Friday, 23 October 2015

Space elves for FiveCore

I add the FiveCore material to the army books, mostly as an extra benefit for Clash and Laserstorm players that enjoy FiveCore as well.

I don't think FiveCore is a game that really benefits from "army books" as such, but I do want to have some neat material in there for everybody. If I ever do a scifi RPG, it'll get character notes in the army books as well.

I just finished up the Precursor FiveCore section with a random colony generator, and 5 character-types that can be dropped into any scenario.

If you want to just add a space elf, they get the following special rules:

When Dashing, if you roll a 1 for move distance, roll again and use the new roll.
If the new roll is also a 1, decide to either not dash or to move the extra 1".

If a Brawl ends in a draw, the precursor immediately Bails, as if a 6 had been rolled on a Shock die.

This overrides all over "on a draw" type of abilities.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Gaming, politics, personalities. Stuff

Today's post will be a bit rambling, so bear with me.

It's always risky to put yourself out there.

Whenever you publish something, you're opening yourself up a little bit and that can be pretty scary stuff. We've all had that feeling when you have to do a presentation in the office, because you know how rough your peers can get, and now they'll be criticizing YOUR idea.

Scary, right?

A lot of game design tends to be very neutral. We aim for things that are emotionally distant and removed, because that way, we can limit the discussion to being one about mechanics and dice, one where every option is equally valid and personal tastes are all that distinguish.

But what happens when you make it personal?

Thinking about my favourite games of all time, they're all games that were steeped in personality. Where the desires of the writer were evident and where it was clear, the guy or girl was writing for themselves and we were just getting a peek into the process.
The Warhammer RPG, old Traveller, Laserburn, Rogue Trader, Burning Wheel. Nuts.
The list goes on.

When I write, I try to make things from my own point of view. Some of those sensibilities are about game design and mechanics I either like or hate.
Some of it is in a way to view the world.

When I did "No End in Sight", a lot of that game was reaction. Reaction to people telling me that certain things couldn't be done, reaction to what I saw as prevailing attitudes in the modern wargaming field.

I saw people setting up modern wargames and the scenarios were basically just a dice rolling exercise where the "modern" force was competing against itself to see how many insurgents they could kill.
And it never sat right with me.

Maybe it's because I grew up on books like All Quiet on the Western Front and with shows like MASH, but I wanted to capture something a bit different.
Most importantly, I wanted to write a game that I would want to play.

I've often joked that the "In Sight" system is more stressful for the players than for the troops getting the "Stress" markers. You are constantly fighting to get things done and often have to resort to desperate measures.
That squad sweeping through the buildings to secure the flank? They'll be scrambling in the dirt for a leftover RPG, so they can knock out the BMP chewing them up.
Your impenetrable defensive line? Now it's 3 survivors trying to guard the wounded and simply hold on for dear life.

If you haven't read up on the "third world war" campaign option in the book. It almost never ends well.
This is intentional.

Growing up as a kid in cold war Denmark, the impression we had was that if the balloon went up, we'd all be dead, and we were powerless to do anything about the two mad giants, aiming rockets at each other.
That feeling probably never left me.

No End in Sight, more than anything else I ever did, was a game that clearly delivers my own message.
And I was terrified when I released it.
Would people take offence to it? Would it become a tool of the people who want to fight culture wars? Was it a terrible mistake? Should I just keep my mouth shut?

In the end, it went well. Reception was great. I got emails from people who I knew to be staunch right-wingers with firm pro-military mindsets and they loved the game.
Not because it tried, in some tiny way, to be anti-militaristic but, I think, because they felt I had treated the topic sincerely and with respect.
Military people understand more than anything that soldiering is a distilled microcosm of what it means to be human.

Your soldiers in No End in Sight aren't cartoon soldiers. They're just little imaginary humans.
And being human is all we ever have.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Fringespace armies

What if I told you that unit design for Precursors (think eldar/asari), Warriors (think klingons/turian/polite space orks) and Converted (think the Strogg from Quake 2 or the Borg) were basically done for LaserStorm?

Just missing the super heavies and behemoths.

Precursors are specialized in fast, accurate long range fire, Converted are tough but disposable with solid mid-range firepower while the Warriors attack aggressively with rapid firing weapons and close combat.

Doing the big guys next and then it's on to their Clash on the Fringe counterparts.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

A shoutout to a friend

Wanted to give a shoutout to a friend, since I worked a tiny bit on their project

http://theminiaturespage.com/news/?id=927397180

A set of "XCOM" style rules for humans fighting little greys AND some really neat figures to go with it.

I supplied a bit of flavour text and helped create the scenarios.
It runs off the "Song of..." engine.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Unity and Laserstorm

As the Unity army list is coming together, a few snippets for you:

Each army book will have its own task force lists. The Unity one aren't terribly different from the core rules.
The options are Infantry, Armour and Scout (which are as you might expect) for the main forces.

