Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays!

"Holiday Cheer" Trest by Geng Gendall

We all want to wish you a Happy Holiday Season, whether your holiday of choice has already past, or is still days away. The blog will be quiet for the next few days as I am moving to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a mere hour and a half from my current home base in Chicago, Illinois. After a few days of packing, moving, and unpacking I should be getting settled in. Meanwhile, Tim and Geng in their far away homes, will be getting down to some new Broken Contract business. Going into the New Year there should be a bunch of new 3D renders and some new art so stay tuned.

Thanks again for the support this year and we'll see you soon!
-Nick and crew.

Monday, December 22, 2014

3D Renders Sent for Printing!

Officer Hickley 3D sculpt by Tim Barry

Happy Holidays to everyone out there following Broken Contract.We appreciate the support and interest you have all shown over the last year. I started posting about Broken Contract originally on a little over a year ago now and when I created this blog, a core group of interested friends and colleagues followed. That group has grown steadily over time. Thank you all for the support!

Speaking of 2ndcitywarzone, a month ago I wrote an article about how I got into gaming and how I've always wanted to design games. Its titled "How A1 Slave Pits of the Undercity Changed My Life" and it a good read if you like nostalgia, introspection, or background on how people like myself got involved in gaming.

Back to Broken Contract! Long time followers will recognize the above 3D render as the first one I ever posted, way back in June/July. Officer Hickley is not one of the "core" characters to the "Deep Underground" storyline, so his sculpt has sat on the backburner. However, with a new Kickstarter looming I've finally sent him for printing. Additionally, the two characters featured last week, Talla Kellerman and Trest have also been sent for printing:

Talla Kellerman 3D sculpt by Tim Barry

Trest, the Gen-Mod Brute, 3D sculpt by Tim Barry

One of the things we are doing with Broken Contract is flexible scaling. I want all the characters to be proportional to each other, so as a hulking 7' tall behemoth, Trest will stand 37mm from feet to eyes. Talla Kellerman, at a diminutive 5' 4" will stand 28mm. In between, Officer Hickley, at 6' 2" will be 33mm. Hopefully, this range of scale will heighten the sense of individuality across the characters and make them more relatable. This is a different approach compared to squad based games that normally run all the characters at the same height, so we'll see how it goes.

Tim is about to get to work on Ari Gaylen, Officer Sarie Moerta, and Officer Lamal Tulson. We'll see those in the coming weeks along with Nells Turnbull. John "Geng" Gendall is also about to get the sketches done for Breaker Crew Leader, Kollis, and the Prod Overseer, Billins. There's a lot more to watch for in the coming weeks.

Thanks for reading!

PS. As always: Please find Broken Contract on Facebook and Twitter and follow us. Thanks and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Two New Sculpts: Talla Kellerman and Trest the Gen-Mod

This week we have two new 3D sculpts to show off, both of Breaker Characters. These have gone through several stages of revision and I think they are where they need to be. 

Talla Kellerman the Progen Mechanic 3D sculpt by Tim Barry

First we have Talla Kellerman, the Progen Mechanic. Talla is a highly capable technician, and is a great asset to your crew of Breakers. Remembering door codes or getting machinery up and running - if you run into a situation where you need to make an Intellect Check, she's your best bet. However, getting her to join your crew is not as easy. As a Progen, she is child of the original colonists on Hathor, and receives better quarters and wages for her work than the rest of the Tracted workers. This makes breaking a much greater risk because she has more to lose. In the game, she must be negotiated with to join your crew. However, if you get her to join, she'll also be better at negotiating with other Progens you encounter along the way.

Trest the Gen-Mod Brute, 3D sculpt by Tim Barry

Second we have Trest, the Gen-Mod Brute. Trest is a hulking behemoth of a man, towering above his crew. Born and raised into a genetic modification program, Trest was designed with gigantism and immense strength so he could wield construction equipment normally affixed to vehicles. Brutes are pumped full of steroids and other drugs to maintain peek performance during their work shift. With his size, endurance, and ability to swing a weapon that can easily render a person into paste, Trest packs a heavy punch that has to be dealt with by the Prods.Trest is a great distraction. He can endure more Wounds than a normal human, and if you need to pass a Strength Check to move a rock or lift a malfunctioning door, he is the Character you need.

Both of these Characters will be part of the upcoming Broken Contract - Deep Underground box set that we'll be Kickstarting early next year.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What Sets Broken Contract Apart? The Miniature Adventure Game.

In this scenario, four Breakers are at the bottom portion of the board, and two Prods stand at the top. A third Prod lurks in the hallway as an inactive NPC belonging to neither side. In the middle is an open doorway and to the right is a closed doorway leading to a hidden passage blocked by two ore carts. More than just a combat scenario, there is a sympathetic Prod to negotiate with, an alarm to set off, doors to open and close, a hidden passageway to find, and carts to move. Broken Contract is far more than two sides fighting it out.  

When I started work on Broken Contract just over a year ago I set out to create a sci-fi board game that drew off of some of my favorite sci-fi movies and TV shows. I wanted to create something unique, that stood out in its subject matter, aesthetic, and game play. In a time where new games are being launched every day, particularly miniature board games and skirmish war games, what makes Broken Contract unique?

