Through the Breach – Pick a Theme any Theme…

I, like many people need to be able to immerse myself into the background of a system in order to properly be able to appreciate it as a fully rounded gaming experience. A balanced set of rules and pretty models are of course all part of that overall experience but without a fully fleshed out world for them to exist in…well, you might as well play chess….

Even chess can be improved by the addition of a little imagination…

So does Malifaux have enough depth to satisfy those of us who have been raised with the Grimdark of the 40th millennia?…I like to think so and with a world that dips into so many genre’s there should be something to satisfy everyone…

The Absolute Basics.
The game of Malifaux is set in another world, accessed through a breach in reality created by a group of sorcerers who were attempting to find new sources of magical power to restore those that were waning on the earthly realm. These magic users tore a pathway between these two worlds with the resulting magical feedback killing many of them and stripping the powers from others completely but the survivors found themselves more powerful simply by being in the presence of this Breach. Of course this being the 18th century…they promptly built a railway line through it…..

The full background story can be found here for those who wish to hear it told by a far more eloquent author than myself but basically what they found was a city filled with arcane knowledge and artefacts and a mining town geared to the acquisition of a most precious resource…magical stones that held a reservoir of power that could be tapped in a variety of ways and a variety of purposes by those with the talent to do so. It was later discovered that these stones could be re-charged by being in the presence of an individual who was dying and therefore earned the name ‘Soulstones’. Whether this replenishment of energy was the actual soul of the dying person is open to debate amongst scholars of the time and morale implications are something that are conveniently overlooked by those in power…and pretty much everyone else for that matter….

I’ll explore each of the factions for you all in later articles but for now let’s look at the themes that this wonderful new world gives us access to.

Steampunk.

What’ not to like about steam powered robots and clockwork guns? The answer to that question is of course…absolutely nothing. If Steampunk is your thing (and if not…why not?) then Malifaux has something for you. Every faction in Malifaux touches on this theme in one way or another, ranging from the clockwork derringers of Colette’s ‘Showgirls’ to the various clockwork guardian robots used by the Guild through some of the Resurrectionists more…interesting…creations this element runs through Malifaux in more than just background material and is additionally reflected quite strongly in the model range….

however if your tastes run to other things Malifaux also has some other strong thematic elements…How about the Wild West any-one…

The Wild West.

Being effectively a frontier town where profit is king and might makes right more often than not it makes sense that the Breach would attract those for whom flexible laws and a ruling group willing to pay for results without needing to know anything awkward like ‘how the job was done’ would have a great appeal. The Guild faction has two Masters that might appeal to the budding cowboy, Firstly the Guilds poster girl (namely Lady Justice)’s signature minions embody the bad-ass cowboy look rather nicely and the Guild also has a family of gunslingers in it’s employ called the Ortega’s led by the inhumanly quick Perdita and there are any number of Convict Gunslingers, Desperate Mercenaries and Gunsmiths available as minions to various Masters either as faction members or mercenaries. If however you like your forces to have a bit more comedy value then there is a family of creatures known as Gremlins who’s admiration for the Ortega’s has led them to make their own family structure in a somewhat familiar manner…

Still not convinced? Maybe the forces of evil are more to your liking…

Horror.

Here the town of Malifaux and it’s still quarantined areas provide us with not just the playground of the Ressurectionist faction but also some of it’s morally flexible Outcasts. I’d be the first to admit that many of the Resurrectionist Masters are pretty standard ‘bad guy’ archetypes but they’re still fun. We have our city Mortician ‘McMourning’ who does a very good Dr Frankenstein impression and whose ageing Nurses wear the skins of particularly attractive patients, an undertaker who’s burial of bodies is short term at best and my personal favourite Seamus, the Mad Hatter. Seamus is a serial killer in the tradition of Jack the Ripper, only he brings the particularly attractive ones back as zombies for his personal ‘Harem’. Amongst the Outcasts we have a plague ridden ‘Pied Piper’ called Hamelin who lives in the sewers with the children he’s stolen and a scientist who continually dies and is reborn who has successfully combined steampunk technology with the undead.

I suppose in this section we should also give an honoury mention to Collodi…a sentient puppet who steals children who come to see his puppet show…which mysteriously seems to have more puppets each time he appears at a new location…

I think with that selection we have the ‘Horror’ genre pretty well covered…did somebody say Ninja’s….

The Orient.

Though there were a few oriental themed models in the earlier books, it’s only with the release of book four (Storm of Shadows) that we now have a wide variety to choose from. In background terms, a clan called ‘The Ten thunders’ has begun to infiltrate the various warring factions of Malifaux by inserting agents of it’s own into key locations. In game terms this allows you to use many of the new crews either as an existing faction or as their own Ten Thunders faction…it also gives us a whole new theme to explore.

We have clans of Ninja assassins, archers and martial artists, oriental themed rail workers, Asian showgirls as well as a whole host of oriental themed undead to add to the Resurrectionists potential options. As these models are all from the new plastic ranges they have extremely dynamic poses and a lot of detail to them…

So as you can see there’s a themed crew for almost all tastes and there are flavours for other preferences amongst the other factions from Blind Sword-mistresses, Beast-masters, Ice Witches to name but a few and somehow as a system they all seem to fit without it seeming forced.

The only bad news is if you like pirates…there aren’t any pirates…but hell…you can’t have everything…I also think I deserve some bonus points for not including any pictures of zombie hookers…

See…not a zombie OR a hooker…and people say therapy doesn’t work…

Next article will cover some of the basic mechanics of the game for those of you that are unfamiliar with it but (hopefully) would like to become so

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

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