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Maladum – Rules Preview

7th April 2022

Maladum – Rules Preview

In case you missed the news, our latest project is nearing completion. Maladum: Dungeons of Enveron is a fantasy dungeon-crawling skirmish game that will hit Kickstarter this summer. To ensure you stay up to date with the latest news, sign up to our email newsletter:

In this post we will be exploring the new game in detail – read on to find out what’s new and what’s improved.

What is Maladum?

Maladum is to the fantasy genre as Core Space is to sci-fi, filling the gap between prescriptive board games with miniatures and open-world RPGs. The simple core mechanics allow for fast gameplay, while the sandbox setting builds emergent narrative using the immersive and surprisingly detailed rules. We designed Core Space to have lots of elements that ‘plug and play’ to create a customised experience, and that is something we’ve continued with Maladum to an even greater extent. The end result is a narratively deep but mechanically light RPG, with all the crunchy campaign progression you’d want from a dungeon crawler.

If that wasn’t enough, you can play it on a table that looks like this (well, a finished version of this!):

This is a work-in-progress version of our new Dungeon terrain that will be launched alongside the game – we’ve got lots more to add! Like all our terrain products it comes already printed, so you can simply clip it together with no paint required. We will include a full 2’x2′ single-level 3D dungeon in the game box, and this version will be available separately for multi-level shenanigans in Maladum or any dungeon-themed game of your choice!

As for the name, “Maladum” is the term for magic in our world, and magic is a big part of the game! We’ve spent a long time building the lore for our fantasy world and making sure that just like the terrain above it covers all the iconic fantasy tropes while still feeling unique. The lore was the first part of the project that we tackled, to ensure that it was reflected in the mechanics rather than the other way around.

Is it just Fantasy Core Space?

No, it’s much more than that. Core Space has been very well received as a set of skirmish game rules, and there would be little point in starting from scratch to make a new game. However, Core Space is undeniably a sci-fi game and that’s built into the heart of the mechanics, so it wouldn’t do justice to our new fantasy setting to just re-skin it.

Five years since the original Kickstarter, and with two Core Space Starter Sets now available (Core Space: First Born hit retail earlier this year), we’ve taken everything we’ve learned and baked it into Maladum’s mechanics, for a core to the game that’s even more streamlined than before. We’ve then skilfully excised the sci-fi elements of the game and replaced them with rules that suit the technologically limited but wondrously magical fantasy setting.

Of course, the basic structure of the game and the core mechanics are the same, and veteran Core Space players will find they can drop into a game of Maladum and feel familiar very quickly. Characters still take actions and use skills in the same way and combat is still resolved with the same dice. Equipment tokens are still physically hidden inside the 3D chests, and there is still a varied cast of enemies and NPCs controlled by the game itself.

A game of Core Space

If you’re unfamiliar with Core Space, check out these links:

So What’s New?

Here’s what we’ve changed to fully embrace the fantasy genre. Each of these points is explored in more detail below.

