Friday, 23 January 2015


It's funny how life works out sometimes, and if you're anything like me you'll have lived what has felt like a series of different lives.  I'm currently bumbling through a fairly hum-drum life working in privacy law (via archaeology) in 'the real world' (although I've always rather felt that spending 8 hours a day riding a desk is somewhat unreal).  Weird things happen though, and this week something in that vein happened to me.

I've mentioned a few times on this blog here, here, and here over the past year or two, a little project I've been beavering away on, and this week it budded into the public realm.

What is that, you may ask?  Well its the release of a set of wargame rules I've written, now enshrined as...

It became self-aware on Pendraken's forum 21st Jan 2015.

Why is this weird?  Because it all sort of happened by accident, or rather without intent.  My general approach to life is fairly laid back and I've often found that things unfold in their own time, usually as they should, and so it has been with this particular venture.  

I'll step back a bit and give you a little background.  This all began a few years ago when my gaming group and I were casting round for a set of rules to play our 'A Very British Civil War' games.  You'll find a fair bit about that on this blog.  Not happy with any of the rules we used, I set about cobbling together some simple and home-brewed.  They didn't quite fit and so I shelved them.  

I've been a lifelong reader and writer, and my current job involves writing and ideas that range from legal, technical, procedural, to public marketing messages.  This part of my job I very much like as I enjoy ideas and words and systems and structures; and playing about with those.  Myers-Briggs tells me I'm INTP.  I also spend a lot of time writing fiction, and of course that first novel is always 'nearly ready'.  One day, one day, when the time's right...

Anyway, a while later I was playing a few different games, including Impetus and 'big battle' Hordes of the Things.  Building the HotT armies, I was using Pendraken's excellent 10mm fantasy miniatures.  I had a bunch left over and got to thinking that I really liked Impetus' 'big bases' and it occurred to me that rather than four rather downtrodden figures on a tiny base (the WRG standard) a HotT army with big bases would look excellent.

I threw together a base of orcs and it was really a revelation.  It was clear that Pendraken miniatures really came into their own massed up on a big base, and as a vignette.  I want an army like this, I thought.

OK, so, I like the DBx stable of games, and played DBM at tournament level for several years (not that I was much good mind you), and while I love HotT, it is ultimately a bit 'hollow' in terms of game play, so I wanted a set of rules that would accommodate fantasy games with these new big bases.  Casting about I found little to inspire me so I dug out those old AVBCW rules, which I thought had some interesting concepts in them.

Thus began a long, arduous process of designing, redesigning, play testing, developing, and generally bashing into shape a set of rules that I provisionally titled 'Warband'.

Tentatively I put on a game or two for my group of friends.  They held together, or rather 'didn't fall over'.  'Interesting', I thought.  Time went on.  More testing and development ensued.  I gave them to some friends in other groups to playtest, and surprisingly got a lot of feedback, mostly (but not entirely) positive.  

So the beavering, tinkering, twiddling and tweaking continued, and soon I was looking at what appeared to me to be a fairly mature and decent set of rules.  At this juncture I shall set about blowing my own trumpet.

My wargaming group and I are fairly free-roaming and we play an awful lot of different games (currently Bolt Action's getting the limelight).  For a good while, my interests took me elsewhere (including extensive Dux Bellorum and Dystopian Wars battles), and I also became involved in roleplaying and board gaming groups (after a hiatus of some years subsequent to my latest relocation away from the Shire); as a result Warband was left collecting dust.

One thing I think anyone who buys Pendraken's products probably notices is the exceptional customer service and customer-focussed ethos the Leon, Dave and the team have.  I'd go so far as to say they're second to none in the hobby, and that very much endears them to me.  This means that you'll probably end up chatting with them, maybe even getting to know them (as a vendor at least).

I don't remember exactly when or how, but I found myself talking to Leon about wargames rules, and why Pendraken don't do their own.  That may even have been at their stand at one of the many shows they attend.  My memory ain't what it used to be, but then it never was - ask my wife.  A while later I dug Warband out again, having forgotten about them, reread the draft - it needed work but I thought 'you know what, if I'd bought these I'd play them'.

And so, the discussions with Pendraken continued and our interests aligned.  Yeah, so I now found myself in the position of writing a set of rules, sort of for a company I'd been a long loyal customer of.  

It got real.  

I put my head down and started to take things seriously, spending a lot of spare time writing and testing in earnest.  If this was going to happen I didn't want to let Leon down.  Also, when I do something, I like to do it well; after all a professional is just someone who does something + time.  Doing things well is often an aspiration more than a realisation though.  Yoda was wrong.

Many more highly enjoyable test games and redrafts later, that weird thing hit again...and now I find myself potentially added 'game designer' to my somewhat eclectic CV.

We're at pre-release stage, but these rules I've lived with for a couple of years now will be on sale soon and they will no longer be mine.  To be honest, they already don't feel like mine...

I've no idea what people will think of them; the best I can hope is some people enjoy playing them.  I'm looking forwards to becoming one of those players.

No comments:

Post a Comment