Thursday, August 18, 2016

Game Designers Notebook: Six Sided Dice and Design Philosophy

My first round of custom dice for Broken Contract. The -# dice
are for Critical Fumbles and the 7/8 dice are for Critical Hits.

I watch a lot of "how to play" videos on YouTube. I think it's important to know what's going on out there even if I don't have the opportunity to try every game available for myself, so this is a great way to stay up on the industry. One of my favorite sources for these videos is the "Let's Play!" series on Guerrilla Miniature Games YouTube channel. By demand, Ash did a video of a game of his own design that he's been developing called, Last Days: Zombie Apocalypse. It's a great looking game and the video is very entertaining. It just seems like it will be very fun to play. But a question came up in the comments: "Why D6?"

Ash didn't answer that I saw, but I'm sure there will be those out there who will wonder the same thing about Broken Contract. I figured I would take the time to discuss the D6 design decision and also go into some detail about the custom dice I'm working on because these choices tie into each other.

The biggest reason to choose the D6 as the basis for Broken Contract was familiarity. The six sided die is comfortable to most people. Almost everyone has played a game or rolled a D6 at some point in their life. Unfamiliar elements make new experiences seem more complex and/or alien. That feeling creates a barrier to entry.

My feelings on this were recently reinforced. I started playing D&D with some friends here in Milwaukee and not all of them are experienced with either D&D or the polyhedral dice used to play the game. As DM, I'd say "Roll a D8" or "Roll a D12" and they'd look at me confused and say, "is that this one?", often holding up the wrong die. Long time gamers don't have that issue, but if you want to court new people, it is a serious consideration.

Some of you will balk and say, "But D10 and D20 systems give way more options, and allow for more modifiers for more gradual bonuses and advancement." I agree, this is all true. but more modifiers mean more math, and that can be a barrier to entry too. The one area where I will clearly agree is that simple D6 systems with target numbers that only fall in the 1-6 range do severely limit character advancement. We worked around that by having a robust collection of characteristics that could be advanced so that a character can continue to improve in skill over time. They just will progress in a more well rounded way instead of just being a Shooting or Close Combat expert like most people try to devote their increases to. At the end of the day, the D6 keeps things simple, but it has limitations. That's where simple charts can come into play.

The original ruleset for Broken Contract had a general 1's and 6's rule, where 1's on a D6 were always a Critical Fumble, and 6's were always a Critical Hit. This rule existed to give a heightened sense of action where things went really well, or could go really badly. The problem was that Fumbles were so frequent, games sometimes felt more like slapstick comedy than action movie glory. This needed to be fixed. My solution was to make it more nuanced. Fumbling meant rolling a 2nd D6 to determine the result. Originally, all of the D6 results were bad, but in this new incarnation 1 was awful, 2 was crappy but not as bad as 1, and a 3 was just an inconvenience. Any result from 4-6 was just a miss. This meant that on natural 1, something bad only happened 50% of the time, and when something bad happened, it didn't always have to be something awful.

First sketch of a Critical Fumble and Hit Chart in my own
game shorthand.

Along the same thinking, a natural 6 was always awesome, and in some cases that didn't fit because the Character might need a target number of 6 just to succeed in the action - so why should it be Critical? This was rectified by adding a D3-1 roll to the result. For those of you not familiar with a D3 roll, a D3 is simply rolling a D6 and halving the result. So 1-2=1, 3-4=2, and 5-6=3. Subtracting 1 from this result gives you a range of 0-2 which is then added to 6, giving a final result of 6-8. This is the kind of math that can push people away from gaming as feeling too complex, so I decided to get some custom dice made. This 2nd roll meant that a natural 6 could still just be a 6, or it could be bumped up to a 7 or 8. And that means that a 7 could be designated a soft critical hit and an 8 could be an awesome critical hit.

In the final incarnation of these dice that go along with the Kickstarter, I may switch over from numbers to symbols. The Fumble dice might have 3 blank sides and then 1 exclamation point, 2 exclamation points and finally 3 exclamation points to indicate the severity of the fumble. The Critical Hit die would have 2 blank sides, 2 sides with small explosions, and 2 sides with large explosions, once again to indicate the magnitude of the critical hit. By switching to symbols it should reduce that confusion. In fact, a player could roll three dice for one attack all at once, the Critical Fumble die, Critical Hit Die, and D6 and ignore the results of the two Critical dice unless a 1 or 6 are rolled, just to speed up game play.

