Deadzone Campaign Rules

My recent lack of posts has been largely down to sorting through all the comments and feedback for Deadzone and incorporating it into the final version of the rules. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who helped with that – it’s all been very useful

The book is in layout now and about the only bit you guys never saw is the campaign rules. Well here you go πŸ˜‰

I’ve made some departures from what might be considered the normal campaign process you usually see in skirmish games, but don’t panic. It’s still pretty straightforward. These spins are aimed at making it easier for the organiser to join in, allowing people to join in part way through and avoiding the massive disparity between veteran and green strike teams on the tabletop.

One of the main differences is that there is a two level “army”: the strike force and the strike team. The strike force is the whole pool of resources you have to draw on. Think of these as the men and equipment back at base. The strike team is the subset of men you send on a given mission, ie play a game with. This key idea gains most of the benefits mentioned above.

I’ll come back and talk more about the why’s and wherefores later. For now, have a look at the rules and let me know what you think.

DZ campaign rules public

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64 Responses to Deadzone Campaign Rules

  1. redfox4242 says:

    Oh, exciting! Thanks very much! πŸ˜€

  2. John says:

    Read them, love them cannot wai to get my hands on it all.

    They feel like a really good fit for how my mind has been imagining Deadzone, I like the idea of the forward bases.

    Thinking about building on now for fun missions of the enemy attacking your base to raid your supplies, or even just the enforcers coming in to clear out the plague (sort of like a ultra non player controlled villain πŸ™‚

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I like the idea of attacking each other’s bases. It would be easy to add into a narrative campaign and might be possible with a new set of cards. The initial missions are more generic to allow for greater flexibility between factions. We can build on that as we go on πŸ˜‰

      • John says:

        The way I am thinking about it is that if you know where the base is, then you can attack it and they choose from the units they didn’t use for their last mission, of course equipment wise they can use anything in the base.

        Another idea I was thinking of was when you do he attack they get their entire strike force to defend the base, but they have two or three locations that they have to assign models to defend while the attack choses one to attack, and only the models assigned get to take part. More thought needed bt those are the sort of ideas deadZone is evoking

  3. Mke says:

    These look awesome. Quick questions though.
    1 – If I heal an injured character, I roll on the same medical table? So I have a 1/8 chance of killing my guy, even though he was only injured?
    Sounds like I would never heal injured characters. I’d rather them miss a battle.
    2 – just anticipating a weird situation. It seems like every 2nd battle of a campaign will involve lots of fresh recruits. Think of it this way. You’ll have maybe 30 pts of extra guys not involved in your first battle. A large percentage of the guys who do battle will either be injured, dead, or will have killed one enemy, leveling them up and making them unavailable for the next battle.
    So, even if you earn 10 points of reputation or so and spend them for new recruits, I still see players having to get green recruits in the second battle, potentially 20-30 points worth.
    It’s a fiddly exception, but what if the first level up (to rank 2) didn’t require missing a battle. Thematically, this could be a quick trick learned from your first true experience in a deadzone.
    I think after the first two battles, this wouldn’t be a problem anymore. It’s unlikely a huge portion of your force will reach level 3 simulataneously.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      1 – yes, early invasive medical intervention can be dangerous. This is the risk you take to have the guy back sooner.

      2 – whilst it is possible I don’t expect this frequently. The initial 30 points spare is a guaranteed replacement pool of 43% of your strike force and you’ll also have the ability to heal injured or buy other replacements on top of this. I think that it’s just as likely that players will choose to take some free replacements (because they’re free). As you say, even this situation goes away very quickly once the force has a couple of battles under its belt.

      If this is an issue then the simplest way to fix it is to start with more than 100 points.

      • Jack Trowell says:

        I rather like the whole system, except for the “early invasive medical intervention” ruling:

        you are already paying from your repution to heal the character *and* you add a chance of long term damage, or even death, that you didn’t had without.

        While this is maybe balanced from a competitive point of view, I find it to be the opposite of fun, and it’s a no choice for me.
        As it is, I would rather have the character miss the next battle, even it it means having to use one of the free rookies, that take the risk of killing or crippling a wounded model.

      • Quirkworthy says:

        OK, I’ll have another look at the medical options.

        • Jack Trowell says:

          In my opinion, just removing the roll on the damage table from the Emergency
          medical aid. The player is already paying from his hard earned reputation points to do the procedure, this should already be an appropriate cost.

