Preview: Marcus Berger

“Wait, a character model that isn’t Elizabeth? Have you gone nuts?”
I mean, “gone?” Hardly. “Even more?” Haha, yeah.

Lieutenant of the Cinderfane Paths™

This render is a Work-in-Progres. Final scale pending. Not currently available for sale. Sculpted by Aaron Ruiz.

Lieutenant Marcus Berger, formerly of the Neo European Empire’s famous Shieldbreaker Squadron–though, they are more readily remembered as “oathbreakers,” now; a fact Marcus takes rather personally.
The lovely Aaron Ruiz did a wonderful job with this render. You can see the attachment ports on the breastplate–standard slots for attachments and equipment options. We’ll be using something similar on all future models, particularly the scrubbo variants.

Concept Art

Vanguard MKIII ACS. Concept art by Cameron Nissen. Copyright 2019© Metal Neko Games

Cameron, you’re still awesome.
The MKIII was redesigned by Marcus himself–his plans were later stolen and distributed across Europe and Northern Africa, of course. With help from the enigmatic “Fourth,” he replaced the thin Antimony pumps and alchemical regulators for more robust–and crude–lines of the purest Magnesium-Azothite compounds to keep him fighting, consequences be damned.
But we’ll talk more about that another time. To round out our Launch Weekend, enjoy the newest short story. I hope you’ll find it illuminating on the Qhurothi cult that helped establish the Cinderfane Paths.

Like What You See?

Tell us what you think of the designs in the comments below! And checkout our friends at Metaloakcastingstudios.com before the weekend is out for your first chance at the Event Exclusive Elizabeth Sculpt!
Enjoy the story.

The Tao of Cinders

Written by: Eevi

Breathe–just breathe. Release control, release your hold on the self. Release your breath, your self, to the universe around you. This is the first tenet.

Dusk fell, the planet’s sun dipping lower behind the distant mountain range. The clouds lazed-about onwards, carried forth by the softest of winds–the very breath of the world. The surface of the pond scattered with sudden energy as a bird took wing, marring the crystalline water with the passion of its flight.
Heron, a freshwater fisher native to the Eastern portion of this continent. Known for its–
Breathe. Let go of distractions, of thought and action. Let go of all plans and think not of the path before you.
There are no threads pulling you forward, just your breath on the wind.

The flames of coming night reached out from behind the mountaintops, like fingers burning orange and red across the sky. Soon, they reached the temple, signalling the beginning. As one, the breath of seven filled the garden–slowly, deliberately filling the air with their presence. With the final coming of night, the First drew his blade and plunged into the pit of coals. Magnesium coils burned around his arms, power pumping forth with every breath. Then, the Second, the Third, the Fourth arose from the circle–each adding their blades to the growing column of flame. 

Empty yourself of yourself–what does that even–just, just remember to breathe. That’s what she said, yeah? ‘Breathe yourself out into the universe, and let it fill the emptiness. Give in to the energy of the universe.’ 
Your energy is finite, the universe is infinite. That is the first tenet.

The Fifth and Sixth arose from their observance as the pillar peaked at the temple’s height. The Seventh approached from behind, a curved, hooked sword–a khopesh–in her ashen hands. With a gentle tug at his restraints, she pulled Marcus to his feet–the alchemical tubing, machinery, all falling away as she cut him loose.

“Walk with me, son of the empire.” Her voice bounced with anticipation. Vigil stepped aside, waving Marcus forward. Towards the flames.
As they walked, the Fifth and Sixth followed, their blades aloft, their steps measured, perfectly in sync with each other.

Exhale the finite, breathe in the infinite. Become the infinite. Breathe–and become the breathless.

The column of flame danced and swirled as the collective breath of the Cinderfane released the energies bound within them. Red and orange lights, black soot, and shadows of blue and white–all filled the temple garden as the heat withered the green away with reckless abandon.
Marcus stood before the fire, inhaling the uncontrolled energies, feeling, for the first time, the coils around his body come to life–pumping the alchemical compounds through his blood. It burned–his blood, his skin, his thoughts and emotions, his very breath all seared, radiating light and heat as the energies filled him.
The First spoke a command, and Vigil tossed him forward. Marcus stepped through the flames and was no more.

To walk the Cinderfane Paths is to be consumed by purifying flames. Breathe out the finite energies of the self and be filled by the truest energies of the universe. Energy is passion. Passion is breath.

