Patreon Preview: WoD The Heck – Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand

Ken Meyer - Dirty Secrets of the Black HandTo celebrate our first year of the RPPR Patreon, we have created new milestones so we can create more podcasts for you! After Hours has proven to be a hit with our Patreon backers and there’s a lot of interest in the Old World of Darkness, so I merged the two to create WoD The Heck.It’s a humorous look at the oWoD, by a mix of veterans and newbies. This episode is a free preview of the podcast. If you like it, please consider backing the RPPR Patreon. If we reach the $1,600 milestone, we will make this a monthly podcast for all backers!

In this episode, Shaun and I, along with Faust from the Third Wheel look at one of the most hated books in the entire oWoD – The Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand. This book broke all the rules: blatant crossovers from multiple gamelines, unabashed powergaming, and worst of all, it made the kewlest, most munchkin discipline, Vicissitude, into a bad thing. Truly, unforgivable crimes.

Song: Marketplace by Chinese Hackers.

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  1. Damn, that was certainly a trip down memory lane.

  2. Atomic bomb spirit….the name of my highschool ska band.

    Loved the show. My question is, much must we give for Caleb to be a regular guest host on this new show?

  3. I have played…SO many campaigns of the OWoD and you guys nailed it with the humanity comment in the beginning and the “My Sabbat striketeam killed all the Black Spiral Dancers!” comment.

  4. Can’t wait until you guys go over the licensed Street Fighter game.

  5. Faust pretty much went through the real world example of Mythos exposure, with the appropriate reactions. This was tremendously fun to listen to as an intermediate WoD exposed person.

    I do have one practical question about the Patreon though (hopefully will be able to support, once I figure out how it is possible to me, it is hellish to do online transactions from Eastern Europe), do new patrons get access to prior After Hours episodes?

  6. Author

    @TRNSHMN – you should be able to access all of the after hours archive once you sign up. If you can’t, contact Patreon support or me for help.

  7. 1 hour 39 minutes is where the San check finally gets failed…

    I wasn’t sure what to expect as I didn’t recall WoD was the Vampire: The Mascarade system, Even if I had I think I would have been more interested than excited.

    However, this was hilarious and informative and hilarious again. Faust was the perfect mix of new yet excited. Shaun’s a great co host, and I can’t wait for further episodes!

  8. Wow, you start a guy out on WoD with one of the most complex and intertwined books in the line?

    Mainlining WOD is only suggest to those well versed in the setting.

  9. Man, that is some weapons-grade setting convolution they were putting out. I could actually hear Faust’s brain dripping out of his ears as you guys gave him the cliff’s notes version of the gaming lines.

    oWoD didn’t just have duelling conspiracies, they had duelling cosmologies. You had the kinda Judeo-Christian mythology of Vampire, the consensus reality of Mage, the eco-warrior animism of Werewolf, and the everything-associated-with-the-modern-world-is-spirit-crushing new agey-ness of Changeling.

    Hunter was my favorite because even in the monster splatbooks, it only pays lip service to the respective cosmologies of each creature. You could play each group as being self-deluded and convinced of their own metaphysics, while the Imbued were the ones with the actual inside scoop of reality. Or you could just play the vampires as puppet masters, shapeshifters as monsters that hunt the wilderness, magic-users as occultists/mystics/psychics, and changelings as actual fairy-tale monsters (closer to Grimm’s style than Disney). You could play it like the movies Frailty and They Live: You’re outnumbered, underpowered, and not entirely sure if you’ve stumbled into some kind of group psychosis or if you really are ‘inheriting the Earth’.

    Or you could play like so much of the artwork implied: gunning down everything and stabbing werewolves in the chest with silverware. Hey, at least there’s no pretensions of being a tortured immortal parasite.

    (btw, a World of Darkness WUSHU game would be awesome).

  10. “Black Spiral Dancer” is my favorite My Little Pony

    so look forward to this, to a point where I’m thinking of upgrading my pledge to the Patreon. well played, gang

    also was that something about the “Asian underworld” in there? Did they go as far as having racist afterlives?

  11. My friends have introduced me to the White Wolf WoD with a game of Hunter. I’d seen it but never really looked at it because my gaming niches differ. It’s fun! Was surprised because I’ve heard so much bad stuff about the game line overall. Listening to the podcast, though, I realize a lot of the arguments parallel the old break in 1st ed D&D and AD&D about low-level and high-level campaigns and where the system broke down under its own weight. Waiting eagerly for the next episode!

  12. I remember some time ago Ross talking about doing some sort of Hunter the Vigil thing with American Psycho style characters. Werewolf hunters of Wall Street if you will. I would pay good money to listen to that game but played in Monster of the Week instead.

  13. Faust is really MVP here as he slowly realizes how deep the rabbit hole goes. He really earned the right to play some tortured Abomination in a future AP. I hope that happens; seems like it could be a proper successor to Lady Gaga 2.0.

    Listening to this is fun because I only got into the WoD with the reboot (Requiem etc) but the college RPG club was full of people who were completely obsessed with the oWoD’s gothic punk aesthetic … and a bit more blind to its flaws.