        • Jack Trowell says:

          Thinking more on this topic, I realize that you have made an elegent campagin system that doesn’t realy *need* to maintain balance by attrition, so maybe it would be better if the damage table was not used so much.

          I see one easy ways to implement such system in DZ :
          – first success after armor = wounded (like currently)
          – second success/wound = “seriously wounded”, meaning out for the current game (and probably the next one too while healing)
          – third success (or two success on an already wounded model) = killed/crippled (current damage table, or even one more severe if needed, resurrection cost could even be higher)

          This would mean that a very powerful attack could still have the same consequences as currently, but that you could play a game with half your force killed without feealing that you would be better starting a new force that continuing with a crippled one.

          With this variant, an individual game would play *exactly* the same, but model death (or crippling injury) would become more of an exception that the rule for most of your force, and your strike force/team system would take care of the long term balance.

        • Hobo Dave says:

          As an a&e nurse who regularly attends incident scenes I would say the table having a risk of death is just fine, emergency treatments when its” do or lose the patient” save a lot of lives but as you rightly note early invasive treatments can be dangerous and rushing medical care, especially emergency medical care as treatment in a deadzone is likely to be, can make things worse. Where possible you always want to stabilise the patient and move then to a better facility for treatment, hence missing a game to heal a bit. If anything they should possibly miss d8’s worth of games to represent full treatment but that would be ridiculous in game terms. I understand its a careful balance of realism and fantasy to ensure the game works and is fun but I honestly feel the table works just fine as it is (and is possibly even a bit generous when looking at the other options)

  4. I quite like the look of this (the concept of a basecamp is great) and a simple campaign structure means more games played. However, I was a little sad to see there are no special scenarios or rules for attacking your oppents territories.

    I hate going back to Necromunda all the time, but to my mind that games true strength lay in its immersive campaign system where you had your different territories and scenarios such as Quick Draw that was just very different from your regular battles.

    You do mention that more advanced campaigns is an option further down the line. Do you mean that it’s up to the players to create their own detailed campaign rules or are you hinting at things we might see in the compendium?

    Overall I think it looks very good though, and I’m eager to try it out! πŸ™‚

  5. Craig says:

    Campaign looks really good – I can’t wait to try it out fully.
    I am a little confused about calculating reputation. You say each situation in the table only applies once – so if my maths is correct, the maximum score is 14, not 16 as stated (10 + 2 + 2= 14). Or am I missing something.

  6. Jonatan Reino (asdepicas) says:

    really loving what im resading… we would like to initiate a campign this month to test this rules, we will be needing the clearance lists though…

  7. thnks Jake! Can’t wait to try it out. In any case, this will be a great way to build a community in my local gaming area. DZ is looking to be a great investment in time and money… πŸ™‚

  8. Evan says:

    What do Tactician and Strategist do?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      They allow you access to command actions. Those, in turn, allow you to do things like activate enemy models, unactivate your own, and so on.

      • Craig says:

        Have I missed the update with the details of these abilities? I cannot find them on here. Thanks

        • Jack Trowell says:

          As far as I understand, they are still a work in progress and Jake is waiting to have them finalized before posting them … or I missed an update too … ^__^

        • Quirkworthy says:

          I’m afraid they’ve gone to layout now. I was going to post them but things just got a bit hectic and we’re trying to move on with the next projects to make up some time. DZ took a lot longer to finalise than I would have liked. The only outstanding thing is the campaign section, and that looks like only needing a couple of sentences changing.

        • Craig says:

          Thanks Jake. I can still play without them, so it’s not a big deal. I think there were several that never had clarification (Resourceful, psychic,toxic, steath cloak, Holo-sight, own agenda,etc). I’m sure some may have gone or been through various iterations before you settled on the abilities list!

  9. Deaven R. says:

    Excellent looking work. Very stoked.
    Now to strong arm some of my mates into playing with me so they can paint up all the extra factions from my kickstarter…

  10. scarletsquig says:

    This is looking wonderful. One of the major bones I had to pick with mordheim (which I played a lot) was how quickly it became unbalanced, after a team gained experience it was often unbeatable when facing newer warbands and the underdog rule never really helped.

    Being able to select a subset of a potentially infinite available pool of models for each mission is a great idea (with the added bonus from Mantic’s business perspective that you’re not setting an artificial cap on the number of models they can sell).

