Category Archives: Skulldred

Skulldred and generic fantasy

I’ve been thinking about Skulldred a bit lately. One of the interesting things about it is that the setting is divorced from any particular fantasy setting. All games have abstractions in the form of rules, but most have a setting that is essentially a work of fiction. With all works of fiction come certain conceits unique to that work.  In the case of speculative fictions the conceits are obvious and hard to swallow. In order to get into Harry Potter for example you have to accept the conceit that there’s a secret wizard world full of people with spectacularly British names, among many others.

Skulldred has an abstract setting, as well as abstractions in the form of rules. I guess this is because the players have to be able to use any models that they like. The game is written with some broad fantasy conceits – for example there’s magic – but that’s about it. Other than that you are expected to just wave away the fact that your mushroom man and troll alliance is fighting a bunch of samurai rabbits. For the purposes of the game it doesn’t matter how or why they got there, or even where “there” is. Another game like this is Rick Priestley’s Fantacide.

I like it. It’s sort of like the way many ancient wargames work, such as De Bellis Antiquitatis. The players all know what a Frank is, and they all know what a Persian Immortal is, and so they just choose to ignore the potential crippling anachronism of those warriors facing one another in order to play a fun game.

It’s the same with Skulldred. I suppose it can only work because we know what “fantasy” broadly is, but the amazing thing is that just about anything is then up for grabs, because that’s part of what “fantasy” means.

I think it’s very interesting. Does it mean that the game is inherently story-telling? It certainly encourages it. It could be a lot of fun to invent a history for the mushroom-troll and samurai rabbit wars.

All the best,



Lately I’ve managed to get my workload under control and restore some balance to my life.  I’ve also stopped following Warhammer 40,000, at least for the moment.  I don’t like the current aesthetic much, and I really don’t like the excessive demands on my time and money.  I’ll still play with friends of course, but I haven’t bought anything for the game in nearly two years now.  I’ve been slowly working on scenery and models for Infinity, and looking around for a fun fantasy-themed game to get me inspired for painting a few miniatures.

A couple of weeks ago my friend Von who writes for the House of Paincakes blog network put me onto a miniatures skirmish game being developed called Skulldred.  I’m really excited about this project – so much so that I contacted the designer, Dave King, and asked how I could help.  It turns out he lives in Sydney, which is only an hour and a half from my town of Canberra, and he is planning a display board and some warbands for Cancon next year.  Hopefully by then I’ll have a warband ready to join in for the demo.

Here is a quote from Dave:

Skulldred is a fun fantasy skirmish game designed from the ground up to let you play with any miniatures you like.
Build unit profiles to conform to your miniatures, not the other way around. No army books, no unbalanced factions, no cheaty must-buy models.

I’ve always wished that the more mainstream miniatures games had some sort of “build a unit” option.  I think it would resolve a lot of balance issues by making the points system of the game transparent, as well as allowing more freedom for the player to use their imagination.

Anyway as I said I’m really excited about this game.  Now I have a system that gives me an excuse to paint any miniatures I want.  First up will be this Frost Giant Princess from Reaper:


All the best,