Its a Miniature Game That isn't Strictly About Combat

Most miniature war games on the market focus on combat exclusively. I can only think of two games that try to integrate "non-combat solutions" into the game. Neither game emphasizes that aspect with dedicated Stats to make those elements a focus of the game. I wanted to create a game that focused heavily on "non-combat solutions" and the way to do that was to create a robust collection of statistics and scenarios that use them. An objective in Broken Contract is not killing all of the enemy, taking control of a room or taking control of one or more objectives, its delaying the enemy through intimidation, closing doors, and distractions, while opening doors, acquiring equipment, negotiating with potential allies, and of course, running away. And where combat is concerned, a number of the weapons in the game are non-lethal. This is deliberate. I want Characters to come back again and again. Like in Cool Hand Luke, the workers may run off, but you capture them, try to break their spirit, and put them back to work only for them to do it again and again.

Four player play testing from back in April.

It's a Multi-Player War Game

Other than the upcoming Zombicide: Rue Morgue, I can't think of another miniature wargame that was designed with the intent that "multi-player" is the ideal way to play the game. Most war games are faction based games that put one strategizing opponent against another. Broken Contract can be played this way without any degradation in play. In fact, the ability to enact your strategies would be unmuddled by "too many cooks". However, Broken Contract, inspired by Firefly and Cowboy Bebop, highlights individual motivations. Like an RPG, the Characters strengths and weaknesses are unique, requiring a player with a unique mindset to get the most out of them, or else they get relegated to being fodder. By playing Broken Contract as a multi-player game it gives the game play and narrative more depth.

A Restraint Drone dragging this Breaker to "the box" where they will be curled up in solitary confinement until their spirit is broken and they are deemed able to go back into the mines.

"Deep Underground" is Like a Prison Break

Most miniature games focus on fighting your way into a warzone and taking objectives, or they are dungeon crawlers that involve fighting your way into a "dungeon" whether its a fantasy catacomb or the corridors of a spaceship or tech facility of some sort. In Broken Contract "Deep Underground" you are Breakers, indentured workers, essentially prisoners, bent on escape. This alone is most similar to Zombicide where avoiding the enemy is key, but the Prods are being played by one or more players trying to capture the Breakers to put them back to work. Ultimately, killing the enemy and taking objectives are not the primary goals; escape or capture, and a constant running game are.

The person who this character is based on didn't want to have the orphan missing a leg as his companion, so we're saving this orphan to go along with some other character. Snowpiercer makes great use of uncomfortable child labor moments without going over the top.

Complicated Subject Matter

There are some really great sci-fi games coming out now with dystopian futures and corporate control and they are all exciting narrative based miniature games, but their conflicts are impersonal. One of the goals of Broken Contract has been to personalize the characters and their struggles. Broken Contract is not a story about two gunned up powerful entities, its a game about individuals struggling for empowerment. When you dig just below the surface there is no clear good and evil in this story, just those who have power and those who do not. Like a show such as The Walking Dead, the situation is the primary antagonist, and there are pinnacles of hope and vile scum on both sides of the divide. This is deliberate because struggles are complex and games don't usually showcase that. I wanted to make a game similar to Firefly and Cowboy Bebop because their situations often were not cut and dried. Both crews would get themselves into a "job" only to find themselves conflicted about what they were doing and I love that.

Humanity fighting itself is much scarier and more relatable than humanity fighting aliens or zombies.

A Sci-fi Future with No Aliens and No Zombies

My absolute favorite sci-fi is based around humanity making tough choices and doing what it does best, thwart itself. Monsters are cool, but essentially they are just non-human species just trying to live their lives. Its not relatable because it is purely fantasy. The complexity of mankind struggling against itself is scarier to me and is thus, more engaging. That isn't to say, genetically modified species and technology gone amuck don't have a place in Broken Contract, they do, because humans love tampering with the balance, but humanity is still the heart of the story.

I think that these elements make the game stand out. Play testing has been interesting because when experienced gamers first start playing they immediately gravitate to moving and fighting their way through their enemies, but by the end of the session the things they are most excited about are the non-combat action movie moments like closing doors, dive rolling under them, ordering opponents to "Stand Down!" and other bits of adventure outside the realm of just fighting it out. These are the things they always want to see expanded upon even further. Pretty much every other miniature game is about combat, and ignores the adventure and intrigue elements that make those types of books and movies so entertaining. So in a way, Broken Contract is more of a miniature adventure game than a miniature wargame and I think that's a unique distinction.

Alpha Rules 2.0, Update coming soon to go with the Print and Play components I just put up last post. Thanks for reading!


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Character Stat Cards, Equipment Cards, and Initiative Cards

My array of newly printed Character Stat Cards, Equipment Cards, and Initiative Cards.

Lately I've been really anxious to both get out and demonstrate Broken Contract to the masses, and also allow people the option to "print and play" so that they can play test at home. Over the past several days I decided to take matters into my own hands and try and flex my very rudimentary Photoshop skills. I spent a half dozen hours or so making mock ups that people can play with that aren't completely embarrassing. Luckily, Sam created cards that weren't so elaborate that they made any hope of editing them impossible. At the same time, they don't have the polish, nor the subtle variation, that even his early work has had. This is okay though since these are just for play testing purposes anyway.

Talla Kellerman mock up character card.

Initiative Deck and prototype "card back".

The above cards were a mock up Initiative Deck that Sam threw together for me a few months back. With a bit of effort I covered over all of the numbers and made 22 blank cards. Then I used them to create cards for almost all of the weapons and equipment I've created for the game.

Weapons and Equipment Set 1

Weapons and Equipment Set 2

They aren't pretty, like the ones Sam was working on, but they'll do the job.

