Imagine a cast of forever GMs getting to play? And in an actual play! We could learn something.
The GM in this LUMEN game is Cat McDonald, a Canadian writer and creator of Blazing Hymn and the host of the multiple award-winning podcast Sword of Symphonies. That’s one way in which you might learn from Roar to Heaven.
There are two other ways. This is the first LUMEN series podcast to the best of our knowledge. The Gauntlet did stream some one-shots. Also, we’ve five tips for making an RPG feel anime from Cat, and you can find them below.
The above embed is not so much a pitch video as a slice of session zero. If you want to get straight to the anime RPG tips, then you can jump straight down.
You can buy Blazing Hymn from Itch. In good timing, it’s currently discounted.
The cast are;
Roar to Heaven is an Actual Play podcast of the game Blazing Hymn, GMed by the game’s creator (award-nominated GM Cat McDonald) and played by a stellar cast! Inspired by anime like Neon Genesis Evangelion and Senki Zesshou Symphogear, it tells the story of humanity’s struggle against invading Angels who have come from Heaven to massacre us.
Humanity fights back against the army of Heaven using Hymnal Units, battlesuits powered by our songs of violence, pride, love, and regret. The stars of Roar to Heaven are young musicians turned warriors, forced to wade into humanity’s war for survival with their voices as our greatest weapon.
Since you’ll be able to listen to the actual play, that’s kinda the point, then why back it with cash-money? Here’s what the team suggest.
Backers at CA$5 get the full session zero and early access.
However, there’s an RPG deliverable at the CA$15 tier. If you can afford this much you also get a digital copy of Blazing Hymn.
Roar to Heaven will use a new expansion to Blazing Hymn. That’s called Ashes to Ashes, and that’s added to the rewards at CA$25.
After these opening pledges, the tiers become limited and physical goodies are included. Those tiers stretch up to CA$500, in which you get physical copies, stickers and the chance to work with Cat to create an NPC for the show.
How to make your RPG feel anime
By Cat McDonald
#1: Go Small
Embrace the condensed nature of an anime series. Most anime series run for short seasons, and even long-running favorites are shaped by smaller arcs. If you want your Actual Play to have that anime feel, plan for a shorter story and embrace that restriction. Even if you plan on playing for a long time, draw up shorter arcs with clear beginnings, middles, and ends. Play like there’s a countdown clock and cram everything you want to say into a short series. Roar to Heaven Season 1 is going to be 13 episodes long – and we don’t plan on letting up for a second!
#2: Go Big
Give way to outsize actions and emotions. While you’re playing for a limited time, turn the dials all the way up! Let humor cozy up right next to tragedy, and don’t be afraid to use tropes and patterns as shortcuts to get there. Make every fight a boss fight, make every scene impactful, and only let up long enough that your audience has time to really feel your next punch. We’re going to be running on a tight timer and there’s no time to waste – everything has to be huge.
#3: Break Rules
Anime has rules, and half the storylines are about breaking those rules, which is why so many anime-inspired TTRPGs don’t feel quite right. If you’re going to turn a TTRPG into an anime, you need to be comfortable with the game being broken. Let your players be overpowered. Let them do unexpected things. If you have to, houserule content so that even by the standards of the game they are amazing. Give them additional powers at the last minute. Throw balance out the window – it has no place here. The LUMEN SRD is specifically built for over the top power fantasy, making Blazing Hymn perfect for an anime AP.
#4: Redefine Success
As TTRPG players, we’re used to our goal being “win the combat”, but that’s not always going to happen in an AP, especially one trying to mimic the enormous swings and high stakes of action anime. Work with your players with the goal of telling the flashiest story you can – even if that means they have to eat a little dirt along the way. True success in an AP is a compelling story, not just victory. Pick a game where player characters are fragile and combat can turn in instants – like Blazing Hymn.
#5: Lean on Your Players
Work with your players to bully their characters. Put the protagonists through the emotional wringer and don’t hesitate. Let your players drive their character arcs and lean in to their vision. Once your players are aware they are in charge of not just a character but a character arc, they’ll be taking a place at the table beside you – not on the other side of the GM screen. Let your players live out wrenching tragedy and heart-pounding power fantasies, and your audience will live it through them. Our expert team of Game Masters are used to weaving stories, and every single cast member knows what it means to pull the strings.
- Back Roar to Heaven.
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