I’m happy to announce plans for a Dinosaur Cowboys skirmish expansion called Skies and Slums. I first considered this idea last year in March, but I’ve decided to make it public now. When I was a kid designing games I used to make expansions that included a bunch of outlandish rules or crazy stuff that changed the game. Skies and Slums won’t be quite as drastic but there will be some neat new mechanics and ideas introduced.
First of all some off-the-cuff fluff to set the mood:
The year is 2291. Dusters and Neotechnoists are still in a stalemate, with people switching sides fairly evenly, and no real land grabs or differences there. However new slums and shanty towns have organically sprawled outside around The Wall. Most of the occupants are desperate outsiders who want to get back in to New Hope and the safety of the Neotechnoist allegiance. Others are born and raised outside The Wall and make a pilgrimage for their chance to go inside. These Slum Dwellers are resilient but poor.
But the biggest change are the Ascendants. Once the scientists, politicians, and other important officials of the world they escaped Eruption Day by taking to the skies in solar powered Sky Barges. These massive ships are like floating cities capable of sustaining a population for years. As society collapsed below they retained advanced knowledge and studies. However as new generations were born aboard the Sky Barges the knowledge was slowly lost and became a misunderstood magic. The most notable are the solar panels of the Sky Barges, which slowly began to fail in the year 2290. As this happened dozens of Sky Barges drifted to the ground. The Ascendants have managed to train Flappers for combat, as the skittish dinosaurs see the sky people as kindred spirits. From the ruins of the Sky Barges the Ascendants emerge in their Exosuits, nervous of bacteria and germs and with weak immune systems from generations in an enclosed environment.
As the communities outside The Wall become wealthier and want more entertainment travelling circuses have popped up across the country. These shows are staffed by roving performers of the Nomad allegiance.
From the ashen wastelands of the north that was once Canada comes the Ashlander allegiance. Rugged individuals have been surviving under the cloud of ash and dust from Eruption Day. Although unaccustomed to large cities and tending to seclusion and secrecy, the Ashlanders have started to spread further south in search of food and supplies. They tend to be extremely brave except for a strong fear of capture and closeness.
And finally an oversea presence has finally landed on North American shores. Hailing from the ruins of Europe the Crusader allegiance braved the rough seas to pay respects to the focal point of dinosaur activity.
So what does all this mean in game terms? Well first of all the timeline will be moved forward 6 years to 2291, whereas the core game is set in 2285.
The expansion will add 5 new Allegiances:
- Ascendants: +1 Defense, +4 Bravery Target Number. Wearing Exosuits to protect from ground viruses and bacteria makes the Ascendants durable, but years aboard the safe Sky Barges has made them cowardly. Or maybe they don’t have stat mods and instead get a risk-reward movement mechanic via jumpjets/jump packs?
- Slum Dweller: Grit mechanic (like a saving throw), first weapon costs $50 more. These poor scrappers are resilient from a tough life. Grit will work like some kind of shield/saving throw where incoming damage can be negated.
- Ashlander: -3 Bravery Target Number, cannot attack in melee. Brave for almost every situation except having someone near them. Alternatively so skittish and good at hiding that if attacked at 5″+ treat that attack as 5″ further (so 6″ is really 11″, 14″ is really 19″, while 3″ is just 3″), but then have to take a Bravery Test every single time they take damage, regardless of the amount.
- Nomad: Roll 1D12 at the start of each encounter, check table to see which statistic is temporarily changed. There is around a 60% chance a statistic is improved but a 40% chance it’s worse. Nomads are unreliable, flighty people who tend to shine unexpectedly.
- Crusader: Follows laws and codes. Such as no ranged weapons, won’t exercise a Snap Attack, won’t attack an enemy in the back, but are nigh indestructible due to fanaticism and devotion.
UPDATE: I think I’ll call rename the Ashlanders to “Uplanders” instead (yes, you can thank the Chevy van in front of me for the inspiration). This avoids multiple Allegiances started with the same letter, or sounding similar.
