For the next several weeks, we’re going to be releasing an absolute metric ton of info about FTZ. To do that, we’ve started a blog over on Board Game Geek. I’ll occasionally drop something off here at Fugitive Prose, but with the volume of game posts we’re planning, I figured it was best to keep things separated.
Here’s what the latest post looks like, wherein we reveal the hero figures for the game and talk a little about the lore. If board games are your thing (and they totally should be), come by so you can catch all the updates as they happen!
In 1942, four soldiers vanished from the training program of the newly formed First Ranger Battalion, their names stricken from the roster. Chosen for their unique skills, they would fight in secret against terrifying supernatural enemies and overwhelming odds.
This is their story.
Before mankind ruled the planet, magic seeped from the Earth and created a world of wonder and horror that we have long since forgotten. As human numbers increased, the raw chaos of magic was pushed back, eliminated by our shared perception of an ordered world. Now, in the Age of Man, only two things are needed to allow a remnant of the past to rise again: a drastic reduction in the local human population and the power of blood spilled by violence. Welcome to WW2.
Artifacts long buried begin to surface and feed. In the midst of a global war comes a new threat to all of humanity. A threat for which we have no answer. Yet.
Two specialists are deployed by the mysterious Division Zero. One can somehow detect and track the presence of nearby supernatural forces. The other has dedicated his life to becoming a living encyclopedia of the arcane.
What one can find, the other knows how to destroy.
But neither Specialist is capable of getting through the army of lethal protectors that each Artifact creates. For that, they need men of war.
Meet Fireteam Zero
Four men were selected by Division Zero to protect the Specialists and cut a path through anything foolish enough to stand between them and their target.
They are Fireteam Zero. And they will not fail.
Stay tuned for a look at each hero and the skills they bring to the battlefield! Also, show your support for the amazing art team behind FTZ by giving us a thumb!
You know what the worst part of having a secret project is? The grueling work? Piece of cake. The agony of choosing between all the cool things you want to do and the things you actually have time to do? Harder, but still no. The hiding under a tarp in the hall closet until your wife threatens to turn off the wifi? Almost. For me, it’s keeping my big trap shut about the whole thing for nearly a year.
Fortunately, that’s no longer a problem. It’s announcement time, baby. Let’s do this.
What is it?
Fireteam Zero is a tactical miniatures board game that takes place in the Emergent Earth universe. Here’s what it says on the back of the box:
In 1942, four soldiers vanished from the training program of the newly formed First Ranger Battalion, their names stricken from the roster. Chosen for their unique skills, they would fight in secret against terrifying supernatural enemies and overwhelming odds. This is their story.
Fireteam Zero is a cooperative game for up to four players who must cut a path through an endless swarm of deadly monsters in order to discover and defeat the ultimate evil behind them. Each player possesses a set of brutal combat skills that are represented by a deck of cards unique to that character. Play cards to devastate the creatures in your way, help your teammates survive the onslaught, or even reshape the tactical landscape with the proper application of explosive ordinance.
The battle is fought across three maps of increasing difficulty, each one bringing more and tougher enemies than the last. Players must search for and complete mission objectives in order to progress and bring them one step closer to the final showdown.
Aiding them are two NPC Specialists, one with an uncanny ability to sense the location and nature of the supernatural energy in the area and another with an encyclopedic knowledge of the arcane. Use the Specialists wisely or risk failure no matter how many monsters you defeat.
Race against time as the creatures on the board become stronger and more cunning. The longer you take to complete your objectives, the more Monster Twist cards are revealed, each granting a new and terrible aspect to your enemy. In each set of missions you will face a different family of horrifying creatures, each with their own special abilities and twist cards.
Players must not only fight for their lives, but at the same time they must make smart tactical choices with their teammates in order to make the best use of a limited resource, the cards in their hands. Each card not only represents an action that they can take, but also their health. Spending too many cards can leave you vulnerable, while spending too few can result in being overwhelmed. Clever players will rely on each other to succeed.
Fireteam Zero is a story-rich board game of squad tactics and horror. Each map can be played separately in about 45 minutes or together to complete an entire Operation in about 3 hours.
That’s…a lot of words. What is it really?
