I was going to subject you to a sappy and profane take on my trip to Lake Geneva, but sometimes things happen. Sometimes you get a lightning strike.
While I chiefly design roleplaying games and content for those games, I love tabletop miniatures games. I grew up playing any game I could. I would sit in on rounds of massive civil war battles put on by NOVAG in Northern Virginia; I would push lead on any table that would have a young, pimply roleplayer with a terrible feathered haircut wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt. I already loved Games Workshop. I was always on the hunt for an affordable copy of Warhammer and picked up the occasional issue of White Dwarf. Hell, I even used the original Battlesystem rules whenever my players would humor me (which was not often). And as soon as I could get my hands on it, 40K Rogue Trader hooked me and hooked me hard.
My love of miniatures has not abated. I used to demo Wizards of the Coast’s Chainmail game (and sold a lot of MageKnight to kids in the process). I did paint masters and development work on the D&D Miniatures game. I’m a huge fan of Studio Tomahawk’s SAGA rules. A few years ago I won a drinking horn as a trophy during a SAGA tournament. The Osprey line of miniature game rules is fantastically fun. Ronin is nearly fantastic (I think it needs a healthy round of development…and no, not in the direction of En Garde!) and I need to play Frostgrave, though I’m sure that fucking ball of variability, the d20 will bug the shit out of me. I love that die for RPGs, but loathe it when it comes to minis games. Warlord is another fantastic company. I’ve watched some games of Bolt Action, and the rules are fantastically fun, but I lack the desire to paint army guys. I just think they’re boring. For some years Games Workshop has a division (or rather, a line) of historical games. One of my favorites is a World War I game called Over the Top, which uses modified 40K rules. But you know–army guys.
I have more miniatures than I could possibly paint, and every once in a while I buy more.
Last weekend, I organized my painting table and started painting. I find it very relaxing. I put on an audio book (in the case of last weekend, Joe Abercrombie’s Red Country) and slap some paint on metal. I started on a sentimental project I’d been toying with. I was the design lead on the spiritualist, one of the classes in Pathfinder RPG Occult Adventures. When we came up with the idea of the iconics which eventually found their way into an art order sent to Wayne Reynolds, we decided to make her a much older woman and her phantom is the spirit of her long-dead husband. When it came time to name the iconics, I named them after a great aunt and uncle I spent a lot of time with growing up. When their Reaper miniature saw release, I picked them up. I like painting the iconics in general, and these two have a special place in my heart.
As you paint, and if you are listening to bloody descriptions of battles in the Far Country, the mind wanders a bit, and you wonder how these two would do in a knock-down drag out—something fast, furious, and purposeful. And if you’re me, the mind then wanders to, “I wonder if I could make a game of that.”
This is basically how an afternoon of painting turned into a rabbit-hole of design. And lead me to a little game I call Clash. Two sides compete toward a goal. That goal could be as simple as killing the other motherfucker, or as complicated as finding and retrieving an artifact. Each side is lead by Iconics—heroic champions and horrible villains. Each Iconic is aided by allied Units. Estra (the spiritualist iconic) is not only aided by Honaire, her phantom husband, but also by a group of Skeletal Champions and another group of Wrathful Spirits. She goes up against Baba Yaga, aided by a Troll and a group of Cursed Leshies.
Inspired by the fantastic miniatures rules coming out of the UK and EU these days, I wanted the base rules fast, fun, and easy to use, with robust tactics and constraints on tactical decisions. Less than a week later, I have the rules, a full prototype of the Estra’s forces, and this weekend I’m going to finish up Baba Yaga and her forces, and put together the first scenario. Then comes the playtesting.
I know, I know. Delve. No worries. This is just a detour, and in some ways, it complements Delve. I just couldn’t resist the dangle of these, particularly shiny, keys.