Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Interview - Scott Wainwright and the Brutality Skirmish Wargame

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Say hello to Scott Wainwright, the creator of the popular skirmish wargame 'Brutality, an excellent tabletop skirmish game and, better yet, it's completely free!

'So What Is Brutality?

- Use any scale models from any game
- Create your own stats
- Play with points, or not!
- Alternating activation
- Skirmish Wargame with RPG-lite aspects
- Campaign System
- A setting that allows you to bring your favorite characters together
- A model’s facing matters and different assault tactics get different bonuses!
- Free rules and no models to buy! What could be easier?'

I caught up with Scott and asked him a few questions about the game and the history behind it.

Welcome to Farsight Blogger! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into the tabletop hobby.

Hi Jon! I am a weekly 40k author over at BoLS who goes by the name Pimpcron. I was looking to find a new hobby about ten years ago and stumbled across the 5th edition Warhammer 40,000 starter and it caught my eye. I got talking to the store owner and learned that they had a weekly group that met and I ended up joining that. My first army was purple and gold Necrons, which my friends called "The Pimpcrons" which I  adopted as a pen name.

'Brutality' is a great free wargame as it enables players to bring their own miniatures to the table, no matter the scale or genre. What was the genesis of this idea?

Kickstarter. Haha. Over the years, my friends and I had Kickstarted so many miniature wargames and never played them much. I had boxes of unused minis in my closet, and felt really bad about not being able to use them. Given that I have been making board games, card games, and RPGs my entire life, I decided to make a game that would plausibly allow me to bring any characters from any universe I wish. I have made dozens of warbands and some of them are from my childhood such as Star Trek, Thundercats, Ninja Turtles, etc. I made this game for my own use with no intention of releasing it to the public because I am an avid solo gamer. But after having several friends help play test it, they all said that I should release it so that other people could play it as well. And so, two years of play testing and revisions later, we officially released the rule set in the Fall of 2017.

It was 'two years in the making' before release; what was your design process? How did you mold the final product?

At the start, I listed the elements that were most important to me in a game.

The choice to make it a skirmish game was two fold: As much as I like mass-battle games such as Warhammer or Kings of War, I wanted to be able to make an army without painting hundreds of models. Brutality usually uses 5-10 models per side. The other reason was that I have a love for tactics and strategy. I have always felt like skirmish games make every action count more due to the small number of components. If you lose a soldier in a mass-battle game, it's no big deal. But if he makes up 20% of your army, that is a big impact.

I also wanted to add RPG-lite elements to it in order give it another layer of customization and a narrative feel. Campaign games are where this game really shines because your characters slowly lose their mind as they die time and time again and it can lead to some really heart breaking moments. My very favorite character recently went crazy and wandered off in our store campaign. He will be coming back as a wandering monster in the future, confused and angry. Other players have a Knight who have became a pacifist due to PTSD, or a Sniper who has become dead inside and unable to pray at altars anymore. These models aren't useless, but you have to work around their mental issues.

All of our missions are designed around narrative encounters that warbands would stumble into while exploring the Ether Realm. So it makes perfect sense that any two warbands might have to set aside their differences in order to stop a rampaging behemoth. Or in order to gain Ishtar's favor, one warband decides to go on a killing spree in a populated area while the other side wants to stop them.

Another important part for me was adding as much depth to the rules and options as possible, while making the options balanced and generic enough that it could fit any genre. Two players could potentially create identical Support characters, give them the same perks, and the exact same Powers. One is a technomage that harnesses nano-tech to produce barriers of nanites to create cover, while the other is a Woodland Elf who forces the ground to jut up in front of him to stop oncoming fire. But of course with several hundred combinations of character creation, you would have to purposefully try to create two identical characters.

Game design has always been a passion of mine, so creating the initial game rules took only a couple months. The rest of that two years was play testing, play testing, play testing. Balance is paramount to me in a game and countless tweaks and changes have been made over time to make sure both players have an equal chance of claiming victory. I wanted choices (and a bit of luck) to determine winners.

What do you feel makes this game unique from other wargames?

For starters, everything is free. Free rules, free supplements, and you use your own models. I'm not selling anything, I just want people to enjoy the game.

The custom character creation is a big difference from the norm. It is more than just equipment or weapons; you can cross genres and franchises. You aren't narrowed to a certain couple factions, your imagination can go wild. After playing a "big name" game like Warhammer for so long, I have found immense joy in finding all manner of 3rd party miniature sites to make warbands with. I feel like you can really own your army versus being told what they are like. But like everything in Brutality Skirmish Wargame, if choosing an already established faction is your thing, we have over a dozen major factions in the fluff to choose from; each with their own motivations and alliances.

My favorite part of tabletop gaming is when the dice tell a story, which is why I added the Wound Charts. You don't just lose Health when you are injured, there are other effects depending on where you were hit. A Head Injury involves your Willpower being deduced, causing the use of Powers to be more difficult and upping your chances of being Confused. Just got yourself a Leg Wound? Enjoy your diminished movement and running distances until you can get that healed up.

The setting is really interesting. How did that come about, and what came first, the setting or the rules?

The idea of an ancient belief-fueled God hatching a secret plan to regain power has been an idea I have toyed with for years. I have always enjoyed reading about mythical characters and enjoyed in how brutal they were. People back then didn't mess around apparently.

Another aspect to this was the idea that I never liked about nearly all other games: Your hero dies, but is somehow back next week to fight again. Well did he die or didn't he? I liked the idea of every in-game death being real and having lasting effects on your character's psyche. Nobody can kill or be murdered over and over again without mental problems. Once I established that I wanted death to be a temporary but horrifying element of this setting, the rest kind of wrote itself. If you witnessed brutal violence, bloody treachery, and a your own murder countless times, what kind of mess would you be psychologically? This is a very fun game but the setting is quite dark.

After figuring this out, I set about making the rules with traumatic stress being a key element.

There is a supplement out for it, 'Lands of the Ether Realm Book 1'. What can players expect in this, and is this the first of many?

I created a huge, intricate map to go along with this game, and I wanted to flesh out the people, animals, plants and factions that live in these different areas. Lands of the Ether Realm Book 1 covers just one region in the Land of Ishtar called The Wastes which is home to four large and distinct biomes. Here you will find backstory to each area, along with campaign events and items you can find by exploring them. On the last page is a special mission that pertains to a particular bloody pastime in a settlement called Redcamp which is a fun diversion from senseless killing.

I have mapped out roughly a dozen different zones that will be made into Realm Books like this one. This supplement is the first of many, and absolutely free.

What other kinds of support will Brutality receive in the future?

I have tons of secret plans for this game! I can't disclose them all, but I would love to have authors make an anthology of short stories outlining the horror of living in the Ether Realm. The supplement Realm Book 2 is almost finished. Eventually we will be having a hardback rulebook printed (but the rules will remain free online). A token and template set is also on the horizon (but not required to play). So, I truly love this game and our community is growing by the day. I have a lot planned for this, and hope people enjoy it.

The rules, supplements, videos, photos, and our community can be found on Facebook or people who don't Facebook can reach me at brutalityskirmishwargame (at) for get the rules.

This has been fun Jon, thanks for your time!

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