What Is The Grimdark World Of Verrotwood? Interview With Designer Michael Crutchett

August 30, 2022 by brennon

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Verrotwood is a new game that has captured my attention of late. So, I thought I would reach out to talk with the grimdark mind behind the game, Michael Crutchett and find out what inspired him to create this Folk Horror Fantasy game.


Check Out Verrotwood On Facebook

If you've never heard of Verrotwood, make sure to give this a read as it will introduce you to a game of conversions, kitbashing and Cults!

OTT: Hi there! Could you introduce who you are and tell us a little bit more about yourself?

Michael Crutchett: Hi I'm Michael Crutchett. I am an Indie game designer out of a small town near Chicago in the United States.

OTT: How did you get into tabletop gaming? Have you been in the hobby for a long time and what were some of the first games you played?

MC: Actually, I've been thinking about that question quite a bit lately. I think what originally drew me to the hobby was seeing a photo of a handcrafted Necromunda set up when I was really young. It about melted my mind and set me on this almost twenty-year journey.

Troll - Verrotwood

I think my first full experience with tabletop gaming was Dungeons & Dragons. I quickly graduated from player to Dungeon Master and I have always been into crafting worlds and adjusting rules to fit in the parameters of these worlds. As far as real miniature wargaming goes, I would say that This Is Not A Test (TNT) was the first game that really resonated with me.

OTT: Could you tell us a little bit about the background to Verrotwood and what prompted you to bring this world to life?

MC: Verrotwood came to life in a pretty organic and interesting way. I had been part of the terrain crafting scene on Facebook for quite some time and one day I posted a photo of an abandoned well. It had a little story about the voice of a long-dead girl calling to passers-by from its darkness.

Abandoned Well - Verrotwood

I got some pretty good feedback on that particular post and I decided to continue the story by crafting more parts of a fictional village with more creepy stories. After a while, I started to get people asking if I had a blog so that they could keep up with the story and setting. With that, I ended up creating this blog, The Village Of Yarlford. After a while, it gained a following and I decided to expand outside the village and turn it into a skirmish game. I owe this whole project to that little abandoned well.

OTT: Could you walk us through the basic mechanics of Verrotwood and what might happen during a normal turn of the game?

MC: Verrotwood was designed with simple, fast gameplay in mind. This is why the game utilises a d10 dice pool system. The more strategically you play, the more dice get added to the particular action that you are trying to perform. It keeps things very simple and easy to understand any bonus that you might gain over your opponents. Plus, who doesn't feel powerful rolling a handful of dice for a devastating attack?

Cultist Butcher - Verrotwood

Verrotwood also uses a random activation system to keep players on their toes and simulate the unpredictable chaos of battle. Once a model is randomly activated, it can perform up to two actions to do a number of things. Possible actions include moving, attacking, praying and performing Rituals.

OTT: What are some of the elements of Verrotwood that you think make it stand out as unique as a skirmish game? For example - the way that Rituals work in bringing that "cult" feel to gameplay.

MC: A pretty unique gameplay feature is the extremely low model count. Each Cult can field four models during a battle. This forces you to think carefully about every decision that you make. It also helps push the horror vibes of the game. There might be safety in numbers but in Verrotwood, that isn't an option.

Ghost Encounter - Verrotwood

The basic gameplay might make it seem somewhat simple and generic but the Ritual system is what adds the Folk Horror vibe to Verrotwood. When creating your custom Cult, you get to select a number of Rituals from a large list. Rituals are essentially your Cult special abilities. They can range from simple combat bonuses all the way up to terraforming the battlefield! The Rituals system is definitely the meat of Verrotwood.

Beyond the Rituals, the terrain and AI-driven creatures of Verrotwood add a lot of flavour and chaos to gameplay. Each piece of special terrain adds dangers or bonuses that affect your models. Every AI creature has its own individualised gameplay that will also terrorise the Cultists.

OTT: How do you see Verrotwood expanding and growing from the current Beta stage? Will there be campaign play and what kind of scenarios do you have in mind?

MC: The beta included very few Rituals and only a single scenario but behind the scenes, this has changed. Every single aspect of the game will have a load more options in the final rules. You will be able to create your Cult from the ground up, picking their Rituals and weapons. You will then be able to take your Cult through a campaign to try and re-awaken their horrible deity and bring it into the world.

Cultist - Verrotwood

As far as scenarios go, that is the part that I am currently flushing out. Right now, I have a handful of playtested and untested ideas. The plan is that each of the final scenarios will have a random roll table that will add different elements each time you play. The scenarios will range from a simple collect the objectives style game all the way up to a boss battle with an Ancient Witch!

OTT: One of the nice things about Verrotwood is that it looks to focus on the idea of kitbashing and designing your own miniatures. Was that something that you wanted to be baked in from the start? Is converting/kitbashing something you enjoyed and so hoped to add to the game?

MC: Oh yeah, absolutely. Kitbashing was always a big focus going into this. I feel like encouraging players to customise their experience helps to build a strong community. I really love the community that has grown around the likes of Turnip28 and would love Verrotwood to become something similar.

OTT: What are some of the best-kitbashed pieces that you've created so far?

MC: Oh wow, I'm not sure. I love all of them but if I had to choose, I would say my customised Ancient Witch. She was created from a few of the Frostgrave kits and a cauldron from Rotten Factory Miniatures.

Ancient Witch - Verrotwood

She will definitely be terrorising my home games soon as I dive deeper into Verrotwood.

OTT: Would you love to look at getting official Verrotwood miniatures created in the future?

MC: there have been talks between me and a few different 3D modelling artists. As of right now, I'm not sure if full miniatures are what's right for Verrotwood. I think a few head swaps and other bits might fit the "do it yourself" vibes better. So, with that in mind, who knows? One day Verrotwood might have some official bits for kitbashing!

OTT: Can people help out and dive into the playtesting of the game? If so, how do they get involved and get in touch?

MC: I'm very involved in the Verrotwood Fan Page on Facebook. If anyone is interested in giving it a playtest or just wants to chat about anything Folk Horror related, they should message me there.

It was fascinating hearing about the world of Verrotwood and I hope that you folks in the comments are just as excited as I am about what this game could offer. I love the focus on kitbashing and conversion and the game seems like a blast to play.

Are you going to be finding out more about Verrotwood?

"The Rituals system is definitely the meat of Verrotwood..."

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"Kitbashing was always a big focus going into this. I feel like encouraging players to customise their experience helps to build a strong community..."

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