Monday, 23 June 2014

A man born from insanity

For a while now I've not only been thinking up the rules and characters for Liberal Crime, I've also been considering the Kickstarter campaign. For the most part this has been boring number stuff but I also wanted to do something different as a campaign exclusive. The result of this is something I have mentioned in a previous post, it's a man called Colin.

When I look around at my favourite characters, whether it's Stone Cold Steve Austin entering the Royal Rumble, John McClane crawling around in the vents or Chuck Norris being Chuck Norris, they all have one thing in common. It's one man walking in alone and cleaning house. It's something that I've not seen done in a skirmish game and LC seems like the sort of world that would suit that sort of character.

Writing it from a game point of view has not been easy, balancing that character was always going to be a challenge. The idea is he's a bit of fun that you can use to test your skills. I didn't want to make him able to hold his own in any game size, I wanted some form of realism. With that in mind, he has the same number of actions as anyone else. He does have some abilities that make him more accurate and harder to hit but his main ability comes in the form of reactive actions. This means that he should have slightly less chance of surviving with every enemy model added.

Below is the rough outline of his character sheet, some abilities I have intentionally removed until it's been playtested.

Colin York. Hitman. Male.

In Liberal County there is crime, there is punishment and there is an old man called Colin.

An unassuming man in his late 50s, Colin was raised by loving parents, his father a watchmaker and his mother a teacher at the local elementary school.  His family were never wealthy but the love in their household always made Colin feel rich.  What little money they had was used to fund Colin’s education.  It was at school that Colin first met a young man by the name of Benito and the two became fast friends.  While Benito was a loud and angry child, Colin was quiet and polite preferring a good book to a schoolyard scuffle.  On Colin’s tenth birthday he vanished along with his parents.

Many years later Benito, now the leader of a major crime family, still thinks of his old friend often, wondering what became of the little bookworm.  The answer came in a very unexpected manner.  Just outside of town was a farmhouse that the family used as a place of pleasure but there was no enjoyment to be had that day.  Upon entering the house, Benito found the bodies of eight men, each shot perfectly through their left eye.  Pinned to the kitchen door was a note that simply said “I’m back. Colin”.  Don Benito didn’t know where his friend had been all these year but he was sure that his return was not going to benefit the family.

Special rules

Loner: Colin York works alone, his cost is equal to the game size.


Women and children first: This models pays no penalty for targeting any model.

Going solo: Colin always shoots first.


Quick reflexes

I have also been toying with the idea of making him a dwarf/midget, not for comedy value but so he'd be a small target and therefore harder to hit.

Friday, 20 June 2014

The unnamed named?

Two blog posts in one day, what the hell is happening?

Over the last few weeks I have released various details about the game that I've been working on but there has been one noticeable ommission, the name. Until I started this project I had no idea how hard naming something can be. As it may be the first thing that someone sees, it needs to encapsulate everything about the game. I think I have finally settled on something I'm happy with but please let me know what you think.

Before I reveal the name, I need to say a little bit more about the setting. As I have said in previous posts, this initially started life as a historical game and as such, I did some research. I knew right from the off that I didn't want it based in a city or somewhere known for having gangsters. My research discovered that Kansas was the last state in the US to fully abolish prohibition (you couldn't buy by the measure until 1987) so that seemed perfect. It also gave the possibility of gunfights on farms and remote stills hidden away. I'm aware that a lot of gamers only had a grassy game board and limited scenery and that setting would still fit on that type of board.

After further research I found the city of Liberal, below is an extract from Wikipedia about the city's history.

Early settler S. S. Rogers built the first house in what would become Liberal in 1872. Rogers became famous in the region for giving water to weary travelers. Reportedly, Liberal gained its name from the common response to his acts of kindness, "That's very liberal of you."

I really liked how that story fit in with the idea of groups fighting over drink. As the game is no longer a historical piece, I have decided to set it in Liberal County, a fictional rural area in Kansas.

What the holy hell does all that have to do with the name? The name I'm going with (for now a lot least) is Liberal Crime.

I have a four day weekend this week so I'll be working hard to get the initial playtest pack ready. My Soulstone Train co-host Shane is back from holiday this week so hopefully the first game is imminent.

He's behind you!

Time to work on my game has been limited recently due to work but I’m going to try and put out at least a little bit of information each week.  This week’s update is on noise and I’m not talking about the kids at your local club that don’t use their inside voice.

