For more information, visit the Darker Days Radio website.
DM: How did you become presenters on Darker Days Radio?
CH: My involvement with Darker Days started initially with the forums, suggesting various ideas for WoD games, and ideas for the Secret Frequency segment. One of note was the Devil Dog myth that is attached to my home town, and is also the origin of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. When the show was undergoing some changes in host line up I contributed a number of recordings of ‘Rapid Fire Game Summaries’ which covered almost all of the nWoD games. I was going to record one for the Ghouls book for Vampire: The Requiem, but it was deemed easier if I just be a guest on the show to talk about that book. And that was the start of my own regular appearances. Since then, Mike and I have shared responsibilities with regards to recording the show, editing, and managing the social media aspects of the podcast. And, when time permits, I've done some video editing for the show, and edit the fanzine.
BP: I've been a listener to the podcast since episode 3 or 4, following a post on a White Wolf fan forum by then-host Vince. After Mike and Chris took it over, I started pestering Mike about the show needing someone with a stronger focus on the cWoD lines. Eventually, he agreed and they asked me to join as the voice of the cWoD.
DM: In what ways has the podcast evolved over the past five years?
MA: We've evolved primarily through experimentation and a lot of it has actually worked! The two most successful experiments have been the introduction of Forgotten Lore, a WoD ezine, and our foray into actual play episodes. Intriguingly, actual plays are role-playing game sessions released as downloadable podcasts - a format that Chris and I both dislike. However, the two actual plays we've released have been noticeably more popular than our normal episodes, so listeners can expect a few more of those in Season 6.
BP: Darker Days has grown from a tightly-focused podcast covering the cWoD and nWoD game lines to a broader and more diverse - both in terms of topics as well as guests and presenters - outlet covering gaming of all types through the various Darklings we produce while still managing to remain the premiere WoD podcast on the main show.
DM: What are your views on the state of the horror role-playing scene in 2014?
MA: Horror role-playing games are quite strong and will continue to be. Games like Vampire and Call of Cthulhu highlight the benefits of a tabletop role-playing format compared to video games, movies, and novels by providing an experience tailored to the players. Other static formats can't compete with a good storyteller out to scare his players.
BP: We live in something of a golden age for role-playing games, both in general and in the horror sub-genre. Divorcing RPGs from the ‘kick in the door, kill the monster, loot the tomb’ of several decades ago (something White Wolf pioneered) and focusing more on the story aspects of gaming has lead to some major innovations in the community. The vampires in, for example, Night's Black Agents are far more horrifying and complex than the 8HD undead from AD&D’s Monster Manual.
DM: Do you think that the rise of Onyx Path has shaken up the World of Darkness property or has it just marked the resurrection of a popular formula?
MA: Yes and yes. The nWoD game line is being spiced up with the God-Machine Chronicle rules release, leading to more player agency in the game through Condition and Beat mechanics. But on the other hand, Onyx Path has resurrected the cWoD games, retaining the game structure that took role-playing by storm in 1991. This two-pronged approach has been very well accepted by WoD fans, allowing classic players to play as they always have, but also providing a modern game approach for story gamers.
CH: Onyx Path certainly has pushed on a lot of changes, both in terms of how the writers interact with the fans, and with the way settings are approached. Onyx Path is clearly not afraid of trying out new gaming concepts, and re-examining old and tired tropes in their settings in order to modernize them. I think this can be seen both in the V20 and Requiem lines, which now more than ever are distinct settings. CWoD and nWoD could have simply just trundled on with more and more supplements, or simple reprinting of old content. But what we have instead are new treatments of the settings, while still respecting that which has gone before.
BP: Onyx Path has definitely shaken things up. To use a topic I'm familiar with from the past few episodes of
Darker Days, they've taken what could have been a dull and much-gone-over-before concept like demons and made them into a supernatural espionage game of spy-versus-spy-versus-nigh-omnipotent-entity. Nobody else in the industry has had such inventive interpretations and it's a testament to the company's creativity that I look forward to each new release with such excitement nearly 20 years after picking up my first WoD book.
DM: How does Darker Days link up to the growing online community supporting horror role-playing?
CH: We are also more than happy to discuss other horror games, and people can drop off reviews for different games, highlight interesting Kickstarter campaigns, and show off other interesting horror-related media (I paint lots of toy soldiers, mainly for Privateer Press' Warmachine/Hordes war games and associated Iron Kingdoms RPG, plus minis for the defunct Rackham game Hybrid - these games having a lot of horror content).
BP: Like Chris said, we're happy to discuss other games in the horror genre or even other non-horror games (and maybe how to add a touch of horror to them), but I think we'll always want to keep our focus on the WoD game lines. That being said, personally I've begun playing a miniature skirmish game called Malifaux that incorporates a bit of horror along with steampunk, fantasy and wuxia elements into it's setting and minis.
DM: What are your plans for Season 6 and beyond?
MA: Darker Days is pushing for more diversity in the upcoming season. That means interviewing more of the writers and developers (given that there is another nWoD game announced at Gencon this year, plus loads of other products), while not treading much of the same ground with the same men. If we can get the right team together (because there is never enough time for just us to do these things!) it would be great to get out another issue of our fanzine, Forgotten Lore. It's a great opportunity for gamers to show off their ideas, writing, and also to have a go at layout and editing.
CM: Darker Days has added a new Darkling series called 'Gossip Ghouls', which is a show with content and opinions that covers horror media in general. 'Gossip Ghouls' is also different because the hosts are not the normal group of guys. That show is fronted by Samantha Handley (budding writer, role-player and my wife) and Michelle Flamm (larper, cosplayer and computer game designer).
And personally, because I have a vested interest, I would hope to do some more Darklings about Fading Suns (a space opera RPG with a good dash of horror that I am a freelance writer for) given it is essentially a kissing cousin of WoD. I have worked on material for upcoming Fading Suns books that focus on the Merchant Guild, and on the darker elements of the setting (psychics, demons, cults, etc).
BP: More Darklings, new segments in the main show, more guests from Onyx Path and other places, more everything, really!