Friday, 31 January 2014

Across the Dead Earth

Across The Dead Earth is an upcoming Post Apocalyptic/Zombie game from Dead Earth Games in the UK.
It is scheduled to be Kickstarted (1st March 2014) as many games are now these days and despite my experiences with other Kickstarter projects I am seriously thinking of getting involved with this.
Richard Chapple who has designed the game has already sent me a copy of the Beta Rules and I can say I am impressed. There are various mechanics in the rules which gamers will recognise and be familiar with due to other rules systems, and even though the rules are in the beta stage, they do feel quite well polished already.
The background is really great and its nice to see it being set in the UK as so many type of games these days are always Americanised. The artwork is sharp and the first couple of sculpted miniatures have been done by Andrew May (who has also done sterling work on some 7TV miniatures for Crooked Dice) and it got me quite stoked when help was asked for on the facebook page to review/test the beta rules.

Links: Dead Earth Games Facebook Page

I subsequently emailed Richard and asked if he would be willing to put answers to a few interview questions so people can see where he was coming from and maybe more about the game. So here it is.
Across the Dead Earth. Interview with Richard Chapple.
    Tell us a little about your background and how you ended up in the miniature wargaming hobby.
  2. Like a lot of people my age the introduction to wargaming was through Games Workshop. It was probably around 1990, when I was 9, that my cousin gave me 4 Eldar figures, and I used to play with those in the playground at school, moving 6 inches and every roll being successful on a 4+ -that was how my cousin taught me the rules! I lost interest in GW in my late teens as I felt the hobby became too expensive. I’ve always been interested in history and a few years ago, whilst reading one or other of the Patrick O’Brien Aubrey/Maturin novels, I thought I’d look online and see if there was something like a historical version of Man O’War. I’d been vaguely aware that historical wargaming existed in my teens, but it was something I never really came into contact with. In the years in between the internet had exploded, making everything available to everyone, and that really re-ignited my interest. As a kid I had always been into making my own rules and games – my brother will be able to recall how I went through a stage of converting every Commodore 64 computer game into a board game or wargame! And I’ve always written sci-fi and fantasy fiction as a hobby, so this game kind of finally brings all those things together
    Across the dead earth is due soon to be kick-started. As a Post-Apocalyptic/Zombie game how was the game and background conceived?
  2. I’ve been asking myself this a few times as I really can’t remember when, how or why I decided upon this setting. A lot of the mechanics of the game – the turn sequence, the event cards, waiting and watching, the idea of a persistent gang across a linked campaign, grew out of a game in a completely different setting – which was a skirmish game in the Napoleonic era called The Rifles (after the 95th Regiment made famous by Sharpe). I wanted a setting with more variety in terms of weapons and equipment and one where I could really let my imagination run through. I think the post-apocalyptic idea was possibly triggered by my reading the comic series The Last Man, in which all men on Earth suddenly die bar one…that set me on the idea of killing off large parts of the population without the more typical nuclear holocaust setting. I’m a massive fan of the video games Fallout and Borderlands and they were definitely an influence too. Then it grew quite organically as I started to write.
  1. What prompted the idea of using kick-starter for Across the Dead Earth?
  2. Quite simply, the rejection of the rulebook by a publisher. They were really enthusiastic about the project in most respects but felt that the UK setting would prevent the game from selling in all their territories, particularly the US, and so they passed on the project, but the commissioning editor who I was dealing with really pushed me to try and make the project work another way, for which he has my eternal thanks. My brother, Mike, had suggested Kickstarter for another project which we were considering entering into together, but eventually shelved, and I could see from the off that it would be the best way of getting the product range all out at the same time.
  1. How many people are involved in the whole project in order to make it    happen?
    Dead Earth Game is just me and my brother Mike. I do the creative and he does the business. Everyone else involved in the project is freelance, and so far that’s 3 individuals: the two artists Pijus and Filip, and our sculptor Andrew, all of whom I chose having scoured the internet for people I thought would fit our game and style the best. I think choosin Pijus and Andrew has been the biggest factor in making the game appealing. Good rules are one thing, but what really excites most of us as gamers is cool toys! 
  1. Do you think the number of miniatures and factions you are considering would have been possible to produce and release using traditional methods?
  2. It would be possible, and if the Kickstarter doesn’t work out we’ll do it, but we don’t have any money, and that means we would be going really, really slowly to even get a single gang together. It would be frustrating for us and the games alike, where as with Kickstarter success we’re up and running with two gangs straight away and people can play the game!
  1. The rule set is geared towards skirmish games, what prompted this avenue compared to say a mass battle system?
    Skirmish games have two or three differences to mass battle systems which appeal to me. I love a good mass battle, I play Black Powder at home, but that’s the ONLY one I play, because building a playable force requires substantial investments of money and time. Skirmish games allow you to buy an entire force in one go, and paint them up a lot quicker – you can actually get into the game and play it a lot quicker. The other advantages are that the games themselves are quicker, and can be played almost anywhere – we’ve played ADE on the kitchen table. Setting wise, the Gangs and factions in ADE are not al organised or equipped enough for a mass battle system, although one of the projects at the back of my mind is perhaps one day to do a “platoon level” spin off, set another few years down the line. At the moment though, I’m totally focused on ADE.
  1. How long have you been working on across the dead earth before its upcoming release?
  2. I would guess at a year if you include the time spent writing and testing the previous incarnations in different settings. Last October I had some time off work when my daughter was born and the setting and rulebook as it exists today was largely written when she was asleep. Back in the days when she used to sleep!
  1. Were there any existing rules that triggered you to write Across the Dead Earth or add inspiration to what you wanted to achieve?
  2. In Her Majesty’s Name definitely made me realise that you can create a great game with less than 20 figures on the table, so that was one inspiration. The other was probably the video game Xcom, which you can kind of trace back to Space Hulk and Space Crusade, via it’s earlier incarnations and Laser Squad. Xcom inspired me to try and write a game where you want your characters to survive, as you’ve personalised them, nurtured them and improved them over time. Xcom’s really only a tabletop game played on a computer, the turn sequence, action points and moves and shooting are all pure tabletop, only the dice are missing!  
    Can you tell us anything else at this time to whet our appetites?
 Across the Dead Earth is fast paced and exciting, there’s no player hanging around waiting for their turn, and the fighting typically gets vicious quickly. We’ve got a lot of plans for more factions and models, and the game will be supported long term by downloadable content from the website, including tonnes of fiction, scenarios, campaigns and the like, and a lot of that will be free.
My favourite aspect of the game is creating my own completely unique and personalised Gang, and upgrading their skills to make them deadly in a variety of ways! 

First sculpts from Andrew May

Fatboy (Red Claw Gang) Reggie (The Family) Crimson (Mercenary)


  1. Saw this on Brummies Blog. I am interested, but had enough of kickstarters for the foreseeable future. I will not be supporting it financially to begin with. But I do wish them the very best of luck.

    1. Understand how you feel Clint. Thought I had my fill of KS after being disappointed in various projects but this game is going to get my full support.

  2. I do like the minis and a good interview, tempted.

    1. Cheers Fran. Well worth a punt on the KS in March.

  3. Great interview. Thanks Carl an Richard.

    1. Your welcome mate. Glad your onboard with this.

  4. Very interesting, the figures look pretty cool too!!

    1. Andrew May sculpted them. He does excellent work. Although I would prefer more actiony poses.

  5. Glad to have an alliance with these gentlemen, they are on the right track.

    1. Definitely. More post apocalyptic goodness