Which brings me to one final note that you may have picked up on... Critical Hits are more frequent than Critical Fumbles. There is a 50% chance of the 2nd roll being a fumble and a 66% chance of the 2nd roll being a Critical Hit. It's only a 16% improvement but you might ask, "Why?" The answer is that players prefer to be rewarded than punished and I want the game to capture "action movie glory" over "3 Stooges slapstick" and this was a nuanced way to do just that.

That's my take. Thanks for reading!
-Nick

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Troublemakers Card Game and Skirmish Supremacy Podcast

Troublemakers prototype.

It's been a busy summer and I've been jumping from project to project based on time, weather, and availability. I was working on a bunch of Broken Contract scenery projects and the custom boards for a few of the Kickstarter Backers but it just got too hot in the attic to work up there, so I moved on to the painted models for those same backers, and took up temporary painting residence in our living room.

We've also had a lot of visitors and a few short trips of our own to go on. My partner, Lisa, and I, went out to Cincinnati, Ohio to visit our friend Jami. Jami requested we bring Broken Contract and Troublemakers with us because she wanted to try both of them. Troublemakers was a project that had been sitting for a while untouched so it was a little thrilling to crack it out and play it with fresh eyes.

Our Harlow, illustrated by Blutt. 

The Genesis of Troublemakers

I lived in Chicago from 2006-2014. During my time there I would see stickers everywhere I went from a street artist who went by Blutt. When my band, Poison Planet, got stickers, it was common practice to sticker the poles outside the places we regularly visited. I picked up on the fact that almost everywhere we went, Blutt and Poison Planet stickers were side by side, so I became really curious who this mysterious street artist was. Lisa and I were both fans of his art and started following him on social media. Little did I know that 1) we had met and 2) he lived a few blocks away from us.

When I noticed that he was posting pics of commissioned art pieces I hit him up to do the above art of our dog, Harlow. His art features a lot of skateboarding, bad kid antics, and dogs, so I thought he'd be a great choice to capture Harlow for Lisa's birthday. Above is that very birthday present.

It was right after I gave Lisa that gift I thought to myself, "Blutt's art would look fantastic in a card game format." I promptly pulled out my notebook and started sketching out a card game featuring the subject matter of his cards. I remember pulling the notebook out on a summer day in the car and Lisa and I brainstorming card ideas back and forth as we drove on some now forgotten errand. Troublemakers was a game inspired by Blutt's art, not a card game that was cleverly structured in advance. In that way, Troublemakers is an homage to one of our favorite street artists.

An outline of a game and possible cards were detailed in my notebook and ready to be prototyped in some way. I was immerse in gearing up for the Broken Contract Faction Set Kickstarter, so those ideas sat in a spiral notebook for another year untouched. We moved to Milwaukee a few months before that Kickstarter and I hadn't fallen into a steady group of miniature gamers just yet. Instead, we did make a bunch of casual boardgaming friends, so once the KS was over my thoughts turned to Troublemakers as a project to explore further.

This is what my early prototypes look like.

The original prototype was 50-60 cards written out on black cardstock with a white fabric pencil. (Why? Because the black cardstock was what I had laying around in abundance, and the fabric pencil was more visible that the normal pencil I originally attempted.) It featured a list of words, symbols, and numbers, some representative of my experience as a young adult, and most of it based upon bits of Blutt's art. The cards were mostly items that had subcultural currency, like skateboards, rebel jackets, and fixed gear bikes. This incarnation was played quite a bit to kick off board game nights before we dove into something heavier, which was part of the design philosophy: Create a simple, fun, quick game that will bring some laughs through cool, clever art and sometime ridiculous circumstances, with Blutt's art being the driving force to facilitate it all.

During this stage we talked to Blutt and he was amped on the idea but gaming is a world he's never explored. The coolness and excitement was tempered by a lack of familiarity and confidence with the execution. You can tell someone, "just draw what you normally draw" but with a massive list of card names and icons staring you down, it can be overwhelming. With me now full-on immersed in working to deliver those Broken Contract Faction Sets to the backers, I just had to put Troublemakers aside. So it went back into the closet for another year.


After Jami encouraged us to bring Troublemakers to Cincinnati, we settled into a weekend of gaming and played a half dozen hands or so. We also showed Jami samples of Blutt's art. Through it all, we just got hyped talking about the ideas behind the game. When we got home I shot Blutt a message and he said he was still excited about the idea, but just felt stuck on the execution. This is when I took matters into my own hands. I wanted him to see that what he does every day is exactly what we wanted. I raided his published images and constructed cards based around them just to get a visual prototype he could use as a guide. The above cards are not final cards, but all of the art is his. Everything from photos of gallery pieces he's done to sketch book doodles were remixed to create a 72 card deck over the span of 3 days, drawing from 100's of images he's created over the last 2-3 years. A professional prototype was then made through TheGameCrafter so that I could send one for him to hold and use as a basic guide.

