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Subject: WIP - Farseer, Solitaire PnP 2013 (idea phase) rss

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mads l. brynnum
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Farseer - the game


The game is intended for the 2013 solitaire Print and Play contest.

The Idea
The game is based on the Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb. You don’t have to have read the books in order to play the game, but both game and this thread will hold some major spoilers. However, knowing some of what happens in the books is not gonna destroy the pleasure of reading them. They are quite good, so really you should be reading them and not this.

The Basic Story
Some of this story will need to be in the game, some of it will be revealed as you play, but for now it’s just a framework for the description. The game will follow the story to some extent, but some events or characters will likely pop up in new and different ways.

The Red Ship Raiders are raiding the shores of the Six Duchies. And not just raiding, they start “forging” the populace of the duchies leaving them like hollow shells without emotions and only the most basic of drives.

At the same time the royal palace is ripe with intriques. The king is ill, and his son (King-in-waiting Verity) must try to combat the raiders – something he does partly with the help of the royal magic called The Skill. He is also aided by the protagonist of the stories, his dead brother’s bastard son Fitz. Fitz is secretly training to be an assassin serving the royal family, but he’s also able to use both The Skill and a lower and somewhat outlawed form of (animal) magic called The Wit. However, Verity’s half brother Regal seeks to gain the throne – something he pursues even more actively as Verity leaves on a quest to find the fabled Elderlings.

The Basic Game
The goal of the game is to withstand the onslaught of The Red Ship Raiders long enough to fulfil the quest and gain the help of the Elderlings. So you can only win by completing the quest, but you can lose both by being overrun by the raiders or if either Verity or Fitz dies before this happens.

How to play
Things are not quite in place, but basically this is how I imagine a turn. Do note that certain things will be explained below:

1. Drawn an event card.
Event cards will most likely come from one of two decks; one prior to the quest being started and one you use after. Event cards will place red ship raiders on the board close to regions that can be attacked, they will show if the ships actually attack, move the Regal track (which shows how much power the prince has gathered), and some other things. Event cards will also have some flavourtext.

2. Player actions
The player can now take a number of actions. An action will typically be to fortify defences or send help to a region. But it can also, I think, be to advance on the quest (see below), kill forged ones (see below) and then send out the few warships the Duchies have. They can be used to prevent attacks if they’re placed in the right region.

3. Fitz action
You can now use Fitz to take an action or boost an existing action (like sending him with a ship). Fitz actions should be strong, but will also put Fitz in danger.

4. Enemy actions
Now the enemy does stuff according to the event card. Red ships are tokens that are placed randomly, but they will only attack if a certain number is in a region or if the event card has an attack symbol. Combat is described below.

5. Maybe the player has an extra Fitz action here. However, if he uses both Fitz will be even more in risk of being wounded.

In addition the player can at certain times play cards from his hand. Some of the cards refer to The Skill, whereas others symbolized by certain events and/or characters from the books. The thing about the player cards is that some of them are added to event decks when used where they will have a bad effect. And some can again be played without effect in order to be mixed in an event deck as a good thing. So if you for instance use a lot of very good cards in the first part of the game, you will most likely be punished later and/or during the quest.

Questing
At some point you can send Verity on the quest for the Elderlings, and later on you can choose to add Fitz to the quest as well. When either joins the quest, you’ll have a harder time defending against the Red ships and Regal.

The quest is a track you can move on, and as you move bad stuff happens. Not, I think, on every space, but in several. So as you progress you’ll get to draw cards from the Quest deck. A lot of them will damage Verity/Fitz, and most will probably also hold some sort of dice based challenge. If you reach the end of the quest, you win.

Combat
I’m not quite sure how challenges during the quest should work, but I think I know how combats against the ships will look.

Each ship rolls two dice. One of them tries to beat the defences, the other one is compared to the ships value for Forged ones and show how many (if any) will show up in case it wins (more on forged ones below). That way you can quickly resolve combat. The catch is that the red ships will gradually earn new dice. So in the beginning they maybe use six-sided, but later on move up to eight- or even ten-sided thus making it easier for them to win.

