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  #1  
Old September 25th, 2022, 01:44 AM
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Heroscape 2.0 and Halloween: On Gaming Moral Sensibilities

ONCE UPON A TIME, Many, Many Moons Ago at one of his early game convention talks, I asked a nice fellow about my own age named Dave Arneson how they handled Morality in Dungeons and Dragons. He said "We don't," and the discussion moved on. I wasn't sophisticated enough back then to ask "How do you, as a Dungeon Master, enforce proper character alignment behavior?" Which, in my old groups, we certainly did. I barely touched on the subject in my article back then "Introduction To Yourself: Dungeons & Dragons For Beginners" (Campaign Magazine). Later on in my Game Master days I'd say "Its okay to be Neutral Evil or Chaotic Good, but you have to act like it if you want those Experience Points!" After years of Role Playing, I still call the person running any board game the Game Master. Here at our New York City Gang of Four monthly Scape sessions we rotate the privilege, which includes hosting your own custom scenario.

Halloween is coming around again, and its become something of an adult holiday now like an American Day of the Dead--which they're already advertising here in late September; I remember when the Holiday Season with all its commercial razzmatazz didn't start until Thanksgiving. Originally, Halloween was considered the time when the boundary between the normal world and other dimensions became thin, and unearthly beings could come visit us here in Midgard, scaring the bejesus out of us before safely returning back where they belonged. Hopefully. And our tabletop fantasy Heroscape game boards reflects this all year long!

Coincident with the immanent first Haslab intro of Heroscape 2.0: Age of Annihilation (AOA) I've mentioned the rather consistantly Goth "Bloody Veins In Your Teeth" new character designs, and they are quite appropriate for the Halloween season. As we've mentioned in the main discussion thread on AOA, the gross thrust of most of the new game pieces we've seen so far goes perhaps even farther in that direction than the original game.

Not being particularly prudish in gaming sensibility, I've been thinking about this Hellforge piece. As a Jew who has just watched all three episodes of the new Ken Burns series The US and the Holocaust, I'm wondering how I feel about a mobile crematoriam rumbling around my game board. But after all, isn't a dragon the same thing? (Watch the anime Gate, one of my favorites, if you don't think so). And isn't that the signature creature of our Fantasy genre? So why be squeamish about a Cyborg Oven? Anything goes, right, as long as its not referencing historical reality?

So why am I so disturbed by the Evil Raelin? (When I obtained an extra Kelda figure, I repainted her as my custom Evil Adele The Pain Giver!) Its just the continuation of an old story element; Raelin was later rescued from her bedazzlement by Kee-Mo-Shi and changed back in the obscure animation adventure. And in game terms, this gives the Utgar player a chance to use her to benefit his side. Perhaps it just seems to further emphasize the sickness of NewScape. Repulsive giant insects? Gross cyborg enhancements? Corpse reviving nature mages? Nasty pirates of all races and alignments? Etc.? Hmmm. Which--if any of these--will be too sick to buy, if I run into budget constraints?

I'm not against creativity in fantasy in its evil aspect. And I don't have any kids, so that's not my concern. As has been pointed out, the original Scape is full of skeletonic aliens, gross zombies, and crawly buggy things. Isn't being a bit cartoony and uneasy a part of the horrific fun of Heroscape and Halloween?

I'm not sure. I have to admit the flood of grossness I see in the new designs makes me a bit uneasy. How about you? Or do we just need more Jandar/Ullar/Acquilla/Einar types around to whomp them upside the head? I do tend to make mostly Good or Evil (Utgar/Valkrill/Vydar) Armies rather than mix the alignments usually. Right now we don't know if that old Archkyrie General Alliance System is still in play in NewScape. If so, how do the new Generals being introduced fit in? Guess I do want to see more Age of Annihilation Good Guys standing up for American Valhalla and Apple Pie! All I've seen clearly in that line so far in the many new entries for my Scape Battlefield are the few (but exciting) 2.0/3.0 version heroes from Swarm of the Marro. There are those relatively cute steampunk animals, maybe.

And speaking of our revisioned Swarm of the Marro heroes, "They Stole Raelin's Brain!" The fiends.