Obviously the stats and ideas are in the brainstorming phase. I really like Ascendant, Nomad, and Slum Dweller and think they bring something neat to the table. I’m not as sure on Ashlanders and Crusaders. I do want to include at least 4 new Allegiances in the expansion though to mirror the original amount.
I did consider the “Sky Warden” allegiance that is the military/police/tough guy branch of the Ascendants, as compared to the scientific/nerdy branch. Sky Wardens could even be robots or androids that were built before Eruption Day and have just been maintained since.
I also somewhat wanna rename the basic “Bandit” allegiance to “Cowboy”, which would be a bit of annoying find-and-replace in documents and The Saloon.
New Dinosaurs (including Flappers)
In addition to the Allegiances the Flapper dinosaur type will be hireable now. I’m thinking if your Leader is Ascendant or the majority of members or something. I think of the Flapper as a mobility dinosaurs with incredibly far movement and the ability to launch into the sky (taking them off the table) and land at a later turn.
There would be a slew of other new dinosaurs, but more focused on specialization and unique niches. For example a tiny type (can’t even be mounted) that is super fast and has a single strong attack, almost like a “missile” that is launched across the field. Sort of like the Compsognathus from Dino D-Day. I’d like another type that is faster/easier to mount. Also maybe going wild and having some ranged dinosaurs.
New Weapons, Features, Traits, Objectives
I want to add some oddball weapons, stuff like The Tombstone that functions in a neat way. Maybe an Airstrike that can be called in from Sky Barge drones or something. Or single use or dangerous-to-use jumppacks / jumpjets from Ascendants.
I could see Allegiance specific weapons too, just technology and abilities that are unique to each group, to further distinguish them beyond stats.
There would be lots of new Features as well. Having some that are Allegiance specific (especially around Sky Barges and slums and travelling wagons) would be cool. Obviously some new Traits too, again with an Allegiance specific leaning. I could see some weapon specific Traits too, like expert/specialization/training named stuff around a class or type of weapon. Maybe a new Objective or two if I can brainstorm them up.
Drugs and Stimulants
I’m thinking of having drugs/stimulants available for purchase, sort of like a mix of existing Healing items and Active Traits. They could even do Hitpoint damage for some good effect. I could imagine the Ascendants having totally different social standards from their isolation, where recreational drug use is just part of life. Almost like Plasmids in Bioshock. Similarly some new Healing items could be cool, since the Ascendants do have somewhat advanced technology in comparison to the ground.
Similarly the Slum Dwellers might add poisons and toxins to the mix, that have debuff or negative effects when applied to enemies.
Conclusion and Timeline
I have no idea when this expansion will be done. But I figured the current v2.6 of the rules is great, stable, and with no glaring issues. So any further changes or tweaks I want to do should be moved to a separate project. Also if I’m under the umbrella of an expansion I can add in wild, possibly gamebreaking stuff, or rules that change the tone or feel of the game. For example having new Allegiances that have a bunch of custom differences beyond just stat modifications. Or dinosaurs that you don’t even mount, or can shoot/spit projectiles.
Either way I wanted to share, because like I said I’ve been sitting on this for a while, and it’s pretty exciting. Not as exciting as tomorrow’s announcement though…stay tuned…
Original Brainstorm List
In case you want to read my original brainstorm notes, or in case I need to reference them when I start work on the expansion, well, here they are…
- New expansion for DC called "Skies and Slums"
- Neotechnoists and Dusters are still at a stalemate
- New slums and shanty towns have been erected around The Wall, desperate outsiders trying to get back in. Adds Slum Dweller Allegiance
- Ascendant skybarges have crashed, landed, or floated gently down across the country. Adds Ascendant Allegiance and hireable Flappers
- Travelling circuses have popped up as some Dusters become more settled and affluent. Adds Carny or Gypsy Allegiance. Nomad? Roamer? Vagrant? Rambler? Rover? Wayfarer? Vagabond?
