Thursday 31 May 2012

Designer's notes

Today's post is a guest blog by the game designer of Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster - Rob Baxter. I first started working with Rob while I was at Privateer Press, and it was immediately obvious he was one of those frighteningly creative people who can take a seed of an idea and grow it into something amazing. We stayed in touch after PP and started kicking around ideas and thoughts about miniatures and games. - One conversation lead to another, and well - I'll let Rob take over -


When Mike asked me to start work on building a setting for his miniatures, the aim was to craft a broad and expansive cosmos. We focused on all the big things we love about science fiction, so we had a lot of clay to sculpt with. The important part was to focus on a setting that allowed for a galactic expanse, yet aim us at an area of play where the battles and struggles had obvious “big picture” implications. Thus the Edge was born, parsecs away from the galactic core, patrolled by the Vanguard, regulated by the SolCom.

At the beginning, Sedition Wars was a miniatures line and definitely *cough* not a game yet. My part was to build out enough background to support some cool bits of fluff, give the miniatures some ground for the imagination to run wild, and scaffold a potential springboard for something bigger.

As I wrote to support the setting, discussions with Mike went deeper. Characters grew attitudes, and started to become people we wanted to get to know better. We wanted to see them in action, watch them take on danger head first. We wanted to watch them grow and see where they lead us.

Sedition Wars is a setting defined by the people who dwell there, and the trials they have to face. The Outbreak that you experience in this game is a beginning to a vast tale, a massive universe of potential that we’ve only just begun to explore ourselves. As a creator, it's an incredible thrill to realize the terrain you have the opportunity to unveil. With the clear themes of the Sedition Wars universe, we discovered elements in the setting that gave us a roadmap. The setting jumped to life and now we have an epic in the making, spanning spiral arms and galactic drifts.

Designing this game, and the campaign within, is just an extension of that universe. In Battle for Alabaster we wanted to craft the foundation of a narrative that will continue. The birth of the Strain is also the birth of our universe as a continuum for play. We want to use a story to anchor the game in a way we find compelling. The Strain Outbreak provides the foothold on the vast universe of Sedition Wars. As the conflict continues to unfold you’ll get to know the Galaxy and the Edge better, and see knew threats and factions arise.

What it comes down to though is that we're just huge fans of science fiction. And there are so many obvious influences to draw from. You'll recognize them when you see them. And as the story unfolds, there will be new opportunities for gameplay, new factions, and new battles to fight.

The Setting of Sedition Wars is our homage to all the things we love about the genre, and we hope to shape a unique place to explore. The Edge is a place of endless strife, where unexplored alien worlds harbor ancient threats, revolutions catch hold, experiments run amok, and law is tenuous and uncertain. As the setting grows so will the terrain, and as the map unfolds, the story will as well. We hope you’ll travel with us on this journey to discover what lies amidst the stars and between them. Welcome to Sedition Wars. Welcome to the Edge.

Rob Baxter
Vancouver 2012

Wednesday 30 May 2012

Phase 1

I've shown some of the new Vanguard troopers, so it's time for some Strain love now! (that just sounds wrong.)

Here are the concepts for the Phase 1 Nerco-form Revenants. There will be more Phase 1 variants in the future that aren't based on necrotic hosts, but for now you'll have to make do with Space Zombies!

Here's a brief excerpt from the rule book about them -

A necrotic host acts as primary incubator and delivery vehicle for the Strain infection. Extremely dangerous in confined conditions, mobs of these creatures can overcome even the most disciplined trooper. Prehensile tendrils with injector barbs act as a delivery vehicle for infection. Rapid incubation results in 100% conversion rate of dead or dying infected. Any corpse found in the battlefield can become one of these in an instant.

Here are the miniatures - there are two variants going in the game at the moment - but we are closing in on the $100K stretch goal, and if that's hit, the third variant will go in there too (it's the one in the middle). You get 14 Phase 1 Nerco-forms in the game.



Tuesday 29 May 2012


Today's post is a fiction piece by Rob Baxter - it explains a little about how the outbreak in Alabaster Station took place.



Signal Station Zero Sierra Gamma

Priority Report: Solcom Science Division Oversight

Co-ordinates: [classified data encrypted for eyes only view]

Transcription of Outbreak event Adamant Hexagon Seven – Tightcast received 17 minutes ago
Alabaster SSD, Code Quietus.