  • The combat system has been refocused towards melee with less emphasis on shooting. New weapon abilities have been added to keep the combat tactical, compensating for tactical aspects of ranged combat such as cover. Most weapons use a series of standardised special rules in different combinations, so there’s less to remember.
  • A series of ‘status effects’ have been built into the core rules, representing common effects that weapons or spells can apply to your characters.
  • Magic has been integrated throughout the game.
    • With ranged combat less prevalent, the Ammo statistic has been removed and replaced with Magic, so you’ll be spending pegs from your character dashboard to use a range of magical abilities.
    • There are multiple Maladaar (magic user) Classes that you can choose from, each with a different combination of spells at their disposal. Even non-Maladaar will still use their innate Magic to resist enemy spells or channel magical equipment.
    • We wanted to replicate the unpredictability of the Knowledge Die in First Born, so the new Magic Die comes into play whenever Magic pegs are spent to boost or dampen your characters’ powers.
  • The Purge/First Born Phase has been replaced with the ‘Adversary’ Phase. This is built to be mechanically generic so that we can later add new enemies into the game without making any changes to the core rules. The flavour of the enemies (the ‘Revenants’ in the Dungeons of Enveron Starter Set) comes through their bespoke event cards and character boards.
  • We’ve continued this theme by adding things like NPC AI rules to the cards that spawn them. This will futureproof the game and ensure that we can seamlessly add new NPCs to the world without players having to consult multiple rulebooks. Everything you need to know will be on the cards you draw during play.
  • The campaign phases have been overhauled to match the setting. The Market Phase has been fine-tuned to give a little more structure to how you trade equipment, and although you no longer need to maintain a spaceship, your party must instead make decisions between paying for the relative safety of a tavern or sleeping rough to save some cash.
  • Maladum features brand new character dashboards. They incorporate status effects to keep the table tidy, as well as a double-sized armour slot for ‘wearable’ equipment. Some NPCs will now get dashboards too!
  • In Core Space it can be unclear how to adjust the difficulty of a mission should you choose to play it with a veteran crew, or with more players. Maladum has a built-in system so you can go straight into any adventure without having to remember any extra rules.
  • Finally, even where we’ve not changed the underlying mechanics, we’ve still gone back to basics and streamlined rules wherever possible to improve the overall experience, and ensured that they tie in with the setting.
A couple of our Maladum Adventurers do battle against a horde of Lamentors. All of these miniatures and terrain pieces are prototypes that Colin made at home – they’ll look even better once we get them into production!

Combat

When you think fantasy you think swords and sorcery. No matter how deep we delve into the lore of our world, we can’t bypass that basic expectation, so let’s start with the swords. Core Space was designed to focus on shooting and features a huge range of firearms and futuristic ranged weaponry, so this was the first and foremost area to change.

Coming up with the weapons was easy. In Maladum you’ll find everything you’d expect, from a range of swords and daggers, to more brutal maces and axes, to exotic glaives and magical staffs. These all follow the same mechanics as Core Space, but with a much wider range of melee weaponry the challenge was to make each weapon varied and interesting.

Before we add any rules, at the most basic level we can vary the number of dice they roll. On a more subtle level we can physically change the size of the token. Core Space veterans will know that one of the most valuable resources to manage in the game is your inventory – how much space you allocate to the items you need for fighting, and how much you keep available for objectives and loot! Maladum now has five different token sizes, so players will need to carefully weigh up the benefits of carrying large powerful weapons or a combination of smaller ones, or saving space for spoils!

Weapon Abilities

Beyond the basics we can start to add abilities to weapons. We are conscious that as Core Space has developed over time, the number of special rules on the equipment can be unwieldy for new players. With Maladum we’ve stuck to a more limited set of common abilities. By applying these same abilities to weapons in different combinations we can offer lots of interesting choice and flavour without too much to learn. Some examples:

  • Bludgeoning weapons can stun targets, causing them to miss their next turn, or can knock targets back.
  • Poison will gradually leech the life from an enemy, even when your initial attack wasn’t enough to cause damage.
  • Reach allows melee attacks to be made from a distance, so you can engage your enemies with weapons such as spears without putting yourself in harm’s way.
  • Sharp offers a chance to wound enemies, slowing them down and causing longer term damage.
  • Cumbersome weapons can be hard to swing and your attacks with them will be limited if you roll a blunder (the ! on the die).
A selection of weapon tokens of various sizes. You’ll see a range of icons representing the weapon’s abilities, but you’ll notice that lots of weapons use the same icons in different combinations.

Critical Hits

One of the reasons Core Space has lots of special rules is because there is a limit to how much we can vary the statistics. It can be very difficult to take down heavily armoured targets without making weapons overly unbalanced, hence the need for special rules. Key to making this new system of common abilities work smoothly in Maladum is the ‘critical hit’. If the double hit icon is rolled on the blue combat die, the critical hit often applies additional effects to the attack regardless of whether damage is caused. Wounding or Poisoning an enemy are perfect examples of this. Stabbing a Crag Troll with your tiny dagger probably won’t cause it much trouble, but get some poison into its bloodstream or slice a vital tendon and you’ll eventually be able to bring it down. Stunning an enemy on the other hand can prevent it attacking you while your stronger party members can come to help.