Basically, you get to find out what Abe and his squad got up to during WW2. Each player will become a member of Fireteam Zero and commit acts of badassery against different families of monsters while trying to capture or destroy the arcane artifact that’s creating them.
Each player has a hand of cards that represent both the monster-stomping actions they can take and their current ability to deal with threats. Run out of cards in hand and you get to enjoy a quiet dirt nap. And the whole shebang takes place on a giant board filled with large, fantastically detailed miniatures.
Did you say miniatures?
I totally did. Here’s an example:
Monsters come in three types: minions, elites, and bosses. A minion is about human-sized, represented by a standard 40mm tall figure. Elites come in at 50mm, and bosses hit a whopping 60mm in height with a proportional increase in girth. The charming fellow pictured above is an elite: the Corrupted Human in the Children of Typhon family. Here’s a bit about him:
Division Zero Record Number 9364: Corrupted Human
A human being that has come into contact with liquid from the Cup of Typhon [see artifact record 9110]. Class 2 mental and physical aberration occurs immediately, with violently aggressive behavior and physical deformities characterized by razor sharp insectile legs, mouthparts, and even additional heads.
FTZ Field Notes: These bastards can tear an unprotected man in half with no particular effort and are as hard to kill as they are ugly. Engage at a distance. And with as many explosives as you can carry.
Our miniatures are being created by the amazing Chris Deavellar, whom you may know from his 3D work on the MMO, Fallen Earth.
Sounds like you got lucky. Who else is working on this?
As a matter of fact, everyone involved has some pretty serious gaming chops. The design of the game itself is by Christian Leonhard, who happens to have a couple of international game design awards under his belt. Pretty much the only reason he agreed to work on this project with me is that we’ve been friends for years and I totally know where he buried all those hobos.
The art, layout, and graphic design work is being done by renowned game artist Gary Simpson. If you’ve ever played Summoner Wars, then the artwork you were ogling was Gary’s. I have no idea why Gary agreed to join up with us, except that it was probably easier than getting a restraining order.
Together we formed Emergent Games and vowed to create kick ass tabletop experiences or die trying. Christian and Gary don’t actually know about that last bit yet, but I’m sure they’re cool with it.
Okay, this game thing checks out. As your loyal blog reader, how can I help?
Spread the word. If you’re a fan of board games, hop on over to Board Game Geek and give us a like. If not, point your gamer friends to this post. Anything that gets the word out before our upcoming Kickstarter campaign would be amazing.
In return, help yourself to some free books! The Emergent Earth novels that this game is based on are free through Wednesday the 6th! Get Bad Radio here and Liar’s Harvest here. Tell your friends and hook them up with some free books at the same time.
Stay tuned for more posts where I go into detail about the theme, combat system, monster families, and more in the weeks ahead.
People have asked if I’m ever going to reveal what happened in WW2 prior to the start of the Emergent Earth series.
My standard response is to subtly change the subject, usually by throwing my coffee on them and running out of the room. While that works ONE HUNDRED PERCENT OF THE TIME, I’ve decided to try something different and actually answer the question.
Yes. Yes, I am.
I was originally going to tell the story through the magic of interpretive dance, but when that turned out to be a lot of effort and chafing, I took the easy way out and started scamming some clever people I found at the bus station into making a game with me. Luckily, they just happened to know a bunch about game design and art and stuff, so that worked out pretty nicely. It’s amazing what you can find in the lost and found, I tell you what.
I’ll post more info about the game in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.
Also, if you haven’t already signed up for my mailing list, you might want to give it a shot before you miss out on … something.
Come for the amazing acapella vocals, stay for the science! Or vice versa if you’re some kind of string theory rebel.
Tell you what, just watch and be amazed by whichever part you like. Just admit afterwards that Tim has an impressive set of pipes and we’re cool.
Being a gentleman (that word should probably be in quotes) of both Korean and Cajun descent, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I’m a fan of spicy food. I’ve also been known to delicately nibble on the occasional confection while adjusting my top hat and monocle.
Feel free to replace that image with me sitting in a big tub of chocolate while my handlers pour buckets of Milk Duds over my head. I’m not saying that one of those images is more truthful than the other, but I may not actually own a monocle.