He has since received the cards and he's looking forward to exploring the game further in the autumn when his schedule frees up. I think this will be a really fun project. I know I had a great time putting together this prototype and I have even more ideas for the future.

Before parting I want to direct you all to an interview I got to do with Skirmish Supremacy Podcast. They took an evening out to talk to me about Broken Contract and gaming as a whole and I had a stellar time rambling on about a bunch of gaming related subjects. If you are into that sort of thing you should give it a listen. Thanks for reading!

-Nick

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Act: From Nothing

This group of FerrumSky miners has been plotting their escape for months, watching and waiting for their moment. Tonight is that night. Gambling, distracted security officers and a malfunctioning drone have created a golden opportunity to slip out of their barracks chamber. The only hitch is, the crew has already returned their tools for the night and are completely unarmed. Without tools or weapons this break attempt can only be made through their abilities and determination.

Breaker Goal: Get off the board with as much equipment as possible, with as many Characters as possible. Try not to let your enemies become Critical or Dead.

Black Squadron Goal: Sound the Alarm and Restrain as many Breakers as possible. Try not to let your enemies become Critical or Dead.

Points: Breakers and Black Squadron 50. The Breakers may spend no points on Equipment other than required Equipment like the Gen-Mod Apparatus. They are starting the episode with nothing.

Set-Up
Place the tiles in a 3x3 grid of all 4 way tunnels. The Breakers start in their Deployment Tile in the upper left of the grid. The Black Squadron Characters start in their Deployment Tile in the upper right of the grid. A storage container full of tools should be placed on any wall of the center tile (Breaker player’s choice. If there are multiple Breaker players they should each draw a card from the Initiative Deck and whoever gets the lowest card gets to place the storage container.) The Black Squadron player may place D3 Barricades across any passage outside the Breaker Deployment Tile, at the line where two tiles meet. The Black Squadron player must split their Crew into two groups. Roll a D6 with Group A (1-3) and Group B (4-6) being placed on their Deployment Tile. The Group not placed at the start of the game may come on the board from any board edge passage after someone Sounds the Alarm. The alarm should be placed on one of the far walls of the upper center tile by the Black Squadron player. The last thing to be determined will be the Exit Point. The Exit Point will be one of the passages along the bottom board edge on the grid. Roll a D6. Bottom Left (1-2), Bottom Center (3-4), Bottom Right (5-6).

The board will also have D3 Barrels (1-4) or I-Beams (5-6) littering the area. Take turns placing these starting with the Breaker player. These can be placed anywhere on the board that isn’t in a Deployment Tile.

Breaker Deployment Tile
Alarm Tile
Black Squadron Deployment Tile

Storage Container Tile

Exit Point
(1-2)
Exit Point
(3-4)
Exit Point
(5-6)

Special Rules

Barrels and I-Beams: Barrels and I-Beams are Oversized Equipment. Barrels are Range: 6”, Str: +1, Push (as Action) or Reach: -, Str: +1, Push (as Action).

Barricade: Barricades may be 2” or 4” long and may be placed at least 1” from any tile edge, including exit points. Barricades are 1” tall obstacles that must be Jumped or Climbed. A Jump of 1” will not clear the Barricade and the jumping Character will stop at the point where they intended to cross. Walking and Climbing are separate Actions so it will take an Action to get to the Barricade and a second Action to Climb over it.

Exit Points: If any part of the base of a model crosses the over the edge of an Exit Point they are considered to be Escaped! And are removed from the board.

FerrumSky Mine: The FerrumSky mines are littered with large rocks. At any point a Character may pick up a Rock for 1 AP, no Search Action required.

Sound Alarm (1AP): When a Character is in base contact with the Alarm token the Character can spend 1 AP to sound the alarm and cause any open hydraulic doors to emergency release and close in an instant. After the button is hit the door immediately drops with a crash. If any part of the base of a model is on the hazard stripes when the door seals the model takes a Strength 3 hit doing D6 Wounds. This does not require a Key Card but will alert the control room of the mining facility that there is a problem in this sector.

