World of Darkness RPGs are primarily focused on the collective storytelling aspect of role-playing. The players and the storyteller work together to create a deep, pervasive atmosphere of horror while exploring the twists and turns of the plot. But what if you want to splatter some zombies with an AK-47, or explore brutal hand-to-hand combat with a werewolf? Or instead of the slow building of dread, the storyteller wants to introduce the sudden shock of horrific, gory violence? Then you’ll probably want Armory Reloaded.
Armory Reloaded is much more than a simple arms and equipment guide for the World of Darkness. It’s sort of like turning off the parental controls on your TV so you can watch all those insanely violent movies that come on late at night. Indeed, this book makes no bones about its intended purpose. It promotes violence (within your World of Darkness campaign, of course). To be perfectly clear, it does not glorify violence or combat. A lot of RPG combat scenarios end up looking something like this:
Player: “I rolled a 20!”
DM: “You chopped the orc’s head clean off!”
Armory Reloaded takes a more realistic, gritty path to violence:
We want to emphasize here and throughout: combat is some scary business. Blood spattering in the mud, people screaming, the smell of cordite burning nostrils. Bombs blowing people to bits. A vampire’s claws leaving a man with his guts hanging out and his wife standing ten feet away, crying so hard she breaks a rib.
I firmly believe that any World of Darkness book worth its salt should leave the reader saying, “Dude, that’s so messed up,” at least once. Well, this one nails it in the introduction. Crying so hard she breaks a rib. Dude, that’s so messed up.
What does Armory Reloaded come with, aside from violence and anguish? There’s a section of artifact weapons, which range from cursed guns, haunted helicopters and even the Spear of Destiny itself. There’s another chapter that explores various fighting styles and how they can best be used to cripple supernatural creatures. A chapter called “Future Weapons” offers a lot of interesting possibilities. There’s a lot of good backstory to go along with all the crunchy rules for using these high-tech killing tools, including a primer on a corrupt weapons manufacturer. Don’t go looking for shiny laser blasters or cloaking devices – these weapons are all based on real-world tech, much of which is actually in development today. You could also use this section to develop a post-apocalyptic setting, which will always have a place in my heart.
Finally, there’s a large chunk of pages devoted to fleshing out combat scenarios. Players get new combat moves to try, and everyone gets to suffer from new, specific forms of damage (there’s a whole section called “Bone Breakage,” with illustrations). If you’d like to add a more tactical dimension to your WoD campaign, this section is perfect. Also, the book is designed to be used across all the various World of Darkness lines, and it includes notes on adapting the rules to whatever flavor of darkness you prefer.
I think most storytellers could get a lot of use out of Armory Reloaded. Even if your campaign isn’t gore and violence-centric, the rules here give you the option when you want to change the pace (and dynamics are key to many good campaigns). Even if you never touch the serious combat rules, there’s plenty of fluff to season your adventures. The artifact weapons section alone has a solid half dozen creepy tales that could easily be made into full scenarios. I’d give this two thumbs up if they hadn’t been chopped off.