Combos and Choices

All of this has been supported with new and amended Skills. Some Skills allow easier access to weapon abilities, such as ignoring the Cumbersome rule, attacking as an effortless action, or increasing the chance of critical hits with certain weapons. It was really important for us to not only make melee combat mechanically viable, but also offer interesting tactical choices for the players. As each enemy approaches, Maladum players will need to work out the best combination of skills and effects available to take them down.

This has really come through in our testing, with characters often carrying multiple weapons to best deal with a variety of enemies. Our playtest games did throw up a problem though – with most combat taking place in close quarters, there was a tendency to get bogged down with enemies late in the game. Technically nothing was broken, but it wasn’t particularly fun, and we can’t have that! To overcome the issue we continued to develop the range of skills, spells and weapon abilities so that players had the tools to get out of tough situations. Some weapon abilities:

  • Cleave allows characters to slice through multiple enemies with a single attack, great for when you get swarmed!
  • Quickstrike allows a character to chain multiple attacks and moves together.
  • Shields allow you to sacrifice actions to increase your armour, allowing you to weather blows while you buy time.

Ranged Combat

For those who favour their bow and arrows, never fear! Maladum still includes ranged weaponry, from slings, to bows, to crossbows, to primitive black powder devices. However, it’s far more scarce than in Core Space so ranged weapons are all the more valuable! Shooting works in largely the same way, except that there are no ammo pegs any more! Instead you’ll need to carry equipment tokens representing your stocks of ammunition. A full quiver will last you a game, but if you can’t afford one you’ll be limited to whatever loose ammo you can find. Roll a ! on the blue die and you’re out of arrows, so be careful!

Syrio Fel’run (literal meaning ‘of the Tribe of Fel’)

Eld male

Surly, irritable and quick to anger, Syrio is what many would consider a typical Eld. However, most Eld encountered outside of their tribe are exiles or criminals, whereas Syrio is a loner who chose to leave his tribe and wander Enveron.

He will willingly join a group of mercenaries or Adventurers in the short term but exposure to other people will strain his loyalty. If a group fares badly or is poorly led he will not hesitate to leave. He is an excellent Marksman, particularly skilled with the bow.

Syrio is the resident archer in the Maladum Starter Set, one of seven Adventurers you can choose from. He is a well rounded character who can turn his hand to most tasks, but is naturally tough and agile.

Status Effects

As Core Space developed we came up with lots of new and exciting effects, but they often went beyond the standard rules of the game, leaving quite a lot to remember. The Reminder Counters in the core set started out with just a couple of uses, but once all the expansions were in play you sometimes needed something to remind you what the reminder was for!

Following on from the weapon abilities, in Maladum we have standardised all of the long-lasting rules that can affect characters. If a rule causes you to miss an action, your character is Fatigued. If you miss a whole turn, you are Stunned. If you are confronted by a horrifying beast and feel the urge to run away, you are Terrified. All of these statuses are represented by a counter, and there is a standard process for removing each of these so you’ve only got a limited number of things to remember.

As mentioned above, Poisoned and Wounded statuses can be caused by certain weapons, and fiery attacks will leave you Burning. All of these effects will cause ongoing damage until they can be cured or extinguished, and all of them have been overhauled compared to their equivalent rules in Core Space. Now each feels distinct and far more thematic – we don’t want anything to break the immersion!

Not all statuses are bad either! The Warded status provides a magical armour value, similar to shield armour in Core Space, while the Blessed status allows characters to re-roll dice.

Of course, we really don’t want to clutter up the board with counters, so status counters are placed into bespoke slots in your character’s dashboard instead – more on that below!

A selection of status counters

Magic

We’ve covered swords – now for the sorcery! Magic is a big part of the game and will take some time to master, but can really pay off as your power grows.

Each Adventurer now has a Magic statistic that determines how proficient they are with maladum, and like the Health and Skill statistic this is represented by a series of pegs in their dashboard, replacing the ammo pegs in Core Space. As characters level up they will be able to increase this statistic and in turn increase the power of their spells.

In Core Space enemies were drawn to the sound of gunfire, represented by the rising ‘Hostility’ level. In Maladum, it’s the magical energy in the air that alerts the enemies to your presence, but mechanically it’s the same – Magic pegs spent are added to the ‘Dread’ tracker and will affect the number of enemies coming your way.