Last edited by chas; September 26th, 2022 at 06:11 AM.
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Old September 25th, 2022, 07:25 AM
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Re: Heroscape 2.0 and Halloween: On Gaming Moral Sensibiliti

Can't give you rep for this thread but I want too.

Actually I think you may have hit the nail on the head.
We haven't really seen any "good guys". Oh there may be nice critters out there working on the side of law and order but there are no real heroes yet. Truly identifiable/relatable good guys working on the side of right.
Even at the start with ROTV (which was before me as I had to catch up with 'Scape) there were good guy soldiers vs a bad guy on an Dinosaur and a dragon. When I joined around the time of SotM it was an obvious group of good guys (with a love struck soulbourg) vs an evil hive mentality. Even the D&D set was an evil troop of elves vs player characters (not necessarily good but identifiable and/or relatable).

I don't believe we've seen the heroes in Heroscape AoA yet.
To this point in time with 'Scape 2.5 (AOTV was 'Scape 2 to me) I'm not sure we've seen more than Ewoks vs evil. With absolutely no offense intended to the creative geniuses working in the background!

If they're waiting to bring in a historical group of good guys...now is probably the time. The issue is, as with all historical figures...they're good guys dependent on the side you're on. How about some new human Microcorp agents?

As for Samhain (Halloween), I'm Scottish (born and raised in Glasgow in the seventies), the move to North America was very eye opening for me as to how different the societies were. How much of a joke the night was and how much it was strictly about the candy. It's become more and more that way ever since and I'm sure Scotland has changed as well. But when I was young it was about the spirit world edging closer to the living world and for a time that night the two worlds almost merged. The talk then was never about good vs evil (although witches and ghouls abounded) it was simply spirits and people.

Just when you thought it was all right, someone made it alright.

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Last edited by AMIS; September 25th, 2022 at 07:47 AM. Reason: I'm constantly amazed by how people translate spirits to evil and people to good.
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  #3  
Old September 25th, 2022, 09:13 AM
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Re: Heroscape 2.0 and Halloween: On Gaming Moral Sensibiliti

The new Sgt. Drake is definitely a heroic figure. Same for Sonlen.

That said, I think it's likely less of a response to the mix between "good" and "evil" and more of a reaction to the overall aesthetic shift.

The figure shapes aren't quite the same "heroic" extra large head and hands poses that Scape was known for prior to DnDscape (which was a reason a lot of folks rebelled against that as well). A lot of the sculpting details appear grittier, more textured, and less cartoony as a result. Without paint jobs to give them a candy-coated shell, the figures aren't as bright and vibrant as the OG game either (obviously individual end users have the ability to change this for themselves).

And the themes are less widely known archetypes and instead edgier genre expressions like cyber punk, body horror, and so forth. Even the expression of insects and bugs has moved from ones that are a bit bright, shiny, and easily identifiable, to ones that are creepier and crawlier and irreal nightmare fodder. Yes we have "pirates" but they're more sky pirates or some filtered and remixed tech version of the pirate archetype. It's like if the Knights of Weston had been given steam suits and deep grooves instead of just being portrayed as shiny silver knights.

This is not to cast any aspersions on the 2.0 aesthetic or say it's wrong or bad in any way. I'm not expressing an opinion one way or another on it. But it is notable that the visual and thematic aesthetic is definitely undergoing a significant tonal shift.

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DISCLAIMER: C3G claims no ownership of the characters or artwork used for C3G customs. All rights for the characters belong to their respective publishers/creators. C3G cards are not intended for sale, and C3G does not authorize any party to profit from C3G cards.

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  #4  
Old September 25th, 2022, 10:04 AM
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Re: Heroscape 2.0 and Halloween: On Gaming Moral Sensibiliti

Quote:
Originally Posted by IAmBatman View Post
I think it's likely less of a response to the mix between "good" and "evil" and more of a reaction to the overall aesthetic shift.

