Wargaming Musings?

I'm a bit of a butterfly in terms of my attention and sticking to gaming projects long term isn't my strongest point. On the bright side, atleast I flit between the same things. Expect an ecclectic medley of Moderns, Dark Ages, Quar and Early Wild West, almost all in 28mm... (with some 1/48 moderns thrown in... )

Saturday, 9 June 2012

World of Mortal Engines - Tech levels and 'look' of the periods from a gaming perspective

The Mortal Engines books are quite hard to define. The phrases bandied around most often are 'Steampunk' & 'Post-apocalypse'. Whilst both are true to a degree, I don't really think that either are particularly apt. Certain elements could be referred to as steampunk in its loosest sense (as opposed to the current modern interpretation which appears to be Victorian + goggles + cogs) there are large amounts of non-steam technology which would push the boundary (Off the top of my head I can only think of one piece of actual steam technology - and that are the steam powered SMGs used by the Green Storm and others). yes, certain themes in some of the books are similar to those found in steampunk literature, but they are also found in other genres. Perhaps diselpunk is a better description in some respects? As for being post-apocalypse, that is definitely true - however, it isn't the defining feature of the series. Since the apocalypse, civilizations have risen and fallen and up to several thousand years have passed before you get to the stories. On the other hand, scavengers digging through a battered wasteland looking for lost bunkers and scraps of old world technology does feel very post apocalypse, as does the feel of shaman types chanting technobabble about X-rays during healing ceremonies and the fact that CD (seedees) are worn as necklaces...

Now, obviously, the technology and feel of the books will effect how I can represent them in miniature form. Although some detailed descriptions have been given, lots is left fairly open to interpretation. Phillip Reeve has done some sketches at various times, and these will be my primary source of my inspiration (some of these are shown below - although, Phillip Reeve has said that he hasn't had any input into the cover art, he has said that he likes the feel of most of them). Fan art will be the second, as most seems to tie in with each other fairly homogenously (there may be another post at a later date pulling some fanart together as specific examples of conversions).

In the 'Predator Cities' books, most oldworld technology has ceased to function(or been forgotten about or been so repaired and bodged so as to be only a fraction of its former self - e.g. Popjoy’s London STALKERS/Reanimated men compared to Mr Shrike). However, lots of technology has been rediscovered/reinvented, and I guess in many ways it is broadly equivalent to the mid 20th Century: There are electric cars (bugs) although these are very expensive, public display TV sets (Goggle screens), radios, crude aeroplanes/Gyrocopters, cartridge fire arms (including some steam powered or bulky automatic weapons). Additionally there are airships which are more advanced than we ever got around to building. Having said that, crossbows are still in use, as are swords and air/gas powered weapons. Generally technology isn’t very wide spread, tending to be concentrated with the rich or the Engineers guild, and most people probably only see a technology level equivalent with the victorian era. What clothing is described is pseudo-19th/20th century too with things like waistcoats, long coats (admittedly in PVC for the London engineers), flying leathers and the like. Materials tend to be the normal mix of cloth, leather, silk and the like (although synthetic fibres are highly prised) Given this, I think a good starting point for city dwellers will be the various steampunk/victorian/pulp ranges with a few tweaks to make them a bit less obviously historical and a bit more suited to the books (cargo pockets on trousers, swopping out obvious weapons for more generic nad more suitable alternatives, etc). The Warmachine range has some good candidates too. Outland scavengers are described as being dressed in tattered clothing so maybe some conversions of the copplestone & Em-4 future wars scavengers, to replace their weapons with less sci-fi alternatives might be in order. The anti-tractionists need to have a different feel, and as they are generally Asian, Oriental or African, I can take elements from their traditional clothing to add to the mix. Possibly some conversions based on Boxer Rebellion Chinese, Baluchi or Pathans and maybe Ethiopians…

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Where things get a bit more complicated is the earlier (‘Fever Crumb’) era. This is set roughly a thousand years before the Predator Cities quartet, and the world is a very different place. Technology hasn’t recovered anywhere near as much (Sedan chairs, wind powered trams, black powered muzzle loaders - matchlocks are specifically described, as are multi-shot weapons which could either be some form of primitive revolver, pepper pot pistol or multiple barrel affairs - and the like are the general order of the day). But, there is still a lot more functional old tech about. Most of it is still dilapidated and no where near its original spec… but it’s still functioning better than by the Predator Cities era. It is also less understood. Plastic is mentioned fairly regularly in these books, but it is a mined resource which is then re-melted and reused; for example. In London and the more ‘civilised’ parts of the world that have been mentioned, the feel is quite Dickensian, or perhaps Georgian. There seems to be a bit more of a variety in clothing too, with bowler hats, waistcoats, overalls and dresses so large that they required wheels to hold the hems up. I think for these guys I’ll be using a mix of earlier Victorian types, pirates, highwaymen and so on. Some of the Warmachine figures will find their way into here too. The Northern Nomads are a less advanced than the City dwellers, and what with their pikes, furs, chainmail and coats, sound a bit like a mix between Vikings (Rus?) & Cossacks. Certainly these are the sorts of figure lines I’ll be raiding to put together a cohesive force. I may also mix some Hussite types in… The other thing to note is that several different ‘tribes’/ethnicities are mentioned (The Soumi, Arkangelsk & Rus, as well as the movement and the Scriven) so I will probably try to differentiate the groups to some extent. The Scriven may be done using conversions of elves to get the unusual bone structure mentioned in the books…

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