Sunday, November 24, 2013

III. Broken Contract - Enforcers (Updated 1/6/14)

 I'm still working away on Broken Contract, the alpha test rule set is essentially ready. Here's a tiny blurb about Enforcers - the corporate sponsored bounty hunters of the Incorporated Worlds.


Contract Enforcers are paid to bring fugitives back to complete their contracts. The problem with having a workforce of people capable of inflicting misery on their fellow man daily is that they are not by nature and training the post perceptive or sensitive people. This makes them ill-suited to tracking down the Breakers smart enough and determined enough to get past the Prods in the first place. Most corporations have some combination of hired and in-house Security Forces to deal with break attempts but they are not specifically trained to hunt, detain, and return prey. Some companies with have their own Enforcers under contract, but more often than not an outside firm will need to be outsourced by the security firm or the corporation. These private mercenary firms take on short term agreements, usually for the duration of tracking down a specific group of Breakers and bringing them back, preferably alive similar to the Bounty Hunters and Skip Tracers of earth when there was such concept as governments and law still being enacted.

The goal is to bring back Contract Breakers relatively unscathed so that they can still be made use of. For this reason Enforcers rely heavily on non-lethal weaponry to incapacitate their prey. Catching fugitives by facing them head on is not enough however, so hunting tactics are diverse. Their Lead is supported by Trackers, Muscle, and Gun Slingers employing everything from revolvers, arc pistols, snare-guns, and high tech drones. The tools of the trade vary depending on the depth of the Enforcer’s resources and what they are willing to risk to fulfill a contract.

(with Rob Ferrick)

Friday, November 22, 2013


I'm a complete Dark Angels fanboy and had to break the bank and pick up Apocalypse War Zone: Pandorax by Jervis Johnson yesterday.

Here are the specs:

The story details Abaddon the Despoiler raiding a death world full of Imperial mining colonies while a regiment of Catachan Jungle Fighters were stuck on system. Abaddon goes straight for the largest hive city on the planet. A man named Colonel Strike of the 183rd Catachan Jungle Fighters offers resistance but the hive falls and Colonel Strike orders Imperial retreat to the various mining colonies scattered through the jungles and mountains. He is surprised when his pursuers back off from giving chase. Dating back to the Horus Heresy the Pandorax system was used to channel Daemons straight from the Realm of Chaos through an underground gate called the Damnation Cache. Only the Ruinous Powers, some of the Heresy era leaders, and the Grey Knights know of its existence (because they sealed it off). However, over the past 10,000 years it had been forgotten.

Before Hive Atika falls a distress call is sent out and it is met with response from a massive Imperial Fleet and the entire Chapter of Dark Angels. Meanwhile, Abaddon is joined by the famed Huron Blackheart from the nearby Maelstrom.

The book has a very detailed account of the fleet actions that took place off world and if you still own a bunch of Battle Fleet Gothic ships like myself you can recreate the fleets, potentially in their entirety and fight it out. No BFG rules are given in any way, but all of the classes of ships are named in perfect detail for those that have the ships and books.

The centerfold battle of the book, the true feature of the book is absolutely inspirational. It is a battle that takes place during one of the fleet actions  and involves a huge battle taking place on the Revenge, and Imperial ship, while the battle rages outside across numerous asteroids and below deck in a separate chamber deck. It is gorgeous and has a bunch of cool rules.

There are then Pandorax specific rules a few pages later for fighting "on world" that include forests with massive lizards that can eat entire squads that get too close and the like. As a fan of terrain rules, I dig this, even though it takes the "Mysterious Forest" rules and takes them to Apocalypse scale in their effects.

Then there are 3 more Apoc scenarios. The one that stands out in my mind involves 6 tables representing massive mountain peaks spaced specifically so you can fire from one table to another. Also, during Breaks forces can redeploy to another table. It seems incredibly cool.

Then there's the usual War Zone Strategem/Effects Cards, Finest Hour rules for a 3 different commanders, and a bunch of formation sheets.

