The name of the new skirmish game is Eternal Battle.
This will be broken down into a number of separate books that fall into three types. At its heart is the Core Rules. These are the same for every period. Following on from this are a series of books on Settings. You need the Core Rules plus the appropriate Setting to play in a given period. In addition, there are a small number of Twists. These are not period specific and can be added to any Setting if you want to. This might be clearer in a diagram:
There will be one set of Core Rules, 2 or 3 Twists and as many Settings as people are interested in playing in.
Why This Structure?
There are 2 basic approaches to generic systems. In the first approach you have a single volume for each period and this includes the core rules as well as any period detail all mixed up together. I have chosen the other option which is to separate the core rules and the backgrounds.
The reason I have done this is to retain the clarity of separation. Very often what happens in the first model is that there is a degree of creep over the years of development so that each period’s rules drift away from each other and become not one common generic set, but a series of close cousins. As they are all in their own books, often with different layout styles and so on, it becomes awkward to find and remember what the subtle differences are between versions. This doesn’t matter if you only play one period, but the point of generic rules is that you can play more than that without having to learn a new set every time. I also think that it muddies the waters in terms of development and leads to flabby design. Separating the Core Rules and Settings physically means that I can concentrate on the proper function of each book.
These are a way to model humans fighting each other regardless of period or weaponry. People are people regardless of time and place, and the thin veneer of specific culture does not make as much difference to feelings and behaviours as might at first be thought. There are way more parallels than there are differences, which makes a common rule set possible.
A separate Core Rules book has to allow for any type of weapon or formation and address different fighting styles across history. However, it does not need to deal with the details of each.
Another big advantage of having a single volume of rules that is common to all periods is that any changes, corrections or updates that need to be made to the rules can be done entirely separately from the Settings, and only need opt be done once to cover all the bases.
Think of the Core Rules as Eternal Battle’s engine. It is into this power source that you plug each of the Settings.
Each Setting focuses on a single period of history (or fictional background). Some of these will be quite specific and others broader. Both are useful.
In practical terms, the separation of rules and background into their own books allows me to concentrate on steeping each Setting book in the essence of what makes that period different. Mechanically, the Core Rules are built with a set of “sockets” into which each Setting can plug in their period-specific details. When moving from one Setting to another, the concepts and rules behind each are identical, though the content varies. Once you know how to play one version, you know how to play them all. This means that you can very quickly move from Ancient Greece to the fields behind Omaha Beach and then into space or back to the Norse fjords. The rules become invisible and you can concentrate on the game.
The aim of a Setting is to provide character, background detail and specific period flavour so that a game of Eternal Battle tells a story that is appropriate to that time and place. Games in each Setting will play differently because the period-specific plug ins for the rules change the tactical options and victory conditions.
There are a couple of things that really sit outside either Core Rules or Settings. Instead of applying to one period of history they could fit in many. I’ve called these Twists.
So far I’ve thought of 3: Zombies, Alien Invasions and Time Travel.
Time Travel obviously interacts with as many different times and places as you want it to, but needs a framework to make sense. Zombies and aliens are foes that could appear anywhen as well as anywhere, and so making them part of one specific setting is just too limiting. Why not have zombies in Napoleonic times? Why not Norse zombies? The same goes for alien invasions.