June 4, 2015 by brennon
With three days left to go on Kickstarter we talked with Dean James of Broken Spirit Wargames about his project which bridges the gap between the Historical and the Fantastical, Immortal – Dark Age Fantasy…
BoW: First off can you tell us a little bit about Broken Spirit Wargames and how it came to be?
Dean: Broken Spirit came about because I was playing a few different systems at the time and investing a lot of money as all gamers do into huge armies. This gets a little tiresome when your gaming group keeps swapping between different systems and the next new thing is always on the horizon.
After looking around at some of the smaller miniature companies out there I found that there were a lot of miniature lines without any official rule sets for them, so I wondered about the viability of producing my own for various stuff I had hiding away in boxes; just to develop some neat games mechanics.
Meanwhile I had been playing and winning in tournaments for a few years and became friendly with some people in the industry. After a few telephone calls and numerous emails, I was asked to work on a couple of ideas that haven’t seen the light of day as yet due to one thing or another. Throughout this “finding my feet” stage I started to pull together a team with certain skills.
Painters, editors, play testers and terrain makers eventually materialised and these guys are now the team. At the moment we have two sets of completed rules, one is Immortal and the other is a 15mm Ancients/Medieval set of rules that we need to find a company to work with to produce miniatures for.
We are also right now developing a really exciting set of 28mm skirmish rules in partnership with a miniature company which will be hopefully finished next year (but we cant talk about that). So as you can see, we are a very busy bunch!
Immortal is a fascinating game that brings together historical events and factions with fantastical elements. Can you give us a brief overview of the game world and what made you think about this as the setting for a wargame?
Broken Spirit try to base a game in reality but give them an either Fantasy, Sci-Fi or Horror edge to them. We feel that if we base a game in reality then we grab the attention of those players even before we add the “edge” to it. The dark ages is a genre that is mostly overlooked, apart from great games like SAGA and the like, so for us it was a no-brainer. The era was in tatters with lots of different factions vying for power.
Westwind Productions had this great miniature line called Lucifer’s Wars that were made almost ten years ago. We asked Westwind if they would let us use there range for photographs in the book as we had this idea that the nations of Britain were at a stalemate with no-one having the upper hand. Thinking realistically, the people would turn to Gods and Witchcraft for help to either survive or slaughter.
After many conversations we came up with the idea that amongst all this bloodshed and Britain on its knees, a book was sent from the spirit realms that taught the humans how to summon the Immortals into their own realm to help them fight.
Now we have the Nations of the Picts, Romano-British, Welsh, Irish, Saxon and the tribes of the Pennines all calling forth the powers of good and evil to help them carve out a nation. In summary, it’s the dark age human nations fighting alongside the beings of the spirit world for domination.
One of the major fantastical elements is the inclusion of the Immortals themselves. Tell us a bit about how they are used in the game.
Immortals are the Monsters of the game. They are summoned to the battlefield by the faith and devotion of the human warbands. When an Immortal arrives on the battlefield at the start of the game, you roll a D6 and see which God turns up. This means that each battle is different as you have to evaluate your battle plan fast. Each Immortal has a different set of powers too. For example, some are combat monsters whilst others trick the minds of the humans.You can even harness the elemental powers of fire to create barriers to block LOS of shoot fire balls.
Some of the Immortals use there powers to create illusions, or teleport units across the battlefield. As you can tell, the tactical nuances are almost limitless. When playing a game of Immortal, you must choose either to be aligned to the forces of GOOD or the forces of EVIL. Each alignment has five gods that can be called forth.
It is very important not to just rush your Immortal into combat though. Yes, it is the best model combat wise on the table, but if you lose it, all of your spiritual creatures that your warband has brought with it all disappear back to the Void, leaving the humans to fight it out on there own.
Immortals should be used to stalk the line behind your humans and use there special abilities to outwit your enemy. Humans can also draw power from the immortals to boost there battlefield abilities. The last thing an Immortal can do is summon demons and Martyr Beacons onto the table using Faith.
Another of the big mechanics is the use of Faith. This sounds like a really interesting addition to the game and it would be fascinating to see how this comes across. What can you tell us about it’s uses?
Faith is the crux of Immortal, without it your just a sack of meat ready to be slaughtered. When creating a warband (10-25 models), you must think about the composition of your force. Heroes lead your warbands and then you choose either a Priest or a Warlord. Once you have chosen which one to take, you choose battlefield skills for them, arm them, and roll to receive a blessing from the Immortal.
Blessings include devotional bodyguards, spirit possessions, teleportation and the like. Warlords are aggressive combat models whereas Priests can heal and control the flow of Faith in a game. Each human unit you take in the warband generates faith which is all added into the Faith Pool. you can use your faith pool to boost dice results and summon demons and Martyr Beacons.
If you Faith pool ever runs dry, all spiritual creatures in your warband are returned to the void, just like when your Immortal is killed. Priests can manipulate the faith pool by adding to it each turn or draining the enemies. This forces you not only to think about the composition of you warband but how you use the Faith in battle without it being reduced to zero.
Summoned Demons can be bought into being by Immortals but take up a lot of faith to hold them in our reality as they are very aggressive and I see them as like little cruise missiles; they just mess stuff up! Good Immortals can summon Martyr Beacons.
