Deadzone Designer’s Notes – Mercs

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.


SargePart Of The Scenery

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!


Generic Characters

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 🙂

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15 Responses to Deadzone Designer’s Notes – Mercs

  1. Ben says:

    An All-Star game of DB using on MVP’s is something I want to try out at some stage so the all Mercs game of DZ is appealing.

  2. redfox4242 says:

    I hope you get some good sleep tonight. I imagine that you have been working terribly hard. I am thrilled by the game you have been creating. 😀

  3. crimsonsun says:

    Thanks Jake! All I could ask was you consider my idea, and if you include them or not I know there will be reasons either way. Ive said it before but it is very refreshing to see the level you interact with the gaming community – Thank you.

    As an aside, where could one send fictional short stories for Deadzone?


  4. ph3brickid says:

    The bank heist mission has rapidly shot up my list and is now the top want! I’m really looking forward to playing that one, and the fact it justifies me buying the big $40 book (which I was always going to- I do that sort of thing!) helps too! 🙂 And I really like the Idea of generic mercs- what about a generic explosives expert, that just so happens to be a goblin? No? Well you can’t say I didn’t try! 😉 On a serious note (quite rare from me, I know- inane ramblings are more my style!) whilst generic mercs are cool I’ve always wondered why people seem to be unable to ‘apply a new face’ to existing special characters. Surely a conversion and a cool name and backstory but using the rules of an existing special character would work fine. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see generic mercs, but really the way I see it we already have 10 cool special mercs, OR the rules for our own special characters… Just add a name and have fun with the backstory.

    —Luke Howell-Williams

    • Quirkworthy says:

      What is it with this goblin sapper idea? Is there somethign in the water round your way 😉

      Boomer’s not far off though. He like to make things go with a bang!

      I know that you can re-skin existing characters, though I’ve never been keen on it myself. That option is, of course, still open to anyone regardless of whether generic characters get added or not. Currently I’m thinking that generic characters won’t be an enormous amount of extra work so why not? Re-skinning characters is no work at all… even better 🙂

  5. Troy Baker says:

    Speaking only for myself (and no offence intended to crimsonsun) generic mercenary models don’t appeal ~ although I’m not opposed to “moar toyz!” I think Jake has it right when he describes mercenaries as fleshing out corners of the Warpath universe that factions don’t reach.

    Vanilla mercenaries won’t add anything to the official setting/’scenery’ but may help add flavour to a local league or homebrew campaign; so a subsystem of DZ guiding players in the art of mercenary character creation could be useful. Again speaking only for myself I would prefer homemade mercenaries to remain strictly AI controlled…

    • crimsonsun says:

      what you describe is actually what I requested, I was happy to convert my own mercs, simply suggested a rules system for them is all….

    • Quirkworthy says:

      The game already has quite a few characters with backgrounds to expand the story. That’s a given. The more I think about the idea of generic mercs as well the more I think they’re fairly straightforward and, in general, why not? You can choose to use them or not as you see fit, and for those that want a blanker slate to create on they can be fun. I’m all for expanding the toolbox approach we’ve ended up with for Deadzone to allow more creativity and playability 🙂

  6. Rigel Anderson says:

    Great work and fleshing things out here Jake, I love the personalities of all the hero/merc models, love the idea that some have restrictions of who they can work with.

    What I must say I love MOST though is the idea that you could have random encounter rules where midway through a game a merc (chosen at random) shows up and there is an AI card that gives all the possible matchup breakdowns (if enforcers are on the board Wrath ALWAYS attacks them) and some simple instructions (Moves to nearest item crate takes item and exits) and some other general stuff about how they act (engages heavily with Enforcers, full turn attacks, engages lightly with others, one move one attack per turn). I like anything (including zombies) that could throw some fun unexpected twists in the gameplay. Thanks for all the hard work!

  7. Jimmy To says:

    I think the models and game is looking really interesting well done guys

  8. Jason says:

    Probably the only thing I like about GW is they always leave the background and system open enough to create your own identity for your armies and characters.

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