This is a great damn idea.
I’m wading into the shallow end of the Malifaux RPG, Through the Breach. Last week I put in an order (through Amazon because I don’t think I could get both of them from Wyrd’s store at the time) for both boxes of their PC character kits.
Because, you know, yes.
This is a phenomenal idea. The price is almost a secondary consideration, as the ability to custom-craft a PC is an incredibly attractive option. My last three player character models have all had some level of modification, from as simple as a paint job and a swapped sword for Darif…
…to the far more elaborate alterations that Barateur, my dwarven (actually, as he liked to point out, his mother was a rock) druid/monk character:
He was a Druid with the crocodile archetype, mostly so I could knock people prone on unarmed attacks and then wrestle them into unconsciousness. Ton of fun, til I missed a night and the party managed a TPK; note, not the DM, who did everything he could to prevent a group of level 5’s from picking a fight with a Frost Wyrm. In one of our big fights prior to that TPK, Barateur and another character trapped themselves in a bead of force with a fiendish gargoyle and his evil-priestess mommy. That fight…well, we survived it. Later, when we caught up with them a second time, Barateur and the party crushed the gargoyle and after it was dead, Barateur ripped its head off. So, obviously, modeled:
I also gave him an alligator-skin cloak (that part actually came first). The base model for all of this was a Reaper Bones, as was Darif, and my current 5e character is a very simple mod of Vaeloth the Paladin—all I did with him was hack off the shield and shape the arm into something cestus-like. Reaper minis are great for character models because they’re already evocative, and take alteration pretty easily; you can cut them without worrying they’ll shatter or splinter, and since they aren’t metal there’s not that same bending issue. I think that’ll continue with the second wave, though I’ve noticed the weapons are far more prone to bending out of the box; to the point where my wife commented on it when I was showing off my spoils.
However, these Wyrd minis take things to an entirely new level. Each box makes eleven different models. The box is careful to stress “up to,” because you only get those 11 if you’re not duplicating any of the key details. Still, that’s easily enough for a group of players to customize to their hearts’ content, particularly since the models are a good—albeit very small and slender, as is the case with the entire line—plastic and can thus take further modifications as necessary.
Plus, they come in ladyparts too!
That is a woman in a double-breasted (*rimshot*) jacket, with a chainsaw. That’s a thing you can have. Also, zombie lady. Plus, so many stylish chapeaus. Go back and look at that first box, since I didn’t gush as hard over the options there, and you’ll see they’re of similar quality. Plus, with both boxes there are options to take things a touch further. You can swap accessories, or even go scorched-earth and chop some weapons off one side to hand to the other (I’m looking at you, gatling gun).
Price-wise, you’re spending about half again as much as buying 11 Reaper minis figures; and if you expected me to include, say, Warhammer in this price comparison I’m going to begin laughing now and you tell me when you need me to stop. I even consider the price low enough that a DM could comfortably pick up a box for some new players, walk them through the construction process, and still have pieces left over for either his own NPCs or to roll folks into the game later.
At least, I hope so, because that’s the plan for this week.
3 thoughts on “Such a Dope Concept”
Agreed x1000. I flipped my chappeau when I saw the previews for these boxes a few months back. Gotta order me a pair, I think.
When I was running Deadlands back in 2013, we talked about using minis, but the players had already made their characters so the cost of buying 3-4 minis per player just to allow for various head swaps and weapon swaps and arm swaps and other sundry conversions was way prohibitive. I really wish these had been available at the time, and I’ll definitely be using these for future Deadlands campaigns! (And maybe Through the Breach, if it’s any good. Ugh, too many RPGs!)
I love that, on the subject of chapeaus, there’s a -separate- “Guns and hats of Malifaux” product. Which I’ll likely pick up so I can give Mr. Graves a bowler. Can’t find one to fit my ACTUAL head, but my 8′ bouncer in a fantasy game, he can get one just fine.
Was this Savage Worlds Deadlands or straight Deadlands? I ask because, interestingly, Deadlands is about the only other game (along with the Werewolf game set in that world) that uses playing cards besides Through the Breach.
