Call them mercenaries, call them characters, call them whatever you like, Deadzone is acquiring an ever-growing group of individual heroes and heroines to add spice and story to your games. So how do they fit in?
Balance or Overwhelm?
Well the simplest way is as a part of your force for a given game. You pays your points and you gets to include them in your roster for the upcoming battle. Many of them have restrictions on who they’ll work for, but most will serve at least a couple of different factions to give you more reuse of the models. By adding them to a normal faction force you can try to balance out weak areas or really go overboard strengthening tactical options you can already do well. So there’s another tactical choice for you to think about when you design your force: balance or overwhelm?
Another option I’ve not really explored, but which might be a possibility, is one-off games using only mercenaries. The million credit raid scenario in the collector’s edition rulebook will probably be something like this. I say probably as we only came up with the idea for that scenario on friday…
Still, the notion of occasional games with just a few gunslingers all sounds very classic western gunfight, which rather appeals to me.
Anyway, I digress. This is the core use of mercenaries and it would probably upset people if this wasn’t included.
Another Form Of Balance
Another obvious option with mercenaries is using them as a form of handicap or balancing tool to help make games a little more evenly matched. I can’t say this is the top of my list. It does remain a possibility though, and there’s no reason why both this and the first option can’t be used in tandem.
I particularly like the idea of using mercenaries as events or scenery, turning up in the middle of games with their own agendas and doing their own thing, possibly helpful, possibly obstructive, but seldom controlled. Like zombies these could add even more variety to an already very varied game. More variety isn’t a bad thing.
Reading this title another way, mercs are also part of the scenery because each provides an opportunity to illuminate another section of the Warpath background. All the mercenary characters have their back story, and most of those tales are shining lights into corners that have previously been unexplored. By the time I’m done with Deadzone, Warpath will be half done – and that’s part of the idea. Looking at details within the vast Warpath background allows us to start to flesh out the universe in a real and understandable scale that sometimes gets lost when you’re dealing with its subject matter of grand, sweeping battles. Pandora, DreadBall and now Deadzone all allow us to look closely on an individual scale to define some reference points that resonate with readers on a much more convincing level. Fun to write too!
Crimsonsun was asking on another post about whether I’d be including generic characters without backgrounds. The idea was that you’d be able to make up your own stories to go with the generic characters and have that add to your own campaigns and scenarios. I hadn’t really considered it, to be honest (there’s already quite a lot going on in DZ). It’s something that would warrant another model or three, but that’s not a terrible thing. Excuses for more cool models. Do we need that? Probably.
I’ll have a word with Ronnie when we have our post-Kickstarter debrief (which comes after our post-Kickstarter lie down 🙂