The figure shapes aren't quite the same "heroic" extra large head and hands poses that Scape was known for prior to DnDscape (which was a reason a lot of folks rebelled against that as well). A lot of the sculpting details appear grittier, more textured, and less cartoony as a result. Without paint jobs to give them a candy-coated shell, the figures aren't as bright and vibrant as the OG game either (obviously individual end users have the ability to change this for themselves).

And the themes are less widely known archetypes and instead edgier genre expressions like cyber punk, body horror, and so forth. Even the expression of insects and bugs has moved from ones that are a bit bright, shiny, and easily identifiable, to ones that are creepier and crawlier and irreal nightmare fodder. Yes we have "pirates" but they're more sky pirates or some filtered and remixed tech version of the pirate archetype. It's like if the Knights of Weston had been given steam suits and deep grooves instead of just being portrayed as shiny silver knights.

This is not to cast any aspersions on the 2.0 aesthetic or say it's wrong or bad in any way. I'm not expressing an opinion one way or another on it. But it is notable that the visual and thematic aesthetic is definitely undergoing a significant tonal shift.
Yeah, this. Thanks for saving me some typing, Bats.

I think the Dawn Raider faction is a key example of the tonal and aesthetic difference this will have from classic 'Scape. If pirates had been released in Wave 11 back in 2011, my guess is they'd have been archetypal, easily recognizable pirates the same way the Krav Maga are secret agents, the Romans are Romans and the elves are elves. That sort of iconic, archetypal look does not seem to be the direction of new 'Scape.
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Old September 25th, 2022, 10:09 AM
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Re: Heroscape 2.0 and Halloween: On Gaming Moral Sensibiliti

My best guess (based on some subtext and some hints dropped here and there) is that this change from "easily recognizable archetypes" to "factions that are a bit more specific and semi-original" is an intentional, probably corporate-mandated choice to establish more of a multi-media IP that can be used in cartoons and video games and so forth.

IPs are everything these days, but it relies at least somewhat on having "original" characters that are fully associated with that IP. Drake, Sonlen, and Raelin are a start, but you need more than a bunch of generic orcs and dragons to go with them.

(Now, that said, Marro and Soulborg were both at least to a degree their "original" creations that they could have leaned into more without quite as much of an aesthetic change).

C3G can be played with official Heroscape, but it's not recommended.


DISCLAIMER: C3G claims no ownership of the characters or artwork used for C3G customs. All rights for the characters belong to their respective publishers/creators. C3G cards are not intended for sale, and C3G does not authorize any party to profit from C3G cards.

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Old September 25th, 2022, 10:43 AM
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Re: Heroscape 2.0 and Halloween: On Gaming Moral Sensibiliti

First of all, really great and thought provoking post Chas. Bravo!

I guess I haven’t really given it much thought. Yes there were pirates originally planned for Heroscape. I’ve seen the sculps. They would have fit the old aesthetic, and would have likely been many fan’s favorites. As with all the other old scape, the sculps were done by Bob Naismith in his unique and recognizable style. This was before 3D digital sculpting became industry standard. I had been a fan of Bob’s work long before Heroscape and recognizing his style was a big part of my original fascination with the game.

When I first laid my eyes on the new Heroscape miniatures at Gencon, and finding out about the need for players to paint the figures, I was rather excited about the space pirates and the critter commandos. As with all other miniatures, I collect what I like to paint.

I have no interest in painting the aliens at all. I mean when I played 40K, I didn’t buy or play Tyrranids for the exact same reason. I just don’t want to paint them, and I don’t want to play unpainted figures. If I invest in this, I will need to sell off or trade off the things I don’t want to paint. I’m just now realizing this.

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Old September 25th, 2022, 10:51 AM
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Re: Heroscape 2.0 and Halloween: On Gaming Moral Sensibiliti

Thanks for pointing out something that's easy to miss for us outsiders in all of this: the behind the scenes creators that impact the overall aesthetic are, of course, not limited to the designers of the cards and lore. It sounds like Bob Naismith really put his aesthetic stamp on OG Heroscape and (reading subtext here) isn't involved this time around, which inevitably creates a big aesthetic shift.

C3G can be played with official Heroscape, but it's not recommended.


