Sunday, 16 March 2014

LVI. The Rules

It's time to give a bit of insight to my plans for gaming with all those minis I display here. Especially since some of you have expressed interest in this matter.  : )
Mind you, this is still far from done and I'm not yet sure about a lot of things.

I. The Ruleset


For my games I'll be using Malifaux 2E rules pretty much as they are. There are several reasons for that: Malifaux is the only game I play at the moment, I actually really like the game mechanics ( the first edition was good as well, but I feel M2E was an improvement), my two main warbands from the beginning were constructed as couts-as crews for Malifaux. It's very convenient.
However, there are certain interventions I wished to make on the ruleset. Nothing too extreme, though. Many things are only cosmetic.
  • First, there is the Fate Deck. For those of you who are not familliar with the game, Malifaux uses a deck of cards where most tabletop games use dice. The deck contains four suits of 13 cards and a pair of Jokers: one black and one red. The four suits of Malifaux are Crows, Masks, Rams and Tomes. Purely for the sake of aesthetics and background story, I replaced them with my own four suits: Bone (O), Blood (B), Flesh (F) and Spirit (S).
A handmade Gardens of Hecate Fate Deck.
  • Then there is the matter of Soulstones. They are rare magical gemstones in the Malifaux background, and are used for a number of things in the skirmish game. In the beginning stages of a game each player has a set number of Soulstones to spend on models for their crew (each model having a cost in Soulstones). Additionally, a player can add some leftover stones to the Soulstone Pool. These can be used during the game for things like reflipping initiative, drawing additional cards, preventing damage and increasing their chance of success when they attack, defend or perform other actions. In the world of Gardens of Hecate there is no such thing as Soulstone. So, the point cost of models will be expressed in Silver Pieces. The Soulstone pool will become the Fate Stone pool, and Soulstones will be called Fate Stones. They, along with the Fate Deck, are instruments used by the players to influence the fate of miniature characters on the tabletop. They do not exist in the world that the characters inhabit. 
A cache of Fate Stones.

  • A game of Malifaux is not necessarily won by obliterating the enemy. Victory points are awarded for successfully solving Strategies and Schemes - a player's primary and secondary victory conditions. A fine number of them to choose from can be found in the Malifaux rulebook. However, most of the time I will invent my own scenarios - often with specially designed terrain pieces and models.
The page to the right contains an early sketch of a possible scenario.
  •  I will be completely ignoring Malifaux factions system and hiring restrictions regarding this. It is simply unnecessary for a couple of reasons. First of all, I have a small number of crews. Furthermore, each of my crews is actually its own faction and will have a personal list of models and upgrades/items that are available to it. And finally, some other things I changed, such as fixed scenarios and the fact this is going to be a narrative campaign and not competitive play, render the system even more pointless. 


II. The Model Rules

The rules for my characters are conversions, just like the miniatures themselves. For many of these I took M2E stat cards and messed with them a bit- adding, removing and changing abilities and tweaking stats here and there to fit my vision. These are not the final versions, and haven't yet been playtested.
  • The Plague Doctor: based on Malifaux's Doctor McMourning and crew. This crew likes to poison their opponents, which damages them over time. Though they also like to throw in some biting, pounding and shooting for a good measure.

  • The Countess: based on Kirai Ankoku, my very first Malifaux crew. Most of the gang are Ethereal, which enables them to go throught terrain and receive less damage. The Countess herself is great at movement tricks and summoning more spirit minions. If I remember correctly, I've made quite a bit of changes here. 

  • The Troglodytes: I couldn't find a suitable starting point, so I started from scratch here. Troglodytes are quick, simple and great in numbers. Their Shamans are good spellcasters, though. They are able to revive fallen Troglodytes and throw fireballs at the enemy. These rules are a very early version.

  •  The Horde of Hades: I have not one stat card for them yet. But in general, I want the Bell-ringers to be slow, Undead, have Terrifying and possibly damage their attacker with their corrosive black blood when they are hurt. Their masters, the Horsemen, will be nasty and quick. And there are some models I have ideas for but haven't yet made, but all in good time.  

III. The Campaign

I'm going to need some sort of campaign rules. This can't be found in the Malifaux rulebook, but in one of the past issues of Wyrd Chronicles there were published campaign rules for the first edition. This is something I have yet to look into more deeply, so I can possibly adapt them to fit 2nd edition. The idea, of course, is that the crews gain new members, items and upgrades, but also permanent injuries, along the way. These can be bought/hired, or received as rewards throughout the campaign. I'm even toying with the idea of skill trees for the Masters of the crews.   
I'll be designing a whole array of different weapons, armour, trinkets, etc. which the crews will be able to purchase or find. Also, there will be a number of hodgepodge Mercenaries available for hire.  
I'd just like to add here that the Troglodytes and the Hades Horde don't work the same way as the Countess and the Plague Doctor crews. The latter are the protagonists of the story; human characters with personal motivation and quests. They gain experience, and collect equipment, and evolve in the course of the campaign. The former, on the other hand, don't. They are "monsters" that appear in scenarios as enemies for the (anti)heroes, and their masters are like bosses that need to be defeated at a certain point. Most games will be played with a "protagonist crew" against a "monster crew", and a smaller number will be direct conflicts between the Doctor and the Countess.

That's more or less it for now. If you managed to get all the way down here, thanks for reading! ;)

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  1. A very interesting read! I've been interested in Malifaux for a while now and your interpretation and altering of the rules for your own purposes is really quite inspiring! A friend and I are doing something similar with the Mordheim ruleset although still based in the Old World. That's what my witch is part of in fact! I think I'll finally paint that Malifaux that's been pining for attention the past year. :P

    1. Cheers Jordan! Best of luck with your own project. It has a lot of potential and I'm really looking forward to seeing what you and your friend come up with. :)

  2. An inspiring and thoughtful start to what will surely be a characterful and fun endeavor. Good luck working through the kinks! I'm excited to see this progress. :)

  3. Fantastic start! I think the malifaux rule set is perfect to accommodate your creations. I feel the system is a lot more open for creativity then something like the Warhammer 40,000 rule set. By moving away from dice, you are not restricted to only 6 outcomes. Also the suits offer so much additional flavor without necessitating more rolling or cross-referencing tables.

    Your character rules look good thus far; I admit I have not played Malifaux enough times to properly comment on power level. But I think the beauty of the Malifaux system is not about that, but bring eccentric, horrific beings to life. And it does that in spades. I cannot wait to see more!

    1. Thank you Eric! I agree with you completely. The card mechanic was one of the main things that attracted me to Malifaux. :)

  4. I haven't had a chance to play Malifaux yet, I have watched many videos and read reports and it looks like a very interesting game, unfortunately most of my gaming group don't seem to be very interested.

    But I love everything that you have put into your creations. So much character and rich background. With all the ephemera you have made to go along with it too... Just awe inspiring.

    One of my friends and I like to play skirmish games that we can put our own creative stamp on, whether it's a modified Warhammer 40k 2nd ed ruleset, or Song of Blades and Heroes. But Malifaux is definitely on my list of games to try.

    Also, I've nominated your blog for a Liebster Award over at my blog: Meandering shade, it's just a bit of fun, but it's totally up to you whether you'd like to do it or not.

    Keep up the awesome work :)

    1. Thanks, mate. And thanks for the Liebster nomination. :) I'll try and carry it on when I find the time.