17/02/2016 at 17:29 #38361
Lately, I’ve been looking at “alternative” fantasy lines/settings (things outside of standard elves, humans, orcs, etc.).
I like the creativity and imagination that has gone into some of these lines.
Zombiesmith has the lion’s share of stuff:
War of Ashes http://www.zombiesmith.com/pages/war-of-ashes
Netherworld’s Edge http://www.zombiesmith.com/collections/netherworlds-edge
(Not to mention their Quar, Storm of Steel and A7D12 sci fi lines).
World of Twilight http://www.worldoftwilight.com/
Relics from Tor http://torgaming.co.uk/relics/
These have all grabbed my attention.
I’m wondering if any of you have a favorite line, set of rules or something different that I haven’t listed here.17/02/2016 at 17:34 #38362MikeKeymaster17/02/2016 at 19:28 #38363Mr. AverageParticipant
Zombiesmith’s Quar, especially the 6mm ones, definitely top my list. The setting and even just the idea of an internally-consistent, humanless world fighting at a World War I level somehow speaks to me. In my perverse moments I even consider doing a Quar graphic novel, so great is my love for the style and world of the Quar.18/02/2016 at 02:39 #38373
I find it interesting how certain things just grab hold of us.18/02/2016 at 16:37 #38409AltiusParticipant
Love the Quar!
I’ve also got an idea to start a Hyborian-style fantasy world pitting Copplestone’s picts (cavemen) and trolls against barbarians.
I’m picturing rocky, snowy, windswept terrain with deep pine forests, even though both sides seem a bit underdressed for it. I plan to use the Dragon Rampant rules with them.
Where there is fire, we will carry gasoline18/02/2016 at 19:23 #38415Northern MonkeyParticipant
The mashed up mythology of 2000AD’s Slaine’s Tir Na Og always appealed to me as slightly different setting with its Ley-ser guns, atlanteans, Els etc
My attempt at a Blog: http://ablogofwar.blogspot.co.uk/18/02/2016 at 19:24 #38416MikeKeymaster18/02/2016 at 23:07 #38442Northern MonkeyParticipant
Whilst Horned God is an epic and rightfully recognised as such, there is something about the early McMahon art that I really like, plus Fabry did great artwork for some of my favourite story lines(Slaine the King and Time Killer) in fact the standard on Slaine has been consistently good throughout its 30+ year run…if we overlook Bardinelli
My attempt at a Blog: http://ablogofwar.blogspot.co.uk/19/02/2016 at 00:02 #38443EtrangerParticipant
I’ve always liked Glorantha as a setting as it’s very different from your standard sub-Tolkien cod-medieval fantasy world. Very richly detailed and full of twists and turns. Runequest & variants are great RPG rules IMHO. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glorantha14/10/2016 at 19:43 #50680
This is a great topic that I missed the first time around, so I thought I’d be cheeky and perform some threadomancy with a groan-inducing wall of text. You’re welcome, TWW 🙂
- I consider sword-and-planet to be a form of alternative fantasy (as opposed to being sci-fi, which it really isn’t), at least the way I’m doing it. My 6mm sword-and-planet project moves away somewhat from the ERB conventions (partly because I can’t easily represent “proper” Barsoomians in 6mm with the figures that are currently available) and has a rather strong “Saturday morning cartoon” vibe instead. The idea is to represent a world inhabited by a dozen or more non-spacefaring races, none of them human, with the usual quasi-magical sword-and-planet technology. This does mean repurposing a lot of third-party Epic figures like Slann, Exodites, Kroot and Zoats, but I simply ignore the 40K connotations and re-imagine these figures as being lower-tech than they are in 40K. I’ve also got various sword-and-planet figures and VSF aliens in 18mm and 28mm which, if used on their own without VSF colonialist Earthers, would make good inhabitants of alternative fantasy worlds (even if the ERB connection would be plain as day).
- I have a growing collection of non-human, non-Tolkienesque 28mm fantasy figures (or sci-fi figures repurposed for fantasy) and I’m thinking of combining these into a minor project for an alternative fantasy world inhabited by literally hundreds of races. To be clear I wouldn’t be actually representing hundreds of races in miniature, but that would be the implied background of the setting judging from the fact that most of the figures in this collection are each a different race. Some examples of figures I have or intend to get for this project are Alpha Forge Hydrissians and Mephalians (carefully selected ones which I’ll convert to remove all sci-fi equipment), Crunch Waffle Waggamaephs, 50 Fathoms non-human pirates (available from Old Glory under the West Wind category), T’Lekkan from Foundry’s God of Battles range and some of the new Numenera miniatures from Reaper. The occasional pig-faced orc, thri-kreen, dragonkin or owlbear might also find its way into this collection.
