Thursday, May 30, 2013

Life in Wreck-Age

The last couple of months I haven't touched much of my 40K stuff. Instead I've been totally immersed in helping out Hyacinth Games with getting a number of projects done, including trying to hash out and finalize the contents of their upcoming soft cover rule book, which the cover is going to look something like this - which is pretty bad ass:
The WIP Wreck-Age rule book. The characters featured on the cover are from the Reclaimers Faction.
Other than reading through lots of text written by Matt and Anton, and sitting with them while they assist our excellent editor, Naomi, I've been busying myself writing some text of my own for a future combined RPG and table top skirmish scenario adventure book. Here's a little excerpt of fluff from that:

The Dead Plains River Region
The Dead Plains River runs from Old Kenosha, along the edge of Switch City, down through the Joliet Penitentiary Territory, and finally merging with the Illinois and Kankakee Rivers at a Staker settlement called Pit Run. The vast majority of the Dead Plains River Region is considered to be Drifter territory, however, Staker settlements dot the waterways – some of them long established and well-defended. Other settlements come and go with the seasons as Stakers attempt to build communities, and the Drifters burn them to the ground.

The Towpath

Though motorized tugs do occasionally traverse the Dead Plains River, most of the boat traffic is in the form of small craft and pulled barges. Pulled barges rely on the efforts of pack animals to move them along. The animals, mostly boars but occasionally mules, are tethered to the barges and are led by handlers. To facilitate this process the towpath runs parallel to the river. It is well worn and used as a road by travelers like caravaneers, who ply their trade by constantly selling their goods from settlement to settlement.

River Settlements

Many settlements have come and gone over the years, but some are stable and active. Outposts like Prison’s Shadow and Pit Run have struggled to maintain order in a lawless land through violent policing. Other settlements like Rookery and Counter’s Town are merchant holds, where wealth governs all. Farming communities like Fullerton are idealistic holdings just waiting to be held for ransom or put to the torch by Drifter tribes in the region. Of course, the largest settlement is Switch City, staked upon the remains of old Chicago. It is the 2nd largest trade hub in North America and is a place where anything can be bought, and where anything can happen.

The Skit Canals

Running parallel to much of the Dead Plains are the Skit Canals, man-made overflow channels that were used to funnel off the worst of the waste products coming out of old Chicago. All of the waterways in the region are highly polluted but the Skit Canals are toxic. Only the most resilient and the most desperate life attempts to dwell there. Stakers and Drifters avoid these caustic lands but they are not uninhabited. The forgotten and discarded malformed children of the post-Exodus Midwest are left for dead along the canals. If they are lucky they will be snatched up by the other discarded that came before them. They band together in makeshift tribes. The Discarded are the lowest of the low, born with crippling maladies that should preclude any chance of survival, but somehow they persist.

Joliet Penitentiary Territory

In the years before the Exodus the incarceration rate in the United States was matched by no other country on the planet. To facilitate the massive amount of prisoners, the private prison industry escalated development exponentially. Many regions around the country shunned the enormous prisons and feared those contained within the cells, so they fought to keep them out of their cities and towns. There were pockets of prison friendly communities around the country. They were few and far between but if a community’s economy was built on their correctional facilities, it was normal for the populace to embrace all attempts at expansion and growth. Joliet was one such community. As the centuries passed the surrounding correctional facilities dwarfed the city, turning the immediate vicinity into a gargantuan prison city. Owned by an array of private prison corporations they were built next to one another so they could share resources. As the prison community grew it began to maintain its own factories and farms, and put all of that cheap labor to work in the most cost effective way possible. The corporations asserted it wasn’t slavery and the rest of the world turned a blind eye to these well utilized manufacturing centers.

Post-Exodus most of the correctional facilities have been emptied and crumbled into ruin. Much of the Midwest Drifter population comes from penitentiary cities like Joliet, and some of the most vicious Drifter tribes reign over the ruins of concrete and steel. Rumors abound of mythical functioning facilities with intact farms and crops. During the centuries before the Exodus it was common to cover buildings in roof top gardens. In the days before the Exodus no one made better use of these roof top gardens than the private prison industry. They utilized their captive labor force to produce their own food on farmland they could not escape from, several stories above the ground below.