Storage Container: Storage Containers are always placed along a wall so that they do not block through-traffic. There should be a 1.5” path around the Storage Container so that it narrows the route but does not block it. Storage Containers may be climbed and stood on top of. Containers may also be entered by breaking the padlock with a Strike Action from a Character with a Strength stat of 4 or better, or a weapon that would allow the Character to succeed on a 4 or better. The padlock is considered Prone (+1 to hit) for the purposes of Striking it. It takes 1AP to enter or exit the Container. A Character may also Search a Container for 1AP. A successful Perceive check will result in potentially spotting something useful. Roll a D6 if successful: 1 Lose an Additional Action, 2-3 Nothing of Value, 4 Shovel, 5 Sledgehammer or Big Wrench, 6 Pickaxe or Rock Hammer, 7 Oversized Rock Saw or Mining Drill, 8 Choose any 1 item from the Equipment Deck.

Act Length

The Act lasts 10 turns. If at the end of any Recovery Phase all of the Breakers or Black Squadron are Restrained, Shocked, Down, Out, Critical, Dead or have left the board the Act ends and the game is over.

Winning

Tally up Victory Points. The Breakers earn 1 point for each Character they get off the board from the designated Exit Point. The Breakers earn an additional point for every piece of Equipment they get out of the Storage Container and off the Exit Point. The Breakers lose 1 point for every Character they leave Critical or Dead on the opposing side.

The Black Squadron officers or Loyalists earn 1 point for each Breaker Restrained at the end of the game, either in Restraints or Grappled. They also earn 1 point for Sounding the Alarm. They lose 1 point for every Character they leave Critical or Dead on the Breaker side.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Making Mine Scenery for Game Mats


Last year I ran a sixteen article series on Making Mine Scenery, but it revolved around fully modeled 8"x10" board sections. This idea pre-dated my decision to switch to 8"x8" board game tiles, similar to games like Zombicide. These newer game tiles were still based on my original designs, but going square just made them more flexible to use and easier to design. However, that isn't the only drive behind revisiting Making Mine Scenery. 

A more recent incarnation of the board game tiles with their
3D equivalents.

In the last year, roll out game mats have taken the wargaming world by storm. Yeah, they started to make an impact a few years ago, but now they are everywhere and they are incredibly varied. A lot of the early ones didn't make me go, "WOW!" But Guerrilla Miniature Games Widgets and Wonders series on Youtube and their weekly programming of battle reports using these mats has showed me it was time to present another way of creating BC scenery to accommodate the game mat crowd. The GMG 'Widgets and Wonders' video linked above shows a 3'x3' wasteland mat that looks like it would be perfect to combine with the blocks I'm about to show you how to build.

2"x2" strips of pink foam.

I started with my usual pink foam. I used 2" thick foam and cut it on a table saw into 2" wide strips. Now I know most people don't have access to a table saw, and honestly, the occasional kickback it occasionally delivered when it bit into the foam was sort of terrifying. You can use a break away blade knife or a foam cutter if you prefer. 

Foam blocks cut to different lengths and textured with "V" cuts.

Next I cut up my foam into 8", 6", 4", and 2" length sections. These were cut in rocky patterns making "V" cuts. This technique can be read in greater detail in Making Mine Scenery Part II from last year.

First coat: Citadel Rhinox Hide.

Once the batch of cut blocks were done and read for painting, they were given a coat of Citadel Rhinox Hide/Citadel Scorched Brown. This was actually matched at Home Depot in their paint sample sized container for a few dollars.

Second coat: Citadel Rhinox Hide (again).

Next they were given a second coat to ensure maximum opacity. Off to the right hand side, out of view, was a box fan drying the paint quicker so I can move stages along.

Third coat: Zamesi Desert drybrush.

The next stage was a very heavy drybrush of Citadel Zamesi Desert/Citadel Bubonic Brown. I drybrushed largely in one direction all the way around, then flipped the block over and went in the reverse direction. If you wanted the light to come from a specific direction you could change that up and just do downward strokes or whatever.

Fourth coat: Citadel Ushabti Bone drybrush.

Next I followed with a drybrush of Citadel Ushabti Bone/Citadel Bleached Bone. This was done more lightly to allow some of the Zamesi Desert to still be visible.

Fifth coat: Stippled Apple Barrel Graphite.

These are supposed to be iron mines, so to give them some of that character and tone I started targeting areas with other colors. This stage was done with a jabbed stipple of Apple Barrel Graphite, but could be easily replaced with Citadel Mechanicus Standard Grey. I tried to stick to recesses and other areas to draw out interest.

Sixth coat: Stippled and drybrushed Citadel Ironbreaker.

The Graphite areas were stippled/drybrushed with Citadel Ironbreaker/Citadel Chainmail.

Seventh coat: Stippled and drybrushed Citadel Ryza Rust.