- I LOVE the World of Twilight setting and it pains me that I still haven’t bought any of the figures (due to hobby budget issues). I fear that some day I’ll find the range has gone OOP before I got around to buying any of it.
- Similarly, I’m quite taken with the game Alkemy, but haven’t been able to work it into my budget yet. More specifically, I like the fairly unique non-human races: the Middle Eastern-style cat-people, the heteromorphic Native American-style humanoids and the new faction of snake-people.
- Some day I’d like to do a Quar project, probably in either 15mm or 6mm to keep it manageable as a second-tier project.
- Moorcock-style fantasy intrigues me quite a bit. I have some 28mm high elves that I’d like to use as Melniboneans, and dark elves that I’d like to convert into Pan Tangians (but that would be a major conversion project, I want them to have big beards like the old Citadel Pan Tangians). I also need to wedge the Eureka Hawkmoon figures into the budget somewhere. If anyone is wondering, the Hawkmoon figures aren’t in the Eureka webstore – you have to ask for them special. There’s information about them somewhere online, but I forget where.
- If it counts as “alternative fantasy”, I used to have a big swords-and-sorcery project going on, one that was mainly ERB-inspired but also had elements of Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, Clark Ashton Smith, L Sprague de Camp, Lin Carter and others. I’ve now downscaled this project but I’m not giving up on it yet, and besides I’ve already bought lots of figures for it, mainly various fantasy humans to represent the usual cultures of such a setting (fantasy Arabians, fantasy Romans, fantasy Mongols, fantasy Meso-Americans, you know the rest), plus some monstrous creatures and races to dwell in the dark, forgotten places between human civilisations.
- One of my most peculiar ideas – on which I never followed through – was a fantasy project based on or heavily inspired by Mozart’s The Magic Flute. The basic concept would have been to visualise “fantasy” the way it was imagined by people in late 18th century Europe, largely based on lingering renaissance/enlightenment forms of fantastical imagining. So, for instance, there would have been cherubs/puttoes, gods from the ancient Mediterranean mythologies (as imagined in the 18th century), daemonic bat-owls (as in Goya’s “The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters”), characters from The Magic Flute (Papageno and Papagena in their bird-costumes, the Queen of the Night, Sarastro, etc), and other stuff of that sort, but also characters in 18th century dress. I might possibly also have drawn some inspiration from later ballets like The Firebird and Swan Lake. I love both opera (except Wagner) and ballet, though I don’t often get to experience them live. Anyway, sourcing figures for a project like this is beyond me, so it will have to remain a pipe dream for now.
- The 7th Voyage ruleset from Crooked Dice has inspired me to start collecting figures for a small Harryhausen-esque fantasy project, which would really be more of a dual project that’s Greek mythology on one side and Islamic-world fairytales on the other. There would be some interplay between the two, though; no reason Sinbad couldn’t fight a cyclops or Jason meet a genie. The old-fashioned Harryhausen-esque visual style is what’s important.
- Another somewhat peculiar idea I’m mulling over is a mini-project inspired by Harry Potter, The Golden Compass movie (and Pullman’s books more generally), Narnia, Peter Pan and other similar stories of childish, magical fantasy (perhaps also including The Hobbit if taken on its fairytale-like own without Tolkien’s other, more epic, more grown-up writings weighing it down). This might possibly still include some elves, dwarves and goblins, but depicted more like how they would appear in a children’s story (“magical”, for lack of a better word) as opposed to what they were finalised as in readers’ minds after The Lord of the Rings (what we today compartmentalise as “Tolkienesque”). Every year I return to the idea of this project around Christmas-time. It wouldn’t be a specifically christmas-themed project, but it just… feels right for the season, you know? I always want to indulge in the Harry Potter books, The Hobbit, His Dark Materials etc around Christmas-time, and this project would be a way of trying to channel that sense of magic into the hobby. Does that make any sense?
There are some additional alternative fantasy settings I’d like to mention (ones that I myself am not doing, for a change) but I’ll collate them in a later post.14/10/2016 at 19:50 #50684Mr. AverageParticipant
I’ve recently been very attracted to the Microworld alternative Renaissance line coming out in November, and a steam-powered quasi-fantasy campaign set in the Italian states is an alternative fantasy I would find very appealing. Unfortunately I think the line is not generating as much interest from others and is somewhat disappointing in pre-orders, but I still might snap some up. A Warmaster campaign between, say, Venice and Florence with Steam Tanks and Arquebusiers would probably fail to get table time at my club but I do like the idea, anyway. Or alternately, a Renaissance Holy League fighting a more conventional undead or Demon army, perhaps.15/10/2016 at 08:27 #50704
Late to the party, but…
I have always preferred Early Medieval/Dark Ages as the setting for fantasy. However, I am increasingly considering the Bronze Age. In my opinion, the more sketchy the historical record, the better fantasy seems to fit the setting.
