So, yesterday was the first ever Daruma Open Day – although SLA Open Day (as indeed we have been calling it before here on the blog) would be a more fitting description, given the event’s obvious focus.
First off: Once again a big thank you to the whole Daruma crew, to Nightfall, and to the helpers for making this possible and organising such an event in the first place!
Thank you also to all the other participants. It was really great meeting so many other people passionate about SLA Industries (now in both its RPG and wargame guises), talking with you (and losing to you at the wargames tables…).
Thank all of you for a really great experience!
With that out of the way, how was it (apart from being great) and what happened (apart from me getting my … handed to me commanding a SHIVER squad against a Scav patrol)?
The open day was held at Daruma’s new premises in Doncaster, running officially from 10:30 to 16:30 on Saturday, 20 August 2016.
There were two seminars, the first starting at 11:00, the second at 13:00, where Jared of Nightfall Games talked about the history and maybe more importantly the future of SLA Industries as a roleplaying game and a setting and how it relates to the wargame, followed by Mark from Daruma talking about the wargame specifically, as well as about Daruma as a production company and other games we may expect from them in the future.
In parallel, there were games and playtesting of the CS1 rules going on the entire day at two tables, with carriens, scavs and SHIVERs battling it out in all possible combinations.
There was a painting competition with half a dozen entrants, judged by Daruma.
The full range of SLA Industries miniatures and merchandise – as well as other Daruma products – were available for sale, as were custom prints, and during the day the first new carrien packs (metal right from the start, resin arriving in the evening) with the different lesser and alpha carrien became available.
Also, there was cake. A monstrously beautiful (and sweet) cake in the shape of a life-sized carrien skull, which led Dave Allsop to comment that “now I am reduced to eating the brains of my own creations”. Fortunately, it did not taste like carrien brain – or, if indeed carrien brain tastes like that, it would maybe explain the bounty…
(There were cookies, too.)
The goodie bag for the event came with a t-shirt, CS1 pin badge, some of the print cards from the Progressive Collection, a scav miniature in resin, and a CS1 print (which, in my case, the flight back to Germany was not too kind to, unfortunately).
Simon of Goblin Cave Sudios, who will be doing some laser cut accessoires and terrain for CS1, was also in attendance, as were the guys from TheBattlehammer, who should have a show report and a video of a test game up shortly.
But on to the meaty stuff:
Mostly during the seminar but also across the rest of the day, quite a bit of news and plans and rumours (and disinformation?) on the RPG and the wargame was to be had. There might be more coming on this, as I process my notes, but here is the initial overview, sorted roughly by topic:
The basic plans for the (re)release of the RPG which Daruma had previously communicated were confirmed and elaborated on by Jared.
The reprint of the corerules is in the makes, which is to be followed by a printed collection of all the pdf Data Pakets which came out over the last few years and a printed version of Hunter Sheets 2.
A separate data paket on manchines is planned as well, which like the previous data pakets will also release as pdf, and – depending on timing – might or might not get included in the printed data paket collection.
The Shi’an sourcebook, currently being written by Dave, is planned for release as four separate, consecutive pdf sections, which are to roughly follow the progress of a member through the ranks of the cult as well as the cult’s collective progress in infiltrating Mort. The pdf releases will be followed by a collected print edition.
After Shi’an, there will be a bridging book, aptly titled “The Whistling Bridge”, which is planned to complete the transfer from SLA 1.0-1.2 to SLA 2.0, which is tentatively planned for 2018 (which would make it a 25th anniversary edition).
Together, the data pakets, Shi’an and Whistling Bridge are meant to deliver the setup for the already hinted at major changes envisioned for SLA 2.0, which is going to be, in Jared’s words, “a huge pivot” in the way the game is played – and one he expects people to either “love or hate” – or both (I will probably come back to that with more details as well as some thoughts of my own on that at a later time).
Reprints of the other existing books are something Nightfall wish to do, eventually, however, as the work on the corerules has shown this is a very time and resource consuming process, especially for the older books for which no files, masters or original artwork survived. As the books build on one another, they should be reissued in the original order, which makes Karma – the most difficult one to reproduce – the first and largest stumbling block.
Also mentioned was the elusive White Earth book, which is once more rumoured to come eventually, but only after SLA 2.0. Once it does, it will complete the original SLA Industries narrative arc set in motion with the initial 1.0 corebook.
On the rules side, Jared stated that SLA 2.0 is currently intended to keep a 2d10, 11+ system at its core, but will still be a major rework of the original (another thing we will probably voice further thoughts about on the blog).
Jared also provided some insight on some design changes – ones already implemented and others still to be seen -, especially the “new” look of the Wraithen and Shaktar, stating that continuing with SLA Industries was “not nostalgia” in the sense of a thoughtless reproduction of things which had come before, but also meant taking a new look at old concepts with over 20 years of additional experience as artists and creators – and with different (actually, I honestly believe “mature” was a word that fell here) eyes than those of a 20-something in the 90ies.
