We had a very good response to the first interview so it looks like we’ll be continuing the segment. This time we’re going with someone a little more focused on rules. cianty is one of the creators of the Border Town Burning supplement to Mordheim. He has had his hand in various other Mordheim projects as well. He is also a moderator on Tom’s Boring Mordheim Forum, the Specialist Games Forum and the Mordheim Yahoo group. On top of all this, he does excellent work with miniatures and especially terrain. So, here we go with our second interview!
What is your real name?
Where are you from?
I’m from Germany.
What is your occupation?
I’m a computer scientist. Pretty geeky, hu?
How long have you been interested in the tabletop hobby and how did you get into it?
My friends were playing Warhammer 5th edition and one day they brought some issues of White Dwarf to school. These issues featured the newly released Beastmen army and I loved the models in the magazine. Then I bought a Beastmen horde boxed set and since that time I’m a Beastman chieftain at heart.
What games do you play? What armies do you play in those games?
When GW released Mordheim I immediately switched and never looked back at large scale army battles. I guess it’s because of the campaign system that makes it easier for me to get over lost battles. My first Mordheim warband was Marienburgers but I quickly switched to Reiklanders. When Beastmen were released in Town Cryer magazine I played them immediately, of course. I also tried a number of other warbands including Undead and Da Mob, but I didn’t really like the feel of any of those, so I sold the models to friends. Then there’s BTB for which I have pretty much all warbands, except for Maneaters and the Restless Dead. My favourite warbands now are Battle Monks and Marauders. My favourite official warband is Reiklanders. To me Mordheim is about human adventurers with nothing to lose, pursuing fame and fortune, and I think Mercenaries capture the original Mordheim feel the best.
I also like playing Legends of the High Seas from Warhammer Historical, for which I have a pirate crew, beautifully painted by Thomas List, as well as Chinese pirates, mostly painted … erm… black. My backlog is horrible.
Can you explain a bit about what Border Town Burning is and what changes there are from the original Mordheim rules for those who are not familiar with it?
BTB is a supplement to Mordheim, like the Empire in Flames supplement. It introduces a new setting with all the setting-specific rules you need such as themed random happenings, new exploration charts, weather rules, etc. Then there are new warbands and scenarios, of course. The main feature is the new campaign system, though, where each player picks an objective which allows the warbands to actually achieve fame, fortune or world domination or whatever they are after. I always found that Mordheim lacked rules which allowed players to actually feel that they are achieving something during the campaign and not just playing game after game with no clear-cut goal in sight. The objectives provide this feel by rewarding warbands with special rules or unlocking certain special scenarios, which thus become unique events in the campaign. This way you can see a narrative develop with your games, without the need for a game master to statically make it up for you.
How did you come up with the idea for Border Town Burning? What were your inspirations?
It started with the Marauders of Chaos warband I wrote for a friend, who was playing a Chaos Warrior army in Warhammer. He wanted to play a respective Mordheim warband so I wrote the band for him. Somehow we then came up with the idea of doing a Battle Monk warband – a human warband that is actually good in close combat and not the typical bunch of jacks-of-all-trades. Somehow it went from there… we just added things that we would like to see in our own games and, inspired by the existing alternative settings of Lustria and Khemri, it ended up as this monstrous 200-page supplement.
How long did it take to get Border Town Burning from concept to playable?
I wrote the marauders list in 2004 I think and the full supplement was released in January this year. It was a continuous process, always adding little bits of rules as we came across them. We never had a certain goal in mind that we wanted to achieve or that we worked towards. In the beginning, we didn’t want to produce a full-fledged supplement. Essentially it’s just a bunch of house rules that grew to what they are now. The concept of alternative settings such as Lustria, Khemri and then Empire in Flames gave us the idea to tie it all together instead of having a loose collection of rules.
What was the hardest part of creating your own custom supplement?
There was no hard part really, as I didn’t try to come up with rules for the sake of rules writing. During gameplay we came up with ideas and concepts, things that we would like to see implemented. Then I simply wrote rules to represent these things. Of course, they didn’t always work out right away. We added the customizations and adjusted them until we found they worked and improved our games in a fair and fun way.
Do you have any suggestions for someone who might want to embark in creating their own game or supplement?
Keep playing your game. Don’t be sitting in your armchair and making up things. You need to play to see if things work out and they rarely do the way you intended them to. Besides, playing and chatting with your mates is the biggest source of creativity and inspiration. Of course you need moments of tranquility to ponder on how to put the rules so that they achieve what you want them to. But you have to play to see if they work and you have to play to find out what you are missing in the first place. If you aren’t really missing anything, you better not meddle with the rules at all.
Do you have any rituals while modeling/painting such as listening to specific music?
I usually do my painting and building while inattentively watching TV in the evening/night. Sculpting I do in front of the laptop as I need to look at photos and sketches while doing it. This allows me to play music. Nothing special though. Just the normal stuff I listen to.
