We’re all getting a little sick of quarantine. Same people, same faces, day in and day out. I think we secretly all wish we could grab a huge axe or guitar (or both) and go crush some skulls in a world of fire and dragons. Or maybe that’s just me? Well, just me and the people at Hunters Entertainment (Altered Carbon, Alice Is Missing), who decided to channel that impulse into one of the most buck wild RPG’s I’ve ever seen. Now on Kickstarter, Gods of Metal: Ragnarock promises the guts, glory, and sheer epicness of the heavy metal genre. Naturally, I reached out to the team for an interview to get the inside scoop on what exactly went into creating this boot stomping, fire breathing monstrosity of an RPG.
So…uh…where does all this come from? What was the genesis of GODS OF METAL: RAGNAROCK?
Heavy Metal is a staple of a lot of peoples’ adolescent discovery and joy. Many of us have been to heart bumping, adrenaline inducing concerts and felt that energy where you can conquer the world, as long as you have your friends close. Everyone on the team feels the same way about a great game. Gods of Metal: Ragnarock has been dancing on the periphery of Ivan and the company for years, originally as a board game. But shortly after our licensed product Altered Carbon was wrapping up development, we felt it was time to take the concept off the shelf, dust it off, and dive into something really fun and unique.
Obviously you’ve drawn on heavy metal for the theme of the game, but were there any bands or artists in particular you really were inspired by when designing the look and feel of Gods of Metal: Ragnarock?
We have some really clear inspirations in the game (DIOmiedius anyone?), however we knew it was going to be really hard to encompass all the different styles and genres of Heavy Metal in the game – just like other RPGs, we want a world that EVERYONE feels like they can live in – and not just the hardcore-black-gothic-Babymetal type fans. (Yes, I love Babymetal)
Hitting the art/tone “just right” has been a huge challenge for Ivan and the team with this game. But I feel like we finally got that “Album Cover/Heavy Metal Magazine/Pathfinder, but less serious” attitude
Who are the titular metal gods and where did they come from?
For real, our lead developer Ivan sat with a beer and wrote 6 things: Glory, Power, Doom, Death, Shred, Style.
Once he had all the names in place, we worked with an artist, Brian Crabaugh, who does a lot of album art for bands like Municipal Waste and Weresquach and had him sketch out these concepts.Ivan and Brian have a long history – they grew up together in Eugene, OR where they would see bands like Motorhead, GWAR, and smaller indie punk bands in the basements of old churches, their relationship made it really easy to come up with concepts like ‘Giant Chrome Guy with an 8pack and a flaming mullet and mustache, with a Dragon covering his junk, swirling huge balls of steel in a lava cave
How did you develop the system for the game? How does the performance pool work?
Ivan and the company have always been huge fans of “experience” first – so the system was built on two rules:
A. It must be based on D4s (the most metal of all dice)
B. It must emphasize teamwork and a feeling of camaraderie that feels natural in combat.
Every choice after that has been formed by one of these two rules. The use of the D4s has changed pretty frequently, but we’re pretty happy with how the BONES of the system work now. Fours for success, Ones for Failure. It’s turned into a dice pool / resource management game that has just enough nuance to feel like you only have so much control of your destiny. We have a mechanic called Feedback (where your failures collect), when once you reach your Feedback threshold, you suffer a MASSIVE failure. But it only comes up if you’ve been getting LOTS and LOTS of successes in the meantime
How do the mechanics and theme work together, or how did you plan on having them work together?
In combat, bands of adventurers can share an initiative value (ex “6”) and can “Harmonize”, meaning they can share their successes/failures as if they were a single player – and use each other’s abilities like it was a duel tech from Chrono Trigger.
Each player only has three real pieces of “gear” – their weapon, outfit and accessory.They all act like legendary weapons that “upgrade” as they do, with their own EXP pool and everything.
Those are just a few examples.
How did you change up the “traditional” RPG class roles to fit the theme of the game?
Amplord – Gear Druids, they have anthropomorphic ‘gig boxes’ and can build ANYTHING.
Brutalizer – Warrior of Metal, they not only smash things – but also feature finesse combat as well.
Bludgard – Guardians of the Gods, they have abilities like “Turn Uncool.”
Shredder – Wizard Musicians (the only ones who are REQUIRED to have an instrument).
Chordmaster – Elementalist Monks who absorb the creative energies of the world,which eventually change and manipulate their bodies.
Howlers – Summoners who explore ‘ranges’ of magic, which can lead to some powerful (but potentially catastrophic) results.
There’s a running theme of “escapism” to the game. Escape from boredom, escape from regular hum-drum life through METAL. How did you work to make this escapism different from the regular kind other RPG’s promise? Do you think this is going to resonate even more as we remain quarantined?
We’re really giving folks permission here to dive in, head-deep into their epic heavy metal fantasy. It can be as dark/grim as you’d like, or as fun and goofy as you need. The difference is that most RPGs ask you to pick either “Sword or Whoopie Cushion”, we’re saying you can strap the whoopie cushion to the sword if you’d like.
The contrasting nature of Mundania doesn’t hurt either. Do yourself a favor and Google “Daffy Duck – The Wizard” on YouTube, and you’ll see where the concept of Mundania came from.
How did the idea for the Album/DM Screen come about and what was it like gettingthe music together for it?
Music is VERY new territory for us, and it’s been a real challenge. Thankfully we have an amazing music producer – Paul Gargano who has been helping us navigate these treacherous waters and seems to know EVERYONE in the metal/music world. As for the Album/MM Screen (DMs are the Metal Maestro in Ragnarock) we knew that if we only did one or the other – we’d appeal to either gamers or vinyl fans, but combining them together gives a reason for ONE to also enjoy the OTHER!
What’s the feeling you want players to have while they play RAGNAROCK?
We want them to feel like they’re riding a chrome bull through bushes made of barbed wire, while wielding a magic axe that shoots chaos energy from the void into the eyes of their enemies, then leaping over a cliff only to have the bull sprout wings and a rocket jet and fly into the maw of a dragon only to emerge from their fiery stomach after splitting it down the inside
That’s what we want them to feel like.
Does the team have any favorite positions/classes in the game?
Markeia McCarty, Marketing Manager/Twitch Host/Creative Producer: “My personal favorite is the Howler position. You have the ability to literally call on the power of nature in all of her badass nature-is-f’ing-scary Metal glory. If the dice are on your side, you can summon forth Ragnarock creatures to do your bidding. If not, you’re ringing the dinner bell.”
Noxweiler Berth (Development Associate/Content Producer): “I love the Chord Masters as they have harnessed their connection to the Chord of Power and are a form of elemental monk….like heavy metal Jedi or Sith. They typically cover their faces and take oaths of service to their chosen gods. Also they utilize devastating long ranged abilities! But yeah, heavy metal Jedi.”
Ben Dunn (Project Manager): “BRUTILIZER!!!”
Christopher J De La Rosa (Lead Designer, Co-Founder): “Bludgaard.”
Ivan (Lead Developer for Ragnarock, Co-Founder): “Oh ha! Amplord of Diomiedius, all the way”
You can still make a pledge over on Kickstarter to get a piece of this most metal of RPG’s, and there’s still lots of brutal stretch goals to unlock.
Images via Hunter Entertainment
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