Transmission sent by Senior Science Advisor Miolr Depetrus [Deceased]

[Transcription Begins]

This thing still recording? Good… air is getting stale in here. Okay, where the hell was I? Oh, yeah. Outbreak.
I had cautioned the med team against trying to revive the tissue sample. There had been something strange about it. Smart gels couldn’t stain it – we couldn’t retrieve anything out of the cellular wall aside from what appeared to be viral remnants and fungal spores. We argued for a simulation instead of messing with the actual cellular material. Director Chamf was all for trying to get vital replication off the remains.
Once he said go, you could see the med techs drooling at the prospect.
I could have warned them I think. I should have known. I had seen weaponized nanotech before. Utility mists, combat vectors, any number of smart toxins and metabolic Trojans. This, whatever it was, it was tenacious, and semi viral. I realize now that the tissue from the prime specimen wasn’t muscle or brain matter seeded with fungal spore. It was technology.
The med team thought the viral component on the cellular wall was a rogue protein. Some thought it was a prion. Definitely not a prion – this is some type of black magic precursor xeno-tech. Cunning, wily, every angstrom dense with information. It’s memory, a method of storing sensitive and vital information. Whatever was embedded in the cell walls of the specimen, when it interfaced with our med systems, it went haywire.
In picoseconds it had hijacked the assemblers and the medical splice routines.
The data bridge between the sample and the core systems should not have been that easy to compromise. We had a quantum encrypted data bridge, but data barriers had melted under some external code attack, inserted precisely at the moment of the test.
That’s when I knew we had a mole inside. I hope whoever they are, they got stuck out there, and they’re paying for it now.
Once through the data barriers up into the actual replicator interface, the stuff really started to sing. The sample started writing to the tech and reverse engineering systems, replicating with the medical nano handles.
Sheol, the biomed AI, couldn’t compensate and tried to flush the vat with containment protocols. No luck there. She screamed for about four seconds while her data boiled away under the pressure of the attack on the medical containment systems.
The sample had replicated using whatever nanotech we had in the tank. Once it hijacked the med system it converted the mass of sample tissue, the med container, replicator vat, and all of the bio-medium into a viable cloud of spore. Fifteen seconds after compromise it flowered out of the bio medium in an explosion of tissue and tendrils. I swear I could see a face looking at me, in the middle of that mass.
Desperate, I managed to get through the containment doors and out of the lab before the Director pressed the red button and scorched the room. Everyone in the lab dead – Friends, people I couldn’t stand, people I had just met. He knew I think, he was just too calm about it, like he had expected it. I think he had seen it before.
Still, it was too late. We’d already tried to scorch the thing. We probably could have contained the spore if he hadn’t given it fertile new ground to germinate in. There had been forty-five people in that section of the lab.
The nano-spore birthed the first necroform manifestation seven seconds after the Director plasma blasted the room. This medtech named Gillus, his face was mostly vaporized. The spore hijacked whatever viable cellular mechanisms he had left. Reanimate biomass convulsing under the puppet strings of an impromptu nervous system.
The scanners in the room recorded everything. It’s the only way I know how it works. Just sheer luck, but watching it go to work turning a former human into a necroform, it was impressive.
The others in the room, the ones with enough meat on their bones animate enough to shamble or move, reanimated. The rest, too messed up to be useful or motile, bio-converted into more spore. Utility mist like behavior, it moved – not flowed, not drifted, not wafted – but moved to digest the seals of the door.
Less than a minute after the introduction of the med systems to the tissue sample, and the outbreak was in full swing.
The nano-spore ate through the remaining containment systems voraciously. Force field and static containment failed almost immediately. The crew Director Chamf had scorched came for him through the lab bulkhead, tearing through the armored glass and metal in a frenzy. He screamed for what felt like hours when the Necroforms got him. I watch him every now and then on the security cameras. He’s been mutated into some sort of dog-thing; his med tag is still hanging from what’s left of his uniform. He deserves worse.
I worked quickly in getting most of the remaining techs and bioengineers out. But a lot of them had already been exposed to enough spore to become infected. Some of the security staff listened to me – we contained the outbreak temporarily with force barriers, negative air pressure, and a lot of luck. But eventually the spore reached intention density, and was able to make informed distributed decisions. This is not a rogue vector… it moves with purpose. Smart enough to figure out how to get through the cracks.
Infection in the facility was rampant less than 20 minutes after the outbreak event. New life forms were sprouting from the dead, dying, or infected shortly after that.
They’re prowling the halls now. Security is mostly gone although I hear the cannons from the automated security system fire every once in a while. Survivors? Who the hell knows?
I figure it’s only a matter of time before I’m either dead or one of the things out there.
I’m tight casting this data packet through the facility secure distress transponder. You’ll see that most of the information and telemetry has some very strong profiles on the creature’s capabilities. Hopefully someone will receive this distress call before the lifeform or nano-eco system or hive mind or whatever it is can get out of the facility.
Infection is reversible, but it requires some sturdy auto-doc systems. That’s how I’ve purged myself and the survivors I’ve gathered. Once the spore has started tissue conversion and manifesting biomechanical systems, there’s no way to reverse the conversion process. If you get converted, I think it overwrites whatever nervous system you have, and replaces any core persona with something different.
I can hear them through the security feeds. Some of them are obviously feral, animalistic. Roars, screams, hisses and whistles – Nonsense mostly. But the tall ones, the armored ones. They look an awful lot like the original specimen. Those ones…
They’re obviously communicating. Strategizing.
Figuring things out.