I would say. tentatively, that Through the Breach is very good. The system is a very easy port over from Malifaux, and you have a group familiar with that game; you generally play exactly like Malifaux would be, where skills are added to stats to get the value you add to a flipped card. Derived values (hp, init, etc.) can be a little strange, in that some are a stat+skill, while others appear to use a replacement effect. The magic system’s also exactly the kind I like, in that–like with FATE–there are no “set” spells to memorize. Your character learns a couple base magic concepts (when we did a test combat, my two players had elemental weapon and teleport, respectively) and a couple of “immutos” (duration extension, adding the fire element, etc.) which are mixed on the fly as you cast. Some spells, particularly the “elemental x” ones, require certain immutos be provided, and characters pick up a magical tradition a la Mage that informs their workings–so if I’m a Ten Thunders/Three Kingdoms sort of lass, I can actually mix two elements in the same spell, for fiery ice storms or spiritual darkness.
The main differences so far caught me by surprise but seem intended for ease of play. You have one deck in the center that all players flip from on their turns; the DM (Fatemaster, so FM) never touches it except to shuffle. All NPCs therefore have set numbers, which does make me feel like I’m left out of some of the fun. Players also keep their own deck, which is quasi-customized in that it’s always 13 cards barring feats, but you pick the suits you want to be good and bad at. So if I’m playing a coal-streaked bruiser out for revenge after a mine collapse, I probably want my high cards in Rams and am not so worried about Masks, and my deck reflects that. I then use the deck to cheat just like a game of Malifaux, but it’s a much more limited resource.
The real selling point, though, is the story generation that comes from flipping the cards to make your character. You flip five in a sort of simplified Celtic Cross, and that will give you the background you start with (free skill) as well as the modifiers applied to your stats and the points you have to learn skills. Once that’s done, though, you’ll also have five sentence snippets that are stitched together (in reverse order of how they’re drawn, so it feels like a surprise) to give you your character’s destiny. Some examples:
“As you strain to see through the high noon veil, the sleeper dreams not of tomorrow, but of you; and time waits for no man -but- you. Hence, the dried lands are watered with the blood of sinners, and you will forget yourself.”
“If you refuse the hero’s call you will return for the balm for all ills; for the stars illuminate your path, the mask donned for peace will blind you to bloodshed, and it shoulders aside the guardian.”
Punctuation can be a sticky wicket, particularly for folks of an editorial bent, but it’s fun to have a twisty future dropped into your lap (and handy as the FM!). The rest of character creation is fairly Fate-like, with you building up your pre- and post-adventuring life skills separately. So I might be the child of farmers, and have skills to reflect that, but I’m still free to strike out as a gambler in my adult life and hone different skills for that.
I particularly love that there are “feats” specifically requiring negative ability scores, since having some of those is nearly unavoidable. You might not be very cunning, but perhaps that means people innately detect your honesty and trust your words. Maybe you’re slow, but you pick your moment and hit much harder than you otherwise would. So on and so forth.
Also, particularly for some of the games I’ve seen you talk about running, the game supports class switching at the start of every adventure. That provides -huge- flexibility, since you can say “Okay, next week’s adventure is going to be a legal drama, as you all band together to keep Mike the Smile out of Guild jail,” and the person who plays the sniper can say “Well in that case, I’ll dabble in the Wastrel class for this one; I want to focus on reading the jury and passing that information on to my colleagues.” It lets everyone do something useful in every scenario, or play against type if that’s more their thing. It also means that there’s a lot lower risk of someone having to scrap a character because the class sucks for them; one adventure in they can just pivot to a different job. Your class mostly just affects how you can advance skills at the end of an adventure, but the skills you used during the adventure are always taken into account. Conversely, if you like a class, you gain some significant powers as you advance down the trail of it.
I’m really quite excited to try this out, as I think it provides a chance for some truly narrative and twisting gameplay while still allowing for more combat than I was getting in the Dresden game I ran; I like combat, and as a DM I find I’m bored if there’s not a certain amount of it. Through the Breach has mechanics to allow even talky characters to contribute to a fight, though, so I’m hoping this will let me strike that balance.
As per usual, this comment has essentially turned into a blog post, so it’ll probably become one!
Thanks for this! You’ve made a damn intriguing case. The character creation mechanics alone would probably be enough to sell it to my players.