Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A journey to the Maw - the making of Mawster Blaster.

The latest issue of The Word of Hashut was released last month and if you haven't taken a look at it yet I encourage you to do so now. It features a ton of great Chaos Dwarf material and this time around the mad Dawi from Chaos-Dwarfs Online have included a good deal of Ogre Kingdom related articles as well. One of the articles featured (on pages 76 and 77 for those keen to read it now) in the latest issue is a set of rules for a character known as "Mawster Blaster" which were developed by me.

If I am honest, this article did not turn out as I was expecting it to. I consider the content used as a "rough draft" for what I had hoped the final piece would be. As an example...
  • The piece of art shown for the rules is amazing but it wasn't quite what I had in mind for the character (more on that below).
  • The rules were written and revised several times but I did not have a chance to play test them.
  • The name for the character was a placeholder to be changed once a proper back story had been written.
  • I was not able to sculpt or paint an actual model for the character.
Although it doesn't meet my own standards I am pleased with the overall presentation of the rules and the great piece of art used in conjunction with my "rough draft". It was a good exercise in game design and I learned a bit about balance (at least on paper) in the process.

I started the creation of "Mawster Blaster" with an idea - I wanted to see a model which featured a Dwarf riding on the back of an Ogre (similar to Master Blaster from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome). Pretty basic but the idea really makes me happy.

My original concept for a character was a Dwarf Slayer who had lost the use of his legs in his search for a worthy doom. Disabled but not dead the Slayer hired an Ogre mercenary to carry him to his glorious death (the Ogre didn't mind as he got lots of ale, food, fights, and a share of the gold).

About a year later Willmark approached the Ogre Stronghold looking for ideas for an Ogre Kingdom tie-in for the upcoming issue of The Word of Hashut. I immediately returned to the Ogre carrying a Dwarf and thus "Mawster Blaster" was born.

While the basic idea remained the same (a Dwarf which did not have the use of his legs to get him around) the character changed in several major ways. The simple merc was replaced by a twisted Ogre monster from deep within the Chaos Wastes. The boisterous Slayer became a Tyrannical Chaos Dwarf Sorcerer Lord with a calcified lower torso lost to his devotion of dark magic. As the ideas began to take shape I wrote the first draft of the rules with a few things in mind:
  • Cost - I looked to monstrous mount options which already exist in WHFB to find a relevant example before settling on a Chaos Lord on Chaos Dragon as my basis.
  • Power - as both a Close Combat and Magic threat I had to keep balance in mind while adding just the right amount of overall capability for the point cost.
  • Unpredictability - I love flawed characters and I think they add a lot of fun and random chance to what can often be a very straight forward and boring game.
The first set of rules were far more complex and featured several "what if" type tables detailing the results of the Mutant Ogre's loss of sanity after visiting the Great Maw and what would happen should the Chaos Dwarf be knocked from his mount. While fun (and full of crazy Ogre flavor) these rules were too complex for the tabletop - although looking at the new Skaven book and some of the tables it features I have to wonder if I made the right choice.

I am currently working on some other "new" characters for inclusion in a TOP SECRET project already in the works but I hope to get back around to this character at some point in the future. I don't consider the rule included in The Word of Hashut to be final and I would love to hear some input from other players - especially if you have played with the published rules.


inanecourage said...

I liked the whole concept of Mawster Blaster, but many of the issues you raised I totally agreed with when first reading the rules. Personally, I would have gone with one amalgamated stat line. The petrified state of the sorcerer means that he is basically there for the brains and magic. Once the ogre is gone he is basically at anyones mercy, so the whole team might as well be treated as one entity. Simplifies the shooting, too!

If you feel like, or need, to bounce some ideas and drafts off someone else, I'm happy to take a look. After seven issues of Skavenblight Gazette I am becoming quite adept at disecting other peoples articles and putting them back together anew.

Randroid said...

I thought of having one stat line but I couldn't see a good way of making it work.

What would you propose for a single line of stats?

I was worried it would make the unit too easy to kill with magic or shooting which is exactly why I made it like a monstrous mount.

inanecourage said...

Well, I would think the bulk of the work is done by the ogre, with magic and thinking provided by the Sorcerer. So the stat line would reflect the ogres contribution, while the Sorcerer would provide bonuses.

Personally I like the idea of the relationship being a symbiotic one, rather than one of a rider and mount. So perhaps the Sorcerer provides MR1? What about a sliding Regeneration or Ward save, as the Sorcerer uses his power to keep the Ogre alive. Say the model has 4 wounds, which gives a 3+ save. But if it goes to 3 wounds, thats a 4+ save. 2 wounds, 5+, and 1 wound 6+.

It could easily be the other way around, 4 wound 6+, 3 wounds 5+ and so on, to represent the Sorcerer putting more into keeping the Ogre safe.

I just think, given the implied state of the Sorcerer, rules wise he would be more like a magic item, rather than a full fledged character.