I've been thinking more about gaming in the World of Mortal Engines. Although there are a couple of HoTT army lists for playing traction city vs traction city or Green Storm games (available here: http://meadhall.org.uk/mortal.htm#army2), I feel more drawn to skirmish level games with 28mm figures. In his blog, Phillip Reeve said that he felt the early, 'Fever Crumb' era was better suited to wargaming and generally I agree with him. Certainly land barges, war mammoths, more STALKERS and the background of clashing nomad empires certainly makes for a better 'large/40K size' game than skirmishes on one of the tiers of a moving city, or in the hills of an Anti-traction league city fortress. But being me, I want to do both. The early setting promises great things, but I do love the later 'Predator cities' era.
In terms of rules, I've been a bit torn. Originally I was going to do it with HoTT (and I'll post up my WiP draft ideas in a subsequent post so that if any one wants them they can have a shufti); but the unit basing keeps putting me off and although I've built (and am continuing to build) armies for it, I've yet to actually play the game... so who knows if I'll actually like it.
I then toyed with Combat Zone, for which there are lots of 'after the market' additions from the CoZo Chronicles, and for which I put together a steampunk/historical weapons list a few years ago. BUT.... It's probably a bit too detailed for what I want. Great for the Predator cities era stuff, but it'd fall over when trying to deal with the bigger battles of the pre-traction era; especially given the level of the existing vehicle rules. It also has the detractor of being a commercially available rules-set, and I’d ideally hoped to be able to modify a free one as it makes distributing and disseminating my work easier.
Back when I first read Mortal Engines, I did think about using GW’s Inquisitor as a possible rules set. But since then my aspirations have increased somewhat. Whilst Inquisitor would work well for a handful of air pirates savaging a group of old-tech scavengers, it wouldn’t be able to do much more. If the limited vehicle rules for CZ was a detractor, then it goes doubly so for Inquisitor.
Thinking of Games Workshop, I have also considered both 2nd & 3rd Edition 40K. Yeah, I know, my GW gaming is a bit Retro, but I own both rules sets and have played both rules-sets, unlike anything newer. Although not freely available, both sets are old enough that they should be available for pennies. The rules are designed for the sort of size game I envisage, can cater for a range of figure ability levels (including heroes) and can deal with vehicles of varying sizes. Lots of people play 40K of varying generations (including Phillip Reeve, who plays it with his son) which means it should be an easy learning curve for potential new layers… and it also gives the potential of being able to (easily?) pick Phillips brains regarding queries. But I have found better, more fun, rules since I last played 40k…
The obvious (?) choice for rules is one I only thought of whilst typing this up. GASLIGHT is designed for semi-generic Steampunk games. It has additions to enable players to generate their own vehicles, weapons and unit types (including various levels of hero). It can be run at any level from RPG to massed battle (thinking 3 dry ships level here!), with an emphasis on ‘40k’ size (couple of vehicles/beasties, a couple of squads and a hero/character or two). It’s rules light as an added boost. The only downside is that I sold my rule books a couple of years ago (up to that point I played it a lot though), that it is a commercial set (although at $30 for all 4 official books, it won’t break the bank - http://www.rpgnow.com/product/90907/G.A.S.L.I.G.H.T.-Compendium) and that it is almost too well suited. I do like playing around with rules sets, and for GASLIGHt it’d only be a case of generating a couple of unit stats, tweaking a weapon or two and then that’d be about it… Certainly, it’s a very good option, and one recommend to anyone (or everyone even?)
But GASLIGHT isn’t my choice (Atleast, not yet). One of my favourite rules sets of all time is Skank (http://www.skankgame.com/). It’s free, rules light and eminently modifiable. It’s also light, pulpish and plays through very quickly. The last couple of points are both benefits and detractors depending on mood, view point and game aims. I’ve had what should be ‘serious’ historical games feel more like carry on episodes. But then, we play games to have fun, which Skank definitely is. In terms of scope, it’ll happily 40k sized games, and smaller. In terms of modifications, it’ll take a few tweaks, but shouldn’t require too drastic a re-design. And that is sort of the fun of the project (Atleast from a rules point of view). The other name for Skank (Warlords of the Wastelands) inspired the title for the post.
The pictures are all ‘official’ Mortal Engines artwork, which will hopefully whet readers appetites and serve to illustrate some of the things I may have a go at trying to make/bring to the table top. Future posts will hopefully focus on rules developments, as well as figure ideas and the like…