Board games that tell stories

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GDJ #2 - Companion characters in the game

For the Robinson Crusoe Collectors Edition campaign that is happening right now on GameFound I write a short stories about the rules of the game - how they work and how I developed them. I thought I will share them on my blog too. I hope some of you find them interesting

Today I'll explain how I came with the idea of a Friday companion and how this character works.

The first question is super simple. I stole it from Daniel Defoe. Friday is an essential character in the book, he is Robinson Crusoe's companion, and of course, I had to have him in the game.

That was fast, right?

So how does he work in the game?

Friday character is used in a solo game, two-player variant. He is also used in other variants (3 pl and 4 pl) on easy mode. Friday is non-player character, a companion that is managed by players together. Unlike player characters, Friday has only one pawn.

Friday can support players - you add his pawn to player pawn in an action space to have successful action (see yesterday's article). It is simple and thematic. You work together; it goes nice and smooth.

Friday can also do an action on his own. And that's a tricky part. While playtesting the game, it was really weird when I was rolling for his actions, he had adventures, I read them, and in many cases, flavor text made no sense in a context to Friday's character (who is a native on the Island).

And that's when I did a twist - each time you roll for Friday, and you roll Adventure, you don't draw a card, he just gets a wound. Simple. And so thematic. How so? Let me show you the scene:

Diary, day 17,
It is late in the evening. Friday left camp before lunch and was supposed to do some fishing and bring food. He is not back. I worry. I don't know if something happened to him.

Diary, day 18,
Friday showed up in the camp in the night. He was wounded in the leg. I tried to ask him what happened, but he couldn't explain. I need to teach him English for more hours a day. He was pointing at a tree, making some weird noise, and showing his leg covered in blood. I had no clue what he meant. After few minutes of this dreadful mummery and poor acting, I pointed at my head and made an expression I don't understand. He got frustrated and went back to the woods. I need to teach him English. I really do.

So as you can see, in terms of the theme and flavor, Friday has some adventures, but we have no clue what happened to him because he cannot explain. So just a wound and no story!

The game comes also with a dog character. You also use him as an additional character that can help. The dog though cannot do action alone. He is a companion character. On his card there are listed green and red human icons - that means he can be used as a companion character in green and red actions, that is - Exploring the Island and Hunting.

Obvious, right?

I told you, I am not that great designer. I just took the book and made it into the game. It's all super easy to grasp if you understand the theme!


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