What are some of your influences or where do you draw your inspiration from? Are there any books, movies, art, or other sources that have had an impact on your work? Whose work has had an impact on you and your projects?
This is hard to generalize. For warbands I often go with the standard paint jobs or something similar. If I am playing in a certain universe, then I like to have my minis match the given background. Pretty unimaginative, yeah.
For rules, I think the biggest inspiration is playing. Nothing is as inspiring as playing a game, experiencing cool situations and communicating with your fellow gamers. It’s those situations that breed the best ideas.
What is your favorite piece that you’ve done or what are you most proud of? What do you like about it?
This is probably the Dragon Monk on Temple Dog, which won me 2nd place at the first Golden Tom competition. The incitement of the competition really made me push myself and I feel the mini is a huge step forward in my painting. That’s why I like it personally. However, since then I don’t feel like having made any improvements so I probably need another competition (are you reading this, Tom?).
What is your favorite piece that someone else has done? What do you like about it?
Hmm… This is difficult. I really cherish the Chaos Warrior given to me by Alan and the Liche conversion by Donald Van Ness (“UnderBheit” on TBMF). I also love my Blackguard with a tamed monkey on his back by Tom Goudsblom (“Tagnator” on TBMF). And there are the many beautiful minis painted by Thomas List. I guess my favourite is Captain Tom, painted by Tom. An unbelievably detailed pirate figure sculpted by Tom Meier. Tom did an outstanding paint job on that miniature.
What is your favorite part of the hobby? Do you prefer working with terrain or miniatures?
I enjoy every part of the hobby really: playing, painting, terrain building, converting and recently sculpting. Terrain is probably what I enjoy the most, though, outdone only by actually playing the games.
What technique has given you the most trouble? Do you have any tips for someone else who might be struggling with it?
The dice rolling technique probably. But I won’t tell you once I solved that, he he.
Concerning painting, well, I’m a lame painter. The only technique I can properly pull off is dry-brushing. I think the most important thing is patience and attention to detail. No matter whether you are painting, converting, sculpting or even writing rules, never rush your work and if you find yourself in a hurry, step back, let it sink. It’s a hobby so it’s about fun and having a good time. The journey really is the reward. It’s kinda like sex, there is no prize for being the fastest
I always try to share my painting experiences on the forum and on my blog. This may be helpful for others, it sure is for myself, when I need to look up how I did something specific a while ago. My memory fails me all too often.
Are there any areas that you’d like to improve on?
Absolutely. Since I am interested in every aspect of the hobby I want to improve on all of them. I recently started sculpting a bit more and I definitely want to improve on that. My other major focus is on terrain building and painting. You can never learn enough.
I know that in addition to BTB you also worked on the Letters of the Damned. Have you worked on any other supplements or publications in the past? Do you currently have any plans for future supplements or publications?
I only contributed to the Letters of the Damned on a somewhat regular basis. It really was Brahm’s brainchild and pet project. He allowed me to write a little column in his magazine where I talked about Mordheim on a sort of meta-level. And I contributed a little to the Nemesis Crown supplement for Mordheim, not as much as I would have like to, though, as I had very little time back then. I guess my only real noteworthy contribution to that project was the layouting of the PDF files. And maintaining the FAQ. As for currently… well, there will be a follow-up Mordheim supplement to BTB, which I am very excited about. I can’t spill anything on that, though, because Stu (Werekin) would probably kill me.
What projects are you working on currently? What would be your dream project?
My major pet project now is a fantasy skirmish game called Gierburg. It will be a campaign-driven skirmish game with even more emphasis on the story and character development than you know from Mordheim. I’m definitely taking my time with this project so it is unlikely to see completion any time soon. It sure is my dream project as I am doing what I want, the way I want it, and I’m working on it with friends. What more could you ask for?
What other hobbies do you have outside of tabletop gaming?
Time permits so little and wargaming does take up most of my free time. Of course I also enjoy going to the cinema, concerts, pubs and stuff like that. I used to play Magic a lot (Legacy and Vintage) as well as computer games (Lucas Arts adventures, Baldur’s Gate, Age of Empires), but no more today. My girl-friend does have the highest priority, going out, traveling.
Do you have a website that people can check out if they are interested in knowing more about you or seeing more of your work?
You can check out my wargames blog at http://cianty-tabletop.blogspot.com. You can also find me posting on Tom’s Boring Mordheim Forum regularly as well as occasionally on the Lead Adventure Forum.
Anything else about yourself that you care to share?
Enjoy the hobby! It’s all about fun. Always make sure that you are painting, building, writing for yourself. If you and your mates are having a good time, then you are playing it right, no matter the rules.
There will definitely be more interviews to follow, so keep an eye out! As always, if you have suggestions on questions, people of interest, or just about anything at all then please contact us by email or leave a comment here!
Also, I’ve got yet ANOTHER new feature planned for the site which should be coming soon hopefully. This one is specifically Mordheim related. Don’t forget to stop back!