    The scope of the vocabulary is just staggering. When you’re inside that WoD bubble it seems reasonable to have a special term for everything, but once you’re out, not so much.

    I liked how Exalted was touched on briefly but even Shaun didn’t go that far into WW craziness. In brief: there are different flavors of Exalted – each with their own splatbook explaining how they are the true heroes and everyone else is screwing things up. WW did eventually abandon the “Exalted is the (extra-secret) pre-history of the WoD” idea because it made no sense even for them. Of course, there were still many theories and arguments about which type of Exalted eventually became which creatures in the WoD.

    I think the most accepted version was:
    Solars (flawed heroes/anime angels) = Messengers for hunters
    Abyssals (dark anti-heroes with controlling ghost dads) = Vampires
    Dragon-Blooded (elemental warriors) = Eastern Vampires
    Lunars (shape-changing) = Werewolves etc
    Sidereals (kung fu puppet masters) = Mages
    Infernals (demons) = Demons

    It’s snowflakes all the way down.

  14. Can we get an AP of Katanas & Trenchcoats ìncluding Caleb.
    Also Faust is amazing.

  15. Of all the OP NPCs in WoD ,you guys forgot Samuel Height. The Former Kinfolk,mage,skin dancer and ghoul. He is now currently a spirit ashtray.

  16. oh, god. I usually think of Mage as the most convoluted of the oWoD settings. I never thought of just how many interconnected cross-explaining TERMS there are, even in Vampire.

    if you thought this was balls-out nonsense, Faust, wait until they try to explain Mage to you. pay special attention to the deep space mages, flying their carpets to Alpha Centauri, because why wouldn’t you? if you don’t understand it, don’t worry, because the authors didn’t, either.

  17. … I understood every word of “that” sentence.
    I’m not sure if I’m proud or ashamed.

    VtM, and oWoD in general, really suffered from a disconnect between what the game was initially “supposed” to be and the Ruleset.
    Humanity was definitely supposed to be Key, but in the rules there was (iirc) very little reason to actually invest in it.
    Even worse… well, VtM was a game about being angsty vampires. That was it’s thing.
    So when it came to character advancement… did you pick being better at being a lawyer? Do you become Less Angsty?
    No. You choose to become More Vampire. Because OF COURSE YOU DO.

    The special snowflake thing is equally valid. I admit, I’m very much a Special Snowflake kind of player regardless of game, but when Special Snowflake is built into the game’s premise, using generic character “classes” is probably not best decision in the world.

    Know what I want to see? A World of Darkness with rules built around noir and gothic romance storytelling, and a large pool of powers which can be picked so every character is a Snowflake. Have plug and play factions, species and backgrounds so each character is automatically unique. Build the rules and setting from the ground up to support that style of play.

  18. Fantastic episode gents.

    I have to credit you Ross. Having a someone who had no experience with the World of Darkness exposed to all it’s … er.. well all of it’s convolutions was a brilliant idea.

    Please reserve some of your Patreon profit for Faust’s emotional trauma.

    This is one of the few episodes I would recommend someone go through and edit to capture all of Faust’s incredulity as he fails san check after successive san check.

    Already a Patreon backer, but this episode would certainly compel me to sign up.

    Shaun, I really have to give you (and Ross) credit for knowing the World of Darkness precisely and explaining it clearly.

    Ross, you are a Hunter fan and thus a truly horrible monster. I shake my head in your general direction sir.

    The idea of analyzing the WoD game line from the perspective of “how would you reboot the system” is a great idea and I hope you continue to ask these questions from a game design perspective in the future.

    To validate my normalcy, I was a Mage: Technocrat (before the player’s handbook), Wraith and Changeling player. Shaun I’m glad my group wasn’t the only one who were Wraith fans. Please also read the Wrath writer’s letter to the fans of the Wraith line in Ends of Empire (I think) in a future episode. It is interesting and heartfelt.

    Shaun, if you are planning a cross over extravaganza, may I humbly suggest: HIT MARKs covered in Primium, Demons of Iron and Violence (1000 Hells), a Celestine, a gaggle of Marauders.

    Faust, I salute you sir for your resilience.

  19. I’m interested to see how Faust eventually reacts to Chronicles of Darkness (formerly called the New World of Darkness). As actual gamelines its all miles ahead of its predecessor mechanically and thematically, but damn if some people weren’t furious about the metaplot and special snowflakes going away.

  20. Also, quick thing about the current state of the WoDs because its a confusing mess.

    Recently, the brand was bought by Paradox Interactive. Books are contracted out through Onyx Path Publishing, an independent group that was made from old White Wolf members who came together after a huge set of layoffs several years ago.

    Old World of Darkness (aka Classic World of Darkness) is now just plain World of Darkness. Nothing has been released for it yet, but Onyx Path has been putting out 20th Anniversary Editions via Kickstarter. Vampire, Werewolf, and Mage have been released. Wraith and Changeling have both completed their Kickstarters and are currently in production. They’ve also made a few other books under the 20th Anniversary brand. They’ve managed to purge a lot (but not all) of the really bad stuff.