As the flames faded, he arose anew, ash-covered, glowing with alchemical fire. Marcus, former son of the empire, had been burned away, leaving only a singular passion–leaving only Vengeance.

Preview: Elizabeth Radcliffe

Hey, might as well reveal her normal sculpt as well, right?

Captain of the Blood of Croatoa™

Proportions identical to the Event Exclusive version. 40mm to the eyes. Not currently available for sale. Sculpted by Aaron Ruiz.

There she is–fully adorned in her custom Vanguard MKII Alchemical Combat Suit (ACS for short) drawing the mystical bow, Windraker.
I’m crying proud tears of joy.

Alchemical Combat Suits

We’ve mentioned these a few times now. The members of each Mercenary Company wear an ACS that was custom-designed (or designed from scratch) for them by their individual sponsors.
The Vanguard MKI was developed by alchemists and engineers in the North American Alliance as part of their pre-invasion efforts during the Great War. The first wave of Vanguard-equipped soldiers engaged the Empire’s forces in a surprise attack. While the MKI was designed exclusively for use by the *REDACTED INFORMATION*
Hey, what gives?
Oh fine.
The MKII retains the original design’s emphasis on Antimony pathways, allowing the wearer to safely tap into the element’s alchemical properties that increase physical strength and induce a controlled rage state–and sometimes cause you to *REDACTED INFORMATION*
You’re no fun.
Let’s just say that the NAA 111th Shocktrooper Corps has a well-deserved reputation for brutality.

Concept Art

Vanguard MKII ACS. Concept art by Cameron Nissen. Copyright 2019© Metal Neko Games

Cameron, you’re awesome.
Elizabeth won’t be the only character to wear a version of this armor–and it’ll be eventually be an option for the unnamed scrubbos that complete a Mercenary Company on the job!
But, more on that another time.
Check back tomorrow for another preview post to round out our Gencon/BlogLaunch Weekend!

Like What You See?

Tell us what you think of the designs in the comments below! And checkout our friends at Metaloakcastingstudios.com before the weekend is out for your first chance at the Event Exclusive Elizabeth Sculpt!

Happy Launch Day!

I’m not scared, you’re scared.

Oh, and, happy GenCon! Check out the end of this post for an Event Weekend Exclusive.

Alright, Let’s Do This

We’re officially launching Metal Neko Games and project STARFALL™ as of today! I can no longer run from my responsibilities, haha ahaha… ah…
Help me.
In all seriousness, I can’t be more excited to see this finally coming to fruition. Last night, I held the very first cast of the very first model in my hands for the first time. That’s quite a few ‘firsts.’

While, rationally, I know we’re still a long way off before I’ll be able to walk the aisles of a hobby store and see my logo far too many times than can possibly be good for me, staring at those cooling hunks of metal made it all seem so much closer than I’ve ever dreamed.
There were problems, of course. Minor splotches that were missed in cleaning; the hem of the dress formed incorrectly. All the same, I found the moment personally gratifying–rewarding, even. We’re still early in the development stage of the game itself, of course, but seeing the physical results of our efforts and designs was, in a word, motivating.
I was surprised to realize that finding room for improvement quickly became a driving force behind our continued work and design efforts. It’s a good feeling.

The Game

We’ve known since the beginning that we wanted to take a setting that we develop through multiple game systems. There are plans in motion for an RPG, a large-scale army game, and eventually Victorian Steam Ships in Space–with ridiculous weaponry, of course!
Early on however, we decided we wanted to start with the small-scale skirmish game. This would allow us to explore our design concepts in a small, controllable environment and give us the opportunity to produce larger models with display-quality details.
Bigger is better, right?
STARFALL: Age of Mercenaries™ is still a few months away from any serious public/semi-public play-testing, but I wanted to share a bit about the structure of the game and our approach to distribution (when that becomes relevant, anyway).
A game of AoM consists of two teams of five characters controlled by opposing players, representing members of a chosen Mercenary Company–the names of a few of these are listed under the image gallery. Each team has three named, unique characters: a Leader, a Lieutenant, and a Specialist. The other two characters are unnamed scrubbos designed by the players themselves. Each Company will have a limited list of basic profiles, upgrade options, equipment, and alchemical nonsense from which the player can build these two scrubbos to fit their play-style.
From a logistical standpoint, this means that our “Faction Starters,” so to say, will consist of the three named models for beginning play. The sculpts for the named models are, of course, more intricate, and more, well, specific, to the character. The scrubbo models, however…
That’s a surprise for another day.
A game consists of 2-4 stages of a Narrative Scenario. With the exception of the final stage for most scenarios, stages are not timed nor paced out over a number of round–you play until the story moves forward.
Organized play and Competitive play will have their own scenarios designed to be conducive to their respective audiences/venues while keeping with the same basic spirit.
Why Narrative Scenarios, as opposed to asymmetrical goals or other more ubiquitous War Game tropes?
In short, I like coming away from the gaming table with a good story to tell. After a while, “my dice rolled better/worse and then the clock ran down,” starts feeling too repetitive. I crave those cool moments in games that have everyone groaning or cheering; those moments of collective “Awesome” that keep me coming back to the table.
Sure, when the game begins, both players know what will happen at each stage of the scenario–and how to progress the game along. However, if your MacGuffins and your Special Buttons That Just Need A Good Pushing are more than just a simple Objective Zone template, it adds an element of story that makes each game memorable.
But, more on that another time.