Naval infantry has less infantry and no light vehicle slot but more field guns, in keeping with the fact that Unity naval infantry tend to rely on support weapons.

You get a "Local Defence" option, which allow you to take quite a bit of cavalry for that rustic, militia feeling.
Lastly, the super heavy unit is called "Liberators" and has the usual pile of Super Heavy and Behemoth slots.

Task Forces can pick from the core rule asset choices or one of a few new ones, reflecting Unity doctrines and fighting styles: "Local Volunteers", "Tactical Withdrawal" and "Repair team".

In campaigns, there are also two new campaign assets available: "Fall Back in Good Order" and "Combined arms" which gives Unity expeditionary forces some improved coordination.

Unit-wise, Unity forces are fairly conventional. You can use hard-hitting elite Banner troops to spearhead your attack but the rank-and-filers are well armed but fairly rudimentary troops.
The addition of Light Troops with poor weapons but a +1 to assaults, Stubborn and improved morale is a nice touch, representing a mixture of local planetary militia and fanatic "Reclaimer" volunteers.

Vehicles are all ground based: Either tracks or walkers, with a few wheel options in there.
Unity does maintain limited grav forces but those will be added at a later date. Incidentally, this allows quite a few modern and even repainted/converted ww2 figures to be pressed into duty.

Only one type of super-heavy tank, which will be a gun platform, similar to the Epic Baneblade.

For Behemoths, you get two: The slower, heavier, gun based Paladin and a faster Squire, which is specialized in hunting down enemy super heavies.

All in all, Unity forces will play as a fairly conventional army (which is the intention). They have some light, fast troop options but the main weight of the army is in fire power and a cautious advance towards the objectives.
This should put them in a nice middle ground, compared to the other aliens coming.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

A glance at the Unity army list for Clash on the Fringe

Alright, so this is also a breakdown of how the army lists will work.
I am trying to avoid having a lot of required/limited units, though there will be a few such instances.

The idea is to be able to put together your force more or less as you want.

All Unity troops have the ability to form fireteams. The way this works is you can break one of your squads into two equal parts, when you set up. They will act completely independently during the game (similar to the old space marine combat squad rule in 40K).

If you are outnumbered, you can break up two squads.

Your force can include any number of squads. Every squad entitles you to also include a character and a vehicle.

Allies
You can also bring allied forces, once those books are ready.
Unity forces can draw on Precursor, Soulless, Feral, Engineer and Manipulator troops.

When adding allies to a force, you can only use units designated as "Ally" troops. That'll generally be the basic grunt types of that force, to keep things in check a little bit.

Allied troops can't exceed the number of "native" units.

Characters
There are five character types provided.
You can take multiple of the same kind. One can be upgraded to Hero status.

Platoon officers are the standard leader type. Well armed and armoured (whether through power armour or plain gnarly officer syndrome), they can be leaders up to rank 3.
In games with at least 2 characters and 2 squads, one guy HAS to be a platoon officer.

Field agents are special agent types. They may be leaders and can have traits selected from the main rulebook, so they let you build a wide range of characters. Relatively lightly armed though.

Operatives are sneaky commando types. They can be kitted out as assault troops or snipers and have a suite of stealth related traits, including Shadow which gives them a free 1" move (without reaction fire) when activating in cover.
It's intended for things like popping out from behind a corner to take a shot, without taking any reaction shots.

The Specialist is a plain trooper but can be fielded as a comms specialist, medic, tank hunter, sharp shooter or low level psionic. Good for providing some additional support along the way.

Lastly, the Militia leader can be picked if you have any Militia in your force. He can move pretty quickly through terrain but is otherwise an option for a cheap, simple leader.

Squads
The basic Army squad is plain, simple and dependable. Bog average profile, 2 SAW per 8 man squad and they have access to some anti tank fire power.
This is very much intended as the backbone of your force.

Recon troops fight in 4 man teams and make up for limited firepower (and no heavy weapons) with additional stealth traits.

Naval Infantry are well disciplined troopers with a different weapon load out (replacing a SAW for a fusion gun).
They can be outfitted for close quarters combat with sub machine guns or the new Flak gun.

Banner assault squads are basically Unity space marines. Good stats, heavy armour, fast and with the powerful Storm rifle. These are frontal assault troops, plain and simple.

Hunters form 5 man squads, armed with close quarter weapons and backed by a flame thrower and a chain gun. These guys go in to chase down bugs in dirty holes, so they have slightly better morale and armour.

The Militia gives you an option for cheap junk troops. They're lightly equipped but they do get a small speed bonus and can move through terrain quickly.
They also deploy 3" forward of your deployment zone, so they can sometimes grab a terrain feature just outside your setup area.