WIP Cards that Sam has started.

Finally, I created a blank character card so that you can create your own characters. There are rough draft rules for creating characters here.

All of these print and play components can be downloaded here from this MediaFire folder.

Download them and print them with my permission. All of them are useable with the the current Alpha Rules, though be on the lookout for Alpha Rules 2.0 in the very near future.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to some feedback.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

New Action: Focus

In my last post, Play Testing Recap, I discussed a suggestion that play tester, Aaron Schmidt, threw out there, and that Brian Parisi, seconded. It was a new Action called Focus. The intent was to give players the option of using an Action to concentrate on what they were doing to improve their chance of success. After mulling over how to implement it into the game I came up with this:

Focus (1AP) – They take a deep breath and clear their head, then launch into action with tunnel vision. Focus allows the Character to use an Action to improve the chance of success of their next Action or Interruption. After declaring Focus, the Character receives +1 to the die roll for their next Stat Check. Focus is much easier to achieve when there are no immediate threats and no Check is needed to succeed. However, if there are any unengaged enemy Characters within 6” of the model they must make a Psyche Check to Focus. If they succeed in the Psyche Check, they may Focus as described above. If a natural 6 is rolled for the Psyche Check, the Character receives a +2 to the die roll for their next Check instead of +1. If the Character rolls a natural 1 the Character becomes distracted and receives a -1 to the roll on their next Stat Check instead.

This should give players more flexibility and incentive to take advantage of some of the more cinematic Actions and Interruptions, as well as making things like combat a bit more decisive.

On that note, I'm working on an updated version of the Alpha Rules, as well as some play aids so be on the look out for that.

Finally, today I made a post on 2ndCityWarzone talking about how I found gaming and how the aspiration of being a game designer has been carried with me for more than 3 decades. Its titled, How A1 Slave Pits of the Undercity Changed My Life. Its a little long, but if you dig nostalgia or origin stories, you might dig it.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Play Testing Recap

Pizza from Dimo's. (photo stolen from the internet)

On Thursday night, my friends Brian Parisi and Aaron Schmidt met me at Dimo's Pizza here in Chicago to eat pizza, roll some dice, and discuss our various projects that we were working on. Brian has been my most regular play tester and he's a bit of a rules tinker himself with some rule sets he's been dabbling with.  Aaron is a sculptor currently working on Wreck-Age models for Hyacinth Games. In addition, I long ago noticed that he enjoys analyzing and discussing game mechanics as much as he enjoys playing games. This was going to be Aaron's first time playing Broken Contract and I was really curious what he'd have to say.

I had intended to run a new scenario I had concocted weeks ago that integrated a bunch of new design elements focusing on the robust collection of Stats characters have. I got home from work and I discovered I had given most of my board sections to my graphic designer to scan and layer up with textures and lighting effects. He wouldn't be attending, so I had to create something on the fly with what I had, incorporating some of the elements I wanted to play test. This is what I came up with:

Dramatic recreation in my living room on a table too small to place character cards or any other game components.

This scenario began with 5 Breakers huddled in a mine intersection, with 3 Prods bearing down on them. The Breakers had knowledge of the code to the door to the right that could lead them into a potentially safer escape corridor. The criminal they had in their midst had led them to believe there was a hidden passage they could access from that tunnel, represented by the black piece of cardstock. It leads to a forgotten tunnel that was sometimes used to smuggle contraband into the mines. 

This overview was detailed to Aaron and Brian and we jumped right into the game. The Prods and three of the Breakers moved toward each other while the Breaker character who had the best chance of making the Intellect Check to recall the code and open the door rolled a 6 and the hydraulics were set in motion. Nells, the Breaker sneak, got into position to crawl under the door as it opened.

A brawl ensued between the Breakers holding off the Prods and the pair of Breakers with the better Brain Stats moved into the corridor to move some ore carts and search for the secret passage, which after a few Perception Checks they finally found. With the passage open, they began crawling into the tunnel, at that point leaving behind their comrades to fight the guards. It being a weeknight, we called the game at 10PM not knowing the ultimate outcome. 

Aaron had taken notes and we all briefly discussed them. I'm going to share them with you all because I'm a big fan of design discussion and how game design decisions come to be.

Aaron's actual notes from play testing.
Each heading is one of Aaron's notes followed with notes on what we discussed and what I've reflected on since then:

- Scenarios Could Be More Cinematic

This particular scenario was fun and evocative, but could have used some extra layers of detail to prevent the two sides getting straight into combat and increase both options and tension. When I had been dabbling with the scenario before heading to play testing I had added an alarm that could be sounded to bring a Restraint Drone on the board on the following turn, but I chose not to include it because I was concerned about balance. Brian suggested adding another door that wasn't on hydraulics, (note: scenarios thus far have all used slow moving doors for those Indiana Jones moments)  that could be dropped by using an action to hit a button. Then that button could be used to either drop the door on someone crossing the threshold or to create a turn or two of separation as the door was reopened. Another idea thrown in was adding a sympathetic (or apathetic?) Prod that could be bribed to look the other way. All of these are great cinematic ideas that could have a place in this scenario or others. 'Get Kellerman', a scenario I've mentioned before, which involves trying to convince a Progen character to break with them, even though the Progens don't have it quite as bad as the rest of the Tracted. This made me feel like I'm on the right track with trying to build layered scenarios with more depth.