If these farms exist they are hidden away in the most dangerous region of what was Northern Illinois. Anyone who ventures away from the Dead Plains River, off the Towpath, and into the heart of Joliet Penitentiary Territory is rarely seen again. Those who have made it back describe the most unimaginable horrors. Tales abound of companions vanishing from their group only to be found skinned alive, sputtering out their last gasps of life. Others speak of massive roving packs of dogs ripping armed explorers to shreds. Other yarns are spun of cannibalistic Drifter war bands engaging in the most heinous of blood rituals or of cobbled together vaguely human monstrosities pulling limbs clear off of their victims. Joliet Penitentiary Territory is a land of wondrous myths and dangers. The generally accepted truth is that you are more likely to find your own violent death within the Joliet Penitentiary Territory than you are to find fortune, so most travelers explicitly avoid it.

Feel free to comment and let me know what you think. You can also follow the latest updates at the Wreck-Age Forums.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Creating a Narrative Campaign Part 1: Dissecting Deception's Edge

Chad McMann was a founding member and regular participant in Nerd Night, the Chicago gaming club that separately spawned both 2ndCityWarzone and Hyacinth Games and his early 40K background pieces can be found in the earliest 2ndCityWarzone posts.
One of the key elements that differentiates Wreck-Age from other game systems is that it is intended to universally act as both an RPG and a skirmish level miniature wargame. We've been discussing ways to heighten this appeal and that led to the idea of supplements that contained all of the necessary elements to do either. Every module, packet, or whatever they eventually will be termed would come with all of the narrative, background, NPCs, adventure locations, etc that you would expect from a RPG supplement, and at the same time have all of the key encounters broken down into a scenario format more familiar to table top wargame players. The ultimate goal being that you could take or leave whatever you wanted so that you could play it out entirely table top style, or you could play it out entirely as a pen and paper RPG, or if you love both elements you could do a hybrid of the two. This will hopefully create crossover appeal for a variety of gamers and allow people to tailor their gaming experience to their own predilections.

If you've been to the Wreck-Age website you may have noticed there are 6 short stories for download for a mere $.49 each (or you can download them for free if you like). While we were gearing up for Adepticon it was discussed that it would be cool to put one or all of these short stories in an anthology for sale at the event. It never came together, but while discussing how to make such an anthology more enticing to gamers, it was suggested that we possibly include narrative scenarios and RPG material so that someone who read the story could then play out the events if they so chose.

Today I downloaded Deception's Edge by Chad McMann, a great little story that gives you some insight into how the faction known as Stitcher's function and maintain themselves. I've been well familiar with the Stitchmen for some time now and even I felt like I learned something from the story. It was a quick read, and I highly recommend taking the time to do so yourself.

As I read the story I took notes. Who would the major NPCs be? What are the key locations? How large were the forces involved and what were they equipped with? How many encounters took place that could be represented by scenarios and what would the goal of each scenario be?

Its actually a really exciting exercise. I don't want to give away the story right away, but I will say that the as you read along the narrative can be broken into four action sequences that would become scenarios. It is obvious that Newmark, Dr. Mordan, and Arthur would be the NPCs (possibly Larsen as well just because he's named), And the Stitchers appear to number about 10-14 including Golems. The Stakers would number about 20-30. I think for purposes of play-ability we'd keep the Stitchers to a maximum of 12 on the field and Stakers around 20-25.

With my framework in hand I'm now going to set about drafting up formatted scenarios and pulling text from the story to describe the principal NPCs.

Have you read Deception's Edge? What did you think?


PS. If you're curious about how the game plays, why not download the Quick Start Rules for free?

Looking at the 40K Warzone Tournament Surveys Part 2

I've been sitting on the 40K Warzone Tournament surveys for a couple of weeks now and I've done a lot of introspection. Most of my decisions are kind of "no brainer's" based on my instinctive reactions to the surveys, but I'm the type who likes to think things through and make sure my gut instinct and my logical analysis are one and the same.