Before I can really delve into this subject, I have to reveal that models in the game do have a limited field of vision.  For the most part, this field of vision is the front half of their base.  There are two main reasons for this, one is that I had some cool ideas that needed a character to not be seen and the other is that people in real life don’t have heads that constantly spin round like Linda Blair.

In general, characters can only take actions against things within their field of vision but certain actions that are taken e.g. shooting create noise.  If noise is created within range of a character and it is not within their field of vision, it will cause them to become distracted and have a negative effect on their ability to perform actions.  As in real life, if you hear a gun going off behind you, it’s going to make you a bit nervous.  The noise also lets that character know that something is happening and allows them to change their facing prior to taking an action.  This may allow them to target something that they would not have otherwise been able to target although it will be a difficult shot to make.

In the latest episode of Hobby Sofa (due out in the next few days), I let slip that there will be characters with no ability to attack.  One of those character types are designed to cause distractions by making noise.  These will generally be quick characters that can make a noise and run away, causing the enemy player to suffer the negatives from the noise.  You would need to choose when and how you use this tactic as noise also affects friendly models if the noise maker is out of their field of vision.

This game is objective based and in some cases that will mean trying to get in and out without a shot being fired.  A big part of this is applying de-buffs to opposing models by unnerving them and making their attacks much less likely to succeed.  The inspiration for this was old sci-fi and horror films such as Alien where characters were reduced to a jabbering wreck by some skittering behind them.

That’s it for now, plans are already afoot for the next episode of Soulstone Train where I intend to reveal a bit more (and get thoroughly smashed!).



Friday, 13 June 2014

Insanity or genius?

So, last night I joined Richi and Andrey to record an episode of Hobby Sofa (due out sometime in the next week) and due to reasons unknown (*cough* *cough* booze) I may have released a bit more about my game than originally intended.  One of the things revealed was that there is at least one handicapable character in the game which prompted a question about whether there were any characters with mental health issues.  Although I am a doctor of psychology, I’m not one for putting things in to meet a quota and had no intention of creating a character like that but, the question did make me think.

Although I do have a keen interest in mental health issues (many conditions carry an undeserved stigma born of ignorance), it is a tough one to tackle.  It exists in this world so I’d quite like it to have some presence in my world, the issue then is how to tackle it in a way that won’t cause offense.  I had another similar internal debate over inclusion of the KKK as they were heavily involved in the prohibition movement.  The outcome of that was that I wouldn’t touch the klan with a shitty stick, that boil on the arse of history should be left in the past!

Thankfully the answers was presented to me in the form of a cartoon, if He-Man can tackle schizophrenia, so can I.  Granted, the character of Man-E-Faces was never openly portrayed as having mental health issues but he did have multiple personalities and that’s as near as children’s TV from the 1980s is likely to get.

I have now come up with a character concept that is a little bit darker than I had originally intended but, given the subject matter, hopefully the tone is about right.  I ended up going down the route of an issue that developed later in life, triggered by a traumatic event.  I’m not sure whether or not he’ll make the final game but here’s the concept so far (please bear in mind I pretty much got this far while eating breakfast this morning!)

William Jenkins.  Hitman.

Growing up in a broken home, William Jenkins had little hope for a bright future.  Domestic violence was a daily occurrence in the Jenkins house and little Billy took his fair share of beatings.  The only ray of hope came in the form of Billy’s grandma who always told him that he could be anything he wanted if he worked hard enough.  When he became old enough, William took that lesson with him as he waved goodbye to his childhood.  He quickly rose through the ranks of a local mob, making a name for himself as one of the finest hitmen around.  By the age of 30, William was second only to the boss and had more money and women than he knew what to do with, the only thing he wanted for was the respect of the grandma that always believed in him.

By the time he had decided it was the right time to go home, his grandma was on her death bed.  William spent what little time he had with his grandma explaining all that he had achieved with his life.  The last words of this once proud woman were telling her grandson how ashamed she was of the man that he had become.

His grandma’s disappointment was more than William could take, in that moment his mind snapped and he was taken back to his childhood.  In the body of a fully grown killer, the mind of a small child tried to come to terms with the shame of disappointing his grandma.

Years later, William has still not fully come to terms with what occurred that day.  His mind may be his own once again but it may not stay that way for long.

Special rules

Deadly accuracy


Fractured psyche – at the start of the turn, roll a dice.  On a roll of 1-6, this character’s personality is Billy, on a roll of 7-12 this character’s personality is William.  If this character is William, he may act as normal.  If he is Billy, he may only take move and duck actions, gains the Feeble special rule and loses all other special rules.