This "play aid" is an Actions and Interruptions list for players to consult during play testing. However, it is horribly outdated. (I made it in April?) Some of these Actions and Interruptions have new names, have been replaced, or have been dropped. Not to mention new ones have been added. Its time for an updated sheet.

- Some Actions and Fumbles Could Be Sub-Elements of Actions/Events

Before we started the game, I handed Aaron a list of possible Actions and he noted that it was a little overwhelming and some of them seemed very situational, which they are. He also noted though, as he started to play, that he didn't want to see any of them go, but he felt some of them could be scenario specific or that they could be rolled into groupings. After reflecting on this, I agree some of them could be scenario specific, but rather than rolling some of them together, I think by organizing them into a Quick Start type selection of "core actions" and then following it with a broader list with descriptions might make this less of a barrier since your basic move/shoot/fight will be highlighted so someone new to the game can get up and rolling. Under this topic we briefly discussed the idea of putting the scenario specific actions on cards (like the Equipment and Initiative cards) so that they are standardized and then don't have to be fully described in each scenario. Instead the card could be referenced by name and you can set it on the table for reference while playing. I think this idea has promise and I'll explore it further.

Prototype Character Stat Card with tokens to mark Actions, Wounds, Equipment, Initiative Order, and whether they have a Re-Roll. Graphic design by Sam Alcarez.

- Additional Action Card

Currently, the Initiative Deck has a Re-Roll card that can be pulled at random during the Initiative Draw at the start of the Turn. Aaron's suggestion was to add a card that offered an Additional Action, so that rather than a Re-Roll a Character just gets a surge of adrenaline. The idea of just allowing the Re-Roll card to be swapped for an Additional Action was also discussed, and I think these are both excellent ideas and they will be implemented in some way.

- Initiative Roll Off For Interruptions - Some Characters Could Have a Speed Bonus (Agility)

The idea of comparing Agility Stats to see if you can get off an Action before an Interruption I think would add an additional layer of complexity that I'm trying to avoid. Brian, however, commented that giving a Character a Skill that allowed them to react quicker than most would be a good addition and I agree.

- Focus Action

Aaron felt that the difficulty in performing Actions resulted in some Actions being repeated over and over again, particularly in combat where there are a lot of swings and misses. This could be relieved a little by adding a new Action called Focus. This new Action would allow a Character to spend an Action to get a +1 to that character's die roll on the next Check made. This would make things potentially more decisive. I think its worth play testing for sure and can add to the cinematic feel I'm shooting for and Brian commented that he thought it would be a good addition.

- Several Scenario Set (3): Stealth, Action, Puzzle

He wanted to see the scenarios grouped in 3's and for each one to focus on different play styles, where one scenario is about sneaking around, another is more combat oriented, and another is about solving a puzzle. Unbeknownst to Aaron, the existing structure is to have scenarios that lead into each other and group them into 3-4 Acts, to emulate the intro and three act structure of television programming, where an episode of Firefly or Cowboy Bebop follows an arc that tells a chapter in a much larger story. I'm glad we're on the same wavelength there as this was an area where I wasn't sure if others would share my love of narrative play.

Quite possibly the most drawn out fight scene ever filmed, courtesy of They Live.

- Dice Fight Feel Can Get Slow

This is a hard thing to balance. What Aaron is referring to is something I mentioned in the early play testing articles as "slap fighting" - where a combat drags on as both sides repeatedly swing at each other and miss. I still stand by this conceptually as instantaneous combat resolution is so "final." There is supposed to be a level of attachment to your characters, like in a RPG. There isn't the tension of the "give and take" you see in action movies if you have instantaneous resolution. Sure, you don't necessarily want them to feel like the fight scene in They Live, but you do want to have a little bit of rolling on the ground and struggling. I think the solution to this already exists within the rules and as a new player, he didn't have the know how to be more strategic with combat. There are ways to disrupt characters and force them to be at a major disadvantage with Actions like Throw Down, Push, and "Stand Down!", where you can deplete a Character's Actions to soften them up, or even knock them Prone. Hopefully, we'll play test together again so he can flex his strategic options a little more.

- Points Towards Success?

Aaron discussed systems where performing or not performing certain Actions could layer in bonuses on subsequent Actions. Unlike Focus, which would be a very deliberate way of earning a bonus to a die roll, he was discussing more of a veiled interplay. I like the idea of Focus as an Action, but relying heavily on these sort of rules interactions gets complicated, and the game is complicated enough as it is. For now I'm not going to dwell on this too much, but drawing off of the last couple of editions of 40K, I love them but found there were constantly hidden rules I frequently forget because they layered all over the place. I want to try and minimize that some. There is already a lot to remember.

Talla Kellerman, the Tracted Progen who would have a lot to offer a bunch of Breakers, but she'd have more to lose than the rest of them, so she has to be convinced to join up. 

- NPC Influence

This ties into the bribed guard referenced at the beginning of this list. Adding the idea of NPC's that can be swayed either way was already something I had started to integrate but seeing this suggestion makes me feel more confident in that decision.

Getting together with a couple of gamers for focused play testing netted a lot of ideas for thought. I think the session, being thrown together, didn't work out half bad and still gave me a lot of both insight and confirmation, which is great. What's also nice is that my pool of play testers continues to vary and expand which brings more feedback and ideas to the table. 

Thank you to Aaron and Brian for being supportive, coming out, playing a game, and giving thoughtful feedback. As always, I look forward to more gaming and discussion.


