A Modiphius Entertainment Q & A
Modiphius Entertainment are no strangers to the tabletop world. Having already established themselves via the brilliant Kickstarter title Achtung! Cthulhu in 2013, they’ve now turned their attention to video game adaptations with their latest hit, Fallout: Wasteland Warfare.
With an Elder Scrolls miniatures game adaptation on the way, I caught up with Chris Birch, Founder and Publisher of Modiphius, to see what inspired the company and what’s next on the agenda.
Fallout is a vast and sprawling universe, what made you want to try to adapt that to a tabletop format?
Chris: I’ve always been a fan of post-apocalyptic RPGs, movies, and books. There’s been so many miniatures games that have done Fallout with the numbers rubbed off, that when we got talking to Bethesda and the opportunity to do an official miniature game in the universe, it was a no brainer. Being predominantly a roleplaying games company up until we worked on Fallout, we felt we could bring something else to the table as well. Fallout is in fact a roleplaying video game experience so that laid the seeds for what would become the ‘adventure wargame’ that Fallout Wasteland Warfare has turned out as.
Wasteland Warfare seems to have a lot of complex features, but these seem very user-friendly. Did you want to attract players from the games that may not usually play tabletop games? If so, what advice would you give them, starting up?
We wanted Wasteland Warfare to be more than just a battle game, hence the extra features which allow you to play solo or cooperatively against the AI, build your settlement, or straight out versus battles, perhaps with AI creatures getting in the way, but all the time you’re telling a growing story of your own wasteland.
The great thing with the Starter Set for Wasteland Warfare is it comes with 13 pre-assembled PVC plastic miniatures, so they’re ready to go out of the box (complete with survivors being in grey and Super Mutants and creatures in a nice toxic green!). The starter box is really all you need, since it contains 20 scenarios and includes a five-scenario set of tutorials that literally teach you the rules as you go. Since you can play solo you don’t even need to wait for friends to learn how to play–I wanted the game to be a fantastic intro to the hobby and I think we hit that sweet spot.
But let’s face it, the wasteland is never complete without more survivors and bad guys, and for those who want to expand their adventures, it’s super easy–you choose from one of three Core sets that expand the main factions of the Survivors, Brotherhood of Steel, or Super Mutants (and we just added the Raiders, with the Institute and the Enclave to come).
Beyond that, there’s more characters and units for each faction, then creatures, robots, iconic scenery like the crashed vertibird, military barricades, Vault Tec boxes, work benches, Nuka Cola Machines, Red Rocket, and more.
With features such as VATS, was it a challenge to convert this into a format that would work in a tabletop setting?
James Sheahan, the designer, needed to abstract some elements to keep it fun–remember the video game is about just you, and maybe a companion, but the miniature game asks what would happen if there was a whole crew to take into the wasteland. You can’t manage detailed action points across multiple characters without it becoming very slow. So we abstracted the concept of VATS into the hero card that you can give to units. This increases the cost of that figure but gives them an extra wound, access to critical hits, luck points, and most importantly the chance to gain extra actions each time they activate. You simply roll the blue special effect dice and if the right symbol comes up you could get up to two extra quick actions which let you move or shoot your way out of trouble.
Your figures are fantastically detailed, what kind of process goes into selecting and creating a figure?
We obviously take our inspiration from the games, picking out the characters, creatures, robots, etc, that make sense for the game. Our team uses in-game renders and screen grabs to manually re-sculpt the entire figure. You can’t use the in-game models as they’re actually not suitable. We sculpt to a very high degree as we use a high quality resin for production which allows us to put exceptional details in to each model. The figure is sculpted in zBrush then 3D printed using a very high quality print service. This 3D print is then used to produce the master and production moulds.
You’ve recently announced your latest figure, the colossal Liberty Prime, at Quakecon. How does it feel to see him in the flesh–or resin?
Liberty Prime was sculpted over a year ago, so it’s awesome to finally see the monstrous machine in resin. It was quite an undertaking just to 3D print him, but now seeing the final model I think people are going to have a lot of fun with it. We’re creating some really cool scenarios that utilize the model and there’s Liberty Prime content coming next year too.
Are there plans for other large-scale figures, such as Vertibirds, that we’re allowed to know about?
Oh yes, well we have a crashed Vertibird, and we had to start with a complete Vertibird to get to that. There’s the APC; we’re planning a big resin Vault set complete with walls, doors, equipment and so on. Oh yes…. and Dragons 😉
You’ve said you’re currently working to immortalize Skyrim and other titles with the Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms, so what kind of features will that have in contrast to Fallout?
The Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms is kind of the son of Fallout: Wasteland Warfare. It takes some of the key concepts and re-works them around important features like Stamina and Magicka which are important resources for characters. It’s still a skirmish scale of game so you could have anything from a couple of heroes up to say 4 heroes and several groups of followers. We’ve retained the solo, co-op, and narrative-driven gameplay so as well as great versus battles with Draugr or other creatures (or AI-driven forces) getting in the way, you can team up with friends and follow quests and campaigns. We’re also going to be seeing some really fun dungeon delves where we all take a hero and work our way through a Draugr infested tomb or a Dwemer ruin.
What figures are going to be available when Call to Arms first becomes available? With such a huge number of characters on offer, how do you choose which ones to adapt first?
Well, like Fallout, we’re starting with the latest console release which is Skyrim, and working our way back but also including Elder Scrolls Online content. For launch, the Starter Set comes with sets of Stormcloaks and Imperials, with a female Dragonborn, a group of Draugr and skeletons led by a Deathlord. The rest of Wave 1 will let you expand the Imperials or Stormcloaks with more options; there will be more creatures and adventures to give you plenty of options.
When can we expect to see Call to Arms on shelves and where can we buy it?
It’s looking like January but we’re hoping to have some limited stock on the Modiphius webstore in time for Christmas.
With so many figures on offer, is it possible for you to pick your own, personal favorite?
Well, for Fallout I think it’s the Vault Tec girl with the spanner of her her shoulder and her thumbs up (she’s sculpted but you’ve not seen her yet!).
For Elder Scrolls, it’s actually Naryu from the Morrowind Trailer–again, another one we’ve not revealed yet, but the sculptor just perfectly captured her malicious smile as she corners the Guildmaster.
So, what’s next for Modiphius Entertainment?
We’re also fanning the flames of irons in the fire as we have to plan a couple of years ahead, but actually one of the things we’re pretty excited about (on top of being excited about all of this!) is an in-house property that’s kind of post apocalyptic anime that you’ll be seeing in miniature and other forms.
So, it looks like we’ve got a lot to look forward to!
Fallout: Wasteland Warfare is available now and Elder Scrolls: Call to Arms is set to release around Christmas 2019, perfect weather for us to get on our bearskins and venture out into the frozen forests of Skyrim!