Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fan Submission: Opinion Editorial

What follows is a fan submitted Opinion Editorial, that does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Front-Toward-Enemy.us. At this time the editors here would like to invite everyone, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with this or the previous article on a similar subject, to feel free to leave comments, or send in their own submissions to: submissions@Front-toward-enemy.us.

For our original post look here: http://www.front-toward-enemy.us/2012/08... 

And now…

BLASPHEMY: A TALE OF TWO WORLDS

By, Rhydderch

I had some plans to submit a "Farewell to Tannhauser" article to Miah's blog in which I talked about the creativity involved in the game's background, but then I saw this on Miah's blog, a quote from Mr. Parente (the creator of Dust) on the suggestion of combining the Dust and Tannhauser worlds:

“July 14th, 2012:

BLASPHEMY!

l am sorry for having expressed my feeling towards that thing so directly, but you might be aware that THE GUY (referring to Didier Poli) creating THAT THING (referring to Tannhauser) has ripped it off after reading my comic book and after leaving Rackham.... Generally speaking l love it when you guys find good looking proxies and minis from other brands to use with DT.... it just THOSE Minis that l cannot stand... so a merging of THAT + DT is not possible... Please understand.”

Those are some fairly harsh words directed at the Tannhauser world! Now, I have no idea what happened at the inception of these two worlds, but I feel the backgrounds as they currently stand are very distinct aside from the overall theme and some ideas that are common in the genre:

Dust is a game about WWII, and its world has one major divergence from real life history - the existence and discovery of a Vrill (Alien) spaceship which sets in motion all of the other changes in the war. This basic premise is the root of the "weird" developments which currently consists of advanced tech such as lasers, powered suits, and walkers. The world also has Zombies and War Gorillas. These also rely on research developed from the Vrill discovery.

Tannhauser is a game about WWI (albeit the latter part of its history often mirrors events in WWII) and its history diverges from ours in multiple points with a timeline that starts in 6000 BC! It assumes the existence of magic, multiple mythologies, conspiracy theories, and alternative science. With so much variety in its background, Tannhauser is able to give each of its factions a different flavor.

The Union retrieves the wreckage of an alien ship at Roswell, which is used to develop new technology. The Reich has turned to the occult, researching alchemical magic, artifacts and portals to Hell. The Matriarchy, meanwhile, has turned to a combination of technology and the occult, allowing them to create machines empowered by the essence of the Slavic Gods. Finally, the Shogunate has enhanced its forces (which includes the obligatory samurai and ninja) with projects involving the essence of humanity and a summoned Oni.

Looking at the two worlds as they stand, they share a weird war theme and both include alien technology. However, beyond those two similarities which are not exactly new ideas, the worlds are actually quite different. I also feel that they have different strengths.

Tannhauser really builds on the weird aspect. It has a lot of the weird war clich├ęs: the Union has advanced technology, the Germans have turned to the occult, the Matriarchy have some electricity-based weapons, etc but also adds twists to these. Instead of the traditional laser, we have a weapon that creates an anomaly so that any projectile fired from it automatically returns to the weapon. Rather than the usual weird war German zombies, werewolves, and vampires, Tannhauser has Shocktruppen touched by demonic forces and a monstrous, weaponized golem created from its dead. The Matriarchy doesn't just have a technologically advanced battle armor; it has a technologically advanced battle armor that ties its wearer to the Slavic gods! These are the creative elements of Tannhauser that I like so much, the unique twists and ideas on a not-so unique theme. The weird elements of Dust almost seem somewhat tame in comparison.

On the other hand, Dust revels in the details of its world. Its history follows the mold of a true alternate history with all of the changes following from the initial divergence. In addition, its history evolves and grows with each new product released, telling the story of this alternate WWII from the discovery of the Vrill to the coup that allows the Blutkreuz Korps to take power in Germany to the battles in Madagascar and Africa. War is waged, boundaries are re-drawn, and resources are won or lost. Having one weird element also gives the world a more realistic feel. The result is a clear history, and a war that actually feels like a war. Tannhauser never really had that. The details of the war were always vague, to the point that the Tannhauser cause of WWI is never fully explained. Many of Tannhauser's battles are fought, not to slightly better one's position as usually occurs in wars, but to stop the other faction from claiming an advantage that
could unilaterally end the war... it almost has a fantasy feel to it, like the search for the One Ring!

Obviously, I feel that both worlds have their merits. What about you? Do you feel that the Tannhauser world feels like a rip-off of Dust? What do you like best and least about each world, and do you prefer one background over the other?

Also, for the record, with such distinct backgrounds, I completely agree with Mr. Parente that the two universes are incompatible. On the other hand, I do think a pathfinder game set in the Dust world would be viable.