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Battlelore: Creating new armies

Tracking the development of new (unofficial) armies for FFG's Battlelore game.

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More work to be done.

Justin N
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Not sure if anyone has noticed, but I updated the rulebook for the Italian Wars (Undead) that I've been working on. I've stripped out all copyright-infringing material, and added in the playtest-ready stats for the Mounted Crossbows and Arquebussiers. Descriptions of weapons have been changed to be different from the wording DoW/FFG uses. Also, the graphics are changing, both for the page/section headers, and the unit icons. The former are already 'done'(work in progress- they might change yet), and the latter are being fleshed out. I need to make icons that look similar to the official stuff (at least from a general shape/positioning) so that there isn't too much confusion on the tabletop, but are different enough to not be infringing. I'm trying to go with an antique woodcut look for the icons- let me know what you think.

If you looked through my last post, you might have seen and possibly clicked on the pictures. If so you might have noticed (if you could see through the horrible low-rezzedness of it all) some other figures. Those would have been some other parts I'm working on for the game- race-specific Heroes and race-aligned Creatures. For the Heroes, I'm currently working with an Undead (both foot and mounted), Dwarf (Foot and Mounted (on a piggy, even!)), and tribe of Orc Warrior, Rogue, and Shaman (foot only, alas). For the Creatures I have a Flesh Golem (undead), and an Armored Warg (with two riders!). I based them all as an experiment, but I won't have time to get to rules for a while. That said, I am doing some preliminary work getting backstory in for them, etc.- trying to find a way to fit them into the world well- mostly for the undead. The description I've come up with for the way that race works means I'll have to do some creative juggling for the fiction...
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Sat May 11, 2013 1:08 am
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Adventures in Base-setting

Justin N
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Sorry, pardon the pun. And I'm sorry this pics in this post are so small- I downsized 'em to save space- they're not really super necessary to have hi-res.

So, I've been working on the Italian Wars minis for a while now, trying various methods of basing them. First was doing them individiually using Sculpey polymer clay and a template I ordered from litko- someone else around here had it made and posted it. I'm sure I could dig it up if anyone wants to know.

This method makes ok bases, in whatever color you want, but with the downside that they can be kind of lumpy, and the process is time-consuming and tedious. Still, I managed to base most of the skeleton army this way- they look like this when finished:


(Basic Skeleton Swordsmen)



(Foot Arquebus Unit)

I got to thinking that there must be a better way, though. After a few failed attempts, I think I've hit on a pretty good method. First, I rolled out the remaining Sculpey into and around the template I had, peeled it off and baked it. Then, I set it in a cake pan and mixed up a batch of silicon mold-maker. The stuff I found was Smooth-On Oomoo 30.

Then came the casting. Now all I have to do is mix up a batch of Smooth-On Liquid Cast 300, pour carefully into each hole on the mold, seat the figures in each quickly, and then let it set up. After it is most of the way there (10 minutes or so), I take one of the normal Battlelore flags and poke it in to make a flagpost-sized hole. The stuff sets up in about 15 minutes, total. Peel the figures out of the holes, file the edges of the base a bit if needed, and they're done. Here's the finished product:


(Skeleton with Spear Unit)



(Comparison Shot with (left to right) Human Mounted Crossbow (plastic base), Battlelore Human Mounted Lancer, Skeleton Lancer (sculpey base)

I think they look pretty good. Pros- now that I've got the mold made, it should be pretty quick and they seem sturdy. Cons- can only be colored white (looking into this), and they still don't look *great*- they look adequate, but kind of like hardened Elmer's Glue.
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Sat May 11, 2013 12:41 am
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Getting back to this.

Justin N
United States
Seattle
Washington
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I said in my first post that progress would probably be slow on this project. I was right, but now I'm back. I was recently laid off of my job that took up way, way too much of my time, and so should now have some free time to devote to other things while hunting for a new job.

First thing, I've based most of the miniatures for the Undead/Italian armies, or at least enough to run some playtest games. As noted in an earlier post, I have some rules up- did anyone look at them? Am I on the right track? The only thing I have to figure out is rules for the mounted crossbow men and Mounted/Foot Arquebusiers. Any ideas? Here's what I'm thinking so far:

Red Mounted Crossbows:
Weapon Type: Melee (Point Blank)
Ranged: Up to 3 Hexes
Damage: Per Unit's Banner Color
Bonus Strike: Yes
Special: Cannot fire on the move, except at point blank. When attacking point blank, the base number of dice rolled is reduced by 1.

So essentially, they roll 4 dice at range(!), but are balanced by not being able to move-and-fire, and are reduced down to the equivalent of a Blue banner if they engage in melee.