The First Model

Event Exclusive Alternate Sculpt: Elizabeth Radcliffe, Captain of the Blood of Croatoa, the Young Miss, the Huntress — and our first available Model. 40mm to the eyes.

I am happy to announce the availability of our first Event Exclusive sculpt through our friends at Metal Oak Casting Studios.
Elizabeth Radcliffe, the first Captain for the Blood of Croatoa company. You’ve probably seen her face before: we’ve previously previewed her as a bust! This is an alternate sculpt with the Young Miss outside of her personal Alchemical Combat Suit. While it isn’t “Limited Edition,” per se, it is only available during Event weekends!
We’ll be revealing more about her history and her role with the Croatoans in the coming weeks.

More to Come This Weekend!

Check back Saturday and Sunday for more updates and sculpt previews. Sunday, we’ll have another short story for you introducing the first Mercenary Company!

Sculpt Available Until 9 am 8/5/19

metaloakcastingstudios.com/collections/catalog

The Origins of STARFALL™

Lacking in any better ideas, we drew inspiration from an important event in mammalian history: the Chicxulub asteroid strike. The threat of mass-extinction does tend to get the blood flowing, you know.

We had a novel idea: a skirmish-sized miniatures game with the highest-quality, customizable miniatures that hobbyists and players-alike would be proud to call their own. Unfortunately, we collectively realized three important things:

A) We had access to a standardized production facility that could produce the quality that we envisioned.
B) Our personal histories in the gaming and hobby industries meant that we had contacts for sculptors, artists, and writers all looking for work. We could have a team together in days if wanted.
C) We had a working conceit for a fantasy skirmish game that was unique compared to popular games of the same genre–and, more importantly, was fun and engaging to play.

Suddenly, we were stuck with no excuses (oh no) and started actually making this happen (oh no!) and I had to come up with an interesting and viable setting (oh no!–but actually this time).
Of course, the usual happened: multiple revisions of a few different fantastical settings, the original game concept was scrapped with extreme prejudice, and a long streak of that wonderfully callous thing called LIFE doing its thing.
Eventually, once all of the skeletons were safely removed (read: explosives) from their respective closets, we came back together with a new conceit.

Let’s Make A Science-Fantasy Game Instead! It’ll Be Great!

“So what if, and hear me out, alchemical-nonsense; but also, spaceships.”
My eloquence never ceases to astound me.

As with many bad ideas, it started with a shower-thought. We updated some of our existing characters and game mechanics to reflect a 1930’s Alternate-Earth setting, reskinning magical elements to be “alchemical” in nature–meaning: it’s science, but crazier! A few more changes to account for semi-modern weaponry, categorizing power and ability sets based on a single periodic-element’s traditional alchemical connotations, and a dream involving a meteor giving someone visions of the future and STARFALL™ was officially born.
I made the mistake of arguing for a Roleplaying Game draft of the new rules first; but, luckily I saw the insanity of my ways and focused on the skirmish rules for STARFALL: Age of Mercenaries™ instead.
The RPG will still happen. Eventually.
Anyway. We focused on a few key points in designing the skirmish game:

A) Faction/alchemy designs that are open enough to allow for multiple play-styles while still retaining the original story-concepts.
B) Customized build-outs for characters designed by the player balanced against existing unique characters that make up the core of the team.
C) Fantastic, dynamic sculpts for our unique characters, and variable and customizable options for our generic characters.
D) Narrative-style missions with asymmetrical objectives.

