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Battlelore: Creating new armies

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