To finish it out, I did a liberal drybrush and stipple of Citadel Ryza Rust, though any orange would do.

Close up of the colors.

As you can see there is a whole lot of color on the finished blocks.


I don't actually own any game mats so I set up some shots using one of my finished flat desert boards.


And I threw in some bits like this Wreck-Age shipping container for good measure.

24"x24" board made out of these blocks and a some prefab terrain.

This 24"x24" area was set up using entirely the set of blocks that I batch painted throughout those pictures. I'm still a little short of what would make what I would see as a perfect set capable of making a hugely flexible board. To do that I need to cut a lot more of the 2"x2" cubes and get them painted up.

Two level set up.

As I was playing around with the blocks, I also saw the creative options combining these with game board tiles could provide. This is actually a two level board built out of blocks and game board tiles.


You can see it from a model's eye view here. I think this could make for some fantastic gaming options!

Thanks for reading.
-Nick

PS. If you want to check out the original series to see more things you can do with your mine scenery, here are the links:

Making Mine Scenery Part I - Project Overview
Making Mine Scenery Part II - Making a Chasm and How to Do "V" Cuts in the Foam
Making Mine Scenery Part III - Colors Compared to a Real Iron Mine
Making Mine Scenery Part IV -  Chasm Continued and Secret Tunnel
Making Mine Scenery Part V - Building and Painting the Secret Tunnel Seal
Making Mine Scenery Part VI - Secret Tunnel/Chasm Complete and Hydraulic Door Begins
Making Mine Scenery Part VII - Scratch Built Hydraulic Door
Making Mine Scenery Part VIII - Painting the Hydraulic Door and Caution Stripes
Making Mine Scenery Part IX - Making Rock Piles and Cave Ins
Making Mine Scenery Part X - Building an Elevator Shaft
Making Mine Scenery Part XI - Scratch Building and Painting an Elevator Cab
Making Mine Scenery Part XII - Detailing and Painting the Elevator Area
Making Mine Scenery Part XIII - Feature on Playtester, RobH's Mine
Making Mine Scenery Part XIV - Building and Painting Fencing from Horizon 3D
Making Mine Scenery Part XV - Horizon 3D Detailing Continued
Making Mine Scenery Part XVI - Building the Cavern from 'It's Time'

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Act: Escape Route


This is the first Act (scenario) designed for "matched play" games of Broken Contract. It's random set up is meant to make the Act endlessly replayable. Though Broken Contract was designed for narrative play, this scenario will allow for pick up games, or a great "mid episode" game as Characters move from Act 1 to Act 3 of an Episode of your own crafting. Give it a try and let us know what you think! -Nick 


The Mission: The Breakers have established one or more viable escape routes and are making a press toward their exit. Black Squadron Security or Loyalists must try to stop their attempt to break through.

Set-Up: The Breakers know their viable exit points. Roll a D3 to find out how many exit points they may choose from. Next roll 3D3 to determine how many 8”x8” board tiles they may set down to determine their potential exit routes. The Breaker player sets down one tile as their start point and then continues to lay tiles until they are happy with the layout. Next the Breaker player must declare where the exit points are. There must be at least one tile between the Breaker start tile and a tile with an exit point. The opposing side may roll a D3 for the number of obstacles they have to slow the Breakers down. Roll a D3 for what these obstacles are: 1) Storage Container 2) Barricade 3) Hydraulic Door. Place the obstacles in any tile that is not the Breaker start tile. For specifics on how they may be placed see the Special Rules below. The Breakers may be placed anywhere in the Breaker start tile, at least 3” away from any obstacles. The opposing side may distribute their models on any tile with an exit point. Finally, place an Alarm token along a wall on a tile that was placed adjacent to the Breaker start tile.


Example Set-Up #1: Rolled one Exit Point, three tiles, and one Hydraulic Door. The Alarm would be placed somewhere on the middle tile.


Example Set-Up #2: Rolled three Exit Points, six tiles, and three Hydraulic Doors. The Black Squadron player would place the alarm somewhere on the "T" section tile in the center.


Example Set-Up#3: Rolled two Exit Points, seven tiles, two Storage Containers, and one Barricade. The Alarm would be placed on the tile with the Barricade.