Beren Themis

Human male

Beren is a maladaar who styles himself after the druids of old by following an ancient and forgotten religion. This has made him a loner and he has long since given up trying to convert people to his faith and has resigned himself to being the only practitioner.

Like most Prymorists he has an affinity with nature and is able to control it to a degree, even without magical tools.

His staff is tipped with a small jewel known as an Athlum, emitting a light that never goes out. The Athlum helps him to concentrate his own magical powers, and to store energy for more complex spells.

Although he was born average in Maladum long years of study and practice have made him a powerful spellcaster.

In our lore Beren is a Prymorist, a user of Elemental magic, but you can mix and match the components and use Beren’s miniature as any maladaar class.

Using Magic

As you can see, Magic has not just been bolted on to the core rules – it’s been integrated throughout and will be a key feature of your games even for non-magical characters. Here are some of the ways it’s used:

  • Casting Spells – Maladaar (magic users) have access to a range of spells that range from classic healing, enchantment and fireball spells to powerful illusions and telekinesis. For most spells, the player can choose how many pegs to spend which will affect the power of the spell. The spells available to your maladaar, and the level at which they can use them, will depend on your character development choices and on their rank (career level for Core Space players).
  • Resisting Spells – those of you playing PvP games may find yourself targeted by enemy Adventurers! If this happens characters can spend their own pegs to reduce the power of spells cast against them. Spells cast by Adversaries (the new generic term for the AI enemies e.g. Purge; First Born) are represented by Event Cards, and these will also allow characters to negate their effects by spending Magic pegs.
  • Magical Items – throughout the game you will find weapons and equipment imbued with magical power. This can range from a simple enchanted sword that gives bonus dice to your attacks, to boots that increase your speed, to a wand charged with the full force of a spell. Each of these can be ‘channelled’, allowing their users, maladaar or not, to spend Magic pegs to access the full abilities of the item.
  • Magical Armour – a special class of magical item, armour can be channelled to create a magical forcefield around a character, applying the Warded status.

Types of Magic

There are three main ‘schools’ of maladum. Most maladaar will specialise in one type, but will often have basic knowledge of the others. All are useful in their own way, so choosing a Maladaar class for your Adventurer can be a very interesting decision!

Proximate magic is a form of Maladum that affects the user. Spellcasters proficient in proximate magic channel it through their own bodies to give them the strength, speed. toughness and agility that may be lacking in their physical form. Advanced proximate magic can even change the nature of the user’s cells.

Vicarious magic affects other people and sentient creatures, manipulating their minds and bodies to the caster’s will. It is the hardest to perform as they must overcome the will of their target, and maladaar must often be guarded in battle by tougher companions. However, it can be incredibly powerful. Illusions conjured into an enemy’s mind distract them from their tasks, while more powerful spellcasters can boil the blood of their foes or even control them like puppets.

Elemental magic affects inanimate objects and the immediate environment around the user. With no sentient mind resisting a caster’s nanite manipulation, basic elemental spells are among the easiest and most widely used magic. The spells range from moving small objects and creating blasts of energy to the manipulation of fire and even dimensional boundaries!

Beren in action

The Magic Die

Magic can be fickle and hard to control. This unpredictability is represented by the Magic Die. Like its Core Space incarnations, the Chance and Knowledge dice, this die will include numbers and arrows to be used for scattering, determining random effects, or rolling on tables, but its primary use is for magic.

The die must be rolled whenever pegs are spent (whether casting a spell or using a magical item) to represent the user’s control over their actions.

Roll a 6 and the effects are unstoppable – they are resolved as if an additional peg had been spent, regardless of the maladaar’s rank, and cannot be resisted. Roll a 1 however and you suffer a mental overload – whatever you were attempting fails horribly and your character becomes Fatigued.

The results in between include allowing you to recover, regaining one of the Magic pegs spent, or causing a blast knocking nearby characters off their feet. It sounds risky, and it can be, but as spellcasters advance they will gain more control over these results. New magic-based Skills and equipment such as a magic staff will grant effects including re-rolling the Magic Die or restoring Magic Pegs.

