Come and sit, come be warm,
down here by the fire.
The storm eternal blows outside,
while we sit near the fire.
If you hear Them, go take cover,
and be sure to douse the fire.
Stay still and quiet, for death has come:
There are Harvesters in the Spire.
-Children’s rhyme, origin date unknown
Terafie: World Engine is a skirmish wargame I’ve been working on for a couple years, in a unique setting that combines dieselpunk and horror as humanity seeks to survive on an icy planet, beset by horror and death on every side.
The world of Terafie is an enigma, and an icy, forbidding surface conceals the vast mechanisms and devices underground. The planet is seemingly an enormous machine on a scale that dwarfs imagination, and humanity has only begun to scratch the surface of the true extent of the planetary device.
More pressing to the myriad of people trying to scratch out an existence is the untold number of threats that beset this huddled bastion of life. The very planet itself is covered with a huge omnipresent storm, ranging from light breezes and gentle snowfall to raging blizzards that can freeze extremities in seconds or cut men to ribbons with icy shards. The planet is ringed with a belt of a shattered moon, which occasionally rains to the ground in huge silica blades capable of bisecting bunkers or the protective city walls. Even the mechanisms beneath the ground can be deadly, catching men between teeth of house-sized gears and crushing them to bloody pulps with ease.
The planet is not uninhabited, either. There is a race of mechanical monstrosities, known simply as Harvesters, who seem to view life as an inconvenience, and rip apart humans with warped metal talons or blades that a human would be unable to even lift. They skitter through the ice and cold, unfeeling and focused on slaughter, and overwhelm defenses in mere seconds and with little noise other than the tinkling of their metal claws on the ice and stones. From the icy waters and sub-zero lakes of coolant come the Gilded; Enormous once-recognizable creatures, now warped by their exposure to the mutagenic silverdust, they can emerge from once-safe wells and rivers to spread their infection through sleepy towns, leaving little more than more of the accursed silverdust and the entrails of their victims before they slip back into the black waters.
On top of all this is the infighting between the various spire-cities on the surface has further shattered humanity, as the divides between the craftsmen and peasant laborers and the tyrannical merchant-lords and noble families grows daily. Countless conscripted men are sent out to die in waves against the seemingly-unstoppable Harvesters, diseased and abhorrent Gilded, or simply against their fellow humans. Some flee the cities, and either die in the cold wastes, or manage to make it to the shelter of a Nomad camp to join their cause. There are even rumors of bodies mutilated and displayed deep underground, where even the miners hesitate to venture.
This is Terafie, where a man can be freeze to death within seconds unprotected.
Terafie, where unfeeling creatures will slaughter you for the offense your warm pumping blood represents.
Terafie, where the dark corners of the pistons and gears underground hide more than oil and dust in the shadowed corners.
Terafie, where the idea of lasting peace is as hopeless as that of lasting warmth.
Pray the storm takes you first.
Terafie is a skirmish wargame, typically fought with between 2 to 15 models on a side. The gameplay revolves around players attempting to achieve secret objectives, and players get a set of event cards they can play through the course of the game based on which models they selected to be a part of their forces. Some creatures can deal damage that infects a model, gradually allowing the enemy player to take control of the infected model, while others allow for you to return dead models to “life” as their bodies are stitched together and filled with pistons and pulleys to enable them to attack their former brethren. The ever-present storm is capable of flaying flesh, so players have to weigh leaving the shelter of terrain or campfires with the risk of staying huddled and being trapped in a melee.
The play area is very small, just 2’x2′ at a basic 50 point game, so a game is quick, brutal, and usually over in half an hour to an hour. The primary mechanic uses players rolling pools of exploding d6s, which they form into pairs of 2d6. These pairs are rolled for the attacker, then defender, and compared to determine damage. This system enables an attacker to hedge their bet with several medium-power attacks, or one or two high-power attacks in an attempt to deal reliable damage, or take a target down in a flurry of blows.
The rules are available if you’d like to help out with the beta!
Eventually, the game is planned to be Kickstarted, along with an accompanying line of 3D-models suitable for printing from Shapeways or your own home 3D printer. I do highly appreciate the value of free rules and the future of 3D printing, so there will be the basic version of the rules (No images or fluff) available forever, along with a limited set of 3D model poses as well.