    Raising and lowering the points per model for skills/injuries is great, too. It’s likely that this will balance things out to an extent where you don’t ever need to retire a strike force and start over due to it becoming unstoppable (kept having to do this with mordheim after every dozen or so games)… that’s the ideal kind of gaming experience I’d like, one where I never have to scrap and start over but can keep the models in my force, convert different versions of them to show off different gear (that sweet alien weapon I nicked 7 battles ago etc.), eventually end up with only one of the original crew left alive and leading a bunch of replacements with varying levels of experience.

    The only thing that seems a bit awkward to me is the “no rank advances for injured models” thing.. my concern is that it’ll be hard to remember to rank them up after the end of the next battle once they’ve healed if I’m filling in the experience boxes and pass the rank up point but don’t resolve it at that point.

    I understand the reasoning (if they gain a skill they need to spend a turn training and can’t do that if they are healing), but it seems like that would be best handled with a note in the new ability section, noting that if the model was injured during the previous battle then it will be unavailable for 2 games (one to heal, one to train).

    The end result is the same mechanically either way, but the current method means you have to remember to rank up in “one game’s time”, rather than “right now” which could be problematic if “one game’s time” means “next week, after tonight’s heavy drinking session”. πŸ™‚

    • Quirkworthy says:

      I have to say that I don’t think it’ll be hard to remember to rank folk up at all. maybe it’s me, but after every battle I go through my roster five times searching for models that can have upgrades. It’s all written down so you don’t have to ask your alcohol-marinaded grey matter to remember anything πŸ˜‰

  11. Jack Trowell says:

    Just to be sure about something : the initial 100 points are to buy your initial Strike Force, and when you play a game you chose up to 70 points from your strike force, correct ?

  12. Jack Trowell says:

    About the Clearance system, if I chose to unlock for exemple the enforcer with missile launcher, does it allow me to buy as many of them as I want as long as I can pay them, or do the clearance only unlock access to one model maximum ?

    Of course, If it is the second, I suppose that you can chose the same clearance again to increase the cap ?

  13. James K says:

    I like the feel of the system, by having a reputation system instead of shoehorning in income, you get something that better evokes a team of elite commandos rather than a band of mercenaries.

    I also like the idea of you having an extended team, of which a subset gets sent out on missions – it has a very X-COM feel.

  14. spacediceman says:

    IMO: There are too many ways models have miss out next battle.
    After few games all normal guys dead (because didnt spend anything on resurrection), only will have experienced models and rookies.
    That means for battle N you have all your veterans onthe field, which will be wounded/training during battle N+1, so the entire force will then exist of rookies. However battle N+2 all the even more experienced veterans are back. That means that smart/nasty players in campaign will only challenges opponents that are fighting their (weak) N+1 battles.
    Also all that missing battles will require (too)much bookkeeping.
    What is the need for missing out battles rules?

    Also it would be nice if (winning)missions have long-term campaign effects beyond RP (like territory gain or special unlock)..

    • Teemu Hemminki says:

      If I counted right, there are three ways of becoming absent. By gaining a new skill (you have to roll 1-2 when going up a rank for this), by being resurrected and by being injured (which can be bought away, with a risk).
      As missions don’t necessarily mean that you have to kill everything that your opponent has (some can be won without killing anything) there might not be too many injuries and kills.
      I think that Jake has balanced this campaign system and game, so that such a situation where full force has to be made from rookies is extremely rare.

      Territory gain or Mordheim’s exploration system would be nice, but a copycat move.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Territory is a minor consideration within the Deadzone. Very few forces will be concerned with holding a particular position for more than a short time. They are more interested in killing people, stealing stuff, etc. None of these requires holding ground for long.

      The idea of territory came up in early discussions, mainly because it’s what Necromunda, etc did. It doesn’t fit with the core background.

      I can, however, envisage a specific narrative campaign variant where it was important. That would be an exception rather than the norm though.

      I’m looking at the injured rules again. However, even discounting this I think you’ll have less trouble than you imagine. There are far more ways for a model to be out of step with his fellow veterans than in step, so the on and off situation you describe will not be commonplace.

      I’m also considering increasing the initial 100 points to provide more of a buffer.

    • John says:

      Hmm sounds like the type of player who for that may not be the type of player you want in your campaign.

      Although the organiser can limit it by saying that you need to split your
      Force between veterans and rookies except in certain missions.

  15. McHolty says:

    All of this sounds awesome!

