Kristian Järventaus
Finland
Loviisa
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Hello, this is my first substantial post here. I've recently tried to get into board-gaming and I've been obsessing about game design for a little while now, so I might be posting some of my heartbreaker ideas here for comments. I can figure out abstract (non-player involved: dice rolls, card draws) probabilities and come up with mechanisms, but of course what probably eludes me is that snipe called "fun", especially for these games that are only on the idea-stage, so I beg of you for patience and understanding. Thank you.

Dance Macabre / Vienna Blood

Vienna, 18__: the spectre of Republicanism is threatening the stability and welfare of Europe, as the nobles and notables of Vienna are innocently dancing the waltz.

Vienna Blood is an assassination themed social deduction game where each player takes the role of a character dancing the waltz among a sea of other characters. Their purpose is to figure out which dancer belongs to their target player, move their character in the waltz into the same area on the dance floor and assassinate them.

Stuff:
A board depicting a ball room, divided into several areas of dancing.
Several cut-out character tokens on feet that can be snapped together to form a pair of waltzers.
Character cards, 2 per character, male and female
Character assassination cards, 1 per character
Target player cards x 2, just numbers


A prototype programmer art board.

Expansion stuff: player power cards (replace target player cards), weapons cards (introduce assassination style points)

At the start of the game character tokens / miniatures are paired of in m/f waltzing pairs and randomly put on areas of the board (with a maximum number of dancers in a given area).

Players are each given a character target card, and then the rest of the target cards are shuffled and distributed to the players, to be kept in secret: the player whose target card they have is their target.

Players draw a character card from the character card deck and are now that character on the board. (Character cards have two cards per character, so the backs of each pair are different: everyone draws just one type of card so that there's no character overlap). Each player now goes through the character card deck and remove the other character card of their character, and put it on the table face down: the other one is in their hand.

At the side of the table is a pile of character assassination cards that represent each character once and which are used to communicate what character a player is striking at.

At the end of the setup, the character cards are shuffled and a small number are removed from play.

Gameplay:

During their turn, each player draws a number of character cards, thus making their hand one of their own character cards and a number of "NPC" character cards.

The player can play up to N of these cards (including their own) to do two things with these characters:

1. A character and their dancing partner can move from one area of the dance floor to a neighbouring area.
2. Two characters can swap their partners if they are in the same area.

[EDIT: how could I forget this part??] After moving all characters whose cards have been played, the player takes all character cards back into their hand, shuffle them a bit and discard all cards except for their own character card.

When a player is certain about which character is their target, and they have moved their own character to the same area of the floor, they pass their character card and a character assassination card they have taken from the pile to their target player: if the assassinating player has guessed correct, the target player's character dies and the assassin wins the round. If not, the target player now knows the identity of their assassin, and the game goes on. The target player may reveal the identity of their assassin.

[EDIT: When character cards run out the deck is shuffled.]

To accommodate more or less players the number of characters can be raised or lowered, and similarly the game can be made more or less complex.

If you have been playing the multiplayer component of a certain video game series, you might have already figured out where this game gets its inspiration.

Anyhow, this is just something that I've come up with recently as a smaller game while I'm working on my unwieldy hearbreaker. Please be gentle... but also firm and teasing. modest

EDIT:

I'm going to try to get play-testing going on in an IRC channel with me acting as a card-shuffler, if you're interested please join me idling at #dancemacabre on irc.sorcery.net

I live in GMT+2 so schedules may no line up well with America, but still. Any and all are welcome.
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Kristian Järventaus
Finland
Loviisa
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I hope double posts aren't frowned around here, but I came across a small problem that I have a small solution to, but I'd still like opinions.

At the start of the game, how do people remove all of their characters cards from the character deck without getting too much information who is or isn't a player's taken character? They'd have to go through the deck to pick out the pair to their character card, which might let them browse through the deck.

My solution is this: when a player draws a character they do so by choosing the first pair of character cards that they draw into their hand. This sounds like it should be a relatively shallow draw, and scale with the number of characters - the less character, the larger the chances that the player quickly draws a pair, the more characters the more characters the player won't know about.

Of course players that draw first are at a disadvantage, but with enough rounds to go around (with the order changing) that should be ok.
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Kristian Järventaus
Finland
Loviisa
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I am reasonably sure about the very basic playing mechanic in the above post that I am currently trying to get all the other ideas I had and am having welded on top of it.

At its core, what has been described up to now is a bluffing game with a logic and memorisation puzzle as the center-piece: which character belongs to which player? Only the player who is that character can play a character card for that player character (because they have the card permanently in their hand), and as the game progresses and more characters have been played the more clear it is which characters are PCs, though not necessarily which PC belong to which player.