- ??? Some life from Canada has trickled down? Adds "Asher" or "Ashlander" or "Mountain Man" or something. Hard to know stat adjustments though. Maybe +2 HP, +4 BTN (to represent tough but skittish), and then change Ascendant stats?
- Some new outlandish weapons (like The Tombstone is), like a callable airstrike? Could be a new type of Reload called "Once" that lets you only use it once per encounter?
-- Could have Allegiance specific weapons that only they can use?
- Add some new Features, specifically around new Allegiances (like slum or aerial related stuff)
- Add a few more hireable dinosaurs that were discovered (maybe a cheap sort of single use "missile" guy, like the tiny Compy one from Dino D-Day, say 20" move, can't be mounted, 2A-15D, 7 HP, etc.)
- Add some drugs/stimulants, maybe from the slums or perhaps a socially acceptable thing to the Ascendants (like Bioshock)
- Add more traits
-- Maybe some traits specific to weapon special abilities? Like one that lets you Fan the Hammer at Medium and does extra Push, or 3x Motivate instead, or so on
--- Call them Specialization or Expert or Training - Pistol, etc.
- Add a couple of objectives specific to the new Allegiances?
- Add some more healing stuff, maybe regen over time? Ascendants probably have advanced medical technology
- Adds "Ascendant" Allegiance (people called Ascendants) who are scientists, politicians, and other important officials who escape to solar powered skybarges when society collapsed. After years aboard a lot of their technology was forgotten, or considered magic, so when the solar panels slowly failed the skybarges drifted to the ground. All the Ascendants wear Exosuits? or some kind of powered armor to protect them from the ground viruses and environment.
-- +1 Defense, +4 BTN (or whatever works out to the same)
--- Maybe +1 Defense, triple Difficult Terrain, or Flees every 1/3 HP instead, or Shot in the Back applies 360 or something to show being bad on the ground
-- While aboard the skybarges they were able to tame Flappers, because the Flappers are too skittish for "ground people", but saw kindred spirits in flying people.
-- Flappers in combat are mainly for transport. Super slow on the ground, but have a "fly" mode that gives huge, uninterrupted movement, and makes them harder to hit. Also a "soar" mode that removes them from the board and let's them land anywhere else the following turn(s).
-- Flappers can be hired if an Ascendant is in the posse, otherwise they cannot.
- Ascendants could have Jumpjet / Jumppack technology. Maybe single use? Dangerous to land, but go far? Almost like the risk-reward mechanic of Charge
- Maybe Ascendants should be the scientific/nerdy branch of the sky people, and Sky Wardens are another new Allegiance as the military/police branch. The Sky Wardens use the Flappers, and the Ascendants are the ones in biohazard suits and so on
-- Sky Wardens could be robotically built, which is why they can interact with Flappers (who don't get spooked by them compared to living organic riders?)
- Adds "Carny" (Circus Worker) or "Gypsy" Allegiance. Roll D12 before each encounter to see their stat modifications. Slightly better chance (60% vs 40%) of being better? Could be on a chart, or inline somehow on the roster. Since there are 6 stats it could be a D12, with 1-6 being penalize X from the related stat (left to right, so 1 = Def, 2 = RTN, etc.), while 7-12 is boost to a stat. Should generally match up in IP.
- Adds "Slum Dweller" Allegiance, who has a Grit mechanic that acts like a shield/saving throw. Have 1 Grit point per 6 HP? When hit roll a D12, on 8+ Grit is fine and attack is ignored, otherwise failed and remove 1 Grit point. Or have X+ be based on Grit, and don't have points, so 9 base, -1 per 6 HP, so a 12 HP Slum Dweller would save on 9-1-1=7+? Or Grit is an improvable (with IP) stat? Like Grit Target Number?
- Downside is their first weapon costs X more (maybe $40?). Could need another differentiator since money isn't critical after the $2k point
- Adds "Crusader" Allegiance, basically Europeans who have come across the ocean. They have a bunch of combat rules / laws / code of honor around fighting as their downside. Maybe +DEF or good CTN or something as the bonus.