I'm going to just hit a bunch of bullet points based on the question order and the results/comments made in order to keep things simple:

- I have every intention of running the event again next year, so feel free to start planning your force now.

- As of right now the prime candidate to get dropped is the Desert boards. I love the look and feel of Desert so it pains me, We'll see though.
I need to finish all 4 trench boards and get them ready for next year.
- Wraiths will still be able to pass through walls. Its too cool. I mean, they're Wraiths?!

- The Hidden Deployment Stratagem will be modified or removed.

- Flyers are a part of the game, so they're staying. Bombing runs over cities seems like such an obvious visual. Like usual, they'll be most useful as a Sideboard option and I see no need to remove the Flak Mods Stratagem.

- Preliminary Bombardment is really hit or miss (pun not intended). I know I've played with it since it was introduced in (I think?) 3rd Edition and it always seems like its going to be awesome, and then nothing gets killed. Sure, you can get lucky, but its sort of rare.

- Zone Mortalis Rooms/Objectives that were too Ambiguous is really an easy fix. I'll continue to work on my own Zone Mortalis tables rather than using those 3 old Kill Team tables that Brian Niro made so that they work a bit better with the rules.

- Intact Buildings are here to stay. If you know that you need Flamers and Grenades to flush models out you shouldn't have that hard of a time doing so. People should familiarize themselves with the rules for Buildings so they know how to best deal with them. I may even incorporate them more since they are so under used currently.

- I'll see what I can do to add some rooms with doors for Zone Mortalis. When I played in Sin of Alacrity I enjoyed the tension of having a nasty unit right on the other side of a door and just one well placed shot away from threatening my forces. Very cool.
One of Brian Niro's fantastic tables from the Sin of Alacrity event at Adepticon 2013. This table didn't have any doors, but it was still awesome to play on. Image taken from Brian's blog, A Gentleman's Ones.
- If you thought it was impossible to make a list for both Cities of Death and Desert you might not be relying enough on Infantry.

- Booby Traps, Tunnels, Hiidden Deployment, and Familiar Ground will all get reviewed. If you have any opinions feel free to post them up.

- A Warzone involving water was a the clear #1 choice to replace Desert. Swamps would be cool, as would canals, but I could always do something weird like Drifting Islands. Haha. There's a lot of room for creativity here. I would want to replace Desert with something else fairly open so we'll see.

- People wanted more Dangerous, Mysterious, and Unpredictable elements and I will comply. I still won't go too heavy handed with this but I have a lot of modeling ideas that I think would be cool.

- A Painting rubric will be implemented, as well as a Stratagem one. I think this was a missed opportunity for cool modeling for a lot of people. So many people took Preliminary Bombardment and did nothing with it. What about a Comms guy in one of your squads with communications gear? What about a Explosion, Crater, or even Incoming Missile markers? What about bulls-eye bases?

- Ensure soft scores are weighted more heavily so there is a better chance of a spread between Best General and Best Overall, and to reward those who approach the hobby from different angles.

- Bump the rounds up to 2 hours and make sure there is time for a lunch.

- Expect new scenarios and an easier to read packet!

- Next year I need to take photos during the event so I have documentation of the visual spectacle.

- Get Kevin Brown to help out again, that guy was a god send and I can't thank him enough. Unless he plays in the event of course, then he gets a pass! ;)

I think that covers it. Thanks again to everyone who played in the event. I wouldn't mind running the exact same 40K Warzone Tournament event or pieces of it a few more times this year to keep me working on tables and get in some additional play testing, so hit me up if you'd like to find a way to bring me and my boards to you. ;) If anyone has any additional comments or suggestions don't hesitate to post or drop a line:


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Wreck-Age Pack Dog

I haven't had the time to finish Part 2 of the 40K Warzone Tournament article, but I have used the 15 minutes I've had here or there to finish this Wreck-Age Pack Dog. This is my third. I have to say I really enjoy how quickly they paint up. This one is 3 sandy shades of brown/tan and then hit with several washes. Finally, some of the details like the eyes, nose, ears, and socks were all picked out - quick and easy.

Thanks for reading. More later!