in licensing right now, a whole range of new books to support Wrath and Glory can be expected, covering Orks, Eldar, Chaos, weapons, and the diverse locations of the Imperium.

– Chris

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