Blue Foot Arquebus:
Weapon Type: Melee(Point Blank)
Ranged: Up to 3 Hexes
Damage: Per Unit's Banner Color
Bonus Strike: Yes
Special: May move-and-fire, but dice rolled are reduced by 1. Any adjacent enemy units become Frightened upon the Arquebus unit attacking. This lasts until the target unit's next activation- mark the units with Lore counters. Armor on Knights and other armored troops is ignored. This unit may never battle back.

Blue Mounted Arquebus:
Weapon Type: Melee (Point Blank)
Ranged: Up to 4 Hexes
Bonus Strike: Yes
Special: May move-and-fire, but dice rolled are reduced by 2. Any enemy units within 2 hexes, as well as the Mounted Arquebus unit itself become Frightened upon the Arquebus unit attacking. This lasts until the target unit's next activation. Mark the units with Lore counters. Armor on Knights and other armored troops is ignored. This unit may never battle back.

Arquebus units are relatively new, they are loud and produce a lot of smoke and confusion on the battlefield. They have a decent range, but like crossbows, are hard to move and fire with. On the upside, they tear right through heavy armor, on the downside, the horses on the mounted units, while well-trained, are still frightened whenever the guns are fired. The never-battle-back was a lark. Too much?
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Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:38 pm
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Still working...

Justin N
United States
Seattle
Washington
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I said progress would be slow on this project, and it has been. Now, though, all the pieces have been acquired- namely, the miniatures. The last of them came in the mail yesterday, some zombies from Splintered Light miniatures (along with a host of others for future projects, like new Creatures, Goblin/Dwarf/Undead Heroes, etc. - more on that some other time). At this point, I now have minis for all the units I put in the rules from my last post. Of course, some of them I don't actually have rules for, yet ...

Unfortunately, the next hurdle is getting them all based- they're so small that nearly none actually stand up on their own. I've ordered a custom template from Litko that they notified me has shipped. It should be here in the next few days. I'll start basing things and put up pictures of the various minis at that point.

Has anyone actually read those rules? Any feedback?
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Sat Sep 15, 2012 4:07 pm
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Undead/Italian Wars: Initial Draft.

Justin N
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Ok, here's the first draft. (Aprox 1.85Mb)

Some notes about this document. This is a continuation of the undead idea I had a few weeks ago- setting the undead empire in the late Middle Ages/Early Renaissance, in Italy. I did a bunch of research and hunted up some appropriate miniatures- the ones I used are from the Blood Dawn line at Magister Militum. It took them a couple weeks to ship them here (Seattle, WA) from the UK, but apparently the owner was on holiday for part of that, and they had to be cast to order. The only miniature from another line was the Necromancer figure, from the Chariot line (also from Magister Militum, though). The Blood Dawn line is nearly the exact same size as the normal BL figures, so that's nice. On the other hand, the Necromancer is a bit small. Oh, well.

That said, the document isn't complete yet in a few ways. While I have placeholder rules for Zombies and Italian humans, I don't have the figures yet. I'm looking at the 15mm Italian figs from Old Glory15s, (Not to be confused with Old Glory Miniatures, who also make 15mm figures, but not Renaissance) as they have all the ones I want (Mounted Crossbowmen, Foot Arquebus, and Mounted Arquebus). I also need Zombies, though. Looking for something cool for that.

If anyone wants to download these and have a look, I'd appreciate it. This is very much a first draft- absolutely no playtesting has been done on them yet. I'll be doing a bunch of that in the coming weeks, I hope. Here's a quick draft of what my thinking on how an Undead Army works.

-All undead units get one extra figure (5 for Foot, 4 for Cavalry) at setup.
-All undead are Bold 1, but cannot be increased beyond that (or reduced below).
-All undead do not lend or receive support for any units (including other undead).
-Undead may never be forced to retreat (but their owner may choose to do so). Regardless of whether they retreat, any excess flags rolled against them are treated as Banner Color hits.
-Activating an undead unit costs 1 Lore at the time of activation. They may always battle back without paying this cost (if not blocked from doing so).
-For every undead unit on the board at the beginning of the game, its owner gets three Lore in his Lore Pool.
-May never use ranged weapons.

There are two basic types of undead troops, Zombies and Skeletons.
-Zombies are either Red or Green troops, are armed with Short Swords (or their crude equivalent), and sometimes regenerate figures when they kill opponent's figures.
-Skeletons are always Blue Banners. They ignore all Bow attacks (Short, Long and Reflex)(Possibly change to ignore one Banner Color or Bonus Strike against them per attack). Armed with the full complement of BattleLore melee weapons (plus a new one...). May have embedded human Necromancers to help them regenerate figures.

Sound good?
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Thu Aug 9, 2012 1:36 am
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Demons?

Justin N
United States
Seattle
Washington
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Quote:
Our land is the home of elephants, dromedaries, camels, crocodiles, meta-collinarum, cametennus, tensevetes, wild asses, white and red lions, white bears, white merules, crickets, griffins, tigers, lamias, hyenas, wild horses, wild oxen, and wild men -- men with horns, one-eyed men, men with eyes before and behind, centaurs, fauns, satyrs, pygmies, forty-ell high giants, cyclopses, and similar women. It is the home, too, of the phoenix and of nearly all living animals.