Monday, November 10, 2014

Where Hobby Games and Board Games Collide

Recreating board sections like these would be very easy.
When I first conceived Broken Contract, I imagined it as a board game that would have all of the framework in place to seamlessly transition into a hobby game. With that in mind, I specifically opted for measurements in inches and decided against using squares. Now that I've seen that pursuing the game strictly as a miniature board game isn't necessarily the best plan, I've decided to translate the flat game boards into modeled terrain to showcase its versatility. Below are two WIP shots of game board sections translated to modeled terrain using hardboard, pink insulation foam, and a breakaway blade to texture the mine walls. Each mine section is on an 8"x10" section of hardboard.

This is a view up the mine tunnel. You're seeing three 8"x10" board sections in a row. 

Over the next few weeks I'm really looking forward to making board sections of a variety of shapes to emulate the a three dimensional vision of the mines, because in a 3D setting, miniatures really come to life.

Layouts small and large could really come to life when brought into a 3D environment. 

By texturing every side of the foam used in these mine sections I am able to line up board sections to create both flowing tunnels and dead ends without sacrificing the mine "look".

Though the game will still be designed to be played on flat board sections I think miniature hobbyists will get great joy out of making their own mine boards, particularly in modular sections like I'm designing. They are really flexible and will be able to be configured into a multitude of configurations. I'm really looking forward to knocking a few more of these sections out and really lavishing some detail on them. More to come!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

XXVI. Assembling the Cast - Ari Gaylen

Breaker: Ari Gaylen concept art by John "Geng" Gendall

   There are many coping mechanisms for dealing with the conditions in the mines. Ari volunteers for the most dangerous work with fatalistic excitement. Cocksure and with the reckless abandon of someone who has nothing left to lose she derives a strange joy out of Tracted life. Whether dynamite blasting or being lowered into fissures, her work load is varied and exciting.
   Ari Gaylen is young, spry, dexterous, and confident. She keeps her hair cropped because its been singed off in more than one blast over the years. She sees her scars as badges of honor though she has been lucky enough to escape any crippling injuries. Despite making the most of her work she has no love for FerrumSky and would happily commit her adventurous spirit to never having to work in the mines again.

Ari Gaylen (The Daredevil)
Core: Actions: 3 Move: 3 Wounds: 3
Combat: Shoot: 5 Melee: 5 Strength: 5 Agility: 4
Brain: Intellect: 5 Perception: 5 Psyche: 5 Medic: 5
Social: Lead: 6 Dealing: 6
Intangible: Recovery: 6 Faith: 6

Equipment: Rock Hammer, Knife, Breather
Skills: Who Dares Wins

Who Dares Wins: Re-Roll one failed roll per game.

By Nick Baran. Edited by Rob Ferrick.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sculpts - From Concept to Reality

Breaker - Adesi Haddonis, sculpted by Tim Barry

Work on Broken Contract began in October 2013. Over the last year Broken Contract has organically evolved as the background, rules, and art have all been crafted and influenced each other. But as a miniature game, the one thing that was sorely missing from the Kickstarter this September, was physical models to show how far we've come. Broken Contract is more than just an idea, and the development has been put in, but I feel the people needed something more tangible to believe in. I cancelled the Kickstarter so we could work on both a new format, and to give me more time to show the world the concrete results of all of our labor. This past week, for me, was a triumphant step forward in that regard because our very first prototypes arrived in the mail.

Prod - Officer Naria Anlika, sculpted by Tim Barry

The progression from ideas pulled from influential sources like Hunger Games, Firefly, and Cool Hand Luke to these models has required a lot of stages of development. The earliest concept sketches by Oliver Zavala and Sam Alcarez inspired the further concept art for these exact characters, composed by John "Geng" Gendall. Tim Barry produced 3D sculpts based on John's art, and those computer files were sent to VisionProto to be printed. Today, Adesi Haddonis and Officer Naria Anlika have real, physical prototypes ready for casting and its a really exciting achievement for me to hold these models in my hands, snap some pics, and share them with all of you before they are sent off to their next destination for casting.

Breaker - Adesi Haddonis

While mentioning that these two models were based on John "Geng" Gendall's art, I'd like to direct those of you who enjoy the art he has done for Broken Contract to his Facebook Page: John Gendall -  artist. Take a moment to click "Like" and check out some of his other work. I'm sure he'd appreciate it.

Prod - Officer Naria Anlika

Here are the 3D sculpts by Tim Barry:

Breaker - Adesi Haddonis

Prod - Officer Naria Anlika

Over the next few weeks we'll hopefully be seeing a few more prototypes as we build a stronger foundation for Broken Contract and our next push to bring it into the world. Thanks to everyone for their encouragement and support along this journey.

Monday, October 13, 2014


Image of Mars gratuitously stolen to represent Hathor. Thanks NASA.
Its been almost two weeks since my last post. Things are steadily moving here, but all of it is behind the scenes. Sometime this week I should receive the first 2 prototype models. Tim Barry has also been commissioned to do 3 more sculpts. Also, a lot of writing is being done for the rule book and Deep Underground scenario book. Here is a snippet from that. -Nick

     Originally called P234123, Hathor was claimed and surveyed in 2251AD by the Interstellar Science and Exploration Corporation (ISEC). Early analysis of the planet determined that the world was teaming with metal and mineral resources, had a similar gravity to Earth, and held an oxygen rich atmosphere that would be suitable for affordable terraforming. In 2260AD ISEC put P234123 up for bidding and FerrumSky acquired ownership.