We’re trucking-along nicely on the artistic side of things, I’d say; and, we’ll have playtest reports for the current rule-set soon!

We’re busy gearing up for Gencon, so there won’t be a new story today. If you’re coming to the convention, let us know! We might have some surprises with us to show off.
Next week, we’ll start delving into the design concepts behind a few of the alchemical-alloys driving the game as well as a first look at some of our upcoming miniatures for a few unique characters.

Welcome to Metal Neko Games

Also entitled, “Wait, who made me the captain of this ship and why did they think it was a good idea?”
Oh. Right.
I did.

Hello and welcome to the official Metal Neko Games™ blog! My name is Eevi, I am the Owner and Creative Lead for MNG and the STARFALL™ universe. We are a small team based out of St. Louis, MO with a long history of game design and production.

We’ve partnered with our friends at Metal Oak Casting Studios to produce a series of games based on a universe I have been developing–more on that later. They will also be hosting our products for sale on their shop when the time comes. Check them out at: http://www.metaloakcastingstudios.com

We have a long road ahead of us before STARFALL: Age of Mercenaries is fully published. Come back every week for updates, short stories, character biographies, art, sculpts and everything else! The Image Gallery tab is a bit spartan at the moment; but we’ll be updating it frequently.

Next week, we’ll be diving into the design of STARFALL™ with an overview of the high concepts and some world-building elements. Until then, please enjoy the first officially published short story from the universe and a glimpse into the inner-monologue of an important figure in the developing history of our alternate-Earth.

Enjoy~ ❤

__

THE WORLD TODAY

Written by: Eevi

    Armistice Day, November 11th, 1930–eleven years after the armadas arrived in Earth’s orbit, forcing an end to the Great War. The moment when the Neo-European Empire stilled its cannons for the first time in half a decade as the invading “Peace Forces” entered the skies above the capital still burns vividly in the Father-Knight’s memory. He remembers turning his eyes upward towards the burning sunset, watching in silence as his dreams of conquest dispersed before him like so much engine-wake. 

Today, the beloved alien warlord, Remulanus Domitius, Commander of the First Legion, Breaker of Stars, savior of all Terrans–whether they believe it or not–sits on his modest throne, playing the ever-gracious host to the armistice celebrants whom he welcomes with open arms–and, of course, with such glorious speeches as befitting this wonderful occasion. 

    Today, amongst the assembled world leaders, the official representatives of no less than three extraterrestrial powers, including a handful of legates from his own former home-world, and the throngs of scientists and military leaders from across this planet, he holds the singular honor–nay, the privilege–to open these peace proceedings by introducing the first graduates of the Mercenary Initiative. 

Nine teams of three, each sponsored by their governments to undergo the rigorous training deemed necessary before they would be allowed to represent the assembled peoples of this planet. They enter the grand hall together, wearing their newly established mercenary companies’ full regalia: the latest in Alchemical Combat Suits, redesigned for extreme environments–gleaming, brightly colored, and proud. More companies and more graduates will follow, but these newly christened mercenaries truly represent the best that the Earth has to offer–with some guidance form our new friends and allies.

Yes, yes, the Hegemony in particular has been quite helpful in developing this program in hopes of fostering future alliances. Without their timely interference, after all, who could say how different the world would be today? 

Truth be told, the Extraterrestrial-to-Terran ratio amongst the initial teams had been a matter of great discussion; though, he would admit that to none. The stipulation requiring at least twenty years of active involvement in Terran life had assuaged most of the outcry in his own nation. Regardless, the Father-Knight had successfully secured a fully Terran company for Neo-Europe’s first representatives–what more did he care?

Today, we, as Terrans, take this step forward towards rebuilding our home-world. We celebrate together, as friends and family, eager for this new era of peace and exploration. May today be remembered as the day we stood united behind our chosen few, and may these sons and daughters of the world make us proud as we take our place amongst the galactic powers. 

    Today, the Father-Knight stands, head held high to the faceless masses before him. He ignores the subtle jeers, the hateful stares of the so-called world powers that crumbled against his armies years before, the disingenuous slow-claps of the alien delegations self-corralled in the far corners of the room; today, he refuses to give them the satisfaction. 

But who could say what tomorrow would bring?