Thursday 18 February 2021

GRIMLITE - A Narrative of Doom

If you're interested in seeing how the recent changes to GRIMLITE at working out in play, you can see me running through a game here.

In short, the game feels much more about Horror now. Both the monstrous Horrors that chase you around the table and the lurking atmosphere that this world doesn't have much hope of a happy ending. I've got some of that tone across in the Factions, but I wanted to add in some of those little flavour bombs that can happen between games.

Some miniature games have entire secondary game systems for what happens between battles, but I've always known that wasn't the right direction for GRIMLITE. The whole "No Stacking, No Tracking" philosophy had to extend to this side of the game too. 

It's more about Flavour. For a while I considered making it pure flavour, like you just rolled to see what happened to your Warband between battles and got a little bit of fluff. But I wanted it to connect to the game without giving you another thing to track at the table.

So these events should focus on what you're actually doing before each battle, building your warband. They generally aren't going to make you outright weaker or stronger, but give you an additional option to consider or, more likely, a restriction to force you to build your Warband differently to how they looked last time.

Let's see how it looks in its first iteration. 

This forgotten land is still changing, always being pulled between five forces. Not the factions, but the very elements of reality on this husk world. 

They pull towards five dooms, shaping our torture on the way.

HUNGER - Survival is all that matters now. There isn’t enough for all of us, so take with both hands and gorge deep.

HATRED - Nothing gives purpose like an enemy, and there’s plenty of blame to go around for our current condition.

CONTROL - The world needs strong leadership, and complete submission from those below.

DEATH - The only constant we can rely on is the welcome embrace of death. We should be thankful, and hurry along to our journey’s end.

RUIN - This world has been left without a purpose. The natural decay into rust and embers must be allowed to proceed at its own pace.

Element Trackers

Make a Track for each of the Elements, beginning at 0 and with a maximum of 6.

World Events

Between each battle, roll a die to determine which Element is in force at this moment.

1. Hunger
2. Hatred
3. Control
4. Death
5. Ruin
6. Whichever is highest on its Track. Players break ties.

Turn to the Event table for that Element, with each Warband rolling a die and adding the number on the Element Track to determine the event. 

These Events often put a limit on how you build your Warband for the next battle, so they are best used for campaigns that want to embrace this extra challenge.

After all Warbands have rolled, add 1 to that Element’s Track.

When a Track hits 6 then that Element’s Climax is initiated. This Scenario is carried out just as with a normal Climax and has a special objective that all Warbands are trying to achieve. The Warband that achieves it wins the campaign. If no Warband achieves the Objective then the campaign ends as a loss for all Warbands.

Unless specifically mentioned, Element Events only affect the next battle.


1: Poor Harvest: Your potential recruits have left or died. You cannot buy units from your Faction list for the next battle unless they were in the previous battle. 

2:Thieves: Your suppliers were cleaned out. You cannot buy equipment from your Faction list for the next battle other than what you had in the previous battle.

3:Traitor: A random Follower in your Warband has abandoned your cause for a better deal. Your opponent can recruit them in the next battle if they wish.

4: Resource Hoarding: Nobody is sharing anything. Any units you are rebuying from the last battle must keep all equipment they were carrying.

5: Feral Beasts: Choose 1-3 Beasts to deploy anywhere on the board as Unbound units. They treat all other units as enemies, even other Beasts.

Beast (Fierce 5+,T2x1)

6: Brief Respite: For just a moment there is enough to go around. You eat among friends and  all Warbands in the campaign gain 1 Renown.

7: Uneven Portions: Those that eat last at your table are beginning to feel unfairly treated. Any QL5+ units you bring to the battle only perform 2 Actions on their first turn.

8: Encroaching Wilderness: The trails between settlements grow wilder every day, making them especially difficult for the heavily armoured. In this battle you cannot field followers with Tough unless they also have Nimble.

9: Savage World: Every day your followers get more feral and desperate. You may replace any Skill with Fierce.

10+: Extinction: A Settlement you planned to visit has been overrun with choking vines and hostile creatures, cutting off a vital supply. Permanently remove access to 2 Follower types and 2 pieces of Gear from your Faction list.

This is all in the latest version of GRIMLITE, and I'm interested to see how it plays out as a long form narrative. I suspect it may be a bit brutal in places, so there will be plenty of tuning-up to be done.

It's tricky to have a large variety of events that don't add more complexity to the actual battle, and I've let a few things slip through the net there (the Feral Beasts and Uneven Portions Events), but I'm hoping they don't tip the balance to making things too complicated. 

The intention is that most Campaigns will end with a regular player-initiated Climax, with the winner of that final showdown being the ultimate winner of the campaign. But I like the idea of this building threat in the background. It'll probably be fine, but it's lurking there in case the dice feel cruel or you delay too long in your own ambitions.

The actual Elemental Climax Scenario is going to be a single scenario, with a twist dependant on which of the Elements reached the top of its track. Expect that to show up in the doc in the next week or so.


  1. The Horror elements affecting upcoming battles seems like a cool idea, and the Hunger events you've shared definitely feel thematically appropriate.

    But reading the mechanic you wrote makes me wonder, how long do you envision campaigns going on before reaching a climax?

    1. I've not been able to test out a proper Campaign with another player for obvious reasons, but trying out a solo one currently to see how things feel.

      Out of the two ways to end the campaign the most likely is one Warband reaching 10 Prestige, which could happen in 5 battles if they completely dominate. More likely I suspect it would be closer to 10 if they have some healthy competition. This prestige target number can be tweaked upward for a longer campaign, so we'll see how it feels in play.

      The other way to end a Campaign is for an Elemental Track to reach 6, which technically could happen after 6 battles, but would require some extremely specific die rolls. It seems like the average is around 14 battles.

      It's tough to know whether this would feel "right" without having tested a full campaign, so time will tell.

  2. Will this be a printed book that i can buy when its done? Looooove my Bastionland book! :)

    1. Not sure what the long-term plan is with this yet, but hopefully! Won't be for a while, though.