Designing the Gangs of Dreadlands
Here's some information on the game and how we designed the various gangs in the game and how they operate in Dreadlands...
The Gangs are the core of Dreadlands. They are who you play and constantly battle against. When designing the gangs, we started off with a few keywords representing the feel of each gang faction. We knew from the start, we kind of wanted to saviour the crazy Krater feeling we had, but at the same time try and make it a little different and a bit more serious.
We decided quite early in the development stage that the gang you control wasn’t going to be your typical hero type squad, but a gang of miscreants and misfits, banded together to increase their chances of survival in this harsh world and maybe, just maybe, get their hands on enough Glow to end up filthy rich and retire in style!
We also wanted to give all gangs some sort of negative trait to give them a bit more personality. For the Scrappers we have their whiskey drinking and intense rivalries, the Tribe-kin are heavy users of a wide range of Natural Stimulants (think post apocalyptic magic mushrooms), and the Skarbacks are trapped in another kind of addiction circle, trying to improve their cybernetically enhanced bodies, or at least, keep them from deteriorating.
Once we nailed down the keywords for each gang, we tried finding similar references in other games and fiction, as ideas are easier to grasp if you can relate to something you already know. This made it a lot easier to present our ideas to our publisher and concept artists. For example, “Elves on drugs” was one of the taglines we used to describe the Tribe-kin.
We kind of knew what we wanted gameplay wise at this point but we needed a good backstory for the gangs to make them truly come alive. Magnus - our game writer, did an excellent job coming up with mad-cap ideas for the backstories of our Gangs. For instance, did you know the Scrappers have scottish ancestry? Well, they do and that is why they talk the way they talk. How they actually ended up in the Dreadlands is a long story which you will, in time, learn about by playing the game.
From that point, we started concepting, trying different stuff to capture the weird and slightly darker, less humourous, Dreadlands feel we were after. We were also lucky enough to get one of the original concept artist from Krater onboard who really understood from the start what we were aiming for.
Early concept of the Tribe-kins
So this is what we came up for the initial gangs
The High Plains Scrappers are a hot-tempered bunch of junk-tinkerers, able to wondrously turn any kind of scrap into a lethal weapon. They fight by utilizing their extraordinary engineering skills, using a combination of Mines, Poisons and other exotic contraptions.
Scrappers keywords: Crazy mechanics, Scavengers, Junkyard,
Tagline: Drunk Skavens
The Nature worshipping Tribe-kin use their mysterious powers to command ferocious beasts and deploy Totems. Their Hunters, having honed their skills on prey (both human and beast) are masters of long range sniping. Extremely territorial and aggressive, do not make the fatal mistake of mistaking the Tribe-kin for some gaggle of harmless tree-huggers.
Tribekin keywords: Nature, Beasts, Totems, Druids
Tagline: Elves on Drugs
Last, but far from least, we have the Skarbacks, a seasoned wasteland gang who have already left a lasting impression on the Dreadlands since their arrival. Being former slaves who rose up against their oppressors, the Skarbacks are a staunchly independent breed of roughnecks. Heavily ingrained in a never say die, freedom or death culture, they favor a volatile mix of toughness, brawn and firepower over more subtle approaches like stealth and guile.
Skarback Keywords: Brutes, Cybernetics, Former Slaves,
Tagline: Orks on steroids