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Eat The Reich Is Here For A Bloody Good Time, Not For A Long Time

Play a vampire and kill nazis in WW2!

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Most people think of RPG stories in one of two sizes. There’s the campaign which goes on for years, allows for deep character development and the build up of character power and skill. The other option is the one shot made for convention play or trying out new games with a single session. There’s a lot of room to run with games built for a few sessions. Shadow of the Demon Lord is famously made to run for about 10 sessions. Eat The Reich by Rowan, Rook and Decard is made to run for six hours, so two to three sessions give or take. The game made quite a splash when it launched on Kickstarter last year and my backer copy just landed in my hands. Is Eat The Reich a fulfilling meal? Let’s play to find out.

Eat The Reich comes from designer Grant Howitt and artist Will Kirkby. Before getting into the design itself, I have to praise Kirkby for just how gorgeous this book is. It looks like it took a wrong turn from the graphic novel section, got completely hammered, thrown out of multiple bars and passed out in a pool of its own ink on the RPG shelf. Sometimes when Kickstarters offer book improvements as stretch goals I feel like they are only exciting to people in the industry but the improvements here make a tangible impact. The crusty dried blood texture splattered on the cover makes it feel more real. The glow in the dark part is a surprise I missed until a colleague pointed it out to me.

The tone of the art completely nails the punk sensibilities and anarchistic fun of the game. This is not a game where players are lonely immortals hiding in the shadows and pulling strings against their enemies. This is a power fantasy where everyone is a royal of the night swaggering through the stress of occupied Paris to chew bubblegum and drink the blood of Hitler and oops, they left the bubblegum back on the bomber that coffin dropped them into France.

The game backs this power play with a simple system. Players roll a pool of six sided dice. Anything above a three is a success, any sixes count as two successes. Every conflict is set up as an objective which features a certain amount of successes to achieve while giving the players the choice to narrate their successes as they see fit. The pre-generated characters include special powers fuelled by blood that range from spitting acid to summoning a swarm of bats. On the off chance a vampire get too beat up, they get to toss out a handful of eight dice to describe their glorious last stand against the forces of evil, likely lovingly described in slow motion as they single handedly take out a German tank by filling it with vengeful spirits until it explodes.

If you didn’t already guess, this game leans into vampires as superheroes. Though there is advancement, the designer says they estimate about six hours of game in this book with their preferred method of three two hour sessions. The campaign book is set up to foster this with three sections of occupied Paris filled with a handful of scenes culminating in a battle above the Eiffel Tower in Hitler’s escape zeppelin. Three game sessions seems to be about right for the book even if your players want to kill every Nazi in the city or indulge in some character backstory flashbacks to cut the gonzo action with some tearjerking melodrama. Regardless, every campaign should end the same way; the players interrupt Hitler’s Evil Speech of Evil, quickly turn him into chunky salsa and heroically walk into the sunrise having ended the war.

Eat The Reich is a game that tells you how to play it. It makes its politics and purpose plain before it gets to the game stuff with discussion about safety tools and making it clear that the Nazis are worse real life villains than fictional vampires and the players should feel no remorse in gleefully describing how they blow through them in the game. Anything beyond that, like the appendix in the back about other missions and even the very light character creation guidelines are barely even secondary. is a game more about the journey than the destination. Even if the destination is passing around Hitler’s gushing jugular like a bottle of booze at an underage drinking party. If that sounds like a fun way to spend a few nights, hop in your coffin and pick up this game.
 

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Rob Wieland

Rob Wieland

This game is fantastic, though judging from the Rowan Rook & Decard Discord, a little tough for new GMs, or those who've only run trad before, to fully grok. Lots of shared narrative authority, with players expected to introduce details as they add powers and items to their rolls. Once everyone gets on its wavelength, though, it's a blast. And the system feels like it could do lots of awesome, high-action narratives (as long as they're short, punchy, and don't take themselves too seriously).

My only critique of the book is that it maybe doesn't make it clear enough that the published Objectives (scenes with obstacles that punctuate your march toward the Eiffel Tower) aren't the only thing you do in the game. The connective tissue between Objectives is up to the GM to come up with on the fly, and could be a huge part of the overall experience.
 

This game is fantastic, though judging from the Rowan Rook & Decard Discord, a little tough for new GMs, or those who've only run trad before, to fully grok. Lots of shared narrative authority, with players expected to introduce details as they add powers and items to their rolls. Once everyone gets on its wavelength, though, it's a blast. And the system feels like it could do lots of awesome, high-action narratives (as long as they're short, punchy, and don't take themselves too seriously).

My only critique of the book is that it maybe doesn't make it clear enough that the published Objectives (scenes with obstacles that punctuate your march toward the Eiffel Tower) aren't the only thing you do in the game. The connective tissue between Objectives is up to the GM to come up with on the fly, and could be a huge part of the overall experience.
I don't know that I would call this advanced, really, in the way I'd call Shadowrun or Pathfinder that, but definitely something where I would be careful to chose a group who can handle the adult content and the narrative control. A bit like Wraith.
 








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