Special Rules:

Storage Container: Storage Containers are always placed along a wall so that they do not block through-traffic. There should be a 1.5” path around the Storage Container so that it narrows the route but does not block it. Storage Containers may be climbed and stood on top of. Containers may also be entered by Lock Breaking. Lock Breaking is 1AP and requires a successful Strength Check. It takes 1AP to enter or exit the Container. A Character may also Search a Container for 1AP. A successful Perceive check will result in potentially spotting something useful. Roll a D6 if successful: 1 Lose an Additional Action, 2-3 Nothing of Value, 4 Shovel, 5 Sledgehammer or Big Wrench, 6 Pickaxe or Rock Hammer, 7 Oversized Rock Saw or Mining Drill, 8 Choose any 1 item from the Equipment Deck.

Barricade: Barricades may be 2” or 4” long and may be placed at least 1” from any tile edge, including exit points. Barricades are 1” tall obstacles that must be Jumped or Climbed. A Jump of 1” will not clear the Barricade and the jumping Character will stop at the point where they intended to cross. Walking and Climbing are separate Actions so it will take an Action to get to the Barricade and a second Action to Climb over it.

Hydraulic Door: Hydraulic doors may be placed across any 4” passage that is not on the Breaker start tile. A Key Pad token must be placed on an adjacent wall within 2” of the Door. Doors may be Opened or Closed at the Key Pad token by a standing Character with a Key Card (1AP) with automatic success, or by Crack the Code (1AP) which requires an Intellect Check at -1 to the roll, with a success activating the door.

Hydraulic Doors do not Open/Close instantly. These hydraulic overhead doors are slow and take 3 Recovery Phases to Open/Close fully, sealing or being fully open on the 4th Recovery Phase. It closes narrower and narrower each Recovery Phase after the door is activated. Place a D6 next to the door. When closing on the 1st and 2nd Recovery Phases Characters may pass through the door without a problem. On the 3rd Recovery Phase Characters may only Crawl or Dive Roll under the door. On the 4th Recovery Phase the door is sealed. If any part of the base of a model is on the hazard stripes when the door seals the model takes a Strength 3 hit doing D6 Wounds.

Exit Points: If any part of the base of a model crosses the over the edge of an Exit Point they are considered to be Escaped! And are removed from the board.

Sound Alarm (1AP): When a Character is in base contact with the Alarm token the Character can spend 1 AP to sound the alarm and cause any open hydraulic doors to emergency release and close in an instant. After the button is hit the door immediately drops with a crash. If any part of the base of a model is on the hazard stripes when the door seals the model takes a Strength 3 hit doing D6 Wounds. This does not require a Key Card but will alert the control room of the mining facility that there is a problem in this sector.

Act Length: The Act lasts 8 turns. If at the end of any Recovery Phase all of the Breakers are Restrained, Shocked, Down, Out, Critical, Dead or have left an Exit Point the Act ends and the game is over.

Winning the Act: Tally up Victory Points. The Breakers earn 1 point for each Character they get out through one of the Exit Points. The Breakers earn an additional point if all of the Characters exit out the same Exit Point (safety in numbers). The Breakers lose 1 point for every Character they leave Critical or Dead on the opposing side.

The Black Squadron officers or Loyalists earn 1 point for each Breaker Restrained at the end of the game, either in Restraints or Grappled. They also earn 1 point for Sounding the Alarm. They lose 1 point for every Character they leave Critical or Dead on the Breaker side.

Here it is in PDF form: Escape Route PDF

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Broken Contract Character and Crew Creation Rules


One of the things that narrative wargamers want is the ability to create their own characters so that they can develop their own storylines and rivalries. We want to encourage this sort of game play and engagement so a while back I had created and posted very basic character creation rules. A lot has transpired since then and it was time to update them to make the most of all the cards available to you now. While revisiting character creation I thought it was about time I added a point system to allow for the "matched play" that a lot of wargamers are used to. This is a very open system but it still creates a functional structure for gamers of all stripes. It is still in the playtesting stages so feedback is welcomed and encouraged! -Nick

Creating Characters and Assembling a Crew

Every Broken Contract Supplement comes with Characters to play, but you might want to create your own story lines, scenarios, and Characters. Creating your own Characters can be very rewarding and is very easy in Broken Contract.

Choose a Character Type and Faction
Characters can be Adults, Children, Teens, Brute Gen-Mods or Light Drones. Adults are likely going to be the basis of your crew. Adults are going to give you the best range of Stats and Abilities, but Children and Teens can make for great storylines and give room for development. After you select what type of Character you want to develop you are going to need to choose a faction such as Black Squadron Security or the Breakers.

