Matthew Orr has been a freelance writer since 2010 and co-founded Wet Ink Games, LLC in 2015. Recent role playing credits include Rifts World Book 36: Sovietski from Palladium Books and CAPERS from NerdBurger Games. In 2018 he served as a reader during the 200 Word RPG Challenge. He earned degrees in history, art and education from University of Louisville. Here he tells about one of the newest projects he’s working on, Never Going Home, an Eldritch-type horror game set in World War I.
Just in time to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War comes a new role playing offering from Wet Ink Games. Never Going Home: World War Occult Role Playing is set on battlefields twisted not only by the new weapons of the period, but by horrible whispers from beyond the veil of worlds. Expanding beyond their first game line into completely new territory, Wet Ink Games built the game on top of artist Charles Ferguson-Avery’s World War Occult project. Ferguson-Avery’s art depicts soldiers hunkered in trenches, preforming magic rituals, and facing off against inhuman threats. In every image the soldiers wear gas masks, obscuring their own humanity. Everything about the art serves as a meditation on the monstrousness of war. It is a setting ripe for creating stories of desperate survival.
One way to think about table top role playing games is as collaborate storytelling exercises with guidelines set by the rules. The rules for Never Going Home can be broken into two main parts. First, preforming typical RPG skills like “shooting” or “knowledge” as well as pulling off magic spells, called “whispers” in the game, requires rolling a few D6 equal to training in the skill. A five or six on a die is a success and the number of successes needed depends of the difficultly of whatever a character is attempting. Once the dice land, players manipulate them with the character’s attributes of Brawn, Smarts and Guts. Attributes can buy an additional dice for the roll, re-roll, or increase the pip count of a die result. Succeed of fail, something always happens, which players get to narrate. Weapons offer more options for dice manipulation after the roll, while magic is more powerful but is much more risky.
The other aspect of game play is the use of playing cards. Players have a hand of cards from the start of play and collect more during play. These cards represent their character’s memories, but there is constant pressure to give up cards to gain benefits. They can trade sets of these cards in to increase their skills, attributes and whispers or they can use them for healing. Player must also collectively discard at the start of each mission to meet the special conditions of the Journey. Each card given up represents the loss of little bit more of the character’s humanity. In addition to everything else, players have to balance the goals of character survival and group success. At some point characters will have gained enough power and given up enough of who they are, they will simply not come back from their mission. Characters disappear, possibly to become the horrible creatures which threaten the survivors in the next mission. The game is called Never Going Home for a reason.
The game is raising funds on Kickstarter now. In addition to the book itself, there are custom dice and playing cards designed by the game’s artist on offer so you can play Never Going Home with components designed to hit all the same horror notes. The original art book of World War Occult, which features both black and white and color images as well as poetic text fragments is also available through this campaign if you missed out on it earlier this year. Beyond the base game, once the campaign starts reaching those stretch goals, Wet Ink Games have lined of a squadron of indie roll playing game industry regulars to help them create a variety of missions to challenge play groups.