The Drowned and the Damned is an upcoming fantasy ship wargame from the creators of Pirates of the Dread Sea. We talk to Rich Chappell about TDatD's creation, plans, and his gaming history.
This article forms part of our Nautical Tabletop Month that's running across all of November. We're going to look at different nautical wargames and board games, as well as interview developers about capturing the sea feel on the tabletop. We'll also look at nautical factions in popular wargames along with tabletop accessories that are available to keep your hobby ship-shape. You can see all the articles here on the hub. So come aboard as we set sail and celebrate all games nautical in nature.
TechRaptor: Hi Rich. Welcome to our Nautical Tabletop Month on TechRaptor. You’re currently producing a fantasy ship wargame The Drowned and the Damned. Tell us about the game. What is the setting/backstory?
Rich Chappell: It’s set in what you might think of as a traditional fantasy world if that’s not an oxymoron. We already produce a fantasy skirmish game called Pirates of the Dread Sea. in that, we created The Dread Sea as an unexplored and mysterious place away from what was always referred to as The Known World. I thought of The Known World as being whatever the player wanted it to be, Middle-Earth or any other fantasy setting, so they could think of the Dread Sea as just off map and continue their adventures. This game takes place both in the Dread Sea and the known world, though, so we had to create our own version, which so far consists of kingdoms of men, elves, dwarves, and other races.
TR: What stage are the rules at and what can you tell them about us? What are the core mechanics? What will be used for tests? If dice, what dice will be used?
RC: It’s a very simple game to play, but with tactical depth, as you learn the intricacies of the options available to any fleet. Players take it in turns to act with one unit, either an individual ship or a squadron, at a time. During that phase, they can move and perform another action, such as shooting, ramming, reloading, etc D6 are used throughout. Your crew’s gunnery skill and the range determine the score required to hit, and the armor of your enemy defines the score required to damage. You then roll all remaining dice and the total score comes off either the ships’ Hull, Sail, or Crew score, depending on what was targeted.
There are also rewards for performing specific maneuvers or actions, for example, the elvish fleet has harpoonships and acrherships, if used together the admiral can get a bonus, such as allowing quicker reloading, or even an extra phase.
The rules are playable and being tested. There will initially be a set of Core Rules and then each fleet will come with its own stats, maneuvers, and any special rules.
TR: What different factions are going to be in the game?
RC: We’re launching with Elves and Dwarves. As I mentioned, it’s set in the same world as Pirates of the Dread Sea, which also features orcs and goblins, the undead, squid-headed humanoids called Skrier, Ratmen, and others. The options are pretty limitless where there is interest.
TR: How did the Drowned and the Damned come about? Where was the initial idea from?
RC: The specific idea definitely came out of a discussion around the setting of Pirates of the Dread Sea, although I already had an interest in naval wargaming and it was probably at the back of my mind for some time.
TR: Were you a fan of nautical games before? What did you play?
RC: Yes. When I was a youngster Man O’War was my favorite Games Workshop game, largely because you didn’t need to spend hundreds to play it. I was then away from wargaming for a long time and it was some 1:1200 Napoleonic era ships I saw that drew me back in at a time I was reading the Master and Commander novels. I wrote my own rules for that, and then got back into wargaming fully and left them for a bit, but also purchased Sails of Glory, Black Seas, and Cruel Seas more recently. I haven’t managed a game of Cruel Seas yet and though I enjoyed Black Seas the ships have spent more time as proxies for The Drowned and the Damned until we had our own. My dad is an engineer and has an interest in ships, though more so in steam trains which never quite rubbed off on me. But I certainly enjoyed building model boats with him when I was a kid and playing Great Naval Battles with him on the PC so that probably influenced me a lot, too.
TR: Tell us about your own gaming background. When did you start and what do you play now?
RC: I started, really, with Warhammer 40k via Space Crusade and Heroquest. I played most of the ‘90’s GW games but drifted into other interests in my teens. I kept being tempted to get back into specific games but it took a long time before I did. Since then I played Black Powder almost exclusively for a long time, then In Her Majesty’s Name caught my eye. This was the first time I had really played skirmish games with a small number of miniatures and indirectly lead to me writing Dead Earth Games’ first release, the post-apocalyptic game Across the Dead Earth. In all honesty, as much as I’ve continued to buy games and play the odd bit of 40k, more often than now I’m playtesting stuff of my own making.
TR: How are you looking to release the Drowned and the Damned? Kickstarter or pre-order? When are you looking at release?
RC: Kickstarter. Possibly as early as next Friday, the 20th of November. Certainly soon.
TR: What manufacturing will you be using for the ships?
RC: They will be 3D printed, which is a bit of a change for us, as everything has been metal before.
TR: There’s mention of STL files, are you looking at a produce at-home option for the game?
RC: Yes, absolutely. They come out really nicely from even a relatively cheap home printer too.
TR: You’re very active on your dedicated Facebook group and have put some polls for game mechanics. Is the community input important to you?
RC: Yes, very. Games are supposed to be enjoyed and we have every means at our disposal to get user and player feedback and do what we can to make games better and more enjoyable. There’s nothing better than hearing from people that they’ve enjoyed playing a game you thought up. Wargaming is all about community at the end of the day, now more so than ever.
TR: Thank you very much for your time Rich. We're really looking forward to seeing how The Drowned and the Damned does in Kickstarter.
You can join The Drowned and the Damned Facebook group, to keep up with its progress and see Rich's other work for Pirates of the Dread Sea here.