Centaurs *MAY* have some link with chariot-using Mycenaean Greeks coming into contact with horse-riding nomads. Some of the steppe nations did have a proportion of female warriors which *MAY* have helped give rise to the Amazon myths. Homer’s writings (the poet, not the Simpsons character), if you can plough though them, has sorceresses, cyclops and much much more.
The Near East has a lot of interesting myths that have scope for wargaming, as does Egypt.
However, the Bronze Age of North West Europe seems to me to be a particularly fertile ground for further study. We don’t know about the history, but ‘Bronze Age Warfare’ by Richard Osgood, Sarah Monks with Judith Toms, gives me the impression that some of the folklore and mythology of early Britain, Ireland, Scandinavia and nearby countries may have roots earlier than the Iron Age. It so happens that my first 15mm DBA army was Early Northern Barbarian Europe 1400-701 BC, in other words, Late Bronze Age. I can’t help feeling that a lot of the details of the army list, including enemies, proportions of the different types of troops and exact dates are educated guesses rather than hard fact. Perhaps a few suitable additions would make it a particularly good Hordes of the Things army? The game or campaign would be greatly enhanced by having suitably well thought-out opponent(s).17/10/2016 at 02:12 #50827
Some amazing ideas, here.17/10/2016 at 13:42 #50864Mike HeaddenParticipant
Some time ago now I ran a fun Bronze Age / Fantasy RPG campaign for a while.
The players were part of the senior crew of a Minoan galley. They were by turns traders, explorers, mercenaries for hire, pirates, treasure hunters and monster exterminators.
It was basically Farscape / Firefly/ Andromeda with bronze swords and a boat!
Being a galley there was an endless supply of “red shirts” when expendable mooks were needed.
I used the Hero System rules.
Growing old is mandatory, growing up is entirely optional!18/10/2016 at 19:04 #50908
Here are some more alternative fantasy concepts and ranges (apologies for being too lazy to include links or name all manufacturers, I don’t mean for this to be a catalogue or a directory):
- The game Rise of the Occulites should definitely fit the mould of an alternative fantasy setting as desiderated by the OP.
- Khurasan makes a 15mm range of “alien Napoleonics”. The basic idea of the setting is that it’s another planet populated by several native sophont races (at least some of which have a zoomorphic appearance) with a level of technology and a geopolitical/sociopolitical situation similar to that of Europe during Napoleon. The Khurasan website is down as usual so I can only browse it via The Wayback Machine, but if the present state of the range is as it was in mid-May, then only one faction has been released so far: the spider-like Arak. I believe the other major faction is supposed to be the reptilian Garn.
- An obvious group of alternative fantasy styles worth mentioning are those based on mythologies and folklores of non-Western/Northern/Southern European cultures. For a start, Japanese fantasy seems to be fairly well-established in the hobby. There’s figures like oni, tengu, Japanese-style goblins and undead samurai available from several manufacturers in both 25-30mm and 15mm. Black Hat does 28mm Chinese fantasy, and I remember seeing a Kickstarter for a 28mm historical Chinese range that included fantasy figures as stretch goals. Then of course there’s the Wargods of Aegyptus range inspired by ancient Egyptian mythology. And a while ago there was a Kickstarter for a 28mm boutique-style skirmish game of Slavic folklore fantasy, as in Baba Yaga and all that. Some African fantasy figures seem to be available in the smaller scales (but not many). Obviously there’s many more kinds of non-European fantasy that are just begging to be explored (I’d love some South Asian fantasy figures myself, and maybe some Native American ones) but for this discussion I’ll just stick to the ones mentioned above, which have enough actual figures made for them to be gameable.
- Anyone remember the now-OOP “Hundred Kingdoms” range from Black Orc Games? It had some interesting non-traditional fantasy races, including simians with an ancient Roman-style culture, dinosaur-people, cat-people and insects that used tools. It was a fun-looking range which I’m sorry to say I didn’t appreciate enough back when it was still available.
- A number of manufacturers make figures for gaming “anthropomorphic animals” style fantasy in the same vein as Redwall and The Mouse Guard, though I haven’t paid much attention to these ranges (for all that I think Mouse Guard is a very delightful little setting, and I’ve been meaning to give the Redwall books a gander) so I can’t recall which manufacturers, exactly. Keep in mind they may not all mix well with each other in terms of aesthetic style.