Forms – first and foremost BPNs – are also being redesigned at the moment, with plans of making these common to both the RPG and the wargame, and with separate printable files and possibly a website or app allowing pre-generating and also sharing of completed forms.
On the creative and, I guess you could also say, the administrative side, Jared noted that Nightfall committed to doing all further development and writing for the RPG in house, i.e., without recourse to freelance writers, and that also the majority of the art would not be contracted out (although he dropped the hint of Dave being in contact with Clint Langley again…).
Transitioning over to the wargame, the setting information provided in the upcoming CS1 skirmish rules as well as in any further releases for the wargame, will be fully applicable to the RPG and vice versa. Indeed, as a further stretchgoal in the wargame’s Kickstarter, we might get to see a separate chapter in the book providing RPG stats and rules for all of the characters, creatures and other stuff newly introduced in CS1.
Again, a lot of prior information about the game was reconfirmed on the Open Day.
The game will be skirmish sized at first with six factions initially and plans for further factions and larger games to be introduced via later expansions.
As seen in the playtest rules, the rules themselves are intended to be a tight package, with specifics – of factions, models, missions and so on – covered via game text on cards, which should lend itself well to continuous updating and rebalancing as accumulating experience and feedback demands.
Also confirmed was the previous notion that the different weapons, heads and other options already seen with the exisiting miniatures, as well as those yet to come, will be provided as separate update packs to assist in conversions and the creation of custom miniatures.
The book (along with its stretchgoals of course) is still going to be the only part of the game to be financed via Kickstarter, while all the other miniatures will continue to be made available under a regular preorder system.
The rulebook will be a 160+ pages hardcover tome, full colour with at least one illustration per double page spread. It will contain complete setting information on the World of Progess and the Cannibal Sectors, as well as the current massive operations of SLA Industries trying to recover and pacify CS1, specifically.
After the first wave failed spectacularly, with Commander Cradle stating “for every 10 SHIVERs I sent out, 8 fell to the enemy and 1 fell to the 9th”, the second wave of SHIVER operations under Cradle’s personal command is now under way, and will form the backdrop to the first of planned annual Organised Play Kits, which will introduce specific missions and rules based on the continuing narrative of the entire gameline.
Speaking of missions, while not yet featured in the playtest rules, the final rules are intended to be mission driven, with a combination of a shared mission which all sides strife to complete, combined with secret objectives, randomly generated from faction specific decks of mission cards.
Further random events – and enemies – will be introduced via a denizen deck, which will make it possible for all sorts of… things to pop up in the middle of the game, which will not only necessitate a adjusting plans but will also provide new chances to grab victory (points)… at a risk.
For tournament play, certain cards from the mission and denizen decks may be banned, to reduce the random influence on the competition.
List building will be points based – a first version of which was recently introduced to the playtest – in combination with minimum and maximum allowances of certain models – not yet reflected in the playtest documents.
Special characters, such as Sgt. Rooker, are planned to affect list building by changing these allowances, e.g., with Rooker increasing the number of fieldable breachers and pacifiers while reducing or disallowing snipers (a SHIVER type not yet seen in the playtest).
The big news, however, was the announcement of the changed faction line-up for the initial release of the game.
SLA Operatives – while they are still coming out, of course – will not be treated as their own faction. Although there will be an option to field an all operative squad, their specialist rules and equipment, elite skills and accompanying high cost will make them primarily useful as support for other factions.
Instead of SLA Operatives, the sixth faction will be Dream Entities, presenting something truly and terrifyingly different from the other entries in the faction line-up.
The other “big” news of course is going to be the chagrin miniature, should the Kickstarter go high enough, a massive beast that is probably going to be the equivalent of a one-stormer faction if fielded on the tabletop – both pointswise and by weight of resin.
On a more personal note, I learned the hard way that the anti-carrien tactics of my SHIVERs are pretty much wortless against scavs. I was slaughtered, the last remaining member of my squad fleeing off board… I mean, returning to HQ to report at the end of the game. Well, at least I did manage to take one of the bastards with me…
Other Daruma wargames
During the seminar, Daruma also went into their plans to reuse the core mechanics of CS1 for wargames with other settings. Two were mentioned as being currently worked on, with concept art by Dave being presented for one of them, Bifrost, a darkly humorous Norse science fiction skirmisher, of scientifically advanced Asgardian “gods” battling it out with other alien visitors in a modern world utterly devastated by their re-arrival.
And that’s it for the initial summary of the SLA/Daruma Open Day 2016.
For me, it was definitely a day well spent, thanks to all of you!
See you next year (at the latest)!