The intention was to make a character of average cost that has a 50/50 chance of either being awesome or useless each turn.  I like the idea that if you can position him to do an action, you’re gambling on being able to act normally the next turn.  Like real life, you never know when an issue may arise.

Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to start releasing a bit more about the game mechanics and some more on some the characters and the factions they belong to.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Operation human shield

Hold on to your hats folks, it’s time for another exciting instalment of “Random shit in And’s head”.

As I said in my previous post, I’m aiming to make a game with a cinematic feel and there are some things that have never sat right with me in other games.  One of the things that bugs me the most is that there’s never anyone else there.  You’re having a scuffle in the middle of a town and there’s no old ladies doing their shopping, no drunks stumbling out of bars and no-one freaking out when you set off an explosion.  That is something that I intend to address with the addition of bystanders.

Bystanders will be an optional element that can be included in missions to add an element of realistic chaos.  Their movement will be randomly determined each turn until they react to a specific action taken by one of the players.  If, for example, you shoot someone near a bystander you will need to do a test (trying not to give too much away!) to see what kind of person they are.  Like in real life, there are many types of people so taking an action becomes a gamble.  You will have to weigh up the pros and cons of what you do, you may be stood next to someone who doesn’t want to get involved but on the other hand, they may be an off duty cop with a gun.  Depending on what type of person they are and who you are, you can attempt to influence the bystanders but if you fail, something hits the fan.

I’m hoping that this concept turns out to be a fun little addition to the game, only playtesting and time will tell if this will make the final game.  Worst case scenario, it should make for some interesting playtesting, some kind of St Patricks day mission with a few dozen drunks wandering round could be funny.

Monday, 2 June 2014

When I'm most lost, I find myself

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been working on a game but so far I've not said a whole lot about what the game actually is (in fact there's only two people that have seen anything).

Hold on to your hat because it's reveal time bitches!

The game that is so close to going to play test is so far from the game I initially intended to create. Like any story, it's best to start at the beginning. For a while my job was under threat and I was looking into possible uses for the big fat golden handshake I'd get. I looked at opening a game shop but financially it just did not look viable. As I'd decided I wanted to do something with my love of gaming so I started looking at game design.

Now, when booze isn't killing my brain cells, I'm actually a pretty smart guy so I was under no illusion that I could make a living off it. More than anything it was something to take my mind off the toxic hell hole that my workplace had become.

The first thing I needed was a genre and setting. People that come into my house will pretty instantly work out five things about me.

1. I love games.
2. I love movies.
3. I love comic books.
4. I love booze.
5. I need to hire a maid (or get a girlfriend).

Someone once told me that to make something work, you have to do something that you know. With that in mind I decided to combine my love of games, films and booze and aim to create a 1930s prohibition era game. One of the main criteria I set my self at the start of the process was that I wanted to create something truly different and I had some unique ideas around that theme. Too often recently we've seen beautifully sculpted minis on Kickstarter paired with rules that seem like an afterthought, included just so it can be marketed as a game. I didn't want to produce another game that is basically the GW system changed just enough to stop me being sued, we've seen enough of those lately and frankly, gamers deserve better.

Once the scene was set, the next thing was the game mechanics. I don't know how the pros do it but my starting point wasn't "what dice to use" or the size of the table, it was "how do I want this game to feel". It's no secret that I love the narrative side of gaming and I really wanted to reflect that on the tabletop. It never made sense to me in other games I'd played that a character can get shot 10 times and still function in the same way as if they'd not been touched. I'm not going to go into the mechanics at this stage but I will say that they are designed around creating a movie in your head.

So this project started as a semi-historical thing but then I got to number 3 on my list, my love of comic books. My family got Sky TV when it first started in the UK and I remember spending hours watching 1940s Dick Tracy cartoons. Everything in those shows was bursting with character and that is something I realised needed to be in the game. Anyone that knows me would tell you I'm not the most sensible of people and a game full of odd comic book style characters and spades of dark humour just seemed more me.

You want an irish gangster with molotov cocktails? You want his blast area to reduce each turn as he drinks away his only weapon? You got it!

Really embracing who I am and letting the game evolve to reflect that has really helped create something that I truly believe is a little bit special. That being said, at one point I did start to think I was going mad. And from that madness came Colin.....