The previous article about gaming universes inspired some pretty lively discussion. I'd like to share my own example of adapting a well-established background into a 15mm game setting.
The Dropship Horizon crew has recently been engaged in a pretty good discussion topic - Post Apocalyptic settings. Most of the discussion has been about small-scale, inexpensive projects - like a few warbands for Mutants & Death Ray Guns. But what could I use as the basis for a bigger post-apocalyptic game environment? Well, there’s one setting that I’ve always wanted to game - the Invid Invasion storyline from the Robotech: New Generation series (Genesis Climber MOSPEADA in its original Japanese form). That particular Palladium game is the only RPG that I remember fondly from my younger days, and Robotech: Invasion is one of few video games in the last decade to hold my attention.
But let’s face facts... Harmony Gold is not going to license some tiny company to produce 1/100 miniatures from that IP. Maybe it’s something to hope for in the distant future. But hope doesn’t put minis onto my gaming table. So, building on the Adapting Universes article, here's my way to turn the Invid Invasion storyline into a playable 1/100 Sci Fi setting.
We'll start by stripping away the characters, visuals, aesthetics, and other specific details that we'll never see from a 15mm range, and see what remains. Here's the basic story elements:
- A massive global war has just concluded. Humanity is in the process of rebuilding, but Earth’s governments, militaries, and global infrastructure are devastated.
- A hivelike alien species invades with the entirety of its population - untold millions of dronesa nd warriors descend upon Earth. The fragmented states of Earth aren’t able to resist the invasion. They are taken over, one by one, and most of humanity is either caught or killed during the invasion.
- The captured humans are enslaved and forced to help the invaders gather and process... something. This something didn’t appear on Earth, or wasn’t significant enough to merit attention, until mankind’s previous war.
- It gradually becomes clear that the something is the reason the aliens invaded Earth. It is critical to something in their society, either technologically or biologically.
- Some humans are still free, and others escape the work fields. Most of these humans are concerned with their own survival. But some form together into small groups of freedom fighters - attempting to overthrow the aliens and free humans from the work camps.
- A handful of these freedom fighters have discovered the location of aliens’ hive center. They are trying to coordinate an assault - hoping if the hive is overthrown, Earth will be free of the aliens’ grasp.
Well, look at that. That's not just a list of plot points... it’s a complete game setting. It has enough depth and detail to play everything from a random encounter to a detailed multi-player campaign. All that remains is figuring out what miniatures will best portray the factions in that setting. So, building on these elements:
- Alien invaders. There are several good options for a hive race with some technology aspects. It would be possible to adapt Khurasan Space Demons to this role, but they’re far more “biology” than “technology.” Or we could go “technology first” with a biological core - ArtCrime Makat or Rebel Scourge would be great choices in this role. But I’m going with the line that has the closest aesthetic fit to the Invid - Critical Mass’ Kaamados Vivipara, Agaamid, and Draco suits.
- Enslaved humans. There are probably some good fantasy ranges to consider - especially the further this setting’s timeline advances. But minis as simple as GZG Unarmed Colonists would work perfectly as human workers/objectives for rescue scenarios.
- Human freedom fighters. These willl be the most enjoyable forces to create. We can tap into GZG armed civilians/colonists, GZG Ravagers, Rebel Post-Apoc gangers and survivors, minis in the Khurasan post-apocalyptic range, Laserburn and RAFM characters, HOF Post-Apoc Warriors and Rim Mercenaries... the list goes on and on.
- Human military remnants. We could go as low- or high-tech as we want with these, depending when the previous war took place and how much technology survived. I can see some of the more "sci-fi: human infantry being useful in this role - GZG NAC, Islamic Federation or OUDF with helmets stand out in my mind. But you could go with more conventional near-future minis like Rebel Homeguard, Khurasan Nova Respublik or Oddzial Osmy NVL, or even higher-tech like GZG New Israelis, ArtCrime Federals, or Rebel Minis Drop Troopers.
- Human vehicles. Thinking back to the original TV series - 4x4 vehicles and motorcycles were the most common human vehicles (especially for civilian freedom fighters). Lots of good options from GZG and Old Crow in those categories, and a few good items from Rebel, Khurasan, and others.
- Mecha. Large flying mecha like the Alpha/Beta are simply not viable at this scale/size of game. But the most iconic vehicle from that series was definitely the Cyclone. So, ignoring the motorcycle transformation mode, why not look at mecha/battlesuits in that size? The GZG Cyclops battlesuit is a pretty good option, but I think the best choice is the ArtCrime Valkyrie range. They are the perfect size and bulk, and would look great squaring off against the Critical Mass Draco battlesuits.
From this point, it's just a matter of prioritizing armies, selecting figures, and getting units ready to play. It helps to start small - say one pack of Critical Mass Vivipara infantry with a Draco suit on one side, and a squad of GZG New Israelis for the opponent. Get those forces assembled and painted and we're ready for a small game of USE ME or Forge Of War. As time and budget allow, we can expand those initial forces, add more armies, and create special terrain pieces for this new, and mostly original, gaming universe.