To make the game more interesting some element of risk-taking and choices should be involved. This can be achieved through

* hazards and dangers on the field that hamper players
* risky maneuvers and things players can do that expose themselves but allow for clutching at straws
* formalising the above so that, like in the original multiplayer assassination social stealth video game from which this takes its inspiration, the better the assassination the more points the assassin gets: in this case, as minuses that the player incurs when doing unstylish assassinations or Expose themselves
* rewards, items, tools or weapons on the board that they players would want to possess, that make the game easier or net points
* other things which I'm not including here

Further, The topology of the game can be expanded from the simplistic dance floor, with its pair-to-pair groups into a more complex and larger system that can incorporate different kinds of groupings (including singleton, dance pair and conversation group), hazards and obstacles normal NPC can't pass through (but PCs can, costing them style points), like the orchestra or the dinner table or dropping from a balcony, and obstacles that can be opened (or closed, come to think of it) for better access.

The purpose of the groups are to allow players to control their character by playing cards of NPCs instead of their own avatar. In a the version with singleton groups, unlike in the simple dancefloor version where all characters paired up all the time, the players can also forcefully "free" themselves from a group they don't want to belong to, but they, of course, risk the other players figuring things out.

For the logic puzzle at the heart of this hide-and-seek to work, players must not be able to figure out who is a PC or who is who at a glance: there must be imperfect information. In the first version, this was done by having the players play only a portion of the cards they draw, but there are other methods:

* removing NPCs from play, creating "stubborn" characters that can't be thematically manipulated by the assassins in the crowd to do what the players want
* allowing players to keep a hand of character cards of NPCs they have drawn

The first method is basically that you put random NPC cards into a separate deck, which may be drawn from later during certain specific events or because of stimuli or actions by the player: those characters stop being wallflowers and join in. Until then, they are indistinguishable from PC characters whose players haven't played their cards yet.

The second allows direct subterfuge by players by pretending that NPCs are more than they seem: maybe these characters are assistant, or are being blackmailed, or they're just manipulated. Of course there must be some means of forcing players to discard their hands, otherwise the game becomes too difficult: either through events or actions by the players.

Examples of special NPCs I've thought of adding, who act as hazards and as bait/rewards:

NPC characters who can't be PCs with special powers, like
* the Arch-Duke: when the Arch-Duke is in a group, no NPC may leave in fear of insulting him; if a PC leaves, they've Exposed themselves and love style points
* the Guard Captain (as an action by a player playing his card) can pull someone away from the ball room for questioning
* the Conductor can start a new waltz, creating events that punctuate the game (maybe force hand discards or cycle the deck of stubborn NPCs to get out of their shell)
* the Steward has an item: the key to the balcony

... which brings us to the topic of items and potentiality.

If there are items or caches of tools or things on the board that PCs may interact with or take, how to do this in practice without a moderator or adjudicator?

Here is one system:

When a character on the board could interact with something... They DO. Or rather, they potentially do.

Let's say there is the item, the Key: any character who is in the same group as the Steward NPC could potentially grab that key, and get access to the balcony where there is a stashed rifle with which they can perform a special assassination on anyone in the ballroom. To denote this potentiality, every character (NPC and PC alike) get a token denoting this fact: they could have taken it, but we don't know if they did.

Then later, when Bob has his turn, and his character Alice the Assassin, who was in contact with the Steward earlier in the game and got a key token, is by the stairway leading to closed balcony, Bob plays Alice's card and moves her to the balcony:

"Hey," says Tim in surprise and starts to voice a protest, "NPCs can't... oooooh."

Tim has taken a look at the table of characters littered with potentiality tokens, and sees that Alice has the key token. She could have stolen the key earlier... and she did. First character to use something was the one to actually do it.

Bob grins, Tim groans: he thought Bob's character was Rodriguez, whose card hadn't been played by anyone except Bob until now, but that was a red herring. Alice's identity as an assassin has been outed to all the players in the game, but moving to the balcony doesn't Expose her, losing her style points: that, together with the fact that a character can snipe anyone below for a stylish kill makes the Key a very desirable item to have.

Bob ends his turn here, and looks as Tim is sweating, because Tim now knows his character is a sitting duck right in the middle of the dance floor; even if Tim Exposed himself to sprint (allowing his PC to move two areas in one turn) that's not enough to remove him from danger. Even if Bob waits for his next turn, there is no escape for Tim now, and that delicious style bonus for an assassination without moving first during your turn is too good to pass for Bob.

... Too bad for Bob that George's character, silent Peter d'Amster was stalking Alice since long ago, and now, too, had access to the opened-up balcony. George plays Peter's card and moves the token to the balcony...
 
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