Adversaries and NPCs

AI NPCs are one of the greatest things about Core Space, making the setting feel real. However, that does require each type of NPC to act ‘in character’, and once you’ve got a lot of them on the table there can be a lot to remember.

In Maladum we have built the Adversary Phase (the new name for the phase when the main enemies act – the equivalent of the Purge or First Born from Core Space) and the NPC Phase to be generic. This allows us to expand the game with any number of Adversaries and other NPCs without changing the core rules. The rulebook still contains the standard action chart, as many NPCs will still try to attack you. However, for any character that does something different, their rules will be on the Event Card that adds them to the game. You won’t need to learn any rules before they turn up, and when they do the rules are left out in front of you.

To add even more character, some NPCs can now carry and use equipment. Not only will this influence the way in which they attack to add more variation, but it’s also something you can loot if they are defeated!

So, what NPCs can you expect to see in the Dungeons of Enveron?

The Revenants are your Adversaries in the Dungeons of Enveron Starter Set.
The revenants are corpses that have been returned to life by the nanites in their blood. Most revenants have no will of their own and are entirely controlled by the Malagaunt, their creator, in battle.
From L-R: Lamentor, Myria, Hellfont, Rot Troll, Malagaunt

There are two other NPC types in the starter set. First and foremost are the Travelling Adventurers. These are characters just like yours, with their own objectives. Any Adventurer can be used as an NPC by flipping their character board. When they arrive on the board, the card drawn will determine their equipment, their objective, and their rules. Some may be lost and need your help, some may be looters trying to find all the best artefacts before you do, while others may simply be out for blood.

We’re also planning to add NPCs that will seek out your party to offer them side quests. This is a classic element of the genre, and should make for more dynamic games as your objectives can change mid-adventure!

The second type of NPCs are Wandering Beasts. These range from rats and other wild animals through to magical creatures and lumbering trolls. These creatures will usually be looking for lunch, but you’re not the only meal – they can provide a welcome distraction if they choose to attack your enemies. Character classes such as the Druid can also use their Skills to control these creatures!

This delightful creature is a Troglodyte, a beast that dwells in the shadows and ventures out to collect shiny things for its lair. If only all your weapons weren’t so shiny…

Campaigns

Campaigns are a vital part of games like Maladum. If you’re going to take part in such an immersive and narrative driven game, then you’re going to care what happens to your characters when the game is over. Campaigns allow you to do that, progressing the lives of your characters from one story to the next.

The overall campaign sequence is the same as Core Space, with a series of phases after each game that determine what happens next, but we’ve played around with what happens in those phases.

The Extraction Phase is now the Escape Phase. Here you will have the chance to return to the board and rescue any characters that got left behind. Alternatively, characters can be left for dead, and you’ll roll to see if they managed to escape on their own. Even if they do make it out, they might be injured and have to miss a number of games, or they could be robbed or kidnapped by bandits!

In the Advancement Phase, characters that took part in the latest adventure will earn experience, which can be spent on learning new skills or spells. Once a character earns enough experience to level up, they will also be able to permanently increase their statistics too!

In the Market Phase, Adventurers will return to the nearest town to sell their loot and buy new equipment for their next adventure. Compared to Core Space, new limits have been put in place for buying and selling expensive and rare items, to ensure a more even progression throughout the campaign and prevent you maxing out too quickly. In the Market Phase you can also hire new Adventurers. This process has been amended slightly too, so it now uses the same currency as equipment, and your hiring options are more thematic. This time each character available will be assigned a class in advance. The perfect party member may not always be available, so you’ll have to make do with what’s on offer!

Some of the equipment on offer at the Market

The Market Phase ends with a visit to the Blacksmith where you can repair items that became broken in game, and then you’ll need to pay your Adventurers their wages – make sure you have enough spare cash!

Finally we come to the Rest Phase. In this phase your party will need to find somewhere to sleep for the night. If you choose to stay at the Inn you’ll have to pay for the benefit but you’ll be safe and comfortable. If you get a good night’s sleep you can start the next game Blessed, or an evening with the other patrons could provide local knowledge that will help you in the next adventure.

Time to relax in the tavern after a hard day’s adventuring!