Disturbing imagery aside, what I’m trying to say is that I have a particular weakness for spicy candy, the hotter the better. Knowing this, my wife brought me a box of these little bundles of joy:
The first thing you notice when you tear open the box with your teeth is the fruity bouquet of the habanero peppers. This is an exceedingly good sign. Habaneros have a distinct and delightful aroma and you can tell instantly that you’re not dealing with artificial ‘habanero flavorings’ here.
The pralines themselves are individually wrapped and about the size of your palm. They also have a pleasant heft to them, as a good praline should.
The wrapper opens easily, with no fussy peeling or undignified tearing with your teeth. The first thing that happens when you unwrap one of these gems is that the sharp smell of the chile is joined by the rich scent of the praline itself. If you’re not familiar with pralines, they’re a delicious mix of sugar, butter, cream, and nuts. Also, what’s wrong with you? Go eat some pralines already, sheesh.
The first bite proves that the praline part of the equation is spot on: chewy and smoothly rich, like a cross between a dense nougat and a caramel. The nuts provide an excellent textural addition while at the same time giving the sweetness a bit of nutty earthiness to contrast against. After the initial sweetness hits you, then the habanero notes come through with a spicy finish, making you want to take that next bite right away to offset the heat with more sweetness.
If you’re a fan of fresh chiles in general or habaneros in particular, then you’ll love these. If those flavors aren’t your thing, then you’ll probably want to steer clear. This isn’t a praline that just happens to be spicy, it’s a confection that fully embraces and celebrates the unique flavor of the habenero.
Personally, I’ll eat fresh habanero in pretty much anything, so these are a real delight for me. I urge any of you that are fellow chile-heads to give them a shot.
Story time. A few weeks ago I was in Minneapolis doing top secret and mysterious things, the most important of which was shoving delicious food into my largest head orifice. A buddy joined me and we ended up at this joint, which was filled to the rafters with brilliant and amazing comestibles. After the meal we were forced at gunpoint to order dessert and some coffee to go with it. Quick aside, it was tres leches cake and it was crazy good. It came sitting in a bowl of sweetened milk, like a fortress of moist, frosted cake surrounded by a tiny moat.
But I digress. The coffee arrived and we were so mesmerized by the cake that we didn’t even glance at it before taking a sip. And then we forgot all about the cake. Okay, maybe we didn’t forget it completely, but eyebrows went up and yummy noises were made. It was the best coffee I’ve had so far, no exaggeration, and that includes fancy preparations with exotic equipment from snooty coffee bars.
We found out that it came from a local roaster called Dogwood Coffee and we reminisced fondly about it every time we had coffee after that. Normally that would be the end of it. Dogwood Coffee is in the distant northlands above Texas, which may as well be on the moon as far as my coffee needs go, so I figured I’d just remember to get a cup the next time I was in Minneapolis and count myself lucky.
But to my surprise, that buddy of mine (who is now my best friend ever until this bag runs out), shipped me this delightful care package:
Sadly, being a coffee luddite, I had no way to turn the precious beans within into drinkable coffee. I briefly considered rocks and a frenzied bout of smashing and yelling, but my wife talked me down before it was too late. Since I wasn’t allowed to improvise I turned to Amazon and got this:
I’m going to be honest with you here. I’ve never ground beans before in my life and the novelty wore off in about a hundred cranks. The results were excellent, but I’m a right lazy bastard. If anyone besides my own brain had suggested I work to get my first cup of coffee…well, let’s just say it would be greatest episode of Cops ever filmed. But I persevered and was rewarded with glorious, usable coffee grounds:
Then I whomped everything into my beloved Aeropress:
Quick note about the Aeropress. I absolutely cannot believe this thing costs like twenty-six bucks. It cleans up in five seconds (eject coffee grounds in puck form -pop- rinse in sink – done) and the coffee is amazing. Check out how many coffee shops have put up reviews and tutorials on YouTube. You don’t see a lot of cheap but awesome gadgets in this life, but I assure you, this is one of them.
You have no idea how hard it was to take this picture before taking the first sip. I basically just snapped off a quick one and threw down my camera without checking to make sure it looked good. That’s quality blogging right there.
Was it good? Was it worth the endless grinding and complaining? Yeah, totally. I’m gonna drink all these beans and then I’m going to order more from the distant lands of Minnesota. And Cthulhu help me, I’m gonna grind every single one of them, too.
