rulebook cover


The Background

the world turns,
the sand falls,
and blood runs cold.
nothing lasts; nothing endures.
all is crushed,
and ground to dust beneath the wheels of time.
warriors, kings - kingdoms,
where time is the master we are all victims.
the only question is, who will be the first,
and who will be the last.
in the world of Chronopia
the battle to decide has begun.

- Chronopia, pg. 97

As the poem clearly tells, this is one dark, nihilistic, somber bitch of a world. Not the kind of place you'd like to live, but maybe a good place to get some gaming done, eh? Nearly one half of the lavishly illustrated rulebook is devoted to background and history, of which the condensed version is this:

  • the world is "a wild and untamed place," until a human leader - the Firstborn, also known as the One King - founds a mighty human empire.
  • obsessed with preserving his empire, the One King experiments with sorcery...and may inadvertently cause what he seeks to avoid...
  • a coalition of three peoples - the Blackbloods, Elves, and Dwarves - defeat and enslave humanity - the One King is slain.
  • centuries pass - the Triad coalition disbands.
  • the Four Prophets rise, enabling the One King's soul to be reincarnated as a newborn babe.
  • after much fighting, the One King founds the Second Kingdom, known as Chronopia
  • the Four Prophets rebel, following the Dark One and forming the Devout.

The rulebook introduces the five major races of Chronopia:

The FirstbornThe One King and his human subjects, whose religion and kingdom is called Chronopia. Their wizards - the Chronomancers - manipulate "the very fabric of time." The Sons of Kronos are barbarians loyal to the One King.
The ElvesElves recognize no national boundaries, and are themselves divided among several Noble Houses rather than having central leadership. The Lotus Flower is the center of their magic.
The DwarvesThe Dwarves were devastated when a magical cataclysm transformed their living gods into animalistic beings known as Totems. The various Clans live in great subterranean cities, called Ringholds.
The BlackbloodsThe union of Orcs, Goblins and Trolls under the tyranny of the Ogre Emperors. Their dress and customs have a strong Oriental/Arab influence.
The DevoutThe forces of "unearthly evil," led by the Four Prophets and worshipping the Dark One. The rank and file include Undead released by the Keepers of Hell, demonic warriors, and "perverted creatures" from other planes of reality.

The Armies

Roughly the last fourth of the rulebook serves as both a guide to the armies allowed, and an illustrated catalog of many of the official Chronopia miniatures.

In a nutshell, players create armies using an agreed-upon number of points. Armies are composed of Individuals and Warbands (groups of 2-12 models), with only one Individual allowed per Warband in the army. There cannot be more missile-weapon-armed Warbands than non-missile-armed Warbands.

The army list indicates for each type of Warband the maximum and minimum number of members, and whether any special types - such as leaders or standardbearers - are allowed.

Points must also be spent to purchase spells. Each army list includes its own, unique list of available spells.

Each Warband must have a leader, even if a specific leader-type model was not purchased for that group. If the leader is slain, a new leader will be chosen - usually on a turn by turn basis...

The army list provides a profile for every troop type, indicating a model's stats. The fields are:

  • Close Combat
  • Missile Weapons
  • Powers [mystical abilities score, if any]
  • Leadership
  • Actions
  • Wounds [hits]
  • Strength
  • Movement
  • Armor
  • Defensive Modifier
  • Size [normal, large, or giant]
  • Point Cost
For Example: Let's say we're working on a Firstborn Army, and we want a Warband of Firstborn Knights. The army list tells us that this Warband type consists of 4-8 Firstborn Swordsmen and 1 Firstborn Swordsmen Leader. As an option, we can also take Firstborn Greatswordsmen (one per every four regular Swordsmen) and a Firstborn Swordsmen Standard Bearer (one per Warband).

The costs are listed by troop type, so the total cost for a sample Warband is easy to compute:

4 Firstborn Swordsmen                   4 x 23 = 92
1 Firstborn Swordsmen Leader            1 x 25 = 25
1 Firstborn Greatswordsman              1 x 28 = 28
1 Firstborn Swordsmen Standard Bearer   1 x 23 = 23
                                        TOTAL = 168 points

There's a ratio of one Individual per Warband, so now that we have a Warband, we can also choose an Individual. For instance, we could take a Chronomancer. (Special rules limit these to 1 per 1,000 points.) He costs a base 85 points, plus the cost of his spells - from the list of 7 available Chronomancer Spells in the basic rulebook.

