Blasts from the Past
My how time flies. A few busy weekends, and even busier weeks, and suddenly I haven’t written a new post in a month and a half. Time to fix that.
I’ve taken a bit of a trip down memory lane recently. The release of a new Necron Codex led me to a tumblr filled with retro goodies, and a rereleased RPG bought back some fond memories. Strap on your bow tie and join me in the TARDIS as we travel back to that mysterious time of the late 80’s and early 90’s…
Tomb Kings in SPAAAACE!
I must say I’m quite impressed with GW’s latest take on the immortal space robots. They’ve added a lot of depth and options to an army that previously lacked both. Compared to armies like the Imperial Guard and the Orks, the Necron had a fraction of the troop choices available, and only one type of vehicle available to them. Sure, some armies are more varied than others, but even the limited Tau forces have a half-dozen different vehicles available to them.
With this new Codex, the army gets a slew of new units, as well as over half a dozen vehicles. On top of this, the army’s background has also been heavily fleshed out (pardon the pun). Gone are the old Necrons, mostly mindless robots ruled by the omnipotent C’Tan. These new Necrons are a galaxy-spanning society complete with multiple factions, each with their own schemes and plans for the galaxy. The C’Tan are still there, but they’ve gone from being rulers to tools of the Necron Overlords; unleashed during battle to aid the Necron forces.
It’s this continuing evolution that I have found most interesting. Back in the day, long before the Necron first awoke on their Tomb Worlds, there were models produced by Games Workshop that were very similar in appearance – the Chaos Androids. Although they only ever really appeared in the board game Space Crusade and 15mm 40k spin-off Epic, they were a prototype for what would eventually become the Necron Warrior. You can see the two standing side-by-side here.
Back then, Chaos Androids were built by Chaos Squats and the metal shells were used to trap and hold daemons, using them as power sources of sorts. As you can tell by my mention of ‘Squats’ I’m talking about a time deep in the past, long before the entire race was ‘eaten by Tyranids’. Obviously, this sort of thing would not wash with the current Warhammer 40,00 fluff, but it did start me think about the ‘good old days’ of gaming. A Google Image search for photos of Chaos Androids led me to a tumblr filled with images I hadn’t seen in almost two decades.
EDIT: You can read a quick summary of the Necron presence in 40k at the blog still practicing_.
Kicking it Old School, British Old School
While it’s content does not come exclusively from English publications, FuckYeahBritishOldSchoolGaming does contain a large number of blasts from the past. It takes you back to a time where hair was big, 40k was even more grim than it is today, White Dwarf contained articles about roleplaying, and the Fighting Fantasy and Lone Wolf books were insanely popular. As a prime example of how far 40k has come in 30 years, take a look at the first teaser for the Rogue Trader roleplaying game. Now, compare that to the cover of FFG’s Rogue Trader. If it weren’t for the name, you’d swear they were completely separate products.
I highly recommend this site to anyone who wants to take a stroll down memory lane and check out some of the things that us older gamers used to spend our hard-earned money on each month, or at least drool over in the annual Citadel Catalogues and similar publications.
Space, The Rebranded Frontier
Something else that popped up on my geek radar recently is a short-lived RPG from the early/mid 90’s called Shatterzone. Created by West End Games, it grew out of the company’s earlier Star Wars RPG, and came from material developed for Star Wars that was ultimately rejected by Lucasarts. That said, Shatterzone doesn’t feature mystic warrior monks who wield ‘light swords’, it’s a more pared down version of the setting, keeping only some of the basic tropes featured in the classic setting. The original three main books (Rulebook, Players’ Guide, and Setting Book) are now a single volume in PDF format released by Precis Intermedia. It’s only US$12, which is a steal for a 300+ page book.
I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I had fond memories of this game. That’s not exactly true. I don’t recall ever playing Shatterzone, let alone reading the book. The only reason I remembered it at all is because, at one point, I was given a pre-gen character sheet for the game – the Corp Marine. For some reason, I kept this character sheet before eventually losing it during one of the many moves of house I made during the first five years of this century.
In the interest of nostalgia, I picked up a copy of the game and have given bits of it a quick read through. The setting looks quite interesting, though not as deep or developed as the current crop of sci-fi settings. It also harkens back to the slightly shinier days of sci-fi, before everything became dark and gritty. I don’t know if I’ll run a game using it yet (nor whether I’ll use the in-built rules or adapt it for another rules system) but it will certainly go into my ‘One Day’ pile.