Martyr Beacons allow you to control zones of the battlefield. Evil spiritual creatures are unable to enter its zone of control and friendly models are immune to command checks whilst in the zone. In short, Evil is fast and aggressive and Good has lots of armour and is more defensive. Again, lots of tactical implications.
How do you play out games of Immortals? Is it standard pitched battle style affairs or is there a different way of playing the game?
Games of Immortal are played out between 150-400 points which range from ooh, say ten to thirty models? We have five different scenarios which drive games is certain directions. The closest thing we have to a stand up fight is Kill the King. This is where the mission for both sides is to kill the opposing warband’s Hero model.
Other scenarios are…
- Relics (Finding sacred amulets and using them in game)
- Battle Royal (This has a points system for destroying units)
- Portals (Attack the enemies Henge and defeat the Guardian inside to win)
- Raid (This sees a handful of humans trying to steal the enemies loots and get it of the table)
The Raid is a free scenario you can download from the Kickstarter Page. It includes all the basic rules for the game but leaves out the more advanced stuff like the spiritual being etc.
Miniatures wise what do you need to play this game? Is there a set of miniatures you created yourself or are you open to anything from the market?
Unfortunately we do not produce any miniatures at the moment. As I said before we all have lead mountains cluttering up the place and the whole point of the project is that wargamers only really need buy a book to play the game. Any dark age and Fantasy miniatures that you have already in your collection can be re-used to play Immortal.
I’ve seen SAGA armies and LOTR stuff as well as many other manufactures miniatures being used in peoples warbands. We feel this really gives you huge options to field you old minis that are lying around collecting dust.
At this point it’s worth mentioning the Tribes of the Pennines. These guys are really great as they allow you to use any model range from Ancients to dark age. This means Spartans, Sumerians, Egyptians, Hittites, Roman Legions, Celts, Vikings etc.
These tribes have lived in small communities for centuries and no-one has ever dared enter the Pennines! Alongside Westwind’s Fantasy and Arthurian range, we were also blessed with Footsore’s miniatures (formerly Musketeer) to use in our photographs.
The world is your oyster when choosing what miniatures you want to use. Potentially this is a quite cheap game to get into; you just need the book.
Which is your favourite faction to play as in the game and what are some of the sneaky tactics you employ with them in your games?
We have six nations to choose from in the game and each of them can be either aligned to Good or Evil. Each Nation has its own distinct feel with Saxons and Romans being the heavy types whereas the Welsh and Picts are quite light and sneaky. The Pennines and Irish are somewhere in the middle. Personally I love anything Roman in any scale as they look so cool and I don’t live far from Hadrian’s Wall!
For Immortal I have a great Pict force. Picts are quite Shooty in their style and have a unit of missile troops as their compulsory choice. They are limited to how many armoured units they can take and can take a decent number of Minions (Lesser spiritual beings).
The National Characteristic they possess is that they are great ambushers which lets them set an a unit up in no-man’s lands at the start of the battle. This gives them an advantage the other nations do not have. Set a unit of bowmen up in a wood with your ambushing move and the enemy are under fire from the first turn.
Picts also have a high scouting level which means they get the chance to move terrain in there favour before deployment as they choose the best places to attack from. Each Nation has a special elite unit that can be taken as well.
Picts can take Woad Scouts. Woad Scouts receive an Aura saving throw (they believe the paint makes them invulnerable) and they also are very useful in wooded areas (top secret)! All Nations have a national characteristic, Scouting Level and Specialist unit.
Finally where do you see the game going in the future? Do you have a plan for expansions and more down the line?
We need this Kickstarter to be a success for a few reasons. Firstly, we really want this to be a hardback book; something that can be displayed on your shelf for many years to come. Secondly we have worked very hard on the layout, photographs, terrain and painting of the minis to not just let this go to a PDF.
There are also financial implications which I am forced to take into consideration. The future primarily depends on the success of the Kickstarter. We can take Immortal in a few directions too with supplements. We could possibly explore one dealing with the Nations of Europe and the Middle East; this has a lot of exciting possibilities. We also have ideas for a Freedom Fighter Faction that do not believe in the lies of the Immortals. These guys would be very Nature Based and maybe led by a character like Merlin!!!
Campaign systems are also a great add-on and we can create something that really sees your Heroes transform into shining beacons of hope or deranged murderers with mutations and a whole new set of abilities and blessings.
Although we are already committed to our next game, Immortal will definitely be supported in the near future. We just need the community to give it a try and see if they like it. The game is very much like chess in that you have to sacrifice units and create gambits to accomplish a victory; it’s NOT about how hard your biggest unit is.
If you can’t think on your feet and adapt to the enemies tactics then you’re beaten before you start. The rules are simple so you do not need to be rifling through the book mid-game so you can focus on what’s going on every second of your game.
IT’S ALL ABOUT TACTICS…will you take up the challenge?
Thank you Dean, it’s been fascinating learning about the game!
So there you go. That’s a little bit more about the background behind Broken Spirit and ways in which Immortal plays out on the tabletop. Head on over to the Kickstarter and give it a look.
What do you think of the game?
"We feel that if we base a game in reality then we grab the attention of those players even before we add the "edge" to it..."
"Personally I love anything Roman in any scale as they look so cool and I don't live far from Hadrian's Wall!"