What will crawl out of the toxic ooze?

[this is guest post by Michal Oracz]

The end of January. High time to postpone all other projects and seriously focus on the new add-on for Neuroshima Hex.

I take out two boxes from under my desk.

I empty the first one and tokens fall out. They’re wastes back from the first edition, fortunately we never threw them away. That was a good choice since for years they’ve served us for developing new fractions. Their numbers are thinning, I have only around 200 blue ones used for Borgo. I count 50 and token after token I rip the printed layer off. My fingers hurt but in my bag there are 50 blank tokens.

They wait as a clear canvas waits for a painter.

I look into the other box. It’s filled with unfinished armies. I have to choose something.

On the top I notice Gas Drinkers, a fraction of crazed junkies who got their hands on a overabundance of explosives. Their headquarters is a refinery station near Detroit, taken both by force and cunning. They have been already tested as a new fraction but it was a false start.

Next there is a bag with Warriors of Ice. Certainly in this case quantity goes before quality – the troglodytes spread through out the game board like a disease. Last time when I tried to sort out this fraction during tests, I ended up changing them into… Sharrash. And as the rats of Sharrash it went to print. So maybe I will return where I last started and… well maybe next time.

What else?

The Parker Lots gang. A rather small group of ninja-snipers. We created them while working on the Neuroshima RPG supplement describing Detroit. This fraction has a lot of instant tokens. A freaking lot.

And here in one bag I have two sketched, a little bit similar to each other, fractions: Sand Runners and the Desert People. The first being soldiers highly specialized in desert combat and the second being mostly Native Americans living with perfect harmony with the desert. Oh I know that the fans of these desert McGyvers are waiting for their appearance for years.

The few plastic bags with scribbled tokens are a couple of mutant fractions:

Night Stalkers are a tribe of silent warriors. Only once were the mutant hunters able to capture one of them alive. His name was Vraanach and he quickly became a wonder of the gladiator arenas.

And Mesmerites – a very nasty band of telepaths, the most hated type of mutants. A bullet put in a Mesmerite is never a wasted one, as they say on the desolate continent.

What else do we have here?

Dead Breath – a disease raging in the North of the country, changing people into living dead, or something like zombie runners, as we know them form „28 Days Later”. The chain of infection seems very promising. And I love zombies. Tempting…

Or maybe Tetra? Powerful cyborg-mutants from the underground compounds spreading on the Moloch’s grounds. Would Borgo finally have a chance to fight someone of his own size and would Moloch stop bragging about his armored packaging?

The heck with Tetra, I just pulled something out of the box that I almost forgot about: Dark Visions! A motorcycle gang that runs the board over like the Monster Truck show! There is no fraction in Hex that will ever be more mobile and more offensive during their movement phase!

What else do we have left in that bag of mine? Oh yeah! Notes for the second gang for the core rulebook for Neuroshima RPG, the mighty Iron Gang. These guys are madmen who live only for the fight and like swarm they wipe out everything in their path to nowhere. Just like the Warriors of Ice they found their way to the pages of the Neuroshima RGP rulebook because I was inspired by one of the records of the Voivod band.

Hey there’s something more.

Wait a sec, I need to blow the dust off. What does it say?

Gladiator’s… League… Oh nooo… In brief we just call them the League. There was a time when these guys were the most worshiped organization among Neuroshima RPG fans. These are the guys who throw motorcycles at a distance and can run around with an axe in their back, well at least that’s what the advertising poster says. And the advertisement doesn’t show half of it.

Oh and here is my favorite, the Church of The Red Sun, worshipers of the great bomb, more messed up then anybody else. One huge bomb is already in possession of a certain red bunch but the Church of The Red Sun has an even bigger one, I can assure you.

Some other notes. What have we here? A draft of doctor Alluvach’s guerrilla, The Claws gang, Schultzs all dressed up in suits, The Eighth Mile and the Black City, a mecca for all sorts of scum.

I almost reached the bottom of my box.

As in a good book the best is always at the end: The Fourth Generation.

The Fourth Generation of what? Mutants of course.

When Moloch created mutants for the first two generations it experimented and today the results can be seen everywhere from West to East coast. Third generation was solid work. Maybe even too solid if you look on the mob gathered around Borgo.

But the Fourth Generation is a completely different story. They’re not walking piles of muscle nor telepaths with huge bald heads. Fourth Generation is a perfect creation. They are the real replacement for the human race, the aristocracy of the new era. Ominous and deadly angels walking on the surface of Earth.

I push all of that aside and put it back into the box for the years to come. For the new layer of dust to settle on them.

This time I’m not picking any of the above mentioned fractions because a time has come for one of the major fractions of the Neuroshima world to enter the stage – this is what we agreed upon as publishers. So far we have Moloch and The Outpost, Hegemony and New York, Sharrash, Vegas and Neojungle. What else is left of the main locations of Neuroshima RPG?

Only few fractions: Appalachian Federation, Salt Lake City, Detroit, Miami, Texas, Mississippi, Saint Louis. And that’s all.

Among these main fractions I only have two ready drafts: Mississippi and Texas.

Moreover each of the fractions, excluding Texas and Saint Louis, already have fan made armies.

The fanmade version of Mississippi has been designed by FanTomas.

Does that mean I have to choose Texas?

No.

Many years ago in an interview for „Hexomaniak” I wrote that there won’t be reservations for a certain fraction or for the special features of tokens – and I still stand by my word today. Back then I wrote that if anyone wants to create a DIFFERENT version of The Outpost or a DIFFERENT Moloch, I don’t have a problem with that. These are fractions that we invented for the Neuroshima RPG and any kind of booking or reservation is out of the question.

Today I will use that privilege myself, for the first time… So sorry FanTomas, I’m picking Mississippi. But you don’t have to worry about your divers as I have a totally different draft. Maybe we can overcome what was in the past: my Mississippi against yours? It’s a big river and it can fit a dozen of such packs.

Blank tokens will soon contain the first version of the army – the one taken from the notes. For sure 90% of the draft will land in the trash. Long months of tests and changes, hundreds of games played in each possible configuration await us.

Do I know what is it that I want to design? Sure. We described the Mississippi of the year 2050 in the core rulebook for Neuroshima RPG over ten years ago and for many more years we got deeper into this topic while preparing many other books. It’s not a pretty landscape along the blue, whispering river. Oh no, it’s not. It’s a different world separated as some kind of a Plan of Existence, as a terrifying Lovecraftian vision, full of all kinds of mutants and completely poisoned by Moloch. The gurgling and steaming toxins created a landscape similar to the surface of Venus.

Mississippi is a great scar of black ooze that divides the continent in half, with noxious gasses constantly floating above. Where under the hulls of armored boats, things live and slip through that are better left alone.

Mississippi is the mutated people covered in waterproof rubber coats who almost never take off their gas masks. Ordinary people wouldn’t even last few hours over there.

Trust me I know how it looks in 2050. I’ve got the draft of the fraction and their unique abilities. I know the system of designing Hex add-ons inside out. And yet I feel as if I were on a beginning of a new adventure.

I’ve got no idea what will be the final result of all this and I love this stage.

Alright, it’s time to finish, time to scribble some blank tokens with the first version of Mississippi.

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