- I must admit to having a liking for anime-esque mecha fantasy in the style of Vision of Escaflowne. The closest thing to this style in the way of extant wargaming miniatures is the Retribution of Scyrah faction from Warmachine, but it’s still not the same. There may be something usable in the way of gashapon or other similar “anime franchise merchandise” out of Japan (not necessarily for Escaflowne per se, but maybe for other anime in the same vein) but I’m not familiar with that market. I might have to start familiarising myself, actually. (Gods, but I loved Escaflowne when I was younger and the show was new-ish. I’ve rarely come across fantasy in any medium with such a charming mix of romance and action. As an anime it was the perfect merger of the shounen and shoujo genres. But I digress.)
- Then there’s that style of fantasy which, for lack of a better term, I refer to as “multiplanar fantasy”; the sort of setting that features multiple realms/dimensions/planes interconnected via magic portals or teleportation. Outside of miniatures wargaming, the setting of Magic: The Gathering is a perfect example of this style, but lately Warhammer has joined in with the Age of Sigmar setting. Both of those specific settings still have all the Tolkienesque races, but the more defining feature of this style in general is the presence of really “big” magic, far-out concepts (flying islands, world-cities, kilometer-tall trees, mushroom forests, etc) and often the presence of non-Tolkienesque races as well. With a setting like this, there’s always room to include new crazy ideas.
I still have some more things to mention, but this is all taking a lot of time to write up.
18/10/2016 at 19:14 #50910PatGParticipant
- This reply was modified 4 years, 4 months ago by Rhoderic.
Jack Vance the SF & Fantasy writer is worth mining for ideas. You might say he is not Alt since his magic system informed that of OD&D but I find his worlds to be very different from the rest of the SF and Fantasy genres with his Tschai series very much in the sword and planet category.18/10/2016 at 20:06 #50911StroezieParticipant
That Vision of Escaflowne manga is really interesting!
Believe it or not but for the past few weeks I had been thinking of doing something fantasy/sword and planet where knights wear some kind of mecha armor to battle instead of riding horses. I was thinking of combining this with Michael’s idea of airship droptroop knights with something like the Blue Gender bugs as main bad guys.
Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
If you like small scale skirmish, check out http://planetares6.blogspot.be/?m=018/10/2016 at 20:17 #50912
From what I’ve read of Vance (the Lyonesse trilogy) I consider him alternative enough. I liked how the Lyonesse books were for the most part a pseudo-Arthurian low fantasy, but there was the occasional jaunt into some extraterrestrial realm or god-governed land of amazing wonders. I really must make the time to read some of Vance’s more popular books someday.
Of course, there’s a near-infinite expanse of weird, “new wave” and “new weird” fantasy concepts in literature, much of which would be conducive enough for gaming if only suitable miniatures were available (although these settings would be niche interests at best). The writings of China Mieville come to mind. The weirdest fantasy book I personally have read is Steph Swainston’s “The Year of Our War”, which frankly was too weird to whet my appetite as a wargamer.
In other news, this thread has convinced me to finally start reading the Slaine comics. I like what I’m seeing so far.18/10/2016 at 21:08 #50913
@ Rhoderic That Vision of Escaflowne manga is really interesting! Believe it or not but for the past few weeks I had been thinking of doing something fantasy/sword and planet where knights wear some kind of mecha armor to battle instead of riding horses. I was thinking of combining this with Michael’s idea of airship droptroop knights with something like the Blue Gender bugs as main bad guys. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
Cool! I saw a bit of Blue Gender in the same anime club I saw Escaflowne (fond memories…) but can’t recall exactly what the bugs looked like. Still, “magical” mechs vs giant bugs is a great idea for alt-fantasy. Do you mean to make your own figures again or do you have a source of suitable figures in mind?
If I was rich I’d commission a small range of Escaflowne-style mechs scaled for either 6mm, 10-12mm or 15mm. I even worked out a lot of the details for such a prospective setting once, including the geography and the cultures/nations. And yes, there would have been flying ships capable of transporting mechs over long distances and over water18/10/2016 at 21:25 #50914Victoria DicksonParticipant
I occasionally toy with the idea of doing games based on Harry Turtledove’s Darkness novels, basically WWII in a magical setting. Tanks are giant hairy rhinos, firearms are sticks which need to be recharged with magic every so often, heavy sticks can be rhino mounted, artillery is catapults throwing magical explosives, these are also rhino mounted later in the war, the air force consists of dragons. Everyone is human, so no orcs or elves or whatever.19/10/2016 at 08:22 #50920
From what I’ve read of Vance (the Lyonesse trilogy) I consider him alternative enough. I liked how the Lyonesse books were for the most part a pseudo-Arthurian low fantasy, but there was the occasional jaunt into some extraterrestrial realm or god-governed land of amazing wonders. …[snip]
I must admit that the concept of Jack Vance’s Lyonesse has occurred to me. Unfortunately, my copy of the trilogy is a Kindle copy, which makes it hard to look at the map because there doesn’t seem to be a way to zoom into it.
