Updated: 5 hours ago
Probably, because I always struggled to build my own scenic elements: I'm a decent painter, but definitely not a scale architect. When you can't arrive at something, you can't help but desperately love it.
Yes, it applies also to Fumika Baba.
Scenic elements are crucial in a miniature game for many reasons: they not only add tactical situations in-game but they also give the players a visual context of the game. With appropriate scenic elements, you are not simply playing a tabletop game moving miniatures all-around the board, but you are entering in a new world, exploring it with your adventurers!
There is a huge difference between fighting a match on an empty space or on a board full of interesting scenic elements, and here is why I'm designing my game to encourage the players to set their boards with a lot of terrains.
Before talking about what I mean with "to encourage", let's go more in detail of the gaming mechanics that rule the interaction between the characters, the board and its scenic elements.
After many tests, I realized that I had to be more "schematic", concerning scenics because even if we plan to design a proper range of dedicated scenic parts for our game (both 3d and 2d), I wanted that players are encouraged to use elements from their collection or even that they are motivated to build their own. As you imagine, however, this means that without a proper universal reference system of scenics, there might be a lot of problems to handle in-game the infinite types of terrains that player would like to deploy!
So I came out with some basic guidelines to rule all the world of scenics and make them easy playable in-game.
Concerning Into the Quest, there are 4 types of scenic element: Barriers, High Grounds, Obstacles and Traps.
The family of Barriers includes all those elements that give cover to the characters in-game. walls, ruins, fences, trenches, they all are considered "barriers". There are two types of Barriers: High Barriers (they give covers and block the line of sight) and Short Barriers (they give covers but they are too short to block the line of sight).
In terms of rules, characters may use these scenics to protect themselves from (principally) enemy shooting, but be aware: a barrier is not indestructible! A barrier can absorb up to a maximum of 3 hits, then it is removed from the board. There are also characters/weapons/abilities that can destroy a barrier (I'm thinking about you, Iron Titan), and characters able to heal them or, even, build them!
Small hills, buildings, high platforms: any surfaces higher than the ground/board (at least 6cm height) and that occupy at least a 2x2 area of squares is considered High Ground.
A character can climb a high ground, passing an Agility test, and gain significant bonuses at shooting and line of sight.
Obstacles are all those elements that make the movement more difficult or impossible at all: woods, quagmires, quicksand, crevices and so on.
There are two types of Obstacles: Rough Terrains and Insurmountable Obstacles (names are not definitive, please help me, mighty English-speaker friends!).
If you cross a square occupied by a Rough Terrain, your character generally suffers a penalty on movement (a quite classic gaming situation, indeed), while you can't normally cross a square occupied by an Insurmountable Obstacle (but with a bit of luck, one of your allies can toss you to overcome it!).
You should watch out for Insurmountable Obstacles (definitely, I have to change this name, too long!), because a wise opponent can try to ambush your characters using these scenics to cut their escape routes!
Rough Terrains are annoying too because they slow down your adventurers, but inside them there are high chances to discover hidden treasures, so it may be worth exploring them!
This is probably my favourite part. You can't think about a classic dungeon, without thinking about traps. These scenic elements give a thrilling unpredictability to your game. Several characters are able to deploy traps on the battlefield and there will be a lot of different types of them: from the classic explosive ones to the smoke ones, from traps that are able to slow down those who are hit by them to those that will work as sound alarms (a character "hit" by an alarm-trap is considered "in line of sight" of any other character in-game, as long as it remains inside the area of activation!).
How does a trap work?
Generally, a trap occupies a single square of the board and it is activated in two ways: when a character crosses a square inside the "area of activation" (usually, the square occupied by the trap and all the squares adjacent to it), or when a character hit a trap with an attack (generally, a ranged attack). Once activated, any character inside the area of activation suffers the effects of the trap, then the trap is removed from the board.
If you love explosive traps, then you would love this guy below!
How to encourage players to use a lot of scenics?
I thought about creating a free-to-print range of scenic elements, specifically designed to fit the rules of our game and the style of our miniatures: standard barriers, standard high ground, rough terrains etc: nowadays, 3d print-on-demand is getting more and more affordable, and domestic 3d printers are increasing a lot their quality, so I think it's wise to give you for free some high-quality digital sculpts to freely print at home!
It applies also to 2d scenic elements that, even if for sure they won't have the same visual impact of 3d printed sceneries, will work greatly the same and are even more affordable!
Despite I imagine the perfect Into the Quest board covered in scenics, I think that for a standard match a couple of high ground elements, a couple of rough terrains and 4-5 barriers are enough to enjoy an interesting game!
INTERACTING WITH THE BOARD
Despite I imagined easy rules to interact with terrains (for example, to climb a high ground or to overcome a short barrier, you only have to pass an Agility Test), there will be many Special Actions, Abilities and Equipment designed to interact with the board.
Elves, for example, are quite good at climbing high grounds and they get extra cover when they are on square occupied by a Rough Terrain.
Dwarves, as you may easily imagine, are not extremely good at climbing high grounds, but they are excellent inventors and can overcome their limits with their minds (the Hunter of Erdraz's harpoon, for example, allows to repeat failed Agility Tests, when the bearer tries to climb a high ground!). They are also awesome builders, so who cares about climbing freaky hills, when you can build barriers and place traps all around the board?!
Orcs, as you may expect, are quite good at demolishing things, so expect them to be able to destroy barriers easily than other kins.
Necromancers (yes, there will be necromancers) are masters in creating rough terrains and slow down your adventurers: after all, zombies and skeletons need some kind of help, to reach their preys!
There will be a lot of abilities and special actions that influence the way the characters move and interact with the boards, so it's important to set a proper board to fully enjoy them!
Talking about "special abilities", I'm designing a kind of Elf Inventor who creates weird (and scary!) Daruma dolls, that will work in-game as a kind of "red light/green light" traps (In Japan there is a game called "Daruma-san ga koronda!" that is quite similar to our 1..2..3..Stella!/Red Light, Green Light), and I'm quite proud of its rules.
But this is another story...