     Newly named as Hathor, FeSky hired TerraArtistans to make it more suitable for colonization. In 2285AD, FerrumSky built its first micro-dome settlement, Hathor Landing and hired on numerous corporations to provide necessary services they were not set up to provide themselves. Within months Hathor Landing was bustling with activity as first wave colonists were brought in by FerrumSky, AgriCorp, SilicaShield, ArmedSecurity, and others. The first iron ore was mined, and refining and manufacturing were set up. The first harvests under the dome were made and by 2289AD the colony and atmosphere were both determined to be stable by the IC.

     The 3rd wave of colonists was open to Steaders, and those who could afford to buy steading rights from FerrumSky were permitted to stake claims as long as they agree to a quarterly excise. The Steading program was implemented in 2294AD. Most of the earliest Steaders had a difficult time getting provisions and either perished in the desert or came crawling to one of the corporations for contract work, bringing their dreams to an early end.

     By 2297AD, additional domes were added radiating out from Hathor Landing to ramp up the iron mining operations and to provide services for the influx of new miners. Hathor was proving to be a great investment for FerrumSky and the executives of all the corporations were pleased with their profits. All was going extremely well.

     Life on Hathor was always difficult. Provisions were often rationed, some equipment took months or years to acquire or replace, and safety was not the number one priority of the corporations – profits were. The sudden burst of rapid expansion meant higher quotas, shorter deadlines, and corners being cut. After several catastrophic collapses in the mines in 2305 and 2306, one of the newer settlements, Orin, had its first settlement wide labor uprising. The miners had wanted to stop work to rescue their trapped friends and relatives, but FerrumSky executives decreed that all mines must remain active. Their compromise was that a few security officers could volunteer to oversee the mine rescue operation, but only after everyone’s work shifts were completed. With the collapses affecting quotas and deadlines, all miners were forced to commit to mandatory overtime leaving only a few hours per night to continue rescue efforts. Dozens were left entombed in rock and the grief and frustration quickly morphed into burning rage. There were no clear leaders or organized demands to the riots, just a great release of backlash violence. Massive economic damage was done to FerrumSky’s holdings and someone had to be held accountable. ArmedSecurity’s contract with FerrumSky was dissolved and BlackSquadronSecurity were brought in. Known for their ruthless execution of their duties during the Food Riots on Earth in 2198, BSS were brought in by FeSky to maintain order with an iron fist

Feel free to comment or ask about blanks you want filled in!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Broken Contract - The New Plan

Riot scene by Geng Gendall
I mentioned in the last Kickstarter update that we'd been working on a new plan. Well the new plan is coming together and it looks something like this...

The boxed game is now being separated into 4 separate products.

- Broken Contract Rule Book (~MSRP $15)
This is a 32 page book with an overview of the setting, all the rules to the game, character creation rules, a generic scenario, guidance on how to create your own scenarios, and 2 blank character cards. The inside cover will fold out into a generic mining area "game board" and a rules reference card.

- Initiative and Equipment Card Deck (~MSRP $5-$8)
This will be a 40-80 card deck that includes 26 Initiative Cards and an assortment of Equipment Cards.

- Broken Contract - Deep Underground Miniature Set (~MSRP ~$40-$50)
Currently this will be a set of 8 white metal miniatures - 3 Prods and 5 Breakers. The set will cover the characters needed to play Broken Contract - Deep Underground.

- Broken Contract - Deep Underground Scenario Book (~MSRP $10)
This 16 page booklet will contain 4 scenarios, game board sections, background, and Character Cards for all of the characters from the Deep Underground Miniature Set, giving you 2-4 evenings of entertainment.

I think this is a great solution that allows us to move forward without the massive start up costs of a large boxed game, allowing us to fund the project piecemeal. What do you think? Initial feedback has been good, but what does my quiet audience of followers think? I know you're out there.

My e-mail is brokencontractgame at outlook dot com if you want to contact me directly.

That being said, here's the latest going on:

- Rob is helping me knock out some writing and editing.
- Geng is about to start work on some new art to finish up the character concepts from Deep Underground and some new thematic pieces for the books.
- Sam is working on the graphic design for the rule book, cards, and map sections.
-Tim Barry just received the character concepts so that he can begin work on 3 new sculpts.
- Our first model prototype should be finished and ready to ship to us this week!
- Finally I'm working on adding content to the rule book and working on a couple fun introductory scenarios.

There you have it. Thanks for following and as always, feedback is welcome!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Creating Characters for Broken Contract

Current incarnation of the Character Stat Card by Sam Alcarez.
With the Kickstarter demonstrating that we need to start smaller, we're working towards getting the rule book together to fund separately. If you've downloaded the Alpha Rules then you know that it currently stands at about 27 pages. That means we still have 5 pages to play with if we want to release it as a 32 page book. Some of that space will be given over to diagrams, but rather than filling it with a bunch of pre-generated Characters, I figure most people would like the option to create their own to get up and playing. With that in mind, I unearthed an old rough draft of some Character Creation rules I had written earlier in the year and started fleshing it out to work with the current character card prototype. This is the current rough draft. I understand that the Skills aren't explained yet, but let me know if this seems pretty clear. It wouldn't take much to have Sam create a blank character card to include at the end of the rules.