I even considered setting my toy train layout in Lyonesse, with the fictional assumption that the railways company would have been the Southern Railway, with the lines originally opened by subsidiaries of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway and the London and South Western Railway.
Another possibility might be Katherine Kerr’s Deverry series. In my opinion, the later books get rather female-centric, but if you like cavalry armies and magic, it might do.
19/10/2016 at 14:40 #50933
- This reply was modified 4 years, 4 months ago by Piyan Glupak. Reason: mucked up original
Just saw this…19/10/2016 at 15:23 #50934
Another possibility might be Katherine Kerr’s Deverry series. In my opinion, the later books get rather female-centric, but if you like cavalry armies and magic, it might do.
Are they alternative fantasy, though? I only read the first four books but I recall them as Celtic-leaning low fantasy with Tolkienesque elves and dwarves (no orcs or other “wicked” races, though), only the elves lived a nomadic tent-camp existence and the dwarves lived in hiding, and neither race had all that much of an impact on the human-centric story. I also recall magic being quite low-key, and another Middle Eastern-style human civilisation to the south of the Celtic-type lands. They were actually the first fantasy books I read properly, so they had considerable impact on my formative years as a fantasy enthusiast. But I’m not really seeing the “alternative” in them. Unless the later books go in a more unique direction…?
I did consider mentioning one of Kerr’s other books, Snare, as a good example of alt-fantasy in literature. Technically it’s sci-fi – set on an “accidentally” human-colonised alien planet where the humans have reverted to medieval societies – but it reads like a fantasy novel, and I quite enjoyed it as such. It’s an interesting mix of fairly recognisable medieval human civilisation (there’s one Islamic culture, one Christian culture and some nomadic horse tribes between them) and an otherwise alien environment where the flora, fauna and native primitive sophonts (who resemble centauroid lizards) are decidedly extraterrestrial.19/10/2016 at 20:50 #50949
I think that the Sandman series actually gives a good setting for fantasy. In the Dreaming, you could have anything and everything.20/10/2016 at 07:21 #50956
Are they alternative fantasy, though? I only read the first four books but I recall them as Celtic-leaning low fantasy with Tolkienesque elves and dwarves (no orcs or other “wicked” races, though), only the elves lived a nomadic tent-camp existence and the dwarves lived in hiding, and neither race had all that much of an impact on the human-centric story. I also recall magic being quite low-key, and another Middle Eastern-style human civilisation to the south of the Celtic-type lands. [snip]
I am not sure what your definition of alternative fantasy is. There are dragons later. (In fact, one of the main protagonists gets converted into a dragon for two or three of the books, before being restored to humanity.) There are also ‘were-otters’ [my term, not the one used in the book] and the ‘Horsekin’ (in urban and tribal varieties). None of the races are intrinsically wicked, but a nasty monotheistic religion based upon a false goddess arises later in the series. Most of the sentient creatures have more than one faction or state (as in City or nation state), and in the case of humans, elves and horsekin, more than one culture. Later in the series, the elves, dwarves, horsekin and dragons do play a larger role. Underlying most of the day-to-day action is the struggle between the practitioners of good and evil magic, the politics of the The Guardians, and redemption of souls through multiple incarnations.
The armies tend to be reasonably small, so would suit HotT, or individually based figure wargames rules more than DBA or DBM/DBMM in my opinion. The warfare in the earlier books seems predominantly cavalry oriented. Later books are a bit more interesting in that infantry is used more, and can be effective.
Magic seems capable of affecting whole armies by morale, deception etc. unless countered, but is more effective in dealing with smaller numbers of people. In my opinion, you would want magic rules for battles and skirmishes as well as scenario-based mass effects.20/10/2016 at 07:54 #50957kyoteblueParticipant
The old Thieves World setting is good for fantasy.21/10/2016 at 09:14 #50987EtrangerParticipant
The old Thieves World setting is good for fantasy.
And came with statistics for many fantasy RPGs (& Traveller IIRC). There were also at least 2 volumes of short stories set in Thieves World with contributions from various authors. (EDIT 12! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thieves%27_World)
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