[Transcription ends]

Monday 28 May 2012

Samaritan Grenadier

This is a brief follow-on post for yesterdays entry about the new Samaritan troopers. Here's a another variant that comes in the game, the Grenadier.

Trained in the use of the Bouncer MPGL, the Samaritan Grenadier is ideally deployed in tough protracted battles against masses of hostile forces. A Samaritan with an MPGL acts as support during assaults, and as an area of denial specialist in defensive operations



Sunday 27 May 2012

Samaritan Troopers

Just a quick post today - it's still incredibly busy here and hard to find the time to do anything 'extra'!

I wanted to show the concept for the new Samaritan troopers and talk a little about them. When we originally launched the Sedition Wars miniatures a couple of years ago, the troopers were quite a lot lighter armoured and more low-tech - and while I really liked them (and still do), I saw Battle for Alabaster as a chance to refresh them, and add a little more hard sci-fi edge to the Vanguard. The new Prophet Armour Samaritans certainly do that - and the design of the armour and weapons definitely has echoes of high-tech sci-fi video games and films.

Here's the concept -

Great work from Roberto Cirillo (by the way - we haven't done that version of the grenade launcher yet - the one in the game is quite different) - wonderfully sculpted by Kev White, who has such a natural feel for this kind of subject matter. I have just shown the Male Samaritan with Las Carbine here, but will be showing the other miniatures in the coming weeks - I can't blow them all in one post, I'm trying to post a blog every day the Kickstarter is running!

Here's some flavour text about them -

A squad of Vanguard Samaritans can end up visiting dozens of systems on a single tour of duty. This means that each squad must be ready for a vast number of tactical situations. Simulation training prior to deployment often implants specific survival techniques for a variety of environmental conditions. A single Samaritan is trained to improvise whenever necessary, and to persevere no matter what the adversity.

Specially deployed in Prophet Armour, Samaritans are entrusted to excel in the most hostile of battlefield conditions. The armour system combined with the Katar kinesis carbine makes the Samaritan a lethal battlefield platform. Should they die in combat, each Samaritan is implanted with a cortical recall beacon that allows the mind of the slain soldier to be uploaded into a vat-grown replacement body. Downtime is temporary and battlefield stress is dealt with in virtual space prior to redeployment.
Samaritans are seen as one of the most elite fighting forces on the Edge.



Saturday 26 May 2012

Battle for Alabaster tile design

Wow - it's been a crazy day and a half since the Kickstarter campaign launched! The level of support we've been shown has really blown my mind - we were funded in six hours, and are now on our way to the second stretch goal. It's so great - the more people support us, the better we can make the game and the more cool stuff we can give everyone.

As promised I am going to be looking at different aspects of the game  and the way we created it, here on the blog. The first of these posts is a look at the tiles - an aspect of the game I'm really proud of (well that counts for pretty much everything!).

There were a few different routes we could take with the tiles. When we did the alpha rules we created a poster map that was rendered in a hi-tech blue-print style. While I loved it, it wasn't quite the look I wanted for the finished game. I wanted the tiles to be rendered in a 'realistic' style that made you think you were looking at a real location. I wanted to present Alabaster Station as a definite place - a secret facility that the Strain nano-virus has ravaged and swept clean. The virus consume all organic and non-organic material it comes across - re-purposing it into part of the construct.