Creating Your Own Characters

Every Broken Contract Supplement is going to come with Characters to play with, 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. Every Character starts with these Average Human Stats:

Core: Actions: 3 Move:  3 Wounds: 3
Combat: Shoot: 5 Melee: 5 Strength: 5 Agility: 5
Brain: Intellect: 5 Perceive: 5 Psyche: 5 Medic: 5
Social: Lead: 6 Dealing: 6
Intangible: Recovery: 6 Faith: 6

You can make two upgrades to your Character. One or both upgrades can be to improve any Combat, Brain, Social, or Intangible Stat by 1 point. You cannot improve any Stat by more than 1 point and you may not improve Core Stats other than through Skills and Special Rules. Here is the complete list of Stats that you can improve:

1. Shoot
2. Melee
3. Strength
4. Agility
5. Intellect
6. Perceive
7. Psyche
8. Medic
9. Lead
10. Dealing
11. Recovery
12. Faith

You also can upgrade your Character by taking one or both upgrades as Skills and Special Rules from the following list. This will allow you to tweak your Character and make them more how you envision them. These are the available Skills and Special Rules:

13. Authoritative
14. Charmer
15. Determined
16. Heavy Lifter
17. Inspirational Leader
18. Intimidating Presence
19. Massive
20. Mechanical Aptitude
21. Nimble
22. Progen
23. True Grit
24. Who Dares Wins

Weapons and Equipment

Breakers can choose one item from this list: Big Wrench, Knife, Mining Drill, Pick Axe, Shovel, Sledgehammer.

Breakers may then choose one item of Equipment from this list: Breather, Rock.

Prods can choose any two Weapons from this list: Arc Pistol, Baton, Crowd Control Repeater, Riot Shield, Shock Baton.

Prods can choose one piece of Equipment from this list: Arc Pistol Battery, Breather, Key Card, Rubber Bullets

Every Prod comes with: Restraints.

Creating a Gen-Mod

If you wish to create a Gen-Mod you may take up to three upgrades, but you must also take the Dependent Special Rule to balance out the additional upgrade. For balance reasons, crews of eight Breakers or less should only have one Gen-Mod and Prods shouldn’t have more than one.

Gen-Mods may pick one Weapon from the following list: Mining Drill, Pick Axe, Rock Saw, Shovel, Sledgehammer.

Gen-Mods must choose: Gen-Mod Apparatus as an additional piece of Equipment.

If you wish you may create your Character randomly by shuffling the entire Initiative Deck (which should be 26 cards: 24 numbered cards and 2 re-roll cards) and draw two cards (three for a Gen-Mod). You will notice the upgrades above are numbered. Those numbers correspond to the 24 cards in the Initiative Deck and indicate what upgrades your Character has received. If you draw a Re-Roll, hold onto it and draw an additional card. If you have the Re-Roll and you don’t like one of the cards you drew you may use the Re-Roll to discard a card and draw again. You must keep the new card.

Weapons and Equipment work in the same way. Take all of the Weapon Cards in the Weapon Card deck that correspond to your available list of weapons including doubles. Shuffle them up and draw a card. If you didn’t use your Re-Roll you may use it to redraw. Repeat this process with the relevant Equipment Cards to finish your Character.

Thanks for reading. Your feedback is welcome, so let us know what you think.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

XXV. Assembling the Cast - Nells Turnbull

Nells Turnbull by Geng Gendall

     Most working the FeSky mine signed up for it directly or had their contracts sold to FeSky after failing to fulfill their original contract. Nells is Tracted because his only other choice was execution. He won’t say what he did to merit the death or contract choice, but nobody is given that option for minor transgressions. Slightly built, agile and clever Nells has wormed out a place among the other miners through lies, manipulation and connections that let him get rare specialty items through illicit means.
     Nobody would go so far as to call him a friend or say that they trust him, but he has a knack for uncovering secrets and using them to get more freedom of movement and chances to slack off. Though he is despised, the other residents tolerate Nells because of his ability to get contraband into the mine for the right price. The prods see him as a useful tool. He is willing to curry favor by informing on his fellows with very limited provocation. This image is one he encourages. While he has made a place for himself among the Tracted, Nells would prefer freedom to his time in the mines and unlike some would have contacts and the ability to disappear into the dark underworld of criminals avoiding corporate entanglements.

Nells Turnbull
Core: Actions 3 Move: 3 Wounds: 3
Combat: Shoot: 5 Melee: 5 Strength: 5 Agility: 5
Brain: Intellect: 5 Perception: 4 Psyche: 5 Medic: 5
Social: Lead: 6 Dealing: 5
Intangible: Recovery: 5 Faith: 5

Equipment: Shovel, Knife.
Special Rules: Nimble.

By Rob Ferrick with Nick Baran.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Broken Contract - Deep Underground Kickstarter Info

Restraint Drone by Geng Gendall
Early this week, after much discussion with my co-conspirators and friends, I decided to cancel the existing Kickstarter for Broken Contract - Deep Underground. This was done with a heavy heart, but it was clear that the boxed game format wasn't going to fund and we needed to explore other options.

Manufacturing a board game, with all of its components - dice, rules, board, figures, etc, is very expensive. When doing short runs of 300 or 500 copies, your printing costs are huge. Its when you scale up to 1000 or more copies that prices begin to come down per unit, but then you have to have the money to cover more copies than you need. Plus, then you have to have somewhere to store all of those copies.Ultimately, the premium packaged board game is what I wanted for Broken Contract, but the needs to make that happen were just too great, so we needed a new plan.