If you don’t want to pay, you can try your luck sleeping rough. It’s free, but you do run the risk of being attacked in the night by wild animals or bandits, or simply having an uncomfortable night and starting the next game with penalties.

These additions are simple and subtle, but all add character to the setting and expand the narrative for your characters.

Dashboards

For Maladum we will be creating brand new character dashboards. Take a look at these:

These are currently a work in progress while the game is in development. As well as any changes required to make them easier to use, we’re also going to add a texture to the flat surfaces to give them a more premium feel.

The new dashboard is around 15mm wider than the old one to accommodate the new character board. As well as having more stats and a longer career track, the new dashboards now have a double-sized armour slot. The ‘armour’ category has been expanded to cover all sorts of wearable equipment, and we wanted to make sure characters had space to put armour on as well as wearing boots, helmets, amulets, or other similar items.

The wider board has allowed for some changes further down too. The class boards are now wider, so most classes will have a selection of nine Skills instead of seven for more choice in character development. Maladaar classes will have fewer Skills, but will have space to mark their spells instead. There is also space for an additional equipment token in the inventory. In Core Space players often favoured small weapons to save space, but with so many cool large weapons in Maladum (two-handed weapons, longbows) we wanted Adventurers to be able to carry them without sacrificing storage space.

Some of the Class boards on offer – some with more Skills, some with innate abilities, and some with space to learn spells! You’ll see they’re not quite finished yet – this game has a lot of moving parts and we’re still working on the fine details.

At the bottom, the number of pegs has stayed the same, but you’ll see a space on the right for up to three status counters to keep the gaming table tidy.

On the right of the image above you will see a smaller dashboard. This will be used for NPCs such as Travelling Adventurers and for higher ranking Adversaries like the Malagaunt. This gives us the potential to assign them pegs and equipment, and make them a more interesting addition to the game.

Difficulty

Being a sandbox game, the difficulty adjustments in Core Space have been left pretty open – essentially it’s as different as you want to make it. However, while Colin and many others are happy to play that way, we appreciate that plenty of players prefer to have this prescribed in the rules. For Maladum we’ve set up a simple system that will allow the game to scale both with the experience of the Adventurers and with the number of players.

Each adventure lists the Event Cards to be shuffled into the deck based on the setting and enemies being used, just like Core Space. However, there are two new card types that won’t be listed. Novice cards provide a respite from the relentless assault of enemies or one-off bonuses that the players can save and use at the perfect time to get out of a predicament (just like Assistance cards in Core Space). Veteran cards on the other hand turn up the heat, increasing the Dread at a faster rate and throwing yet more obstacles in our heroes’ way.

At the start of each mission you will shuffle a number of each card type into the deck based on the total value of the characters taking part across all parties – more Novice cards at lower values, more Veteran cards at higher values. As well as the effects of the cards themselves their inclusion will adjust the overall flow of the game – with more Novice cards, there will be more rounds of the game where something bad doesn’t happen! With more Veteran cards you won’t be able to catch a break, although by this point your Adventurers should be tooled up to handle it!

Core Space packs such as the Purge Reinforcements box were intended to add more enemies to increase the difficulty. In Maladum, similar packs of enemies will be handled using Veteran cards following the standardised rules. The players will not need to remember any changing mechanics during the game as the player count and experience increases – everything you need to know will be on the cards as they are drawn.

Nerinda Pasha

Human female

Nerinda specialises in political assassinations and has discretely toppled several tyrants over the years. She likes to think that in some way she has helped promote stability in the kingdoms of Enveron, but when that rings hollow she takes comfort in the substantial pay.

She is a master of both the single handed sword and the twin curved swords. She also carries a flintlock pistol, a rare and expensive gift from a grateful client.

What sets her apart from the usual sell-sword is her inventiveness. Although well armed she is not above using alternative means, such as poisoning or simply pushing someone down a staircase, to achieve her goal.

Although discretion is part of her trade she has become too well known in certain high powered circles and has chosen the life of an Adventurer until the unwanted attention dies down.

Nerinda is the perfect character choice for players who want a stealthy assassin skilled with weapons. Like all characters, if not chosen as part of your party, there’s a chance Nerinda will turn up in your games as an NPC. Good luck facing her!

