Dark Portents is a traditional 'rank and flank' fantasy miniatures game, updated and with an emphasis on tactical choices and a grounding in real historical techniques, without slowing play down and keeping all players active in the game. It is designed to use an army of miniatures, but flexible enough for players to integrate their current collections, even across several different fantasy lines and sources, and playable at either 28mm or 15mm.
Dark Portents has been written from the ground up with a philosophy that tactical options are a consequence of detail, but that this detail can be integrated into the game system to keep the game fast and playable, and also that the game should reflect what we know about historical warfare as much as possible - tactics should be intuitive but not prescribed, and you shouldn't have to be an expert in every nuance of the rules to know if an action is a good idea on the table.
So, what makes Dark Portents different?
- An intuitive magic system with depth. All of the usual aspects of spell casting are integrated into a single set of dice rolls, including the interplay between the level of the caster and the level of the spell. Spell casting also includes a 'push your luck' element and an ability to battle for mastery in caster duels.
- An innovative dual combat system. While most systems use a single method to resolve close combat actions, Dark Portents represents this in two ways. Engaged units are in formation, the two units separated, thrusting spears and swords at each other, and throwing stones and harsh language. When this breaks, the units are in melee, no longer ranked up and now a swirling sea of violence, friends and foe slashing at each other. This determines how effective weapons are and how they behave in combat. A spear might be great when units are engaged, but that advantage of reach becomes a liabilty in the chaos of melee combat.
- Unit formations. Training and discipline determines how a unit of troops acts on the field of battle. Highly drilled troops form tight ranks and mutually protect each other with shield walls while looser formations are more flexible to move and react and are not as vulnerable to enemy arrow volleys.
- Fast paced but tactical. Dark Portents keeps the gameplay as streamlined as possible, to keep the game active and dynamic and facilitate large scale games. Combat is resolved with two sets of dice rolls - to determine striking and wounding the opponents - and the game utilises alternating activations to keep both players engaged in the action.
- Real world grounding. As much as possible, the rules reflect what we know about historical battles. Heavy armour provides greater protection against a proficient opponent, but restricts movement and can make the wearer easier to hit. Will this added resistance protect you when the opposing giant swings a tree trunk at your head, or are the chances of survival better to stay agile and not get hit in the first place? How did ancient armies deal with enemy elephants?
- A background narrative where there are no good guys, only races trying to survive where survival is often a zero sum game. The narrative follows a major war. Old alliances are stretched, old adversaries still sore and bitter, and many grudges will not be forgotten for generations. Each faction is represented by several sub-factions, meaning that most existing fantasy miniatures - and even many historical miniatures - will be able to find a home in the background lists and stories.
Dark Portents is for gamers that enjoy the spectacle of a full fantasy army at war, relish the challenge of testing your tactical ability, and want the freedom to use miniatures from any source to create a truly unique force on the table.