DISCLAIMER: C3G claims no ownership of the characters or artwork used for C3G customs. All rights for the characters belong to their respective publishers/creators. C3G cards are not intended for sale, and C3G does not authorize any party to profit from C3G cards.

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Old September 25th, 2022, 10:53 AM
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Re: Heroscape 2.0 and Halloween: On Gaming Moral Sensibiliti

Steampunk Knights would have been awesome.
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Old September 25th, 2022, 10:54 AM
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Re: Heroscape 2.0 and Halloween: On Gaming Moral Sensibiliti

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tornado View Post
Steampunk Knights would have been awesome.
Sure! And plenty of awesome stuff on offering now. It's just a bit more of a "layered" theme than a straightforward archetype.

C3G can be played with official Heroscape, but it's not recommended.


DISCLAIMER: C3G claims no ownership of the characters or artwork used for C3G customs. All rights for the characters belong to their respective publishers/creators. C3G cards are not intended for sale, and C3G does not authorize any party to profit from C3G cards.

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Old September 25th, 2022, 11:04 AM
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Re: Heroscape 2.0 and Halloween: On Gaming Moral Sensibiliti

I may be biased, as the first Master Set I personally had was Swarm of the Marro, but I honestly don't find this new stuff to be that much more "edgy". I remember having to beg for that set, and being told it was too gross because of Tor-Kul-Na's mount with it's creepy proportions, and the blob of flesh that is the Hive.

Instead, I think the way in which things are being revealed is much different and new to fans of Scape that were around when reveals were seeing miniatures, and guessing what they might be. I think Sir Heroscape made a great comment about this in his video with the reveal of the mole burrowbreaker. The concept art may have looked overly detailed and steam-punky, but you see the miniature and it's just some mole guy with a drill. That's perfect for 'scape! And when I look at those miniatures from Gencon, those all seem to fit in fine with my views of Heroscape. I even feel like the Ironclad are less grotesque than the marro have been (so far, at least), and seeing the miniature of the Hellforge Mandukor made me even more certain of that. You could paint it as some body-horror monstrosity, but for most people it will seem more like a little dude driving a big tank with claws and chainsaws.
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Old September 25th, 2022, 11:07 AM
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Re: Heroscape 2.0 and Halloween: On Gaming Moral Sensibiliti

One thing I think will be really interesting about Scape in the AoA age is that the ultimate aesthetic is going to be highly personalized, since how you paint things is going to really influence the look and feel of the end product. There's definitely an ability to "glow up" some stuff to make it happier and shinier if you apply the right colors and patterns.

C3G can be played with official Heroscape, but it's not recommended.


DISCLAIMER: C3G claims no ownership of the characters or artwork used for C3G customs. All rights for the characters belong to their respective publishers/creators. C3G cards are not intended for sale, and C3G does not authorize any party to profit from C3G cards.

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Old September 25th, 2022, 11:13 AM
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Re: Heroscape 2.0 and Halloween: On Gaming Moral Sensibiliti

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grungebob View Post
First of all, really great and thought provoking post Chas. Bravo!

I guess I haven’t really given it much thought. Yes there were pirates originally planned for Heroscape. I’ve seen the sculps. They would have fit the old aesthetic, and would have likely been many fan’s favorites. As with all the other old scape, the sculps were done by Bob Naismith in his unique and recognizable style. This was before 3D digital sculpting became industry standard. I had been a fan of Bob’s work long before Heroscape and recognizing his style was a big part of my original fascination with the game.

When I first laid my eyes on the new Heroscape miniatures at Gencon, and finding out about the need for players to paint the figures, I was rather excited about the space pirates and the critter commandos. As with all other miniatures, I collect what I like to paint.

I have no interest in painting the aliens at all. I mean when I played 40K, I didn’t buy or play Tyrranids for the exact same reason. I just don’t want to paint them, and I don’t want to play unpainted figures. If I invest in this, I will need to sell off or trade off the things I don’t want to paint. I’m just now realizing this.
I thought I saw Bob post one of his original Marro sketches on Facebook, and I think dok implied in a comment that Bob was doing concept art for AoA.

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