Wednesday 24 February 2021

GRIMLITE - Birthing a Horror

I've just split GRIMLITE into two documents. The first is the booklet-sized rulebook, complete with faction rosters and campaign rules, and the other is just the Horrors/Scenes that can be printed separately and mix-and-matched together. 

The selfish reason for this is because I'm sick of reprinting the whole thing whenever I add a new Horror/Scene, but I also just want to write a lot more of them. I'm aiming for 36 of each, doubling what's in there right now, but I've no idea if this is realistic.

They're straightforward enough to write, but I want each of them to feel unique. Each should break a rule somewhere, or do something that makes them stand clearly apart from the others. I have a big notes document where I scribble down these ideas, with Horrors usually starting as a quirk of how they'll play, with the flavour moulded around this concept.

So let's do now now, because apparently I need to write 18 more.

Looking down my list of concepts there are three that I'd like to work on:

  1. Horror that attacks only through its Minions, never itself.
  2. Horror that uses its Nexuses like 3 stages of a boss encounter, with a colossal "Final Form".
  3. Horror that has Nexuses as giant limbs reaching up through the ground, its body only emerging when all three are destroyed
Let's go with number 3, which for now I'm calling the Voidweed.

For any given Horror we need to think about:
  • Deployment
  • Stats
  • Minions
  • Nexuses
  • Nexus Effects (I should give these a proper name like I did for "Responses")
  • Responses
  • Rewards
  • Solo/Coop Changes if needed

So if the Voidweed is be interacting firstly through its grasping limbs, the core of the beast is hidden away underground. Let's call it the Bloom, as we want this to be evocative, but also broad enough to allow a range of modelling options. I'm imagining some sort of fleshy rose-headed monstrosity, like something from a grimdark Little Shop of Horrors. 

But for deployment this is nice and simple. Keep the Horror off the board to begin with.

If we're using the Nexuses as the straight up fighting ability of the creature, I feel like the Bloom should be a little weirder and more indirect. Maybe they have some weird scent or spore effect. 

We'll give it Tough, as I imagine this thing being wrapped in briars and thorns, so hard to fight in melee. The guideline for Horror attacks is around 6 damage potential, so we'll give it some T3x2 thorns, but its real power will lie in its special power.

Some of this can be added into the Reactions table, but I like giving this sort of Horror a power that triggers at the end of the player turn. If you're not careful it can be high-maintenance, especially if you had multiple on the board at once, but the Horror is already a focal point of any battle. They're allowed to call for a bit more attention. It's nice knowing that you're only ever going to have one of these to deal with, and in this case the Bloom isn't even going to show up until later in the battle, so let's make something weird.

Enraging Scent: When this Horror successfully Saves against all Damage from an attack, the attacker must immediately make a Free Attack against their nearest visible Ally.

Don't think I've done something that triggers on a successful Save like this. 

Of course it's unfair, but the key here is that you can think your way around it. Put your attackers into positions where they can't attack an ally, or at least put a disposable grunt next to them to take the hit. It's tricky, but Horrors aren't meant to be easy. 

Strictly speaking, not ever Horror needs these, especially if the Minion's role is being fulfilled elsewhere such as the multi-Horrors (Weird Hunters, Twin Leapers) or those that weaponise their Nexuses like this one (also Eliminator Drone).

I think Minions help a lot with avoiding the Horror just getting rushed, but I want the Nexuses to be the main focus. Let's just put something really simple in here, a weak grunt protecting each Nexus.

Not every element of the Horror needs to be fancy. Keep the main thing the main thing. 

So this is the meat of this Horror. It's easy to just make the Nexuses act like a minion, but the concept here was that these are three limbs of a larger being, sprouting out from the ground all over the battlefield.

To begin with, I'm thinking that we'll use the Response table exclusively for these. It won't give any extra fanciness to the Bloom (it won't be around for most of the battle) or the Minions (they're not a focus here). 

Best of all, we know that these limbs will never be on the board at the same time as the Bloom, so we don't have to worry about their complexities rubbing up on each other. 

So let's make them nimble as a contrast to the Tough Bloom, forcing the Warbands to get up close and personal with it. We'll also give them the ability to burrow around the board and entangle or throw their enemies around. 

Nexus Effects
Because the Nexuses are looking relatively complex I think we should keep this simple. Let's use it to spur the minions into action, responding as their precious vines are chopped down. 

I was previously thinking we'd use this purely for the Vines, but I think it would be good to keep this quite simple, seeing as both the Horror and Nexuses have ended up being somewhat mechanically fancy. 

Maybe we'll use this to represent the smaller vines that are presumably sprouting up around the battlefield and making life difficult for everybody, alongside some simple effects on the Vines.

Sometimes these just write themselves. I like to draw on the abilities of the Horror/Nexus/Minions as well as the themes of the battle, so here we're clearly thinking some sort of plant theme. 

I'll go with the classics, trimmed-down versions of the special abilities of each of the Horror/Nexus and a reformed version of the Minion for hire (nice way to reuse those miniatures!).

Solo/Coop Changes
Here I'm not so much worried about tuning the difficulty, but taking into the account that the player(s) will be unopposed outside of the Horror, which sometimes creates weird situations where objectives are either completely without challenge or impossible. For some Horrors I'll throw in some extra Minions if I think the lack of an enemy warband will make things too easy to manage. You want things to feel a bit out of control.

So for this Horror I don't think we need any changes. There's enough going on here with the Minions and Nexuses all running around. 

Here's the finished monstrosity.

Crawling and climbing into our world from somewhere much darker.

Keep the Horror off the board to begin with.

Voidweed Bloom (Tough 3+)
Lashing Thorns (T3x2)
Enraging Scent: When this Horror successfully Saves against all Damage from an attack, the attacker must immediately make a Free Attack against their nearest visible Ally.

Deploy a Thornguard next to each Nexus.

Thornguard (Nimble 5+)
Eternal pruners of the Voidweed.
Pruning Blades (T1x2)

The choking limbs of the being below.
Deploy 3 Vines evenly around the board. They can be fought like a normal unit and are Destroyed when Taken Out. 

Voidweed Vine (Nimble 4+)
Choke (T1x4 - Uses this attack against Downed enemies only)
Hurling Grasp (T1x2 - Treat any Shock result that benefits the Target as Thrown instead. Uses this attack against Standing enemies only)
Burrower: Ignores a single piece of terrain when moving.
Creeper: When the Vine rolls a non-beneficial Shock Table result it treats it as Crawl instead.

Nexus Effects
  1. All Thornguard make a free Move and Attack.
  2. All Thornguard make a free Move toward the remaining Vine.
  3. All Thornguard become Fierce. Deploy the Bloom in the centre of the board.
  1. All Downed warband members take 1 damage as vines entangle them.
  2. Each Vine lunges out with a snaking vine (R1x3).
  3. Any unit touching a Vine takes 1 damage. 
  4. All Vines move toward the centre of the table.
  5. All Downed Vines make a free Move.
  6. All Vines make a Free Recovery.
  1. Penitent Thornguard (Fierce, Nimble 5+) [Max 3, 4pts]
    Pruning Blades (T1x2)
  2. Creeper Cloak: When you roll a non-beneficial Shock Table result, treat it as Crawl instead [Max 1, 2pts]
  3. Enragement Bomb: [T1xSpecial - Use per battle. If the target is hit they make an immediate Free Attack against their closest visible Ally [Max 1, 2pts]

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