The Appendix is great for anyone who doesn't own a bunch of early 2000's 40K crap because a huge chunk of fluff from the old Codex:Catachan Jungle Fighters and Battle Fleet Gothic rulebook are printed on the last few pages.

I will say, the Dark Angels don't get as much face time as I was hoping but this is still an inspirational book and highly recommended for fans of Imperial Guard (Catachans, Cadians, Vostoyans represent), Dark Angels, Grey Knights, and of course, Chaos (Chaos Space Marines, Black Legion, Daemons, and Red Corsairs.)


New Scenery at Next Dimension Games

Back in October Next Dimension Games commissioned me to work on their store terrain. This is a smattering of what I've been working on.

One of the first pieces I worked on was a pair of Imperial Bastions. I don't have any pics of those today, but I did photograph the servo-shrine piece that comes with it.I put more time in than maybe I should have. All of the lenses are gemmed, details like skulls are picked out and highlighted, and I even did caution stripes on the base and some bird poop,
Here's the servo-skull that hovers up above it.
Here are some classic crates dating back to the 2nd Edition 40K box era. You can see liberal use of weathering powders on the pallets.
Tank traps done up very similar to the ones I use on my own tables. You can see a bit of the Manufactorum in the background.
This is the inside of said Manufactorum and uses the Manufactorum kit, a Moonscape crater, and an Urban Barricade and Wall, all from GW. You can see a WIP Shrine of the Aquilla in the background.

As a parting photo, here's the top of one of the two Sky Shield Platforms I've done up for them.
There's plenty more where that came from. I didn't picture any of the work started by other staffers that I've gone back and completed/updated. Stop in the store, check it out, play games on them!

Next Dimension Games 2934 N Clark, Chicago, IL.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Next Dimension Games

A month ago I was enlisted to help out with the gaming tables at Next Dimension Games in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. They've only been there a few months so you may not of heard. I wanted to take a moment to talk about Next Dimension since they're a new store and have an excellent selection of stuff.

They made the conscious decision to focus on miniature war gaming and board games and those are their two strongest sections. The store itself currently sports 18'x4' of war gaming space, and two 4 seat painting/board gaming tables. The dedicated painting table has 4 hobby lamps (one on each corner) complete with built in magnifying glasses. Most evenings that I've been in the shop people seem to like the communal painting environment they're trying to foster.
Speaking of community. One of the regular daily discussions in the store involves ways to try and develop the community in the store for a variety of games outside of the obvious big guns: Warhammer and Warhammer 40K. The owners have brought in Infinity, Bolt Action, X-Wing, WarmaHordes, Malifaux, Wreck-Age, Anima, and others and they genuinely want to draw in and build up those communities. There are thousands of dollars in product spread across these games and plenty of space to play them if you invest in the models. If you already play one of these systems they could really use people like you to come in and act as advocate for your favorite system by running demos or a small narrative event that people can jump in on.
 If you're more of the board and card game type, they have an extensive selection covering your strategy games like Settlers of Catan, Dominion, and Small World, to card games like Gloom and Fluxx, to dungeon crawler type games like Level 7, Sedition Wars, Castle Ravenloft, and Descent. They just got in the Season 2 Zombicide games which I'm pretty excited about myself.  
One thing that is very important if you're going to come in to paint or play is that you support the store. And this can be said for any store you play at, whether its Games Plus, Draxtar, Dice Dojo, Cat and Mouse, or the Chicago Battle Bunker. If you want stores to provide services like game nights, cool events, and the like, you absolutely have to spend money in the store or else your favorite hang out is going to vanish. There is nothing more frustrating for a game shop owner than counting a near empty till at the end of the night while you pack up the models or game you were playing with, listening while you bragged to all your friends that you scored your stuff off Ebay for next to nothing. I get it, we're all struggling and hobbies cost money that we can't always afford, but the humble gaming store is the hub of your gaming community. They can't stay afloat without you, and they're there to help facilitate you finding gaming space, gaming friends, and gaming advice. We all should treat that with the utmost respect. I know I try to.

