Now that the Fort Alice Sourcebook is out, I can share some of the extra items that didn’t end up fitting into the final version of the book. For this post, I’m going to be handing it over to Joel Fowler (or as you may know him on Discord as The British Joel), who did the writing for us on the Zulu chapter (and a fantastic job at that in my opinion). He’s continuing on with us writing for the Saurids Sourcebook as well, so if you enjoy what he has put together for us, more of it is coming. Without further ado, take it away, Joel.
Okay first things first the Zulu Chapter of Fort Alice is my first published writing project for, well, anything that wasn’t a blog or message board thread. However there were a few things I wrote that didn’t make the final draft of the book. So in the manner of a DVD extra I present the missing scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor.
In writing the Zulu chapter for Fort Alice, I learnt a lot of things about the culture. Most notably I found out that a lot of King Shaka’s rise to rulership and creating the Zulu Nation out of the tribes in the area he lived in was based on his drive to improve on how his tribes made war. He shortened the Zulu Spear crating the Ikwla, making it from a long (6ft) somewhat unwieldy weapon, to a shorter (3-4ft) faster weapon, that while it lost reach makes up for it in speed and versatility. He also changed how the Zulus used their shields, making them more effective by angling them and actively moving them rather than keeping them static. This willingness to innovate, sparked ideas and became a main thrust of inspiration behind the Zulus of the Gruv. And isn’t the 1879 setting one of invention and exploration?
So with this in mind, adding in a desire to keep their own identity the Zulus became a strong ally of the Empire, if not as tractable and pliable as some would like. I wanted to keep the classic image of the Zulu present, as the setting would be no fun if everyone looked the same, but flavour it in with innovations of their own rather than British technology. I added in the Bandersnatch so they had a local big cat to hunt, given a terrible dearth of leopards in the local environs of the Gruv. Though there are no stats for those in the Fort Alice Sourcebook (hopefully they will turn up, but in the mean time if you can find an incredibly dangerous cat with green and brown striped fur and a spiky tail in a FASA product I suggest you start there for stats) [Quick aside from Brad: We’re planning on doing a Creatures of the Gruv book down the road and are planning to put them in there]. I also thought about local materials and the obvious answer to that was using the hide of dinosaurs (or near dinosaur like creatures like the Moschops) to make shields. Who doesn’t want a dinosaur hide shield?
Dinosaur Hide Shield
Physical Defense: 3
Mystic Defense: 2
Initiative Penalty: 2
Shatter Threshold: 25
Cost: £10/£4 to Zulus
Obviously, the innovation couldn’t just be limited to just a shield right? So given in our history the Zulus use guns (in real history they also started using firearms) and have a regiment of the British army which will want to kit them out as standard as possible, I figured that the Zulus would look into a way to make their rifles also work as spear. Thankfully the bayonet already exists, so I figured the Zulus would just make sure they always had it fixed onto their rifle. Oh, and I figured that since the Zulus prided themselves on foot speed they would end up using cavalry carbines, which are more compact and get in the way less when running. It’s a bit lighter than a carbine and bayonet (short sword), but that’s because the permanent attachment means you can shed some weight, and has higher STR and DEX minimums as the oddities of its balance will make it harder to use.
Damage Step: 4
STR Minimum: 11
Damage Step: 7
Success Bonus: +4
STR Minimum: 11
DEX Minimum: 12
Rate of Fire: 1
Short Range: 40
Long Range: 150
Cost: £8/£5 to Zulus
Outside of equipment, I wanted to add a couple of things that showed how the Zulus worked in war (Tribal warrior and Mystic Warrior probably cover the bases for playing a fighting Zulu) and the most needed thing was something to cover the incredible foot speed Zulu troops could maintain. So along came a Skill Knack to allow a Zulu to cover close on fifty miles in a day (which is a historical figure).
Required Rank: 5
Strain: 1 per hour
While this Skill Knack is in use, the overland speed of the character is doubled.
The other knack I hoped to sneak in was one from my home games, mostly so that the Zulus could do cool things with their spear-carbine.
Skill: Second Attack/Second Shot/Second Weapon
Required Rank: 7
The character can use the base Skill in addition to any other standard action rather than just an attack of the listed type. The weapon (if any) used must be in hand already. This Knack can be bought separately for each Skill, and only allows the appropriate type of attack when being used.
Oh, and a last titbit. If you want to see the Zulu way of war being shown at it’s scary best, I suggest you look at the Aiel in the Wheel of Time Series, which I had recently read when I started researching Zulus. Boy did the Horns and Body set of tactics feel familiar…