Adults
Adults compose the vast majority of the population of the FerrumSky mines. Though life can be brutally short on Hathor, the type of back breaking labor of the mines is best performed or overseen by adults. Every Adult Character starts with these Average Human Stats:

Core - Actions: 3 /Move: 3 /Wounds: 3
Combat - Shoot: 5 /Melee: 5 /Strength: 5 /Agility: 5 /Recovery: 5
Brain - Intellect: 5 /Perceive: 5 /Psyche: 5 /Lead: 5 /Dealing: 5
Points: 10

All Adults may take two upgrades for 1 point each.

Security Officer Training: Black Squadron Adults may take one additional upgrade for a total of three upgrades for 1 point each. They may replace any one of those upgrades with Melee -1 to reflect their Security Officer Training. This reflects their better living conditions and training as compared to other adults.

Children and Teens
The FerrumSky mines are a brutal place and child labor is rampant. Though most of the children flee in terror when hostilities erupt, from time to time they get pulled into the action out of loyalty or indoctrination. The numbers in parenthesis are for Teens who are obviously more of a threat than their younger counterparts.

Core - Actions: 3/ Move: 2 (3)/ Wounds: 2 (3)
Combat - Shoot: 6/ Melee: 5/ Strength: 6/ Agility: 6/ Recovery: 5
Brain - Intellect: 6/ Perceive: 6/ Psyche: 6 /Lead: 6 /Dealing: 6
Points: 1 (3)

The Children of FerrumSky may take two upgrades for 1 point each. Teens may take four upgrades for 1 point each.

Brute Gen-Mods
Black Squadron Security and Breakers both use Brute Gen-Mods. Brute Gen-Mods are humans who have had their genetics altered to amplify their size and strength. These hulking behemoths can be used as laborers of immense power, essentially machines made of flesh and bone. When used for crowd control by Black Squadron, they can be a terrifying tool of suppression.

Core - Actions: 3/ Move: 3/ Wounds: 3
Combat - Shoot: 5/ Melee: 4/ Strength: 4/ Agility: 5/ Recovery: 5
Brain- Intellect: 5/ Perceive: 5/ Psyche: 5/ Lead: 5/ Dealing: 5
Points: 14

To create a Brute Gen-Mod you may take a single upgrade from the deck for 1 point. You also receive the Gen-Mod, Lifter, and Massive Ability Cards which are already included in the points cost. Black Squadron Brute Gen-Mods do not have the same Limiters imposed upon them and may instead take three upgrades instead of the usual one, for 1 point each.

Note: All Brute Gen-Mods must choose: Gen-Mod Apparatus as an additional piece of Equipment for 1 point.

Light Drones
All manner of drones flit about the FerrumSky mines performing various tasks. For now we are only going to deal with the two most common Light Drones: Speaker Drones and Surveillance Drones, which may not be customized. They may only be purchased by the Black Squadron and they are 8 points each.

Upgrade Your Character
To upgrade your Character you will use your Initiative Deck and Chart below. Make sure to include numbers 1-12, two Re-Roll cards, and an Extra Action card.

1: Shoot -1

2: Melee -1 (Children & Brute Gen-Mods: Move +1 instead)

3: Strength -1 (Brute Gen-Mods: Move +1 instead)

4: Agility -1

5: Intellect -1

6: Perceive -1

7: Psyche -1

8: Lead -1 (Brute Gen-Mods: Actions +1 instead)

9: Dealing -1

10: Recovery -1 (Children: Actions +1 instead)


11: Draw an Ability Card from all of your Ability Cards. If you have the Gen-Mod or Massive cards, remove them from the Ability Deck.

12: Draw an Ability Card from all of your Ability Cards. If you have the Gen-Mod or Massive cards, remove them from the Ability Deck.

Re-Roll: Drawing the Re-Roll Card allows you to set the Re-Roll Card aside, draw your upgrades as normal and then use the Re-Roll to Re-Draw an upgrade to replace one you do not want.

Extra Action: Discard this card and draw two additional cards from the deck. This will increase the points of the Character by +1.

Weapons and Equipment
You may now purchase any equipment that you like from your available Equipment Cards. Each Equipment Card is 1 point the first time you select it. If you duplicate the item in on your Character or in your Crew it costs an additional point every time you duplicate it.

Example: A single Rock Hammer is 1 point. If you take a second Rock Hammer in your crew, the second one is 2 points. If you take a third Rock Hamer in your crew, the third Rock Hammer is 3 points.

Standard Issue Exceptions: Every Black Squadron Security officer has access to a Shock Baton and Restraints. These are always 1 point unless they are taking two on a single Character. Any Breaker may take a Shovel for 1 point.

