January 29, 2016 by brennon
We’re joined by Daniele from Ludus Magnus Studio to talk a little bit about the world of Nova Aetas which is currently on Kickstarter looking for funding. The campaign has just over a day left to go and ends this weekend so if this little Q&A session peeks your interest go ahead and check it out.
Find out more about Nova Aetas: Dark Renaissance below…
BoW – Can you tell us a little bit about the background of Ludus Magnus Studio?
Daniele: We’re originally an independent team of developers whose objective is to produce quality games inspired by Italian culture. The entire development side of the team is based in Italy, as you can see by looking at Nova Aetas, to which we added the business skills of our CEO who represents the US side of the company. In addition to gamers and geeks with more than twenty years’ experience, the studio also boasts specific industry skills, with professional figures straight out of Games Workshop.
The project was born in 2013 from a simple idea which then gave way to the basic mechanics of Nova Aetas: the Horologium (time clock). After the initial development and playtesting phase and once we had a game featuring solid mechanics in our hands, we approached the theme that every developer (I think) must face sooner or later: how to transform the prototype into a game.
At the same time, in the capacity of gamers, we started looking into Kickstarter. Back then it immediately seemed like the most appealing alternative; a platform that helped independent developers bring a project to life was definitely the best solution.
This was the start of a new chapter for Ludus Magnus Studio: but we quickly realised that an idea and a valid game wasn’t enough to present a project on a crowdfunding platform. Ludus Magnus Studio was born as a “garage company” and going head to head with the big guys crowding the platform was not easy.
And so in addition to developing, we began an in-depth study of Kickstarter. Even though we’re not yet established on the market, our objective has always been to propose a high-quality game in terms of both the playing system and the workmanship of the components.
BoW – Tell us how Nova Aetas came to life and the inspiration behind it.
Daniele: Nova Aetas was inspired by tactical role playing video games, along the lines of Final Fantasy Tactics. It was born from a three-way conversation during a play session. The main theme was the typical timing of console tactical games. The conversation then quickly turned into a brainstorming session on how to apply this characteristic to board game mechanics, and so the Horologium was born.
At this point we started tossing around the various options that this element would allow: activations, the timing of actions and timed events quickly became just the tip of the iceberg. Game effects, skills and equipment that influence the passing of time were the second step. We developed other characteristics that all rotate around the Horologium, which will be revealed to players during the course of the game.
BoW – …with that in mind can you tell us a bit more about the world of Nova Aetas and what the background of the game is like?
Daniele: The second step was to develop a setting that was able to accommodate the game mechanics. We wanted to create a strong Italian vibe in terms of both style and setting. We chose the Renaissance era for a number of reasons: the construction of huge astronomical clocks such as the one in Venice and Prague, the enormous selection of historical characters, weaponry and battles.
In any case, the most intriguing characteristic of that era is undoubtedly the distinct inclination for intrigue. Given that we wanted to create a rich plot along the lines of the above-mentioned RPG, it immediately seemed like the best choice.
The decision to contaminate the historical period with elements of classic mythology wasn’t simply a means by which to create an atypical fantasy, but rather the fruit of a shared background representing the macrohistory of an imaginary universe, of which Nova Aetas forms just one piece.
Does this mean there will be more titles with the same setting? We definitely hope so. The background is already written and the titles are a work in progress; with the help of crowdfunding we hope to transform this universe created by our own ideas into reality.
BoW – How does Nova Aetas play and could you go into detail about some of the mechanics of gameplay? The Horologium sounds great…
Daniele: There are two distinct elements in Nova Aetas: the passing of time and sophisticated artificial intelligence. We are very proud of the way these two elements work together in harmony, and of how simple it is to manage them both.
The tactical aspect of Nova Aetas is played out on two distinct game boards: the battlefield and the Horologium. Moving pieces on either of these boards affects the outcome of the game.
The activation tokens representing the models on the field are placed on the Horologium; whenever a character acts they use up action points, and each action point corresponds to one sector of the Horologium. Therefore, after the character acts on the battlefield, their activation token will move a certain number of sectors corresponding to the number of action points spent.
