Nocturnal Media – Acknowledging a worldwide hobby

Roleplaying games are enjoyed worldwide and Stewart Wieck and Nocturnal Media seem to be on a mission to bring the very best foreign language games to English speaking audiences.

Recently Nocturnal ran a very successful Kickstarter with the aim of publishing a translation of the classic Spanish RPG Aquellare (or “Coven”).  I’d been aware of Aquellare for many years; courtesy of a Spanish friend and long time Lovecraftian horror fan Amada Cabrera, so backing a project to translate this classic was for me an obvious choice.  If you too are not of faint heart, and like your medieval horror realistic and dark, then I urge you to head over to the Nocturnal Media website and consider treating yourself to a preorder of Aquellare while you still can!

Since the success of the Aquellare KS Nocturnal have announced their plans to publish a number of other outstanding Spanish language games that definitely deserve the attention of English-speaking gamers, and indeed they have already entered into the necessary agreements to do so over the course of the coming year.  Look out for the the first of these, Adventures in the East Mark”(AEM), created by Pedro Gil and published by Holocubierta Ediciones. AEM is a pre-eminent example of an OSR game that’s endorsed in an introduction by none other than Frank Mentzer.  See here for more detail.

But, despite how exciting I find all of this, it is not the games from Spain that drove me to my keyboard this morning, but a French title Hellywood.  Originally published in 2008 Hellywood is set in 1949 in the California city of Heaven Harbor, nicknamed “Hellywood”. It is a homage to the hardboiled, and gritty noir genre of RPG.  Made more challenging for its occupants by the fact that it seems to sit on Hell’s very doorstep.

There is no winning in Heaven Harbor, a city consumed by corruption, greed… & demons. There is only surviving for as long as you can.

In a nice touch the GM in a Hellywood game is referred to as the “voice-over” whilst players take on the roles of  Heaven Harbor inhabitants. Everyday people such as cops, bouncers, bums, thugs, artists, bartenders, trying to make sense of and hopefully survive the shadowy events around them. There is even scope to play the role of a “hornhead” — a golem, succubus, seraphim or possessed — a result of the mysterious Day of Ashes when Heaven Harbor and Hell came much closer together.

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Whilst the Kickstarter for Hellywood, is long finished and hopefully its on track to deliver a great game, despite running slightly behind schedule.  You can read all about it on the Kickstarter page, (and still preorder the game by following the link to Backerkit) but there are a couple of things that I think merit note here.  Firstly, Hellywood is a very story led and “visual” game, the concept of the voice-over, the system based on the game of “craps” all lend themselves to an immersive and rich story.  Secondly, even though Hellywood provides a thoroughly detailed setting in Heaven Harbor there is more material available to get you going straight away.  Whilst stretch goals on the Kickstarter are looking to add more scenarios, included in the project from launch is the brand-new supplement, Justice of Angels.

Justice of Angels will be an enormous, estimated 300+ pages, hardcover book. Justice of Angels details a twelve-story campaign featuring three interconnected tales and is the subject of a parallel crowdfunding project by John Doe Editions.  Both projects are stand-alone, but there are joint stretch goals unlocked for backers based on the combined funding of the two projects. This unique collaboration has already achieved the stretch goal for a poster map of Heaven Harbor. Which means that all Kickstarter backers who pledge for a printed Hellywood rulebook ($45+) will now also receive this reward!

I’m excited by pretty much everything going on at Nocturnal Media at present.  From their acquisition of the almost legendary West End Games, to an already stunning line up of games which is being further enriched by this recognition that our global hobby has some hidden gems ripe for sharing with a wider audience.

Check out the Hellywood Kickstarter, you won’t be disappointed,

Jusqu’à la prochaine fois , au revoir …

Derek.