Assembling a Crew
Inevitably, some people are going to want to build their own custom crew, complete with their own back stories and unique personalities in order to face off against their friends. A good introductory game size would be 50 points per side, which would be about 3-4 models each. Scaling up to 75 points per side would be a logical next step. Playing larger games is possible, but would require a custom Initiative Deck once there are more than 12 Characters in the game.

Crew Leaders: You may choose to have someone designated to lead your crew. This Character may take 1 additional upgrade for 1 point. They may replace the upgrade drawn with Leadership -1 if they like.

Mixing Factions
Playing a pure Faction is not required. Breakers can be ragtag mobs that could include a Black Squadron Security officer who couldn’t stomach their job anymore, and a Black Squadron crew can include Loyalist miners who see the Breakers as a nuisance disrupting the social order of the mines. The important thing is assembling a crew with personality, not one that simply takes all of the most effective elements in the game to create the ultimate competitive fighting force.

The Social Contract: Most of the design decisions in Broken Contract were made to heighten the spirit of adventure and narrative story telling. That is the baseline of what Broken Contract is; a game that tells a story of high adventure. If how you prefer to play miniature games deviates from that baseline, you should discuss it with your opponent(s) first. Sometimes dice or circumstances don’t go your way, and you don’t end up with a good game. That can happen with any game involving chance. However, if your opponent is not having fun because you’ve manipulated the rules to guarantee that your force will smash face while your opponent feels powerless against you, you’ve broken the Social Contract. The easiest way you can break that Social Contract is when you assemble your crew. Don’t be that person.

Here it is in PDF form;
Broken Contract Character and Crew Creation PDF

Do you need the rest of the rules to the game? You can find them here:

Broken Contract Beta Rules

Thanks for reading.
-Nick

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Assembling the Cast - Ash Walker


Ash Walker is collaboration between myself, Kickstarter Backer: Adam Walck, editor Robert Ferrick, and artist Filip Dudek.  This Character was created as part of the "Welcome to 2303AD!" Pledge level and will be getting a model in the near future. I am humbled that Adam thought this project was cool enough that he wanted to become an actual part of it. -Nick

Officer Ash Walker

When Ash Walker contracted with Black Squadron Security he was hoping for work that offered a level of excitement and freedom. It was only by chance that he was accepted into their security program. He was in peak physical condition, demonstrated a sense of leadership and authority in his aptitude and psychological testing, and he knew all the right jargon to test well, masking his strong sense of individualism.

Hathor is not Officer Walker’s first assignment, and Orin Settlement is not his first posting on Hathor. He has proven to be a thorn in the side of every security crew he’s been assigned to. Defiantly resistant to being branded, Ash refuses to be owned. He’s been repeatedly written up and fined for not wearing his Black Squadron arm band and for scratching out the FerrumSky logo from his armor. His coworkers feel he undermines their authority by allowing his charges to call him Ash during meal time, where he can often be seen laughing and joking with the work crews he oversees. On more than one occasion he has been given a direct order and said, “No”, because it conflicted with his sense of justice. These transgressions of discipline have earned him very little favor among his peers who take company loyalty and strict hierarchy very seriously. The only reason Officer Walker hasn’t been stripped of his contract is that he’s proven extremely effective in other ways. His familiarity with the work crews and their lives has made him an effective diffuser when tensions rise. Unfortunately, in contracting for an organization steeped in hierarchy, blatantly ignoring that structure is no way to earn allies. Instead, irritated overseers and administrators have consistently reassign him to make him someone else’s problem.

Ash’s time at Orin Settlement has been short and his most recent performance evaluation already cited numerous complaints from his fellow Prods. His affinity for the iron miners has once again drawn the ire of his team and the frustrated scorn of his overseer. Despite his compelling outer confidence, he has a growing sense that Orin Settlement could be the end of the line for his security contract, and that he is running the risk of having his contract sold to an even more confining line of work. In his head he has entertained the same notions of finding freedom out in the Bonelands between settlements that many of the miners do. However, his individualism has left him without coalition. He is regarded with a degree of mistrust by worker and officer alike. Still, like his charges he has breaking on his mind.

Gun Officer Ash Walker
Faction: Unaffiliated
Actions: 3 Wounds: 3 Move: 3
Melee: 4 Strength: 5 Shoot: 4 Agility: 5 Recovery: 5
Psyche: 5 Perceive: 5 Intellect: 5 Dealing: 5 Leadership: 4

Ability Cards: Diffuser, Unaffiliated - This Character may ally with any Faction based on need at the time. 
Equipment Cards: Crowd Control Repeater, Rubber Bullets, Shock Baton, Restraints, Breather.
Points: 20