Also, when a region loses to a ship, it is somehow damaged and if the duchies are damaged too much the player loses.

Forged ones
Forged ones move via land towards the capital. Every one that reaches the capital causes damage to the realm. However, the player can spend actions to destroy them on the road. If Fitz is used, this could cause him to be wounded.

Other threats
As it is the player loses if Verity dies, if the realm is overrun (takes too much damage from ships and/or forged ones), or if Regal gains too much power.

This is it for now. I’m working on rules and hope to make a prototype within the next few weeks. Any comments are welcome.
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Chad Mestdagh
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Re: WIP - Farseer, Solitaire PnP 2013 (concept)
I thought we weren't aloud to post concepts until august. Last time I checked, that was what the rules said.
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Nate K
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Re: WIP - Farseer, Solitaire PnP 2013 (concept)
radchad wrote:
I thought we weren't aloud to post concepts until august. Last time I checked, that was what the rules said.

Chris just announced that we can start posting about our games!
 
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mads l. brynnum
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Re: WIP - Farseer, Solitaire PnP 2013 (concept)
I asked Chris before posting and he said ok after July 1st.

The thing is I'm pretty swamped with other projects during august, so if I want to finish this game I have to get a move on. And while I think I'm pretty far conceptually, I know that I'm a lot of prototypes and testing away from a finished game.
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Chad Mestdagh
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Re: WIP - Farseer, Solitaire PnP 2013 (concept)
If that is the case, then I will post my game fairly soon as well. It is about 1/2 way ready!
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Chad Mestdagh
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Having read through the summary of the game, I think I have a few comments:

1) You mention having 2 event decks. Is there any reason why you cannot put the events on the same card? i.e. Have pre and post questing parts of the card. That would save the amount of cards that a player would need to print up. It also would give a player a sense of what kind of danger he would face if he started questing.

2) Your game sounds quite a bit like a Victory Point Games State of Siege game such as Dawn of the Zeds (Second edition). Is that the inspiration for the gameplay?
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mads l. brynnum
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Having just one set of cards sounds like a great idea. And it doesn't conflict with the idea of mixing in player cards as you use them - you can just put them in the "after the quest begins"-pile.

I have played Levee en Masse and a bit of Zulus on the Ramparts on my phone, and while this idea is not entirely different, I think it's gonna be something else. Most of all because I kinda feel that all the different actions you can take in especially LeM are more or less the same. And while I like dice I also feel that you far too often spend a turn effectively doing nothing. So one of the things I'm gonna do different, I think, is for instance that you don't try to fight back the raiders, but rather that you build defences which can bolster your chances of fending off a raid. In game terms it's not very different from pushing back an army in LeM, but I think it's gonna leed to less of a feeling that you've wasted a turn.

But I think, actually, that it's gonna be closer to Nemo's War, another VPG title. Nemo's War also have far too many wasted turns, but I like how you have to progress on multiple paths and how doing or not doing something can give you a benefit or a punishment later in the game.

Right now, however, I find myself working on a different game which will most likely be neither solitaire nor print and play. But it has custom dice, evil cultists, and unspeakable horrors, so I find it hard to devote my game design time to anything else. But I am, of course, still aiming at finisthing the Farseer game for the competition.
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Chad Mestdagh
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Still aiming to finish this?
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mads l. brynnum
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radchad wrote:
Still aiming to finish this?

Yes! And no.

I really want to make this game. It's a design I've returned to several times and I think making it a solo game rather than the two-player game it started out out to be is the way to go.

But the thing is that I'm quite busy with my day job these days (which is designing games, so it's not all bad) and my free game design time has been spent on a multiplayer game. And while I think I could finish this game in time for the competition deadline, I'm not sure I can make it look even close to good.

Summa summarum: I'm gonna mull over it for a couple of more days and then I'll make sure to report my decision to Chris. And thanks for prodding me, btw.
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mads l. brynnum
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The game is not in any way dead, but unfortunately I won't be able to finish it in time for the contest deadline. But stay tuned, I hope to have more time for it later this fall.
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