Those familiar with the work of Grant Howitt knows - perhaps even expects - an artful lack of subtlety. The words person of tabletop publisher Rowan, Rook and Decard is responsible for Spire, Heart, DIE RPG, Orc Borg and a number of other titles that wear their affective hearts on their sleeves. Eat the Reich, a game where players embody vampire commandos sucking the veins of every Nazi soldier between Paris and Hitler’s hidey hole.
Eat the Reich is the work of Howitt and comics illustrator Will Kirkby, whose previous work includes Critical Role’s Mighty Nein comics and the Midst podcast. The duo are crowdfunding on Kickstarter - the project quickly reached its funding goal on the first day - and are looking to create a 72-page rulebook that contains everything a group needs to play through this unique and gruesome adventure.
Coming off the back of producing the DIE RPG, an actualisation/translation of Kieron Gillen’s award-winning comic series of the same name, Eat the Reich sounds like an entirely different beast. Players choose amongst six pregenerated vampires from F.A.N.G. - an occult wing of the Allied forces using every advantage they can to end the war, including enlisting the aid of dark nuns, undead cannibals, hex-filled necromancers and freakish man-bats.
The intended story supports a handful of sessions as the vampire commandos are strapped into metal drop coffins and launched into Paris. From there, players must shoot, bite, stab and curse their way through the Nazi battalions occupying Europe until they desiccate the genocidal war criminal behind it all. Combat is swift and cinematic, flashbacks tie the vampires to a common cause and shared hatred of the enemy, and the narrative doesn't overstay its welcome. As the project page says: “It tells one story, it tells it loud, and it tells it brilliantly.”
Who are these vampires who willingly put their elongated canines in the crosshairs of fascist armies? Iryna is as close to your standard vampire as F.A.N.G. offers - filthy rich, old as dust and carrying a grudge deeper than grave dirt. Nicole is a walking platoon with a knack for blowing up buildings and wielding something called “gutter magic”. Chuck leans as much zombie as he does vampire, meaning the twin revolver-toting cowboy has an unending taste for the flesh of the recently departed. Illusionist and necromancer Cosgrove owes too much to the undead mafia and is a literal encyclopaedia of curses and hexes. Astrid had a brush with death out in the wilderness and brought back a coterie of pissed off spirits for her trouble. And Flint? Well, Flint is stuck biologically halfway between human and bat, and uses all of that freak to his advantage.
Eat the Reich runs on the Havoc System, which uses a pool of six-sided dice to resolve any conflicts. Players use their expertise, experience and teeth-grinding intent to add dice before rolling and counting anything that shows a four or greater. These successes can be spent to avoid damage, drink fascist blood, clear out reinforcements and pull off that mega cool manoeuvre. More enemy soldiers will pour in from the doors and alleyways constantly, keeping the players always moving forward and towards augmented Übermenschen whose blood will level up the players once supped.
Howitt and Kirkby are joined by Maz Hamilton as producer and James Mendez Hodes as cultural consultant. Sensitivity readers include Oliver Hoffmann, Marta Palvarini, Rue Dickey and Salt & Sage. A system reference document appears on the list of possible stretch goals, which would give designers and fans an easy way to hack their own tabletop creations using Eat the Reich's Havoc Engine.
The Kickstarter campaign for Eat the Reich will run through September 14th and is available as both a physical and digital edition. The team has joined with virtual tabletop company Alchemy to include a digital key for an online VTT version with every purchase of the physical rulebook, which is expected to ship to backers in December of this year.