We have some people subject to us who feed on the flesh of men and of prematurely born animals, and who never fear death. When any of these people die, their friends and relations eat him ravenously, for they regard it as a main duty to munch human flesh. Their names are Gog, Magog, Anie, Agit, Azenach, Fommeperi, Befari, Conei-Samante, Agrimandri, Vintefolei, Casbei, and Alanei. Theses and similar nations were shut in behind lofty mountains by Alexander the Great, towards the north. We lead them at our pleasure against our foes, and neither man nor beast is left undevoured, if our Majesty gives the requisite permission. And when all our foes are eaten, then we return with our hosts home again.


The above passage is quoted from the Letter of Prester John . The letter was written (by who and for purpose unknown) to the king of Constantinople around 1100AD, describing a mythical king of a fantastical Christian country variously believed to be located in Central Asia, India or Ethiopia. Various governments for the next 600 years would send out ambassadors, emissaries, and explorers looking for the land and the king (with no success, of course). In my opinion, this provides the perfect opening for a magical or 'demonic' sort of army, albeit one with its own twist on things. We've already seen that the church in this version of the world is apparently ok with magic and magical things, so what if an emissary from one of the Europe's governments at the time actually managed to get in touch with this fabled land and king. I'm pretty sure I read that Poland sent out one such search party around 1400- perfect timing for the accepted time period of the game, and allows us to bring some quasi-Germanic states into play.

So in this telling, the reason we never found him in our world is that it takes magic to get there and back. Now we have your traditional summoned demonic army (complete with human-flesh eating monstrosities), but instead of being evil and Satanic, we have it in the service of the Christian authority. I'm not religious at all (I've literally never been to church a day in my life), I just like the way this dovetails into the prevailing worldview at the time, works with existing legends, and takes existing tropes and plays with them. Why is it always the dark evil overlord that gets the magical/undead/etc. armies? When we look at history, we really do see precious few evil overlords- I much more like to try to make things more 'realistic', even when talking about zombies, skeletons, and demons.

With both this idea and the undead one, I hope to introduce a streamlined resource management mechanic- lore support. I'm hoping to be able to build the idea that these magical units will have a lore cost to be paid to employ them- whether every time you activate them (like the elementals currently in the game), or every turn (actually my preferred mechanic, if I can get the balance right). Obviously, the side employing them will have to start with a large lore pool (I'm thinking 20 for initial playtests), but you will be reluctant to spend it on cards given the fact you'll have to use it to support your armies. You might also have some units (spellcasters) that can negate the 'upkeep' on your units, kind of the way the musicians provide support to others on the battlefield.

Ok, then. What's next? Elves? And how am I doing so far? Do these ideas work, or am I totally going down the wrong path here?
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Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:34 am
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First Post:: High Concept

Justin N
United States
Seattle
Washington
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So, being the fan of Battlelore that I am with all the various side projects I've worked on so far (Combined Rulebook, CtA-Style terrain cards), I've decided I'm tired of waiting for FFG to release more racial armies and want to work on some myself. That said, as other such projects I've done go, I'd like to fit what I'm doing into the actual game via graphic design and feel as much as possible. It isn't really enough for me to have new races and rules, I want them to fit into the existing vision of their world during the 100 years war era. Also, I want nice minis for the various troops. I'm going to throw some ideas out here, and if anyone has any feedback, I'd love to hear it.

Just as a warning, progress on this project will probably be slowish.

First off, what I'd like to see as races:

Undead, obviously. How to do this in an interesting way? Much like they turned Sots into Dwarves, and Goblins into Moors? Turks? I'd like to fit this into the setting. A few people have brought up the Italian Papal/City-states, and that really does sound like a good fit. Only, perhaps instead of the classic 'evil' undead empire, it's more like a necessity- Italy lost more people than anyone during the Black Plague and they had to make up the work/fighting force. Gian Galeazzo Visconti was known to be a cruel, practical man, with and interest in the sciences. What would he have done had he access to necromancy (as a sort of magic science)? What if he hadn't died of fever in 1403, but had become a lich or vampire? I can see the sunny italian countryside, but with skeletons tilling the fields instead of peasants. When your condottiere die, you just resurrect them and send them back in. Trouble is, I doubt anyone makes 14th century italian undead minis. We could set it up like the Scottish Wars set, though with a mix of humans (in appropriate costumes), and skeleton/zombie minis. Perhaps mount the humans on skeleton horses and just say they're zombies (I'd say paint/model them for effect, but I never get around to painting anything, so it'd just be wishful thinking).

Next posts: Demons, Elves, Lizards.
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Tue Jul 10, 2012 6:54 pm
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