For full disclosure, I am a backer of the project that is mentioned in this blog article. However, I do not have any financial stake, I am not a member of the production, nor have I received any financial contribution or sponsorship for doing this article about the project aside receiving some basic inside information for the creation of this article.
Those of you who may have followed the blog know that I have written about the Harmony Jam and the Carta Jam. Both of these were organized by Cat McDonald of Peach Garden Games, who was the creator of both of the SRDs those Jams celebrated.
Blazing Hymn: The Basis of Play
I think it best that Cat tells you a little bit about Blazing Hymn in their own words,
[Blazing Hymn] was designed to evoke the musical action of Symphogear and the intense struggle of Evangelion. [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.
I was fortunate to play a game of Blazing Hymn with Cat and several others and I found it was quite amazing. It really has the ability to capture the hope, music, and emotional power of the mahou shoujo (magical girl) and idol anime genre while still having Evangelion's horror and moments of panic thanks to the ruthless & inexplicable destruction of the Angels. And this is only what is contained within its combat!
The downtime between missions is ripe for storytelling of whatever type your team wishes with a narrative-focused, rules-light approach. Maybe your team is a group of celebrities and aces chosen by a high-profile government sponsored organization. Perhaps your team is a bunch of misfits from high school who made a club to study the Angels and stumbled into hymnal technology. Each one would undoubtedly come with their own collections of advantages, baggage, and character tropes to play with. The upcoming expansion Ashes to Ashes actually contains some suggestions for player organizations, as well as special abilities your support staff could unleash to help you in the field or upgrade your hymnals even further.
The character creation process uses relatively simple-to-understand powers and songs they are easily customizable to best fit your character and encourage teamwork. The Blazing Hymn manual encourages you to name and explore the backstory behind each Song you choose to assign your character. Each Song a character could use gives the character singing it certain, game-changing bonuses, but singing the same song as another player can also allow for special synergy powers to trigger. Your Powers can also be triggered at any time and take instant effect. These taken together encourage cooperation and tactical group play beyond the usual balance of class combinations a lot of tactical RPGs emphasize.
Even the Hymnal (class) selection has built in customization for both mechanics and character flavor, you choose from one of two Stat lines to determine your characters attribute scores and you can choose the flavor of your specific weapon. For example, if I want to make a Xyston Class-05 Hymnal, they are intended to use some form of polearm. My hymnal could use a pike like the Xyston it is named after, but it could also be a glaive, guandao, poleaxe, warscythe, or naginata.
Seeing the Game In Action: Roar to Heaven
Now, while the game is quite deserving, singing the praises of Blazing Hymn is not the main reason why I am discussing it today. Rather, it is what Cat and their crew at Peach Garden Games are intending on doing next with it.
Cat will be joined in the production "booth" by long-time sound designer & editor Kathleen Childs. A new member of the production team is Eryn Cerise. With a litany of projects, accolades, and appearances longer than my arm, Eryn is a recognized expert in the Mahou Shoujo genre with her creation of the Mahou Profile series on Youtube and the SuperidolsRPG podcast that features a teen idol-themed Actual Play using the Masks RPG.
Of course we cannot forget the cast! In addition to Cat acting as the GM and Eryn playing the character Flannery, we also have Kendrick (filmmaker and producer of of Tales Yet Told), Jordan Cuddlefish Nguyen (educator and game designer), and Dillon (director of Tales from the Tabletop). More information about the cast can be found here!
Click on the banners below to find out more about the characters the Cast will be playing!
Nothing Comes Cheap, Even When Heaven is Trying to Kill You
If all goes to plan, the AP would release 13 episodes for their first season starting on February 14th! However, putting together a high-quality podcast does not come without a cost in both time and energy. Many of us who listen to podcasts or watch APs on Youtube & Twitch would like to see everyone compensated for their time and Cat seeks to do exactly that with Roar to Heaven.
This is why they have turned to crowdfunding to try and meet the budget they need. They have a current Kickstarter campaign running that will end on January 4th. The current funding plans are:
The base funding goal is $5000. If this base funding goal is met, they will be able to pay for editing and transcription services.
The first stretch goal is $12500. This will allow them to pay the cast $100 per episode. If they don’t make this stretch goal, the money above $5000 will be divided among the cast.
The next stretch goal is $23000. This will enable them to pay Kathleen to write a full original soundtrack for the podcast. If they don’t make this stretch goal, they’ll use the money above $12500 to buy some original music.
The final stretch goal is $25000. If they hit this target, they will commission a run of vinyl records of the OST.
Different Backer Rewards include:
Digital and physical copies of Blazing Hymn
Digital copies of the as yet unreleased expansion Ashes to Ashes
Shiny, Blazing Hymn patterened Washi tape!
Early access to Roar to Heaven episodes
Access to the full Session Zero including NPC and setting design
With the recent controversies, it is understandable that many in the TTRPG community are reluctant to put any funding into a project using the Kickstarter platform to raise funds. I know Cat is one of those who disagree with the direction Kickstarter hinted they may go with blockchain utilization, but unfortunately Roar to Heaven went live just before the Kickstarter blockchain announcement.
Even if you want to boycott Kickstarter, I would highly encourage you to still back Roar to Heaven. It is unfair to punish small creators for the decisions far outside of their control. Until alternatives can be found, we need to recognize that some have no choice but to utilize the platform because Kickstarter's dominance in the TTRPG crowdfunding scene to this point. It centralizes a significant proportion of both the consumers and the projects into a single location and promotes active campaigns more widely than currently used alternatives like itch.io ever could.
If you still feel that you cannot back via Kickstarter, Peach Garden Games has set up the equivalent of the digital backer package on their itch store that can be found here. I have not had this confirmed, but I strongly suspect that this will be the place to turn should the Kickstarter campaign fail to make it's base funding mark, but keep an eye on the Roar to Heaven Twitter should anything of the like come to pass.
Thank you all for reading to the end of this article and have a great zone wherever you are! Remember that if you would like to keep helping me make posts on the blog, you can support Hessan's County via the Ko-fi or buying our games! Links to all of that and more can be found here.