    However, the amount of paper involved could become annoying. Any talk of getting an app created that would track all of this for us?

    • Quirkworthy says:

      “The amount of paper”?

      One sheet.

      • McHolty says:

        haha, I didn’t mean paper. I meant paperwork.

        Knowing myself…I would lose the sheet of paper…not write legibly enough…spill something on it…my dog would eat it…etc.

        However, if it was all in my phone I would have nothing to worry about πŸ™‚

        • Quirkworthy says:

          An app would be a nice addition. The same is true for any campaign/league system as they all have a similar amount of paperwork.

          As far as DreadBall is concerned I know someone who is working on that πŸ˜‰

  16. crimsonsun says:

    Hi Jake does the campaign system all players to use a higher agreed points limit than 70 as this seems highly restrictive if you have an experienced squad especially in the case of Enforcers who start at 10pts upwards per model can at maximum by level seven could be paying 26 points for abilities (this is the max but not very likely obviously but is possible) so that is 36points for a Trooper or if it was a captain 54points which would leave a grand total of 16 points for the rest of your force.

    I am surprised you chose to use a 100 based point scale over 1000 as the later would provide far and away more flexibility for fine tuning the balance & equipment lists. I think how you have handled the new recruits, Reputation and Clearance is really fresh and a excellent idea, while the experience system is simple but still providing a good deal of options. I was however surprised to see that the only ways of gaining experience was survival and kills I see this as a somewhat restrictive and unless you have changed Blaze Away that makes some models only chance of gaining XP from survival and melee combat (armed with a heavy weapons the later seems highly unlikely) meaning that they are seriously hampered in advancement.

    I am slightly disappointed that the abilities are limited to those that models can start with and there is nothing new in terms of what can be gained via experience, I was also hoping for a far more detailed injury system so models can lose arms, or become captured (& converted) which would also open up options for mechanical appendages. I am hoping that the equipment list/options is an extensive one and from the kick starter main page I assume they will be Ancient Tech’s that can be gained in game so I will be interested to see what comes from this, as well as Mutations (though I have a feeling this will just be a generic bonus and not have various mutant options) and as a final thought I was wondering if the game/background will include much on Psychics as this appeals.

    I know a lot of my hang up’s are due to the game being a mix of board game and Skirmish system as you have to cater for two markets that have different expectations/requirements. Thus it is the board game streamlining I am disappointed by, but it is only to be expected.

    Thanks for your work and for keeping us informed as always.


    • Jack Trowell says:

      Good point about models with blaze away only lacking XP chances.

      There was however talks of maybe giving such models a way to kill a target in some situations, is there any news about that ?

    • jonatan reino (asdepicas) says:

      I see that allowing only 70 points to be fielded is a good way to maintain the game balanced… But as crimsonsun says its highly restrictive, i think that its quite counterintuitive that as the campaign advances you are going to field less and less miniatures.

      • Craig says:

        If you’re running the campaign you could increase the points allowed as the game advances. Maybe add 20 pts to the fielded limit (to 90) and the squad limit (120) for eg. once everyone has played three games – that way the increases in cost are countered by the increases in limit. As GM this would be your right! It’s something I have considered for a longer campaign. Also you could have larger scale games with higher limits to enable larger squads once in a while. I’ll certainly throw in a couple of 2 mat games with 100 pts fielded once the campaing has moved along.

        • Quirkworthy says:

          Larger games (on more mats) would certainly allow more points.

          As you say, a campaign organiser can (and probably should) include variant scenarios and so on to make things even more exciting.

          The chances of those extreme points costs are, however, more than a little unlikely. The example given is wrong (it should be a max of +20 not +26 at rank 7) and that assumes you always choose an ability when you roll an 8. Of course, the model also has to survive a large number of battles (and the campaign has to last long enough). Even if all that is true, it’s a 1 in 360 chance.

          At those odds I’m not really worried.

        • Craig says:

          And again Jake, you have a sound answer! πŸ™‚ I only used 20pts as an example. If characters are leveling up by only a couple of points every few games, then yes, I will not need to increase the points limit unless I want to run a larger game – which I might use as “finale”, or just an excuse to use everything I have!

          Thanks again Jake. πŸ˜€

    • crimsonsun says:

      Totally agree that the odds are incredibly low but the thing with numbers is that is only a matter of time before they come up.

