Monday 5 February 2024

An Ode to Obscure Games: Exploring Settings and Factions


I've been sculpting furiously over the last week and have got the next batch of figures for my Leviathan project but as I'm trying to get an entire faction at least to a decently playable condition, it's taking a while but my Children of the Worm should be about ready to paint come this weekend which is great.

In the meantime, I thought I'd have a look at how to incorporate some of the obscure games from my collection into something a bit more focused, namely looking at setting a mini campaign in one of them.

For this I've rummaged out my original Void 1.0 rulebook which has the rules and basic background for the game as well as core troop choices for each faction. Weighing in at 48 pages, the original Void rulebook is none the less a really great wee read, chock full of background that helps set the scene for the game that would develop over the following years.

We have an outline of the civilisation, namely the Viridia Solaris-Leviathan binary system where humanity originated from. We then have a brief overview of the binary systems planets and brief history of how the civilisation, originating on Viridia spread initially throughout the system and began to squabble amongst each other resulting in war and a split between the Viridians, Junkers of Ironglass and the Syntha of Prime.

We also get a good overview of how FTL travel works in the setting, largely due to the gravity well of the dead star Leviathan and then the book explores each of the factions in greater length comparing everything from their commerce to military and politics which serves to give a good grounding on how each of said factions will operate in setting.

We have the eco-capitalist Viridians who have a megacorporate democracy and generally good tech level. Its citizens are probably the freest of the settings societies but as they're working for the megacorporations, this is must be taken with a pinch of salt. Their military is well equipped but risk averse so rely more on well equipped troops who can hold the enemy off at range.

The Junkers of Ironglass are a despotic society, loosely based on Rome with the basic citizens life being grim, hard and brutal, not to mention short. Coupled with their tendency to appropriate tech, planets and resources whenever possible, they're clearly not nice guys. The inner council of the Junker's senate aren't even known, so highly do they keep their secrecy. Military wise, the Junkers are numerous and eminently disposable with short range weapons better suited to close in firefights and assaults.

The Syntha of Prime are a technocratic society who believe in melding humanity with machine and develop artificial intelligences using Prime Obsidian, a super rare material only found on their homeworld. Interestingly it is stated that there are two tiers of citizens, the lower class Synthetics such as AI's and synthetic beings while the upper is the Prosthene or cyborg humans. At the same time their society is guided by an AI called Prime. Unsurprisingly the Syntha rely on technology over numbers.

Finally we have VASA or the Viridian Aeronautics and Space Agency who are based on Vacillus and are essentially a combination of scientific administrators, law enforcement, the UN and Nato. They seek to keep peace amongst the members of the Tripartite Confederacy. As such they have access to the best tech and gear and are pretty heavy handed in trying to stop humanity from both wiping itself out and in resisting the Korolan menace.

This sort of information is really handy as it gives you so many handy hints and creative choices if you wish to incorporate the Void setting into your own games or wish to play the game as meant and I do like the fact its all pretty hard sci-fi without the whole mysticism or space fantasy of many other games. 

When you compare it to the older ruleset, Kryomek, you can absolutely see its influences with the Nexus Quarumate and its mixture of megacorporate shenanigans facing an implacable alien menace so it wouldn't take much work to combine the two with just a small amount of effort.

Next we move onto the Void rules themselves, these are a nice, tight and quick skirmish set that is clearly aimed, at least initially at 30-40 figures a side. Looking at the rules, I see no reason why it won't work perfectly well for much smaller skirmishes with 5-10 figures fighting it out with only minor adjustments and may well be a way of trying out the game quickly and easily.

The other option is to use the setting as a guide and instead of concentrating on the big sweeping stuff and instead get down to the nitty gritty. There are plenty of interesting options for the skirmish gamer by just reading the rules. I could easily imagine creating a small raiding party of Junkers seeking loot, Syntha scientific expedition protected by AI troopers, Viridian marines off on a bug hunt or even independent colonists trying to hold off one of the great powers who seek to incorporate them into their fold. VASA could be used as enforcer types, either NPCs with set objectives or as a punishment unleashed on any warband that gets too overpowered in a campaign.

One of the criticisms I've head of Void is that it is a bit generic and the figures are bland and possibly compared to the super detailed and even fiddly stuff that GW produces, this is to some extent true but with a bit of a read of the rules and forethought, it does make for a really intriguing setting that lends itself to digging into and exploring.

When you combine this with other rulebooks which are specifically aimed towards small skirmishes, such as Star Mogul or Planet 28, there's the framework for a gripping narrative to be explored in small scale.

Combined with the Battles With Miniatures magazines and Army Books, all freely available to download from Seb Games, there's a lot of inspiration to be found and I do look forward to porting Farpoint into it and seeing what I can come up with 

I'll be posting more of my thoughts when using other games, specifically sci-fi for my next update and we shall see where it takes me but in the meantime, All the best!

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