The Mantic Journal

The Mantic Journal is a fantasy gaming  quarterly I edited in a freelance capacity for Mantic Games. This is a relatively new wargames company run by Ronnie Renton, who was, simply speaking,  my boss’s boss at Games Workshop. Its aim is to provide good quality, fantasy miniatures for wargaming, RPGs and suchlike at affordable prices.

Ronnie approached me about making him a magazine shortly after Death Ray folded. After much talk, some planning and the kind of crazed effort you only find in small businesses, the first issue came out in June, 2010.  Each issue focussed on an event from our new gaming world. Called “Mhorgoth’s Revenge”, issue one detailed the plans of the evil necromancer Mhorgoth (developed by Anthony Reynolds), to raid a desert-choked ruined city in the desolate southern kingdom of the Elves and raise its dead to add to his army. Each following magazine has a similar theme.

I put the magazine together with designer Sean Turtle and photographer Adam Shaw, also late of GW, plus input from sundry others, some of whom also used to work for Games Workshop. Nottingham is a funny place like that, many smaller model firms have budded off GW and make their homes there. It’s a little annoying, actually, that having left the place to come back to Bath, most of my work stems from the place! Bath’s the same, with dozens of small publishing houses set up by former employees  of Future, SFX‘s owners. It’s easy to see how certain cities come to specialise in certain industries.

Sadly, the Mantic Journal ceased publication after a few issues, and Mantic decided to put its money elsewhere. The magazine market is a tough one to crack. Still, the magazine held to its brief and did the job required of it.

Although the magazine is now defunct, still Mantic pays some of my bills as I do some writing for them. Through them I get to develop a fantasy gaming world, although we must give credit to Anthony Reynolds for his initial writing work on Mantic’s  Elves and Undead ranges (and let’s not forget the artists and sculptors who designed and actually made the models), and others who have contributed since.

Creating a games world is an interesting proposition because many games are completely typical, Dungeons & Dragons-inspired  “heroic fantasy” — basically, sub-Tolkien cod-Medieval settings with Orcs, Elves, Dwarfs etc mixed in — but the criteria for gaming fantasy can be even more restrictive, especially if you want your models to sell across multiple gaming systems. You can’t make it too different. For example, the expensively produced Lobsterkin of GulgulThrax will only sell to people who play your game. A generic High Elf type will do much better commercially. On the other hand, if you just rearrange the cliches your creation is going to be a bit crap. Deciding where this line lies — originality versus the truly generic — is a tricky business. So developing the world of “Mantica” is fascinating and fun work. Why don’t you check it out and see for yourself at Mantic Games?

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