This creates a dynamic game flow, totally different from the more classic notion of turns. What’s more, the Horologium allows the insertion of events that happen at a certain time. These events then influence the heroes’ missions and also modify the artificial intelligence of the enemies.
The second distinctive element is the Perilium (threat dial), the basis of the game’s artificial intelligence. Nova Aetas is not a dungeon crawler where you kill the monster and grab the treasure; players will generally find themselves interacting with the enemies in different ways. In some cases, both sides may be interested in the same object in “capture the flag” style.
In other cases, the heroes will need to rectify the actions of enemies. In these cases, armed battles are not the central theme of the game and may not even represent the most efficient tactical choice. Of course “battle” is an important theme even in Nova Aetas and has been designed to enhance the concept of player vs. game.
In each mission, enemies will have a primary objective (for example, to set fire to a building or retrieve an object) with an associated value, called the threat value. Each hero is equipped with a Perilium used to keep track of the hero’s own threat value; each time a hero performs an action that hampers the enemies’ mission (these are reported in the mission sheet), their threat value increases.
A comparison between the threat value of the primary objective and of the Perilium will determine how the enemies act.
BoW – The customisation of characters seems very important to Nova Aetas. Can you explain a bit about how that works as you progress through the campaign?
Daniele: We wanted to bring a touch of the Final Fantasy Tactics RPG spirit to this board game, so for this reason we thought to develop the heroes not only in terms of their new skills and new equipment. During the course of their growth, a hero will change class, therefore guaranteeing very different combinations of heroes.
The game includes twelve classes subdivided into four different archetypes, and for each of these there is a base class and two specialisations. Through Kickstarter, we intend to develop a third passage (epic classes) and new archetypes.
BoW – The miniatures for this game are looking superb. Who was behind the art design of the game and who bought the miniatures to life?
Daniele: As we said, to break into a highly competitive market, we decided to focus on quality. This is also true for the artwork, which has been entrusted to talented professionals. Working with external professionals allows us to rely on a chain of production that supports and transforms our ideas into concepts and therefore into models.
I must thank the entire team for their professionalism and dedication to this project, which they have demonstrated right from the very start.
BoW – What are some of your favourite miniatures from the game so far?
Daniele: I must congratulate the entire artistic team, because I am truly proud and satisfied with the quality of our models. The Cardinal, the Faun Warrior and the Stratiote are undoubtedly my favourite miniatures.
In any case, two miniatures that I particularly love are the papal guard and the manticore.
BoW – We see that there is already an expansion to the game called Vesuvio’s Forge. Can you fill us in as to what that adds?
Daniele: Vesuvio’s Forge incarnates the “fantasy” theme at the core of Nova Aetas.
This expansion adds a new group with distinct game elements, new rules for adapting the game to the new setting and a new hero that allows changes to the group being played.
BoW – What does the future hold for Nova Aetas – are there any snippets of information you could give us as to upcoming expansions?
Daniele: We have just revealed the cover of the second expansion: Nova Aetas: Under Siege. The theme is the “Sack of Rome”; here a new group, the lansquenets enlisted by Charles III for the Holy Roman Empire, will face an encounter with Giovanni delle Bande Nere, a faithful mercenary captain in Rome. This expansion too will include new rules and a new hero: the lancer.
The wealth of events and characters of this period is an endless source of ideas and inspiration. We’re already evaluating a series of possibilities for the future, ranging from Romeo and Juliet to the fascinating Medici dynasty, and even the House of Borgia.
BoW: Thank you Daniele!
You can find out loads more surrounding the various stretch goals they’ve reached over on the Kickstarter page. Having blasted through their initial funding goal there is loads for them to look at producing for heroes, villains and more.
What do you think of this take on renaissance Italy?
"Nova Aetas was inspired by tactical role playing video games, along the lines of Final Fantasy Tactics..."
"We have just revealed the cover of the second expansion: Nova Aetas: Under Siege..."