In the course of my career, I have been lucky enough to become friends with some incredibly talented people, and the person who did the art for these tiles is one of the most gifted artists I know. Rich Wright worked on a wide variety of products for GW - he did the tile art for Warhammer Quest and Space Hulk 2nd edition, along with most of the 40K vehicle cover paintings in the mid nineties. Since then he's produced matte painting and 3D work for a wide variety of well known projects - the intro scenes for Motorstorm, Muse Sing for Absolution video, and many other high profile projects.

He built the tiles for Battle for Alabaster completely in 3D - lighting and rendering them just as you would with any vfx shot, then importing them into photoshop and adding details, weathering and blood stains. I really love the results.

We purposely kept the designs pretty clean and futuristic - Sedition Wars is a high-tech universe so we wanted to steer well clear of any dark and gothic elements. I didn't want them cluttered with furniture and details - partly because all that would have been consumed by the virus, and partly because it would interfere with game play.

There are ten different tiles, and one transit network car (that's a train!), so that gives you a wide variety of different  board set ups. What the pictures here don't really show is the size of the tiles - each is 12x12 25mm squares, so they are 350mm square (including borders) - pretty big! You can link them together in a lot of different ways - creating many different settings for games.

The ones I have shown here are the Cargo Bay, the Personnel area, the Engine Control Room and the Transit Car (you get two of these - there is an awesome scenario that need both of them).

I hope you like them!


Friday 25 May 2012

Kickstart us!

After more than two years of work, the first Sedition Wars game - Battle for Alabaster, is nearly done. Most of the miniatures are already in plastic tooling, the art is complete and we're just putting the final tweaks on the rule book and packaging.

It's been an incredibly hard journey - the hours have been long and stressful, and sometimes we thought we would never get to this point - but we're very proud of what we've achieved. The amount of work you have to put into a project like this is mind boggling, and if we'd have know going into it, we might never have started. (Actually that's not true at all - I knew exactly what's involved with a project like this, and it's why, when I left Privateer Press, I swore I would never do a game - but you know, memories fade!).

Of course we didn't do it alone, and I have worked with some of the best talents in the industry on this project. I'd be proud to put the miniatures along side those from any other company - no matter how big that company is. The art and design are similarly top-rate.

The person that deserves the most credit is the game designer, and all round creative genius - Rob Baxter. Without Rob, there would be no game, and the Sedition Wars universe would be a poorer place. It's thanks to him the game is fun and exciting, and the storyline compelling and evocative.

Why Kickstarter?

So if the game is pretty much done - why do we need help? Well, we've aimed pretty high with this product. If you look at the miniatures, they're not the usual flat, two dimensional sculpts you generally see in board games - they're animated and highly detailed - just as good as you'll get in any 'real' miniatures game. But that comes at a price - as do the rest of the components - die cut counters, large game boards, full colour 60 page rules and scenario book - they are all very expensive to produce.

Launching a Kickstarter for this game helps us take those last steps to make the game as good as it deserves to be. Without it we would have to make cuts - fewer miniatures in the box, less variations in sculpts, shorter rule book - things we really don't want to have to do. We have the know-how and talents to make this a fantastic product, and be able to go toe-to-toe with the big guys in the industry - but we need a a little help.

Support us!

So we're asking everyone to support the Kickstarter campaign and spread the word to anyone who might be interested, we need to get the word out there!

I'll be publishing more material on this blog in the coming weeks - miniatures, fiction, art, sneak peeks at the rule book - so keep coming back.

The Kickstarter page is live now - please take a look.



Friday 11 May 2012

Tentacles of Death!

New release time! This is the miniature we previewed at Salute (in very limited quantities), and is finally now ready for a proper release. We've wanted to do more 50s style pulp sci-fi miniatures since Beauty and the Bot, and this is the first. It's pretty obvious where the inspiration for this character came from - but I think the rendering is brilliant. Another stunning combination of concept and sculpt from Roberto Cirillo and Yannick Hennebo - both really nailed the look and feel we wanted from this piece.

I had hoped I could announce the Sedition Wars game was finished right about now, but it's not - quite... Very close though. It seems that that last 10% of any project contains the majority of the effort (and stress). We will have some announcements on the game in the next couple of weeks though - so stay tuned!

In not so great news, we have had to raise our postage rates. We have kept them the same for the last couple of years, despite Royal Mail raising them - but this time they put the prices up over 30%, so we have to raise the flat rate shipping charge.

News on Battle for Alabaster soon!