Monday, August 29, 2011

Spectrum Cosmos: Meet the Factions

In order to populate a miniatures game in the modern style from the MIRACLES OF TOMORROW features, some extrapolation is necessary. First, most pieces full-fledged characters, and not 'generic' squads and soldiers. Additionally, MIRACLES was not an attempt to build a consistent setting in the model of a modern science fiction series. Any continuity between stories is as likely a product of plagiarism as it is a product of methodical world-building.

So while many of the characters, names, inventions and concepts come from Osterhagen's writers, the unifying setting framework is largely my own design. Some of the information in this framework may contradict details from the original texts, but I am striving to keep the spirit of the originals intact while developing a 'sourcebook' for the Spectrum Cosmos universe. I intend to post this sourcebook (with references, of course) in ad hoc instalments on the blog here. Look for the “Sourcebook Corner” tag.

Of course, all this work is in service to the Spectrum Cosmos game, so let's begin with something at the heart of an appealing miniatures game – the factions! To fully represent the Spectrum Cosmos setting, there would be no fewer than seven (maybe eight) distinct factions and a robust roster of mercenary forces. In brief, they are:

The Union is the faction where most MIRACLES heroes belong. This faction is classic pulp sci-fi, complete with fins, jetpacks, and rugged, lantern-jawed heroes at the frontier of human exploration of space. In play, they favour teamwork and reliability, but can be fragile.

The Academy is the loose collection of scientists whose studies are deemed too dangerous or sacrilegious to be researched openly. Here we find mad scientists, their abominable creations, and the dastardly crooks hired to forward the Great Experiment. On the tabletop, Academy units are powerful but unstable and prone to mishaps if unsupported.

The Mercurian Commonwealth is an army of subterranean aliens. Mercury (as depicted in Lawson stories like 'The Sword-Masters of Ogunaye Gorge') is a feudal state ruled by a warrior elite. Mercurian armies feature knights clad in stone armour who ride to war atop and alongside terrifying aliens from the catacombs. The Mercurians are maneuverable and strong in melee combat, yet lack good range or support.

The Beyonders are the mysterious gaseous aliens from beyond Jupiter that loathe solid matter and the lights of the planets. Aside from their ghost-like legions, Beyonder armies include bizarre and terrifying inventions built (or grown) to subjugate and slaughter rational species. In play, Beyonders are talented at controlling area on the board and disrupting enemy plans, but they lack flexibility and speed.

Those four are the most represented in the Spectrum Cosmos articles I have access to, so they are the best developed thus far. The remaining three will require more effort on my part to bring up to the standard of a full-fledged faction.

The Martian Dominion is the latest and best attempt at unifying the disparate and warlike Martian peoples under a single banner. The Dominion's mastery of the powerful war-artifacts of Mars Before makes opposition from within or without all-but unthinkable. Dominion troops are the most elite in the game, but are few in number and slow to maneuver.

The Martian Resistance is the counter-movement to the Dominion's mission of conquest. The Resistance includes more of Mars's diverse races than the uniform Dominion. Like the Dominion, the Resistance fields ancient Martian weapons of war, but often in a crude or improvised fashion. Resistance armies are fast but initially fragile. However, their pieces don't lose much effectiveness unless totally annihilated.

The Venusian Conclave is not very well represented in the Spectrum Cosmos articles, despite frequent mentions of Venus' steaming venom-jungles throughout MIRACLES. Their forces include hybrids of native Venusian wildlife with other creatures or the Venusian people. The Venusians are a stealthy, adaptable army who are unparallelled masters of navigating and manipulating terrain. If caught in the open, however, they prove quite flimsy.

Freelancers include units from the above factions as well as other, unaligned models that will work for any other army. The Freelancer section includes the pacifist Lunars, whose battlefield presence is limited to non-combat support and oversight. Other Freelancers include Mercurian corsairs, Martian exiles, and ravenous beasts from the wildest reaches of the solar system.

Stay tuned in the days ahead to get a detailed look at each faction, plus a quick writeup of their entire army roster.

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