Sunday 18 November 2012

Warhammer xK and wargaming almost before war

There was a post at Kings Miniatures last week suggesting GW cuts prices by 50% and that we list what we'd buy if they did to encourage them.

I've been wondering what I'd put on a list at 50% off, but I haven't come up with anything yet. The Lord of the Rings line is there, but why drop into 25mm from 28mm and not go to 15mm, or better yet 6mm? For sci-fi and 40K at 6mm, check out the new not-titans from Steel Crown Productions.

Building on a discussion with Snord at BoLS, I don't much dig GW's heroic 28mm style any more. I think it looks odd. The bits can be useful though, and we might only now be learning how useful. Ork hands, say, can look simian on naturally proportioned humans.

I know I'm not alone in this, so here's another hypothetical. If GW's style is falling out of fashion, what else could the rulesets be used for? What if the settings got old?

To mention another discussion at BoLS, I recently joked some of the Dystopian Legions miniatures could inspire a Warhammer 20K, set 10,000 years further back from the 30K of the currently fashionable Horus Heresy. What about playing a Warhammer 2K in our near past or future, or c. 0K with ancients? Would the ruleset be up to the job?

That got me thinking about earlier periods. How about -40K? Or -400K? Have you ever seen a ruleset for wargaming or roleplaying encounters between early humans? This kind of thing. Various posts at The Subversive Archeologist - like this one - suggest plenty is still up in the air. Early human miniatures are relatively thin on the ground too.

If you have anything like that up your sleeve, you might want to read Lo's current series at HoP on getting new ideas out there, which is now up to the subject of self-publishing.


Mr. Pavone said...

Wouldn't WH-5K look like WHFB?

And given WH40K's Rogue Trader ruleset, doesn't it really make it possible for a Space Marine force to land on a pre-historic planet to fight the locals and maybe do a little recruiting?

What if you set up a scenario where dark skinned Eldar landed on Earth to help the aborigines unknowingly build warp influencing structures to alter the flow of realspace/warpspace?

How about the Squats hide in the mountains of Scandinavia to teach the ancient vikings about metallurgy?

It seems like you could regress the setting to an infinite point (well, maybe until the Big Bang) but still have the same game. All you change is the costumes and the ways each side kills each other.

Settings like WK20K could take place during the Emperor's campaign to rule Terra and the neighboring planets. There may be less involvement with other races but more human vs. human combat. Even then you're really only changing the costumes because the Eldar could be replaced with the French or the Chinese. Squats can become Norse dwarves and the orks are just smallish clans of degenerate humans ruling petty kingdoms left over after a World War X.

I like the general premise but I see the older versions of the game (mostly Rogue Trader) more than capable of pitting any civilization against another. Rogue Trader is far from perfect, it's downright clunky and tedious, but I think it does a great job at its intended goal.

Porky said...

Rogue Trader would have an easier time of it, for being so open, but sadly it seems to be ancient history for many people playing nowadays. I'm thinking here more about sixth edition, and the editions since third especially. I'm also assuming these dates are in our timeline and presumably on our planet, so no specific WFB factions or magic for example, and no 40K factions that wouldn't exist at the time, maybe none at all. Just the more current rulesets, stripped of most or all the setting. The question is really whether or not the assumptions of those rulesets allow us to cover more real-world genres.

Those world and scenario ideas definitely bear thinking about. For the approach above I think creating new factions from scratch or near enough would be necessary, unless one or more is masquerading of course. That said, working out from the fantastical factions would make sense, to at least build on their natures as suitable in game terms.

garrisonjames said...

I'm still pretty much a noob when it comes to Warhammer-verse, so please forgive me if this sounds stupid or whatever, but does Warhammer have any sort of parallel time-line sorts of opportunities, like the Mirror Universe in Star Trek? AltHammer might be another way to mix things up where the units you see are not necessarily the ones that you think you know...

Hopefully this sort of approach would go a bit deeper than just pasting-on cheesy 70's retro-vibe moustaches to the figures, but you get the idea I think.

I'm going to drop by the local Games Shop to observe some 40K stuff one of these days...

Porky said...

That's a great question and a very interesting line of thinking. Off the top of my head I'd say there are very few examples of it, maybe even none officially, but I don't keep up with the so-called canon these days.

The best-known unofficial example of a divergent timeline might be the Dornian Heresy, which is a fan-made variation on a major event, the posthuman rebellion and galactic civil war called the Horus Heresy. The variation assumes a different figure is at the heart of the rebellion and explores where that could go.

There are parallel spaces, most obviously the warp and the webway, and time passes differently in the warp relative to real space, more slowly and possibly even backwards, so that's a clear opening for this kind of experimentation.

Beyond the creative potential, alternate timelines could be a real moneyspinner, especially if or when the current development of the Horus Heresy peters out. Maybe we haven't seen so many examples because GW is a miniature manufacturer and 40K approached through wargames is all about physical representation - working in multiple universes might be impractical because of the number of extra products that could need, and possibly because of a need to represent minor differences in individual miniatures, like that mirror universe goatee. That said, the plastic kits that are standard these days could help make it work, and maybe at no direct cost. Another issue is potential confusion - if the target market is young and the turnover of players is high, it may make sense for GW to keep the number of variables within a narrower range.

Other factors could be the scope even as it is, by which I mean the history of the game is long enough and spread over enough products that there's more than one version or tone for particular elements, and the galaxy is big enough in reality and the setting that the freedom for adaptation and interpretation is very wide, all the more so given the potential crossover with other settings and miniature ranges.

Anwyay, you've got me intrigued. I think I'll put the question out there to see if anyone else can suggest more.

FD Mini Painting said...

We are using a rule set consisting of various GW rules from things like Necromunda, kill zone, 40k 5th, fantasy and a few of our own ideas for a 28mm skirmish game set in Feudal Japan.
The rules are working pretty fine but then again we are keeping it all pretty simple the detail is in the campaign elements such as territory, trading, horses, weapons and rare items, incomes, expenditures and character traits.

I wouldn't count it as 'early human' time period but it's alot closer than the far future, Thought you might be interested.
FD minis

Porky said...

I'm very interested. It sounds like great fun, especially for the number of elements being woven in. Are you planning to cover it at the blog? You've been quiet recently, but it's very good to see you again. I'll be over to take a look.