    The New World of Darkness was rebranded by Paradox to Chronicles of Darkness because having two separate game worlds called the same thing is really confusing. It’s been going steady since its inception and is in the middle of its second edition update for its gamelines. Currently it has ten gamelines. Most of them are good, but the latest one, called Beast: The Primordial was pretty uncomfortable and the reaction was so intense it had to go through emergency rewrites during its Kickstarter. The Mummy “remake” you guys mentioned at the end was for the Chronicles of Darkness. It was the last line to be made for first edition and came out back in 2012.

    Also, handy guide for folks at home.

    World of Darkness (1990s Gonzo Weirdville) –
    Vampire: The Masquerade
    Werewolf: The Apocalypse
    Mage: The Ascension (Wizards)
    Wraith: The Oblivion (Ghosts)
    Changeling: The Dreaming (Disney Fairies)
    Hunter: The Reckoning
    Mummy: The Resurrection
    Demon: The Fallen

    Chronicles of Darkness (Post-2004 Reboot/Reimagining)
    Vampire: The Requiem
    Werewolf: The Forsaken
    Mage: The Awakening
    Promethean: The Created (Frankensteins)
    Changeling: The Lost (Scary Folktale Fairies)
    Hunter: The Vigil
    Geist: The Sin-Eaters (Ghosts)
    Mummy: The Curse
    Demon: The Descent
    Beast: The Primordial

  21. Oh god, this episode left me in stitches, absolutely excellent work guys. Looking incredibly forward to seeing more in the future.

    Myself, I (just barely) dodged most of the original Vampire bullet (they were hitting End Times just as I was getting into it, my original RPG group tried it for a couple sessions worth, but thanks to the setting shift coming we never really made it our focus). That said, I did end up buying a few of the books, and I rather liked the two computer games that came out for the original setting (Vampire: Redemption and Vampire: Bloodlines).

    In particular, on my shelf, are three of the four Clan Novel Saga End Time mega-volumes, and let me tell you, reading those with most of my cues taken from only the odd handbook or splatbook and the computer games was… quite something. At least it enabled me to get a few of the references Ross and Shaun were making from the sheer number of ‘Oh yeah, that crazy thing happened, didn’t it.’ those books contained.

  22. @Karen I’d argue that nWoD was still riddled with issues on the mechanics side. Geist is fucked, for example. On the thematic side of things, while it isn’t nearly as bugfuck insane or plain dumb as oWoD got, there were still divisive parts that didn’t boil down to ‘muh snowflaeks’ and wanting a metaplot, primarily in the big lines, i. e. Vampire, Werewolf and Mage.

  23. Man, in late high school I was a little bit obsessed with Mage – as obsessed as a kid can with no home internet or ability to buy the books could be, anyway. But for everything I read about it, I could not for the life of me understand how one was supposed to run an actual game of Mage. It always seemed to me like a beautiful, surreal wonderland with infinite possibilities and absolutely no story hooks.

    I’d still really like to try to play it someday.

  24. I should write up the Changeling and Mage games I participated in someday.

    God I’m glad I never went to LARPs or had the Caleb WoD experience. In retrospect I’m glad my high school gaming group was pretty insulated

    Hey Ross, since this podcast has had such a fantastic response every where I’ve seen it posted have you considered sending it (tweeting it?) to Martin Elricsson (Paradox I think) or have the fans do it?

  25. Beta for Paul Riddle’s Undying seems to be a pretty good indie response to Vampire.

  26. When you cover changeling: the lost, I really hope you can lock Caleb in the room with you so you can explain that great product line with him.

  27. I didn’t get into WoD till after nWoD came out so I look back at all the ‘classic’ material and go “Say whaaaaa?!” and mine it for useful bits.

  28. Author

    @Twisting H – go for it! I’d be curious to see how they respond.

  29. Oh man! You totally need to do Blood Dimmed Tides next!

  30. This is fucking gold. Faust’s giggles of disbelief perfectly complemented Sean’s straight-faced delivery and Ross’s peanut gallery mockery.

    5 ghost atom bombs out of 5

  31. Ahh, good memories! The instant high drug of LARPing
    The dealing with Cammies that went too far in their playing (llifestylers I called them)
    The baroquely-complex world background of the game world
    The simple play rules, distilled: everything between players is consensual and everything in game has a cost
    Noting how cultural differences affected play
    Again, good memories!

  32. So…does Faust know Caleb’s Fun Factory story? If not, I would like to hear his reaction to Caleb telling it.

  33. I just want more of these episodes and I got to say that I still love the Old World of Darkness but my goodness it is so full of this.
    Oh and for more/added fun the 20th anniversary kind of tries to fix this all

    And I just wanna see Caleb in this one-shot along with Tom of course everyone needs to see it because of how glorious it shall be.

  34. But Ross I’d love to listen to them and support you guys but I’m broke.

  35. This series was the best and I am so sad that it ended though I do respect the reasoning for it and think it was for the best.

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