If you haven't checked out Next Dimension yet, or if its been a few months since you did, you should pop in and check it out. The space is constantly evolving because they want you to come in, have fun, and of course spend some money while you're at it. I think they're a great addition to the Chicago gaming community.


Monday, November 11, 2013

II. Broken Contract - Breakers

A few days ago I introduced the back story to a game I'm working on called Broken Contract. Today we're going to talk about one of the forces at play: Breakers. Though still a rough draft I want to point out that all of work I'm posting has gone past the eyes of Robert Ferrick who is doing quick copy editing and has been making great suggestions on organizing thoughts and throwing out ideas. Read on. -Nick


Breakers are fugitives that have chosen to ignore the contracts that they consigned themselves to in a desperate attempt to live a free life. They see themselves as escaped slaves or justify their actions in light of cruel treatment and misleading promises, but the corporations paint a much different picture. To them the Contracted are good citizens and the breakers, criminals.

                Corporations have become a law unto themselves. Lawbreakers therefore are disloyal, the lowest of the low because they broke contract. There are many ways to break contract, running away is just the most obvious. Most contracts include provisions and clauses enough to shift planetary gravity if they were still on paper. To the corporations a contract is the basis of all civilization. If they neglect to mention that most contract laborers shipped in from nearby worlds are given the most dangerous jobs, charged for their space travel and housing, and have next to nothing left after paying what they owe, it is a Tracted’s fault for not reading more closely. 

The Contracted do have their rebels and rabble-rousers but the promise of a better life for towing the line is enough to keep many placated within their own ranks. The Corporations are also adept at twisting ideas with propaganda. Progenitor Workers, those born and raised on-world, often get preferential treatment and relatively higher wages. Progens are constantly told that they could lose their elevated positions to the influx of lower paid workers coming from abroad. This rivalry helps keep divisions between Drops, or off-world Tracted, and Progens. The Corporations don’t want the various peons banding together against their masters. Instead the work crews fight amongst themselves over imaginary differences. 

                Breaking your contract by yourself is rarely successful. Enforcers catch them quickly and drag them back to their positions a little beat up and with a harsher new contract in place. Contract Breakers band together, pool their skills, and improve the chances of success before breaking if they have any hope of success. Having a plan and the respect of the other breakers is a good place to start. Muscle, medical skills, diplomacy, agility, and sometimes plain old shifty street smarts are all huge assets. These ragtag groups are equipped with stolen equipment from their work postings and any items of worth they pick up along the way. What they lack in equipment and resources they can make up for with ingenuity and sheer desperation. Most importantly, they have their best chance at freedom when they rely on each other.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Broken Contract

I recently began work on my own Wild West Sci-Fi board game. This is the basis for the setting that I'm working with. This is only a rough draft but its meant to give my friends that are looking at it a reference point to see what my initial concept is.
“…Around 2218AD Mankind spread to the stars. They called it “A New Age of Exploration”. The Global Conglomerate of Earth had begun the scientific exploration of space in earnest. Resources on Earth were facing complete depletion and massive polluted zones had forced overcrowding. Food shortages, deplorable living conditions, and the violent suppression of worker’s rights had been sparking riots for decades. Earth was in its twilight and the corporate heads could no longer maintain their wealth and supremacy. Humanity needed room to expand and new resources to consume, and the corporations needed new markets to exploit. The first concerted colonization of space was set to begin.

Skip ahead to 2277AD. That’s when we saw “The Great Colonization”. The colonization of space over the next fifty years created genuine excitement planet-wide. It was common for fit and hopeful youths to volunteer for the colony ships and be trained as miners, farmers, builders, and security troopers as needed. Many saw these dangerous, but better paid, opportunities as a way to save their people back home from crushing poverty. Hired under contract, they traveled to far off worlds and built the earliest colony domes to sustain resource harvesting until initial terra-forming had begun.
 2277AD is also around when we saw “The Rise of the Star Cults”. People had lost faith in the old religions and felt the answers missing in their lives could be found out amongst the stars. These new religions were not readily accepted, prejudice was commonplace, and religious persecution was on the rise. Adherents of the star cults signed up for the colony ships in droves. A new galactic work force was on the move and the newly dubbed Interplanetary Conglomerate flourished with the new markets and influx of cheap labor. Those pilgrims in good standing who could accumulate enough wealth from their flock could even purchase steading rights outside the domes as long as they could pay a quarterly tithe. Life outside the domes was hard and unforgiving. Many died. But it afforded a level of freedom to those who sought it.

