Editor’s Note: The content that follows was written by Nathaniel, the author of Barbarians of the Aftermath and the forthcoming Barbarians of Heavy Metal. The original post (and the comments thereupon) can be found here. I’m separating out the design diary portions themselves for easy indexing. -tvp-
PART 2: BOOK BREAKDOWN
The next part of my typical Organizational Phase is to break down the contents of the book into a rough outline, which is listed below along with short descriptions of the contents of each section. The relevant names are in flux and will likely be replaced with something more metal as I go along.
Introduction:: The standard ‘What is this and how do you use it?’ section, including my usual admonitions to treat the rulebook as an inspiration, not a tyrannical overlord.
Setting:Unlike BotA, which was largely a game toolkit that helped you to create your own setting, BoHM has a dedicated setting and that requires some brief description of the universe in which our Heavy Metal Heroes wander. It won’t, however, be the overwhelming descriptive opus one typically finds in this case and only speaks of the universe in the most general terms for two reasons: first, there will be a lot of this information spread about the book in relevant sections (how starflight works will be covered in the Warp Ships chapter, for instance); and secondly, I still want the universe to be flexible enough to mould to the GM’s vision without too much effort.
Heavy Metal Heroes: The character generation chapter, with all new careers like the Titant Rider (mechwarrior), the Roadie (land vehicle and heavy equipment expert), the Groupie (courtesan), the Manager (leader of bands in battle) and the Warp Rider (star pilot). I’m still going through the various careers trying to change the names out for more ‘metal’ names, but that is a work in progress which I will discuss in the next segment.
New Heroic Backgrounds will be covered in the next chapter. I had thought about keeping them in this chapter, but as they are very important to the themes and structure of the BoHM universe, I moved them. You’ll see why in a second.
The Books of Rock: This section will have a very similar feel to the ‘clans’ or ‘classes’ of other games in that it describes the society of the future which is divided up on the basis of the ‘Rocktagon,’ a symbol of the eight divisions of Rock. Each of these divisions has a separate Book of Rock to represent it which details the Patron Saint of that style of music, the type of people that follow it and the behavioral strictures they abide by to be the purest examples of it (which allows them to claim things like ‘I’m more metal than you!’), Heroic Backgrounds based around band positions, rules for using that specific style of music in music duels (Licks, special advantages and disadvantages, etc.) and finally, the Great House that represents the largest kingdom representing that style of music in the universe.
And as if that were not enough, there will be an additional section for the ‘Posers,’ which is the name general society uses for those who play other forms of music (country, hip-hop, classical, etc.) besides Rock. These folks typically live on the fringes of the universe and typically act as mercenaries who are hired to disturb and annoy the enemy. I’m thinking of making a selection of ‘generic’ abilities that you can choose to create custom heroic backgrounds for these folks, but they have a very set series of Flaws that revolve around their difficulty in dealing with Headbanger society.
Rules: How to play the game, of course. Specifically…
The BoX System: The only major complaint that folks had about my previous book is that it required the core rules to use it. Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I was the first to make supplements for the system, and Simon and I agreed that it would be a good structure at the time to allow others to publish for the system while maintaining sales of the main book. Since that time, things have changed, however, so this game will have the complete rules inside! Huzzah!
Now, when I say complete rules, I mean those that fit this universe, so if you want sorcery rules ,you’ll still need the BoL:Legendary Edition still and if you want mutation rules, you’ll want to pick up a copy of BotA. But you will now have another option for a core book along with BoL, Legends of Steel and Dogs of WAR and the setting material is unique enough that it will still be a worthwhile purchase even if you have those other fabulous books.
Firearms: These will be a variation on the Aftermath rules, with Ammo Checks, multiple shots and PEN values. I’m still considering changes to these, however, so opinions are welcome.
The Sound & The Fury: One of the core concepts of the setting is that the introduction of sonic weapons in the distant past gave rise to the headbanger society that exists in the present and many of the rites and societal values are based around ones affinity with them. One of the main uses of these weapons is to ‘duel’ with the safeties off, proving your musical superiority to your opponent as you are killing them with it. These rules allow you to do that in a one on one, band vs band or mass battle situation.
Rides: New vehicle rules for land and air vehicles.
Heavy Metal: Rules for piloting Titans, 60 foot tall anthropomorphic killing machines which represent the best the battlefield has to offer. Including rules for the scarcity of parts and lost technology that makes them so expensive and rare on said battlefield.
Titan units are divided into ‘Bands’ with one Titan representing the ‘lead’ with a general all purpose weapon layout, an ‘axe’ with long ranged weaponry, and the ‘rhythm section’ consisting of a ‘bass’ with close ranged weaponry and a ‘beat’ which has heavy artillery and supporting electronics.
In terms of force representation, think OGRE, where there will typically be on ‘Band’ of Titans per company. I know this is more rare than original Battletech, but the idea is to keep the other elements of the setting interesting and in play, especially massed musical confrontations between infantry. Opinions are welcome on this…
Warp Riders: Rules for starships and interstellar travel base on the concept of warping space. I’ll detail more on this later, but the basic conceit is to have ‘singularity generators’ that link star systems by creating folds between them, allowing ships to slip through the intervening ‘hyperspace’ using the talents of Navigators and Navigatrixes who can see the folds in their minds eye and navigate the hyperspace in between through some strange psychic ability which used to be well understood but is now treated with mysticism.
This allows strategic positioning of systems to be important as linkages are typically line of sight and must travel between unobstructed space (no large masses like planets and suns). So defensible ‘kingdoms’ can be created by blockading the system linkages. These generators are lost tech and are never harmed by anyone for fear of cutting off space travel for good. Some areas, like the Earth, have already been cut off from the rest of the universe after the great wars destroyed all of the linkage points into their systems.
On a side note, I arranged the system of travel like this because I wanted starships to be able to fight freely, unlike the Battletech universe. So piratical raids and so on are an additional option for this universe.
GM Section: All therelevant stuff for a GM to run a campaign will be here, including random generators for NPC forces, Planets, Fiefdoms and Missions.
Also included will be alternate setting ideas, allowing you to add rules from the other BoL products to make an entirely unique version of the universe. Want to have the Sabbathites be actual sorcerors and their enemies the Christian Rockers to have the power of actual Priests? Then use the rules from BoL. Want there to be aliens and mutants in your universe? Use the rulers from BotA. Find out what happened to Earth by using the Setting generator in the same book. All of these and more will be listed as options for the main game.
Up Next: New Careers…