In the 90s, I published 23 issues of Michael T. Desing’s Army Ants comics… although the comic started out (for the first four issues) as a straight-out homage/parody of GIJOE, by issue 5 I’d begun to bring in elements of fantasy (Vault of the Drow-inspired stuff), issue 7 included a trip to ‘dinosaur island’, issues 8-9 included a battle with a cyborg arch enemy, issue 10 was a superhero parody, issue 11 included a fantasy tale of the distant past, and by the mid-teens I was deep into a storyline mixing the Karate Kid, pro wrestling and Star Wars. I have drafts for issues that never happened that included armored battlesuits and mechs.
The core game rules have always been approached from this ‘military first’ concept, with plans to build the world further as I went.
I never went.
This edition should fix that, shifting the focus to a “Challengers of the Unknown” with the ants representing normalcy in a wild, wide and chaotic back yard. Here’s a glimpse of how the game should appear… and an articulation of design goal #2: the game must be broad enough to allow for adventure far beyond ‘military’ adventures. The heroes may be a military unit, but they are a military unit in a world with a much wider range of adventure:
You’ve just stepped into a world populated by military ants who defend their hill and queen against unending threats to their security. This back yard harbors ladybugs who operate a massive intelligence network, spiders who dabble in sorcery, potato bugs who wield the martial arts and ancient mystical practices to defy the natural laws of the world; it has a wasp empire forcing its tyrannical grip upon all corners of the land; it has centipede overlords ruling over underground cities where gladiator pits set insect against insect; it has garter snakes of incredible wisdom hidden in its far reaches, primeval lizards prowling its lost wilds, ancient artifacts hidden in its distant ruins, and cybernetic anomalies that hard-wire innovative technologies into their carapaces to boost their natural abilities. It has fleas roaming the countryside, picking through the scraps of the unending war and forging mechanical oddities. It has mosquito mercenaries and a fallen fly kingdom. It has a trashcan city, a desolate sandbox, and a deadly fire pit. It has a deep well with hidden secrets. Its rain storms presage incredible floods, and its winters turn the back yard into a barren waste.
It’s a crazy place.
You know, the more I think about it, the more that I think the introductory adventure should be an exploration of an old kitchen sink sitting amid a scrap heap...