Saturday, 4 February 2012

Settings from Existing Worlds - Invid Invasion for 15mm?

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.



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    1. Griffin miniatures used to produce some miniatures called the Cravid that looked to splitting image of the Robotech Sentinal crab drones in 25mm scale. There is a seller on E-Bay useing the name Griffin cub who has started to sell the old Griffin miniatures range of Giger style Alien hive walls so im thinking maybe he is actually Griffin miniatures and if you were to contacted him he might be able to produce the Cravid Sentinal crab drones again.

    2. Did the cravid ever make it to market? Their Greys were superb, I have some of those, but they top out at closer to 35mm as i recall.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Great article Chris. I love it, and it got me thinking.

    You've mentioned using no-background, trying to fit figures into an existing setting and you've talked about adapting the themes of a setting to capture it's essence without copying it outright. I'd like to suggest a fourth way to create your wargaming universe. I like to think of it as creating an "organically" grown setting.

    Like some of the other Dropship regulars, I have my own colony world - Bad Landing- in which I play most of my 15mm games. The results of the sceanrios I play determine the course of the worlds development. So my friends and I create the settings history and culture as we play. If we want to play a Terminator-inspired scenario then I have some of Bad Landing's robot AI's decide to take over. If I want to play an Aliens' style Xenos infestation, then I have some bioweapons smuggled onto the planet I simply figure out where in the setting's constantly evolving timeline would be a good place to play this scenario and *poof* a new historical event becomes part of the Bad Landing campaign settings canon.

    Rather than create a setting based too closely on one source, I simply leave myself with as loose a framework as possible to more easily incorporate new ideas. I don't have anything resembling a map of the world with all the factions and nations plotted out, for example. I try to keep the setting as vague as possible until a game we play sets something down in stone. It makes it easier to bring in new ideas that way.

    I originally started off my 15mm gaming on the Terminus Omega blog ( with the narrow idea of playing 15mm games solely in the Mass Effect universe. It occurred to me after a while that I was fitting myself into a straight-jacket, so I decided to switch over to the colony concept I've already described. Now elements of Mass Effect that I liked can slot-in in to my existing setting at an appropriate point in the timeline. If I want to play a Mass Effect Style high-tech game with lots of aliens then it happens later in the colony's history. If I want to play a more "near-future" tech-level game then it happens earlier in the timeline.

    I could even decide to have some sort of disaster happen (perhaps as the result of a 15mm game that went horribly wrong) that would allow me to play Post-Apoc or even Sword and Fantasy style games on this world. It just mean's stretching the timeline a little to allow for an era of rebuilding.

    It also means I don't have to go and create an entirely new setting every time I see an awesome TV show or read a book I'd like to steal ideas from.

    It works for me -and it seems to work for a lot of other folks as well, like Sgt Apone (I think) and the guys from Tale's from the Maelstrom.

    Quick disclaimer: I actually have two versions of bad landing, both of which have their own timelines for incorporating verious events. I've already mentioned the first, which is my generic kitchen sink version of the world.

    The second version is strictly for playing 40K but uses different versions of the 40K rules depending on what 40K Epoch I'm playing in. I use Laserburn for the Dark Age of Technology, Long Night and Age of Conquest. 1st ed Rogue Trader gets used for the Heresy and post-Heresy era, and later editions see play when Tau and other, newer, races begin to crop up in the 40K timeline. Again, the results of our games affect the Colony's development. It won't always be a human world, for example.

    1. Nice concept. I may do this myself as i had the idea of using splintered light "Dark Elves" as 15mm oppostition for Copplestone Coanan style figures and then re-using them as being (in fact aliens perceived as Elves in prehistory)in somthing like Blasters & Bulkheads (paint those scimatars as "power" scimatars!)

  4. Great writeup! Really gets the gears turning...

  5. Yup the Cravid drones were a box set of ten individualy posed miniatures, i tried to post a picture of the box art in my first post but it appears that the dropships pet gecko didnt like it...

  6. Great article, Invidious invasion earth was one pf my favorite setting growing up. It also reminds me of original V and falling skies.

  7. I've recently decided to get into 15 mm sci-fi wargamming, and have invented my own faction and back story, I have to say your article helped to push me over the tiny precipice that is 15 mm. you can check out what I came up with on my blog,
    I hope you check it out and keep up the great work on Dropship Horizon.

  8. Yeah, I loved watching the series here in the states!

    Very cool post!

  9. I really love the mospeada invid invasion arc. I'm working on some models based off the orginal macross arc and when I get them finished up I have plans for doing some invid era minis in 15mm scale that way the cyclones are useable as figures.

  10. The Heavy Gear rules are perfect for modeling robotech.

  11. Bwa ha ha, I have the Cravid figures! I got them last year I think, I managed to email him and he sent me a set, actually sent me 14 of em. No idea how I'll get them in a game though, they are brilliant compared to 15mm figures though.