Daruma Open Day 2017 – a (belated) summary

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NoOld news is good news.

Although the second Daruma Open Day took place some three weeks ago (02 September 2017, to be exact) and I obviously dragged my feet about putting this summary together (despite starting with the best of intentions and copious note taking during the event), I still want to start off with a big thank you to the whole Daruma crew, their helpers and to all the other participants. Just like last year, it was really great fun meeting so many other people passionate about SLA Industries and its miniatures game incarnation/spin-off.

Again held in Doncaster (though at a different venue from last year), there were the usual cake and games and – also as usual – I got myself killed, by Digger, no less.

Besides some introductionary games and scenarios, the main attraction, gaming wise, was an arena event where we first got to build our own operative models from a bits box generously filled with all the bits and pieces from the current line-up of CS:1 miniatures, who would then be thrown into the Cannibal Sector together with accompanying Voyeur camera drones to battle it out against one another over valuable resource stashes. Played in parallel at three tables, all of us were in for a rude awakening as some of the resource stashes turned out to be hiding places of manchines and even of Digger himself. We got dismembered. A lot. Even without doing it to one another. Which, of course, we also gleefully did.

(My one real regret is to have stayed out of the action so long in the second game – I decided to sneak after the other operatives for some opportunistic sniping, quite fitting for the advanced carrien I built, however, the centre of the action moved away from me too fast and I ended up being unable to do anything. On the plus side, I survived that one.)

But on to the real meat and bones of the Open Day, as far as this article is concerned: The seminar on the state and future of the game.

The first and most obvious item on the agenda was the delay in the delivery of the CS:1 Kickstarter.
The intresting bit here was, that one of the reasons for the delay is the amount of artwork Dave (Allsop) has decided to produce, far more than was originally planned for the book. The reasons for this in turn are on the one side his intention to use this as a sort of outline or blueprint, a visual design bible for the games and their universe, and on the other side his realisation that, as Mark put it, he now had the ability to do everything he always envisioned but previously was lacking the skill to do.
To address the delay, the idea was floated – and well received by all attending – to roll out the Kickstarter in two waves, with the first wave of models along with the basic mini-rulebooks (i.e., the functional for-reference version lacking most of the background and light on art) and pdf versions of the faction lists and stat cards hopefully good to go before Christmas 2017. The second wave, including the full-size, fully illustrated books, as well as printed faction lists and cards would then follow at a later time and could even benfit from feedback from a much broader player base once the mini-rulebooks are out there.

One of the reasons we got slaughtered by manchines and Digger during the arena games was as a demonstration of the denizen rules, i.e., the possibility of random creatures or events popping up during games of CS:1. This is meant to be driven by a card deck, which will be custom built for every game depend on the players’ wishes and/or specific scenario rules. As such, it also ties in closely with the different modes and levels of play which CS:1 is being designed for.
“Tier 1 Rules” are intended to offer a tight set of rules for competitive and tournament play, driven in part by an official organised play scheme and supported via a living rules approach with regular (probably bi-annual) updates to faction lists and model stats.
“Tier 2 Rules”, to which also belongs the Denizen Deck, are a less tight set with more random influences intended for casual play, – although I suspect that this may also feature as part of organised play, because…
…these rules’ tiers are to be supplemented with two campaign systems, storyline campaigns, which are to feature multiple linked scenarios and which sound like they might tie in with the idea of focused organised play kits that was previously discussed, and open campaigns, with patrols in a campaign able to use their Rating Points accumulated over multiple regular scenarios to gain sponsorship deals and corresponding upgrades.
The campaign systems will not be part of the initial release, though.

Talking again of the release schedule, the plan is still to have the game progress from being set in the Cannibal Sectors to other parts of Mort (which will see the appearance of other types of characters, from gang members to corporates to camera people) and maybe finally even beyond, though Mark admitted that it will take at least five to six years to get to the level of war worlds and thus move from a skirmish to a mass battle game.
For now, the initial focus will remain on the SHIVERs and the 9th Division. Over time, the latter is planned to diversify away from their current clear cut copy of the SHIVERs, with more unorthodox equipment – and then more unorthodox personnel – making their way into the ranks.
Both the SHIVERs and the carriens will have their bigger options (Dogeybone armour and greater carrien, respectively) released some time later, partly due to issues with modeling, though a mutant carrien might make an early appearance. (Whilst on the topic of big things: Equipment for the larger species such as 313 Malices or Shaktars is undergoing a major re-design, after Dave realised how ridiculous the regular arms and armour look on their 3d models.)
The last faction to be released will definitely be the Dream Entities as the most playtesting is required for them due to their unique and hard to balance play style (at its core, the idea is for them to use their opponent’s successes to drive their own power-ups).
Next year, the faction roster is then meant to be updated with agents (e.g., operatives) as a full stand alone faction. This is meant to be facilitated via the Operatives Manual which will allow players to build and field their own custom characters in CS:1.
Other planned supplements will focus on the other Cannibal Sectors besides CS:1, with the CS:2 sourcebook to focus on carriens and sector rangers and CS:3 on ex-war criminals (and once more SHIVERs), which will probably also be the first supplement to feature vehicles.

With the first test prints of the Augustus and Romulus cars available for inspection at the Open Day, vehicles were a big topic in any case. More vehicles will probably be released over time (and indeed have become available for pre-order in the mean time) especially as Dave, over-excited from watching Fury Road, started to envision car chases and racing events across Mort’s desolate industrial wastelands. One thing we might also see coming out of this are specific decals or transfers to use with future CS:1/SLA Industries vehicle models.

Another major item was the planned intertwining of the skirmish games and the RPG. That had been talked about before, but got more mention at the seminar.
The CS:1 corebook, for example, will not only contain information usable with the RPG, but a separate chapter with RPG equipment and stats. Similarly, more characters from the RPG, like the subjects of the exisiting Hunter Sheets supplements, are planned to receive stats (and miniatures) to use them in CS:1 and vice versa.
While the games are meant to literally share universes and story developments (i.e., anything described as happening in the miniatures game products will apply to the RPG and the other way round), it is planned to present the information in such a way, that developments can be followed without buying everything – if you are not interested in CS:1, you can stick to the RPG sourcebooks and still remain up to date with the background. The current idea to achieve that, while also presenting fresh texts and information in every product, is to have CS:1 and SLA Industries books describe the same events from different points of view.

On the development of the RPG itself, the previous outline (i.e., three cornerstone sourcebooks plus multiple smaller supplements to finish of the original story arc and the first edition(s), then major changes, including backgroundwise, for a second edition) was again confirmed. The second edition is now planned to feature rules compatible with the miniatures games.
There will probably be no further reprints for the older sourcebooks, while the decision to print the more recent ones will partially depend on the sales of the print version of Hunter Sheets 2. However, all older material will continue to be available as pdf (with the exception of the screen).

Finally, on the collectibles side, the Progressive Collection will most likely not be continued after the release of the miniatures game, however, a Mr. Slayer bust may or may not be in the making.

And that’s all for this year’s (belated) summary of the Daruma Open Day.

Looking forward to next year.

Stay SLA!

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