We've all talked it over and we've decided to keep pursuing the game, but with some changes. The rule book will be designed, edited, and Kickstarted to get it out to the world separately, because that's a much more affordable option. The models, will also be produced but sold separately, and in white metal rather than in resin. These changes will greatly bring down the production costs and allow us to move the game forward without the massive costs of mass producing a premium boxed game.

Thanks to everyone who has been following Broken Contract and supported us along the way. I think this is a good move for us. More updates on all of this coming soon.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

XXIV. Assembling the Cast - Micha Donnelly

Micha Donnelly by Geng Gendall

Micha Donnelly
     Working in the fields for AgriCorp was a hard life, but the opportunity to live among growing plants and in the relative open suited Micha Donnelly. Over the months she found a love for the work, for the field hounds used to control vermin and for one of her fellow tracted workers. Life was hard but the small pleasures and joys made it a tolerable one.
     Then came a day that would end that life. A Prod named Campbell provoked one of the hounds and was bitten. In a rage he began to mercilessly kick the animal. Micha was nearby and a violent rage overcame her. She began beating Campbell with her hoe. He was knocked to the ground and badly injured as she laid into him. The other prods surrounded Micha and beat her into submission with shock batons. She was put in the box, but the dog had escaped to the care of the kennel masters.
     Not caring if she was a good worker or not, AgriCorp chose to activate a clause which let them sell her contract to FerrumSky for a more effective punishment and a tidy little profit. Now a woman who loved the sky and living plants spends her days buried beneath the land.

Micha Donnelly
Core: Actions 3 Move: 3 Wounds: 3
Combat: Shoot: 5 Melee: 5 Strength: 5 Agility: 5
Brain: Intellect: 5 Perception: 5 Psyche: 4 Medic: 5
Social: Lead: 6 Dealing: 6
Intangible: Recovery: 5 Faith: 5

Equipment: Shovel
Special Rules: None.

By Rob Ferrick and Nick Baran

Friday, September 5, 2014

Scenarios, Story Arc, and Re-Playability

Nells by Geng Gendall. Pay close attention to both windows.

Yesterday on reddit someone asked if Broken Contract was strictly campaign driven so I wanted to address that since others might be wondering.

The scenarios contained in Broken Contract - Deep Underground follow a story arc with named characters recommended. In 'Worked to Death', a miner who succumbs to illness on the job sparks the others to lash out in an unplanned clash. They are outnumbered by the Prods who will quickly rough them up. This is a fast and dirty scenario intended to teach the players the basic mechanics to the game to prepare them for a proper confrontation.

The true opening to the narrative though is 'It's Time'. In this scenario the Breakers have discussed a rough plan and are just waiting for the right moment to overtake the guards. This scenario is the spark of the revolt and runs the players through the paces of the game in 45-90 minutes. As a "prison break" of sorts the Breakers are ultimately trying get out the door. However, full scenarios like this one force you to choose how you are going to go about it. Both sides are penalized for killing each other while Breakers are rewarded for stealing a key card to get through doors, stealing weapons off guards, and getting out the first door in their way. The Prods are rewarded for setting off the alarm, holding back the Breakers until the hydraulic door closes (which takes several turns), and for putting the Breakers in restraints. With lots of ways to achieve victory you can play this scenario many times with your friends and have the plan and the outcome be different every time.

Board section used to play 'It's Time' by Sam Alcarez

Once out the door, the Breaker's goal becomes about working their way further up in the mines, but knowing that countless Prods potentially stand between the Breakers and freedom. Obtaining more equipment and members will increase your chances of success. To those ends, the next scenario is called 'Get Kellerman' and finds the Breakers fighting their way through more Prods to try and convince Talla Kellerman, the Progen Technician to join the cause. Meanwhile, there is a shed full of tools, a freight elevator that can be activated or sabotaged, and potentially other surprises that await. Additionally, if you are playing the campaign, you begin this scenario with constraints based upon the results of 'It's Time' but if you are just playing it as a one-off on an irregular gaming night, it lists specific characters so you can jump right into the action.

Talla Kellerman by Sam Alcarez

Also, you'll notice that the Kickstarter campaign has Add On characters. Substituting the Add On characters for existing characters or adding them in can be a great way to vary up the events as well. Some of the Stretch Goals are design to expand the contents of the base game to add more equipment, characters, and scenarios. Additionally, though the ultimate goal is to release Expansions to the game in the years to come, the intent is for this design blog to be a source of additional gaming material like scenarios, scenario design contests, side story arcs in development, and the like. Personally, I'm very excited about it.

Officer Hickley is meant to be the first of several Add Ons. Sculpt by Tim Barry.

You can find the Broken Contract - Deep Underground Kickstarter here.

And you can check out the Alpha Rules here.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Day 1 and Equipment Cards

The first 24 hours are just about behind us and we're off to a good start but we've got a long way to go. Everyone involved is working in their free time to produce more art and graphic design work to show you that this game project is a work of passion that we want to succeed. Remember, if you're on the fence about backing this Kickstarter, you can always just pledge $1 to have access to all of the Kickstarter Updates. Or if you're worried it won't fund, you have nothing to lose by pledging for exactly what you want.

Here are some first draft Equipment Cards by Sam Alcarez. The borders and art are looking great if I do say so myself.

These are used in conjunction with the Character Stat Card to keep track of your gear.

If this is looking cool please pledge to the Kickstarter. You can find it here:

Broken Contract - Deep Underground Kickstarter