Terror. Corruption. Redemption.
These are the themes of The Others: 7 Sins, the new game from Guillotine Games and Studio McVey. We’ve been seeing some pretty sweet-looking models, but now, with the Kickstarter campaign growing ever-nearer, it’s time to get some real information about the game. We talked with some of the designers as well as Eric Kelley, head writer for the game, and got them to spill a few secrets.
Eric Lang, the designer of the game, described it as the biggest game he’s worked on. In it, one person plays as the Sin, and the others are hero players who are part of F.A.I.T.H. (Federal Authority for the Interdiction of Transdimensional Horrors). It’s a sort of pre-apocalypse genre. The end of the world hasn’t happened… Yet. That is what the Sin’s player is looking to initiate, and it’s the hero players’ job to make sure it doesn’t happen.
Horror From Beyond
Fluff-wise, The Others is best described as X-Men battling Cthulhu cultists and monsters. F.A.I.T.H. is led by Doctor Leah Solomon, who is inadvertently responsible for the current crisis. Many years ago, she was part of a research team working to open gateways to extra-dimensional space. The potential benefits were huge, with possibilities for travel, energy production, and even colonization up for grabs.
But a laboratory accident brought forth the Others, creatures from a parallel dimension that operate, essentially, as one titanic entity. The Others’ dimension is old, very old, and while it has its own ecosystem, new dimensions are like candy: a treat the Others cannot resist! The Others have a corrupting influence on the world around them. They’ve come to Earth to feed on our planet. Humans, animals, plants, everything is fair game. They like humans best though. The Others corrupted many of Doctor Solomon’s colleagues, including the game’s primary antagonist, Doctor Gan, and these lost souls formed the Hell Club, a shadowy organization bent on opening vast gateways for the Others to invade en masse. Doctor Gan knew that Leah Solomon would be one of his greatest threats, so he set about destroying her slowly and painfully over many years.
Fortunately for Doctor Solomon, this isn’t the first time the Others have visited our dimension. They’ve been fought before, most notably by the vampire Morgana. Morgana is possibly the most powerful (and dangerous) entity on the planet, being (at least) 3000 years old, with all the cunning and intelligence her age implies. She’s also the very last vampire on Earth (having survived the war against the werewolves). Morgana’s vast wealth funds F.A.I.T.H., though Doctor Solomon holds the sole command. They’ve assembled their team of various specialists, including a brilliant detective, two Other/Human hybrids, a spec ops mercenary, and the world’s oldest living werewolf. Players use these characters in their various roles to combat the Others infection, hopefully keeping it from consuming the board (and then the world).
The game will always have seven hero characters in it, no matter how many players there actually are. They are encouraged to work together to overcome tasks. In fact, if they don’t work together, it’s almost a guarantee that they will fail. There’s always going to be more tasks than available heroes on the field. Sometimes you’re just going to have to let that orphanage burn for a couple rounds before you can deal with it. The game ends in defeat if all heroes die or become fully corrupted. All of the heroes’ information is open, anyone can look at it. It’s only the Sin player who knows things the heroes won’t.
The antagonist miniatures are based on the Seven Deadly Sins. All of those factions play very differently. For example, Pride gets extra dice when fighting against heroes that are separated from the group, while Lust is the opposite, getting bonuses when heroes are grouped together. All of them have various sets of minions and abominations as part of their ghoulish arsenal. As for the heroes, they are assigned to protect the city. The characters fill various archetypes, such as leader, bruiser, fixer, and sniper.
A Strategy Against Madness
The game uses special customized dice for combat. Both the Sin and the heroes have different ones. For example, the Sin’s dice have symbols for attack, defend, corrupt, critical, and miss (but don’t roll those). There’s an exploding dice mechanic as well. So if you roll a critical, it counts as both a hit and adds an extra die to your roll. So there’s the potential for some pretty spectacular things to happen if the rolls go just right (or wrong, depending on what side of the board you’re on).
Helping you keep track of things is the Hero Dashboard. There’s one track for your character’s corruption and the one below it for health. There are various ways for them to gain corruption, but one is by choice. A player can choose to have their corruption go up by one. If they do, they’ll get a bonus that’s shown on the health track below. But it’s not just the one bonus, they’ll get each previous bonus on the health track as well! Pretty powerful, but you must be careful because that bonus is based on a character’s health. As the heroes take damage, the bonus from gaining corruption goes down. And when a character is at maximum corruption and must gain more, it goes straight to their health.
Of course, that’s not the only way to gain corruption. The Sin player can give out corruption cards. None of them are ever good to have. They can do things such as deal more damage, kill the character, or even turn the hero into a minion of Sin. The Sin player is also encouraged to try and tempt the Hero players into gaining more corruption. The temptation of extra power for a roll or some other bonus is ever present, the Sin player helping to send the Hero players over the edge.
When setting up, players pick a Story Board, which acts as a scenario for the game. One Hero player is the Mission Leader who chooses how the heroes go about the scenario. The Story Board outlines what sort of objectives the Hero player will need to accomplish in order to win the game. After an objective is passed, the Hero players may have a choice for what their next objective will be. This “branching scenario” adds extra variety to your games, since if you find yourself failing going one direction, you may try to go the other next time around.
Since the Sin player can pick any Sin to use (and each Sin plays very differently from one-another), each Story Board can end up going a variety of different ways during the game. This is not just a “beat up the monsters” sort of game. While there are certainly monsters lurking around the board, the Hero player will have a variety of things they have to do in order to win. Of course, taking out some of the enemy monsters couldn’t make things much worse, could they?
Like the Hero Boards, there’s the Apocalypse Track for the Sin player. These are related to the Story Board and regulate the various effects for the Sin player, including the amount of dice they get to roll in certain situations, the number of monsters available, and other bonuses the Sin player can use during the game.
City Under Siege
The Others uses modular tiles to build the game board. They’re comparable to the Zombicide boards for anyone familiar with how those tiles work. Tiles can provide players with various actions that can be performed while on that board. For example, the City Hall lets the players gain resources, while the Church may help get rid of Corruption. Setup can be critically important. What locations do you put close together? What can you set apart from others? Where will the Sin player place their spawn points? Once again, this is the place where the game gains replayability as even with everything else being the same, the board can be drastically different from one session to another.
A Kickstarter campaign for The Others is in the works. Guillotine wanted to give people a bit of a breather in-between the Zombicide: Black Plague campaign and The Others, but the plan is to have the campaign very soon.