Tag: miniature wargame

Making Crixa: Some Goals

There are a couple of Space Opera RPGs that have stood out in my memory over time. The first was when I was just learning to play Dungeons and Dragons in middle school and Traveller came out. I remember seeing the sleek black books of Traveller on the shelf in the hobby store and this huge starmap. They looked so good! I managed to convince my mother to buy them for me and I spent days pouring over the rules. I loved the promise of Traveller: wide open galactic travel, owning and building your own starships, and a storytelling focus. I managed to get my friends to play one or two sessions, but the rules were complex and as kids their interest drifted away. But my interest remained, and I remember it fondly to this day.

The second was an MMO made by Westwood Studios called “Earth and Beyond.” I was working at Blizzard on World of Warcraft at the time, and my team was a small tight knit group who also gamed together after hours. We all hopped into Earth and Beyond, made by our biggest rival studio at the time, Westwood, so we could keep tabs on the competition. Damn I loved that game (despite lack of content and its faults). Each person had their own personalized ship that was its own “character” and you grouped up into formations to tackle pirates and other bad guys flying their own ships. There was a mysterious “dead zone” that nobody ventured into unless you were very brave. In that zone your cockpit HUD would start to flicker and your ship malfunctioned in strange and spooky ways. I spent hours exploring that zone, which unfortunately they never completed, but I loved how scary it felt and how unexplored it seemed.

It’s been in me to make a space game for many, many years. The opportunity never came up at Blizzard, or even with Firefall, which was sci-fi, but not a space opera, and limited to Earth. So now that I’m semi-retired from video games, I thought it would be a good time to make that space game I always wanted too, complete with its own starmap, shiny book, and maybe, just maybe, a computerized version someday if I get the itch again. The game will be commercially available in hardbound and PDF form both online and in stores.

So, a couple principles I wanted from the game:

3D Printable Starships

The ship combat in Crixa is meant to be played with miniatures, and can stand on its own as a PvP miniatures game. The game will ship with cardboard cutouts, but you will also be able to download, for free, 3D files to print your own miniatures. If you don’t have your own 3D printer, you can send them to services like shapeways.com and have them print them for you. No more expensive minis to buy!

Ship Adventures

Like Earth & Beyond, I wanted whole adventures to have the option to be able to take place in the stars, in player’s personal ships. Every player starts with a personal starship. Your character skills directly influence your ship’s effectiveness, and the ship itself can be developed like a second character. You can group with other ships, fight together, explore together, and adventure together. Of course, you can also leave your ships and adventure on the ground together, but the point is that you can have as rich as spaceship adventure as you can a character adventure, and freely switch between both modes of play.

Deep Character & Ship Customization

Many modern RPGs feature a fast play style and simpler rules to fit a modern, busy life. Unfortunately, many of these systems are light on character customization, mechanics and depth. Crixa aims to give you a set of rules that allow for fast play, but for those who wish to delve deeper, it will also offer many ways to advance and tinker with your character and your ship. The mechanics aim to be easy to learn, to get you playing your first game quickly, but allowing further study and deeper play as you get familiar with the system. Optionally, you may never use these advanced rules, but simply focus on a story-driven, fast-play style if you prefer. The choice is yours.

Rich Setting

The universe of Crixa is set in a far future where FTL (faster than light) travel is unleashing a wave of exploration, as well as instability. For hundreds of years, twenty eight human star systems have developed and diverged from each other, separated by vast light years of distance and travel. During this time humans had the means to communicate instantaneously, but lacked the ability to travel to the next star system without arduous years or even decades of slow travel in suspended animation.

The result, of course, is wildly divergent humanity and story flavor, from retro 60’s sci-fi to 80’s Cyberpunk and modern transhumanism. Even more interesting is how these cultures collide with the advent of FTL travel. Wars have broken out, and great alliances forged. Some systems have shut themselves off entirely, while others aggressively explore the newly available space around them.

It’s a good time to have an adventure.

Ready, Set, Go

Crixa (pronounced Crik-sa), is my upcoming space opera, tabletop, roleplaying game. I’ve been working on the universe and setting periodically for awhile now, with some fantastic artists like Col Price (www.coldesignltd.com) and Tommaso Renieri (tommasorenieri.deviantart.com). These artists had really helped me realize some of the backstory and visuals for the game last year.

This year I finally decided to get off my butt and create the game rules. The goal is to capture some of the vastness and excitement that I had when I first saw and played Traveller, by my friend Marc Miller. As much as I love his game, however, I wanted to play around with my own ideas including a dual tier fast-play/deep-play rule system, and an embedded, but stand alone, miniature starship battle system.

Of course, I wanted to set all this in a universe of my own design. I’d been kicking around some ideas for this universe when I happened to mention to another friend, Orson Scott Card (author of Ender’s Game, one of my all time favorite novels), that I had this idea for a story. He invited me to meet up and pitch it to him, and I did. He’s always hated my story ideas, but something about this one got him excited. He encouraged me to write a trilogy, something I still plan to do, but meanwhile I’ve decided to develop the backstory as part of Crixa.

I can’t thank Marc and Scott enough for inspiring me to create this game and this story. I’m also deeply grateful to Col and Tommaso for putting up with all my weird ideas and revisions for the art for Crixa.

So, with introductions out of way, let’s start designing! This blog is going to chronicle my design of Crixa step by step. While I’ve worked on and designed several video games over the years, tabletop is new to me. By posting some of the early ideas here, I’m hoping to get your feedback to help me decide where I want to take these systems.

Oh, and for you Blizzard fans out there, Crixa was originally a video game that I was making for Blizzard as a 3rd party developer before they hired me. Maybe I’ll post some old screen shots someday, but the main player ship can still be found as a “crashed spaceship” prop in the Starcraft editor.

Thanks for joining on this new chapter in my life.