Tuesday, 20 August 2013

What is The Dark Crucible…?

In my last post I revealed that my secret project was The Dark Crucible and mentioned that I was looking for playtesters to help move things along. I obviously pitched it really badly as there was no response, so thought I would do a few follow up posts to explain the game in more depth and even showcase some of the rules in action.

As revealed previously, The Dark Crucible is a hybrid game that tries to span the gap between the historical and fantasy genres of gaming. This could be seen as heresy by both camps but by using historically accurate miniatures in an arena of pure imagination, with fast and easy to learn rules, the idea is that this game fills the times when you don't have time or space for a game of Hail Caesar or Warhammer Fantasy/40k. It means that historical gamers can use models they already have and, given it's a coffee-table skirmish wargame, fantasy gamers only need a handful of new models to play.

Eventually we would like to see our own range of suitable models created, that could crossover and find game time with historical games, but first we need to pin down the rules and make sure there is enough interest.

We want this game to be the graphic novel of wargaming – dark, gritty, exciting, with some twisting of the facts for the sake of story and adventure. We're fighting in the playground of the gods, it's never going to be a shiny, sparkly place so everyone will be fighting for their lives. With so few models on your side, every casualty is going to count – praying to your chosen deity that little bit harder may make a difference. Gods of War are petty and cruel, but if they're on your side you will survive.

The final rule set will have several linked scenarios and campaigns to build your games into more of a storyline or roleplay than a straight up pitched battle. This helps to develop characters within your ranks and nurture an attachment to individual models.

We want to see the individual behind the armour and warpaint. By giving all your models names, converting them here and there, you can create you own characters and watch them develop from game to game. Although their stats and skills may not change much, if at all, you will find a story unfolds from game to game. Some may develop extra skills, the most valiant become independent heroes.

In the games we've played so far, heroes have died and grudges born (and borne). Banter becomes part of the gameplay as your opponent taunts you into making rash decisions in the name of vengeance. Charging an individual out to take down a juicy 'isolated' target may turn out to be a fatal mistake.

Your leaders have an increasing amount of influence on the game and can potentially turn the tide of battle if utilised well. They come at a cost but are often the glue that binds your band of brothers together.

Each army is intended to play differently, with reference to historical facts, so there is variety and fun in swapping sides. Because there are so few models on the table it is impossible to re-create the fighting techniques of some armies (e.g. testudo) but such things are referenced in the way the models work together, or don't.

Eventually we hope to add mounted characters to the game. This will not only add another dimension but give you the opportunity to expand the models you have, or use more from your collection. Balance is very important though, and we have gone to great lengths to try and ensure that every army has a fair shout in any situation.

We're also adding special characters to the rules. These will break beyond the confines of the army list and allow unique individuals to roam the battlefield, with their own abilities and equipment. This gives the (completely optional) opportunity to play something different from rank and file characters, with every member of your band a notable hero – proper Hollywood!


It's still early days for The Dark Crucible game. We are playtesting like mad, but it's always good to get constructive feedback from other gamers. We're looking for gamers who play strictly historical wargames, as well as those who play 40k/Fantasy, Warmachine and boardgames, to get involved and do some playtesting for us. We want perspectives from both ends of the gaming table.

You'll get a set of the basic rules to start with and you'll need approx 10 models to represent the two sample armies. As we collate feedback and develop the rules we'll issue new, expanded versions to test.

Everyone involved will get their name in the final rulebook on our page of heroes.

Interested in having a go?

Send an email to thedarktemplar@btinternet.com telling me your (real) name and which games you play.

To be continued…


  1. If I might be so bold as to make a suggestion?

    If you haven't already done so, it might be a good idea to join Google+ and join the gaming circles. They have a multitude of gaming circles where you could join, sign up (after reading guidelines and rules for each particular group)and advertise for play testers there.

    I am loathed to say this, but bloggers might follow in droves, even the hundreds, but after a while they forget what blogs they've selected to follow if they haven't added them to their 'alert list'.

    I would also suggest taking a mooch over to this gentleman's blog site:

    http://www.msjx.org/ - he is a great gamer, excellent mapper and I've watched his following literally explode since joining the various circles, including Google+.

    Sadly, when we have something to promote on blogger, we now have to really pimp ourselves out into the vastness that is the rapidly expanding universe of the internet otherwise known as the social media scene.

    I wish you courage, luck and fortitude in your quest, young adventurer. May the Gods watch over you and see you return victorious. ;)

    1. Appreciate the suggestions Mark – all excellent ideas. I shall investigate!

  2. Sorry mate, I have been meaning to get in touch with you about this - consider me very interested, I'll suggest it to a couple of our gaming group too.

  3. Still as interested as discussed at Broadside!

  4. Sounds interesting. I was wondering, are the match-ups historical, or is it more open and fantastical than that? For example, are we talking Samurai versus Saxons in some undefined place, or is it Romans versus Gauls just with some luck mechanics explained as being the Gods?

    1. The scenarios will ultimately be generic that any of the races can take part in. Any race can fight any other race. The environment could be absolutely anything as the Dark Crucible is essentially a celestial combat arena where the Gods get to challenge each other – anything goes!

  5. Hopefully my email will have reached you!



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