      For example I play a huge amount of online bloodbowl, and have clocked up more than a 1000 games on the current version let alone the previous ones, I play Khemri to pretty much exclusion but I have had the following happen triple skulls (1.62%chance), reroll triple skulls (1.62%chance), break av 10 & injury (2.778%chance), regenerate fail (50%chance), result Dead (16%chance) on the final turn, and then the EXACT same number string on turn 16 in my next game with a parallel Khemri side in a different league not 2hours later the odds on that combined is 0.0000010096987847632076 % chance.

      Now 1/360 means at least once in 360 peoples factions this is going to happen and when you add in less severe examples of the above (obviously I was looking at the extreme side of things) you could be looking at 3 man combat teams once in every hundred force lists. If you consider this to be a possible concern or not is a different conversation entirely I am just playing devils advocate really on this.

      On the other hand I am not in agreement with you regarding blazing away being unable to cause damage (Not saying your wrong/flawed etc in you choice to do this) but for me that is something I really do not like. Which actually got me to thinking though that perhaps it is unrealistic to expect a game to tick all your boxes (especially mine since I do not like the current design trend as I mention previously) and that if I really want a system that is going to do exactly what I want it too I am better off designing it myself and play testing with my friends as well as getting there design input, but once more that is a different discussion. Though now the idea is in my mind I may use this a an excuse to get my own blog actually started soon…


      • Craig says:

        I’m with you on the Blaze Away issue – but mainly due to some weapons having Rapid Fire, meaning it is impossible as it stands, to actually hurt anyone.

        As for the odds – as I say, if the need arises, up the points limit to keep the squads of similar sizes.

  17. Hopefully if they make an app you will be able to use it on a laptop. Then again reprinting lists when they became illegible worked for me last time I ran mordheim. Any chance of players being able to agree to raise the point limit on the strike team if two strike forces end up with higher points available?

    • Craig says:

      How about laminating the sheets and using wet-wipe pens, so the sheets can be stored in a small folder and protected between battles? Just an idea – I may be talking tosh . . . .

  18. Jonatan Reino (asdepicas) says:

    My play group has been testing the campaign rules (this time i couldnt attend myself) playing intensely throughout the weekend. TheyΒ΄ve found the rules really interesting and fun, but nearly all of them complain about the same thing: when a player after lots of hard won battles manages to “level up” his troopers he finds himself in disadvantage with players that have not earned so many XPs, (seems that the cost of new abilities is too high in comparison with the cost of another model) the problem seems to be that instead of giving some kind of compensation to the player with fewer XP as other games do (for example blood bowl) this rules limit what the player with more XPs can field, it seems a bit counterintuitive and frustrating that after struggling to win your battles and gain the XPs you find yourself fielding less models in the next game…

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Thanks for the feedback. There is a certain amount of getting used to this approach as it is a bit different. In reality, this is exactly what really happens with military forces. If you have a task that would take a regiment of normal troops to, you might send only a couple of companies of elite troops. If you had special forces then it would be perhaps a platoon that got sent. Of course, Chuck Norris would do it on his own πŸ˜‰

      More elite, better trained and equipped troops are almost always used in smaller packets.

      Having said that, I can look again at the amount of points a model increases. That is always a balancing act and it could perhaps be refined.

  19. Teemu Hemminki says:

    I know it’s over a year late, but got back to thinking about the DZ campaign system because of some posts in this topic:

    For starters I love the Strike Team/Strike Force system in Deadzone campaign system. I also like how new abilities are the same as in basic game, because I find “only in campaign” skills harder to memorize. Other parts of the campaign system are good enough, but there are three things that I/people find wrong:

    1) Resurrection roll fee. It eats away the reputation too fast and is unbalanced among models with different point costs.
    2) Veteran costs. I don’t know anyone who likes this, some have claimed that they don’t like to play campaigns because of it. Also, fixed point costs for all models, that do have different point values, is unbalanced.
    My suggestion is that instead of having point costs for experience, you create underdogs system based only on the ranks in the Strike Teams. If total ranks of other Strike Team was higher than total ranks of the other, then the underdog would get some bonus.
    3) Lack of narrative tools. Although I do think that gamers do create their own narrative, it would be nice to have more tools in the campaigns to emphasis the narrative and “feel of being there”. There could be multiple tools for different effects.

    Hopefully Deadzone 1.5 will fix first two problems. For third, I would like to see a supplement book, that would give variable tools for playing campaign games (like the two different systems of NecroHeim).

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