Mojo discovers that rabbits are not as fun as advertised by Disney. No singing. No games of tag. Not even a tiny top hat.
On the plus side, they’re fun to bathe and they taste GREAT.
I’m not typically moved by book trailers. Not because of some innate snobbery that overcomes me when media formats attempt to interbreed, but because they rarely manage hold my attention. This may have less to do with book trailers and more to do with my … LOOK, A PUPPY!
So cute. Anyway. Regardless of my shortcomings, of which there are SO VERY MANY, this trailer totally made me snort coffee out of my nose. That should be taken as an endorsement of the highest caliber.
Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds and Dan Santat:
Via The Passive Voice!
I don’t hate Charlie Huston, but I will admit to having snarled his name out loud more than once while reading Skinner. It’s a stunning piece of work, even for Huston whose output is relentlessly good, but there are bits of absolute genius in it that spike my writer’s jealousy like few other things I’ve read. Absolute mastery of pacing. Evocative, descriptive turns of phrase that convey reams of information in a single jolt. Lean, muscular confrontations whose nascent violence is more visceral than other people’s epic brawls. It’s just one brilliant thing after another with this jerk, all book long. That said, even my Huston-induced pangs of self-doubt couldn’t blunt my enjoyment of this book.
Here’s the blurb:
Skinner founded his career in “asset protection” on fear. To touch anyone under his protection was to invite destruction. A savagely effective methodology, until Skinner’s CIA handlers began to fear him as much as his enemies did and banished him to the hinterlands of the intelligence community.
Now, an ornate and evolving cyber-terrorist attack is about to end that long exile. His asset is Jae, a roboticist with a gift for seeing the underlying systems violently shaping a new era of global guerrilla warfare.
At the root of it all is a young boy, the innocent seed of a plot grown in the slums of Mumbai. Brought to flower, that plot will tip the balance of world power in a perilous new direction.
A combination of Le Carre spycraft with Stephenson techno-philosophy from the novelist hailed by the Washington Post as “the voice of twenty-first century crime fiction,” SKINNER is Charlie Huston’s masterpiece–a new kind of thriller for a new kind of world.
There’s a perverse kind of synchronicity in the timing of Skinner’s release with Edward Snowden’s recent revelations that serves to underscore how eerily accurate Huston’s portrayal of the intelligence community’s underbelly really is. Skinner’s world is not only plausible, but probable, in everything but the particular circumstances and scale. And based on the news recently, I may be wrong to doubt the scale.
Amazingly, the characters remain front and center despite this vivid and frightening backdrop. Skinner himself is a perfectly balanced blend of monster and victim and hero, effortless to root for and fear at the same time. Jae, who is as much of a protagonist as Skinner, is equally complex and compelling. Her tortured genius is executed with a deft hand, never becoming contrived or maudlin. Together they produce a dynamic tension that’s marvelous to watch, like two pieces of broken glass from different windows that happen to fit together perfectly. It would have been easy for lesser characters to have become subsumed in a story like this, but it’s never a possibility here.
A long time ago, back in the before-times of 2008, bon vivant and author-around-town John Scalzi issued a challenge to authors to post their one-star reviews. Many did, and as you can imagine, hilarity ensued.
In that spirit, I’d like to offer up my new all time favorite bad review. This one is for Bad Radio:
As I read this I was reminded of some books from the 50s and 60s. It was superficial, the characters had outlandish powers, the guys – to a man (there were no female ‘bad guys) – were nasty, had massive protective body gear, and were easily beaten by unusually intelligent amateurs. Untested space technology allowed them to build huge ‘flying saucers’ in order to fly off to create a new human colony on some planet far away. Give me a break!
I have to say, the bit about space technology and flying saucers really spoke to me. While a less astute, and dare I say it, a more pedantic person might point out boorishly that there aren’t any spaceships, other planets, or colonies of any kind in the book, I would urge that person to open his mind and not be such a downer.
I think anyone that constrains themselves to the actual text of a book is only seeing a small slice of the truth. I guess how small depends on how much extra stuff you make up, but that’s not the point. The point is that any book can have as many spaceships as you want, if you can only open your heart to the possibility. That’s the real beauty of reading. Uh, or not reading. Whatever.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m deeply, truly sorry for screwing up the spaceships that weren’t in the book. I promise it won’t happen again.