Streamlined Rules

Next I wanted to cover some overal quality improvements we’ve made to the game. We’ve looked at every rule with the benefit of years of Core Space experience, and worked out if it can be streamlined or made more thematic. Here are some examples:

  • ‘Heavy’ hits – in Core Space many melee weapons have two statistics – a standard version and a more powerful one that risked breaking the weapon. In most cases the heavy hit granted one extra attack die. We’ve standardised this rule and removed the stat. Now melee weapons have just a single stat. If the stat has a burst around it, a stronger attack can be made with one extra die. See the weapon tokens above.
  • “But there are three stats on melee weapons” I hear you cry! That’s right, Core Space also has a statistic for weapons that can be thrown, that was usually the same as the regular attack stat. In Maladum we’ve simplified it – all melee weapons can now be thrown using their normal dice unless they are Cumbersome. That’s another stat we can remove to keep the equipment tokens uncluttered.
  • Blast weapons – admittedly there are fewer explosions in Maladum compared to Core Space, but there are fireballs! While thematic, Blast weapons in Core Space do require a lot of dice rolling – firstly determining the target point of the blast and then rolling for each enemy in the blast radius. In Maladum it’s all displayed as a single statistic (just like a heavy hit in melee, a burst around the ranged stat means the weapon uses the blast rules) and it’s resolved in a single roll. Firstly, ! results in the roll determine if the blast is resolved from the intended target square or if it’s moved. Then, the attack is resolved against anything in that square. Characters in surrounding squares suffer the same attack, -1 hit for each square they are away. Simple!
  • Persuading – this time we’ve actually added more to a rule rather than simplifying it. In Core Space you can attempt to Persuade NPCs to do various things, but as the mechanic is so simple, all of these things are equally difficult to do, so you always pick the best option – getting the NPC to join your crew! From a narrative point of view this doesn’t always feel right. In Maladum, the more you want to Persuade someone to do, the more successes you need to roll. Want an NPC to share their lunch with you?* No problem. Want them to go and open a suspicious looking door for you while you take cover? Might take a bit more persuasive skill. Want them to be your BFF and join the party? That’s not so easy any more. Characters that specialise in Persuasion have now become a lot more useful for mission objectives, adding yet more decision making into your character selection and tactics – never a bad thing!

*Yes, there are food tokens! Maladum has a new Rest action – get yourself to a safe place and spend a turn doing nothing and you can regain health, restore Magic pegs, and patch up your wounds, removing certain status effects. Food can be used when Resting to restore additional health.

Dangerous Dungeons

Finally, we’ll come full circle back to the terrain I mentioned many words ago. In such an immersive game it’s important that the terrain plays its part. We made big strides with First Born in ensuring that the terrain was as interactive as possible, taking it beyond something that just provides cover. We’ve done exactly the same in Maladum. For example:

  • Sarcophagi are priority looting spots as you try to pilfer the belongings of their occupant. Of course with a Malagaunt around the occupants may not be as dormant as you expected! Once opened, Sarcophagi become entry points for the Revenants.
  • Braziers – like struts in Core Space, Braziers clip onto the wall panels to add a bit of colour and interest. Unlike struts, they can be interacted with. Warriors can grab a flaming stick to use as a weapon, archers can set their arrows on fire, and maladaar can manipulate the flames into a fireball!
  • Levers – these make perfect objectives, whether they’re used to open something, close something, activate something, or unleash something!
  • It’s a trap! It wouldn’t be a dungeon without traps, and they take a few different forms. Simple traps take the form of equipment tokens – find one when Searching and suffer the consequences! More elaborate traps are resolved using Event Cards – a pit could open up in the floor, a net could hoist a character up in the air, or a massive blade could come swinging out of the wall. These are a really characterful edition to the game, and will certainly make you consider adding a Rogue to your party!

Signing Off

Thanks for reading this far! That’s all for now – we’ll have more information available as the project nears completion. In the meantime, while the game is unfinished we are still eager for feedback. Let us know your thoughts on this preview, your questions, or details of anything else you’d like to see in the game, in the comments below.

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Until next time, happy gaming!

The Battle Systems Team