The New Corporate Supremacy” as it was dubbed was around 2303AD. This is when the Interplanetary Conglomerate made a trade agreement that brought most of the colonies under one banner, the Incorporated Worlds. That’s when they made our lives of Contracted Service mandatory unless we could buy our way out of our contracts. That’s when folks really fostered dreams of life on the run. You know it’s bad when people feel like anywhere is better than where they are right now, and they’d rather be hunted down than stay. You’d think there’d be plenty of places to hide on these newly colonized worlds, but most of them are only partially terra-formed. Without a breather and a source of food, you might last a week or two on your own if you’re lucky. But I digress…

The initial waves of expansion had bolstered the power of the corporations and their wealth had reached new levels of luxurious extravagance. Wherever Steader society thrived due to abundant resources, the corporations stepped in quickly and took control. Many of the Incorporated Worlds had developed verdant agridomes, massive mining colonies and other resource harvesting facilities. Building industry was the next logical step. Most of the commodities produced were made available to the settlers who produced them for outrageously inflated prices. The corporations did this, they said, because they had to offset the costs of shipping products off world to their other holdings. From time to time they’d switch it up and blame it on increased labor costs, but we all knew that was a farce. Every credit of our wages pays for the food, barracks assignments, healthcare, and transportation costs, all rudimentarily provided by the corporations we work for. We are all indentured servants held in place by a system where working our way to freedom is a deliberately impossible goal.

As far as I can see, throughout the Incorporated Worlds nothing comes easy for the Contracted Workers or the Pilgrim Steaders, but Security Forces, Contract Enforcers, and of course the Executives and Magistrates live quite well. It’s very rare to see someone rise up out of the bottom rungs of Contracted Service to higher positions. Class, upbringing, and wealth are the limiters that determine our position and we are all more likely to descend over time than to climb.

For everyone outside of the roles of corporate governance across the Incorporated Worlds you can live a meager existence from day to day in the frontier towns with some hope of getting ahead if you are wealthy enough to have bought land or live amongst the flock of someone who has, or you can work as an indentured servant under contract in the domes and live relatively assured of having your basic needs met. Moderate freedom or assured subsistence - that is the choice each person makes.

There is a third choice, one fraught with peril as it is a life on the run. Those who throw off the shackles of servitude, break their contracts, and make a break for freedom are known as Breakers. Contract Breakers are dangerous to Corporate power and are dealt with harshly. The Executives are not keen to waste a strong back, so they will typically double the length of a contract and can assess penalties to a Breaker or their extended family. Reclaimed Contract Breakers are required to pay off the expenses incurred in their hunt. In the end, first time Contract Breakers who are apprehended are forced into the longest, most dangerous, poorest paid contracts imaginable. They become little more than slaves for the duration of their new contracts. Flee a second time and get caught, and a Contract Breaker can be reasonably assured of a violent death at the hands of Enforcers. Those are just some of the risks of the 3rd choice. Exposure, Steaders, and other Breakers can all be threats to your existence. Life of the run is often dangerous and tragically short. Some manage to sustain their flight for years, but most don’t. Instead they go back to living the life of a slave or lying in a pool of their own blood.”
-Goran Anderson. Contracted Miner and Ex-Breaker under lifetime contract to FeSky. 

In “Broken Contract” you have to make the choice between playing a posse of Contract Enforcers, employed by the Incorporated Worlds of the Interplanetary Conglomerate to capture fugitive Contracted Workers, or you can play an escaped band of Contract Breakers trying to flee to the freedom of the Steader frontier towns. Broken Contract is a game of fast paced action using dice, rulers, and 28mm miniatures to recreate cinematic high adventure tales with your friends in a world where corporate greed has become law and breaking your work contract puts a price on your head.