The Game System

The rules, which compose the one-fourth of the rulebook which is not printed in color, are pretty straightforward. Players roll for Initiative, with the winner deciding which unit of either player begins the turn. After this, players alternate "activating" units until every unit has been activated once.

When a unit is activated, its members - one model at a time - have the chance to do something. Each troop type is rated for the number of Actions it can take per turn (usually 2 Actions per turn). The available Actions are:

  • Move
  • Fire [missile weapons]
  • Aim [improves chance to hit; not cumulative]
  • Close Combat
  • Charge [Move and Close Combat combined]
  • Concentrate [temporarily increases model's mystical powers, if any]
  • Cast [magic]
  • Spot [reveal hidden items]

A model may also choose to Wait. This allows it to postpone one Action until an enemy model does something that it can see.

Individuals (non-Warbands) may perform two special Actions - Give Orders, which activates another friendly unit; and Rally, an attempt to restore a panicked Warband.

A model which is farther from the Warband's leader than the Command Distance must spend all of its Actions on Moves until it is again within range of the leader (usually 4").

Close combat may occur when two models are in base-to-base contact. The attacking player rolls a d20, trying to roll equal to or less than a value determined by his model's Close Combat stat minus the defender's Defensive Modifier score. A natural "20" is a fumble, causing the attacker to lose any remaining Actions this turn; a natural "1" is an automatic hit.

Now the defender gets to roll a d20, trying to avoid damage by rolling under or equal to the defender's Armor rating minus the attacking weapon's Damage score. Some weapons require multiple Damage rolls.

For Example: A Dwarf (a Dark-Tusk Legion Swordsman, to be specific) attacks a Troll. The Dwarf has a CC value of 14, but the Troll has a Def of -3, making the target number (14 - 3 = ) 11. The Dwarf player rolls a d20, scoring a "5" - a hit!

The Blackbloods player now rolls to avoid damage. The Troll's Armor score is 24, but the Dwarf's Bastard Sword has a Damage rating of 8. The target number is (24 - 8 = ) 16. The Blackbloods player rolls a d20, getting an unlucky "19"...and for failing the roll, takes 1 Wound. One more hit will kill this Troll...

Missile weapon combat is similar, except that the attacker must be facing his target and have an unobstructed Line of Sight. No measuring is allowed until after an attack is declared, when - depending on the weapon's stats - a target might be found to be at Close Range, Maximum Range, or out of range. To hit, the attacker must roll less than equal to his model's Missile Weapon score (minus a penalty, if firing at Maximum Range; or with a bonus, if it has previously Aimed).

Priority rules limit which targets an archer can select - preventing singling out leaders, or firing on distant units instead of nearer threats.

Spells are cast in a similar manner to ranged combat. The caster must roll less than or equal to his Power score, minus the Level of the spell. (Some spells allow the caster to choose the level of the spell.) Concentrating provides a bonus to spell-casting.

Once a Warband has lost half of its models, it is broken. A Morale Roll must be made now, and for each subsequent casualty. The roll is made versus the Leadership score of the group's leader, and failure results in Panic. (A natural "20" means the unit flees, and is instantly removed from play!) A panicked unit uses all Actions to move towards friendly territory. It recovers when safe, when it succeeds at a new Morale Roll (one per turn, with a penalty applying), or when an Individual succeeds with a Rally Action.

In Chronopia the prime objective is to have fun. Ok, we lied. The prime object is to win. To crush your opponent utterly, without mercy or remorse!

- Chronopia, pg. 105

The game is over when one player no longer has any forces, or when he surrenders. Alternately - such as when playing to a time limit - the player wins whose surviving forces add up to the most Army Points.

The rules also cover such topics as:

  • mounted combat
  • terrain effects on movement and combat
  • thrown weapons
  • area-effect weapons
  • shields (and shield wall)
  • multiple attackers
  • breaking away from combat
  • charging and countercharging
  • hidden models, hiding, and spotting
  • firing through friendly troops, or into melee
  • leaping, and diving for cover
  • special abilities (cause fear, berserk, etc.)
  • unique combat skills (killing blow, feint, ram, etc.)

What the rulebook does not include:

  • campaign rules
  • scenarios (though scenario ideas are provided)
  • rules for creating your own units or armies
  • painting or construction tips (although the photos of painted models are helpful)

Last Updates
16 September 1999page first published
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