Reclamation teams are basically pro-human zealots. Unity recruits volunteers when they launch an anti-slavery or other liberation attack. They have low training, weak armour and terrible discipline but very high morale (and the berserk trait means they don't test morale in close combat).

Lastly, drop troops are heavily equipped with anti-tank and anti-infantry weapons and get a 30% chance to deploy using the Dive rule from the core rules, even if the scenario doesn't permit it.

Vehicles
The Rattle Snake is a plain APC. Very high safety score, can port 9 figures and mounts a choice of HMG, chain gun or grenade launcher. Modest armour.

The Pit Viper IFV reduces capacity by one but has a bit more armour.
It features a turret autocannon and can mount an optional rocket launcher as well.

The main tank of Unity is the Claymore medium tank. Solid protection, if unimpressive speed, this is built for simplicity of maintenance. It mounts a medium cannon and a pair of machine guns and gets a 30% chance to ignore immobilization or other movement reductions, due to the rugged design.

The Longbow is a lightly armoured, tracked gun platform, mounting a beam cannon.
Essentially, think of this as a futuristic tank destroyer.

Lastly, the Lion assault walker is pretty much a warhammer Dreadnought. Thick armour and a pair of arm weapon mounts, each mounting a choice of weapons. It adds machine guns or mortars on the shoulder, allowing it to act as close range artillery support.


Hope that sheds a bit more light on things and should let you start prepping your miniatures.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Update on the Unity army book.

The Fivecore character types will be:
Unity agent
Military veteran
Unity enforcer
Army grunt
Tax collector.

For Clash, the army units available will be:

5 characters (Platoon officer, Field agent, Operative, Specialist, Militia leader)

8 squad types (Army squad, Recon squad, Naval infantry squad, Banner assault squad, Hunter team, Militia squad, Reclamation team, Drop infantry section)

5 vehicles (Rattle Snake APC, Pit Viper IFV, Claymore medium tank, Longbow gun platform, Lion assault walker).

Banner troops are basically faux-space marines. Hard-hitting, well armoured elites.
Hunter teams are the types you send into a bug-infested colony.
Reclamation squads are over-zealous warbands employed on missions of liberation and colonial reclamation. Hopefully their courage will make up for their lacklustre training.

I erred on the side of not having a ton of options for each infantry squad, to make them feel a bit more realistic. There'll be a few options to customize some of them though.

Unity also fields three new weapons: The Flak gun (a high powered shotgun which has aim assist against heavy armour targets), the Chain launcher (a single shot weapon firing a burst of 3 rockets) and the Storm rifle (highly efficient small arm for Banner troops).

All in all, Unity ground forces feel pretty conventional, with a few colourful units thrown in. The overall focus is that of modest but professional soldiers, sent to tackle the dangers of the galaxy.
Vehicles lean towards "simple and functional" as well.

Tomorrow, I'll sort out the points values and then get started on the laser storm counterparts, as well as the alien counterparts to our unity boys and girls.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Next in the pipe: Army lists!

Before the next big gaming project, I want to address one of the biggest demands: Army lists.

A lot of people want ready-to-play units and a lot of them.

So I am taking some time to do that, and also try out something new.

Currently, I am working on the first army book for the Fringe-Space setting.

This will cover Unity (human empire) forces and will have the following:

*Fluff and background setting for the people who want that. (about 12 pages worth)

*5 quick characters for FiveCore gamers, that can be fitted into pretty much any scenario.

*Some tables to generate random Unity colonies for skirmish scenarios and RPG inclined players.

*Clash on the Fringe players get a few new unit traits and weapons, specific to Unity forces as well as the Totally Official For Real army list for Unity armed forces (in total 5 characters, 8 squad types and 5 vehicles).

*Laserstorm players will also get an army list for their game, covering large-scale Unity warfare. Not sure about the unit count yet, but my guideline is something like 5 types of infantry, 10 or so vehicle types, 3 super heavies and 1 or 2 behemoth units.

You'll also get a few new Task Force Commander assets and campaign assets, befitting Unity forces.

* * * * *

So that's pretty bananas right? Rules for 3 game systems AND some fluff to go along with it.
I am not including No Stars here, mainly because the game is getting revised in the near future.
Besides, with PDF, I can always go back and add in more content later.

The various alien races will get theirs too, in turn.

There's a persistent demand for ready-to-play stuff and particularly people coming from games like Epic and 40K, there's a desire for some army lists to play by.
Since the games all include unit builders to begin with, I feel the scenario focused players will be fine (and popular new options may make it back into the core rules as well, over time).

But just in case, if you all have to look back after Clash on the Fringe 9th edition is released and requires the exclusive use of my proprietary 42mm miniatures, you can all pull up this old blog post and say that it started here and you totally called it!

Peace and Love
Ivan