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Subject: A "Souls" Inspired Board Game rss

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Mike Siciliano
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Hello, all! First off, this is my very first post on my fresh, newly created account, but I've lurked these forums for a while and I've frequented BGG for many reasons in the past!

I've recently taken an interest in trying to design my own boardgame, after jokingly-off handed comment by my girlfriend that "If I love games so much, why not make one?" Little does she know what she just started. devil I'm sure this kind of this has been attempted before, but I've conceived of a game inspired by one of my favorite video game franchises - the "Souls" games (Demon's Souls, Dark Souls). With it, I want to capture what I feel are the two most important, distinct features of a "Souls" game: the sense of overwhelming dread from exploration and combat; and the ubiquitous drop-in/-drop-out multiplayer component that sees other players serving as friend or foe.

I've spent a little bit of time over the last two days typing up a framework for the rules and mechanics, as well as a little bit of flavor. This is by no means (and it should be obvious enough) a finished, or even near-finished project. I wanted to get out as many of the "Souls"-type ideas out there and then trim the fat, so to speak. The following is most of what I've come up with, all of which is subject to change (of course).

Please, tell me what you think! Any suggestion would be appreciated, even if it's "It's been done before."

Soul Survivor (working title)


Age Range: 13+
Length: 1-2 hours (per scenario)
Players: 1-4
Theme: Medieval Fantasy

Players will fight their way through dungeons, defeating monsters and acquiring Ether to challenge the deadly fiends that await them and eventually seek to dethrone the [Old Chaos King]. Cooperate with other players and acquire loot to help you on your own journey, or challenge another player by invading their campaign and empowering yourself. Players can progress through the various dungeons solo or cooperatively with up to 2 additional players, for a party of 3. At any time while not in a group together, another player can choose to challenge the host to combat, thereby invading his or her campaign. If there are 4 players, then designate someone as a persistent invader, picking and choosing from designated areas (up to a maximum of three per dungeon scenario) to combat the host and his/her comrades. Can you survive the night, defeating the dangers of the kingdom and the looming threat of invaders, to bring prosperity back to [Reach]?

Rules

- Players choose from one of eight starting classes (Knight, Warrior, Ranger, Rogue, Wizard, Cleric, Barbarian, or Apprentice) as a base archetype, but can choose to expand on their abilities and equipment as they see fit throughout their journey

- Each class – except the Apprentice – begins with a set list of starting equipment, abilities, and items, as well as pre-distributed stat points and experience towards a level up. The Apprentice does not start with any gear, but has the most amount of base stat points and is free to spend them however he or she wishes from the start.

- [Soul Survivor] is played out over several different scenarios, culminating in an encounter with the [Old Chaos King]. Each scenario exists as a standalone dungeon which can be played in semi-random order, and as a standalone experience for those looking for a quicker game., However, for the full experience, the entire campaign consists of completing all of the independent dungeons and the final dungeon. This does not have to be done in one sitting. A campaign can take place over several days due to the game's ability to track character progress.

- Players track their character's progress on the designated character sheets for their class of choice. Retrieve the appropriate spell and gear cards from the game tray and place them on or near your character sheet for use.

- Spells function based on a recharge meter; some spells require longer to recharge, others shorter. This is indicated on the card itself. Spells start recharging immediately after use; for instance, if a spell has a recharge of three, then it will be available immediately following the third action taken after it was used. Very few spells have a limited number of uses due to their extremely potent nature. This is also represented on the card.

- Gear cards have a durability indicator, similarly represented by a number. This number mirrors a spell's recharge. In other words, if a sword displays a number 20, then it will be considered broken after the twentieth successful attack (this ONLY applies to attacks that land; if an attack misses, it does not expend durability). If a weapon breaks, it can still be used, however at a significantly reduced damage potential. The same applies for armor. All gear can be repaired with the appropriate items, spells, or by visiting blacksmiths in their various locations throughout the dungeons. If you complete a dungeon, all of your gear – and spells – are fully repaired/recharged.

- By defeating monsters, players acquire a precious resource called Ether. Ether is the source of all life in the kingdom of [Reach]. It is used for virtually everything: as a currency, as sustenance, and as fuel. Players will amass a great deal of Ether throughout their journey, and must carefully decide how to benefit from it the most.

- By using Ether, players can choose to purchase new items or spells from shops, unlock hidden secrets in certain dungeons, and most importantly, to level up. Every level requires more and more Ether to reach; the higher you get, the greater the cost, but the more powerful you have become. Players can choose exactly where to allocate stat points upon leveling up outside of their initial spread. Stats and levels have a 1:1 correlation. In other words, every time you consume Ether to raise a stat, you are also gaining a level.

- A character's level is ultimately what unlocks greater challenges. Early on, after the initial starter dungeon, a handful of “Moderate” dungeons are available. These can be attempted in any order. Once the character reaches a particular level, more dungeons will start opening up, eventually giving way to the final dungeon. In total there are 12 dungeons to play through, but not all of them are required to complete the Campaign. Because level is the only determinant in unlocking new dungeons, players can – and sometimes should – choose to repeat previously bested dungeons to acquire Ether and level up, especially if some of the later ones prove more difficult. However, it is sometimes in your best interest to explore the various dungeons and loot the treasures within, because what you find just might help you put an end to the [Old Chaos King].

- Combat is a mix of character skill, player knowledge, and a little bit of randomness to keep things interesting. When fighting an enemy, he or she may choose from whatever actions are available at that moment. Spells cannot be used while recharging, for instance. The basic actions a character has to take are: Attack (weapon), Defend, Cast, Use Item, Dodge, and Run. Some advanced options unlock later in the game, but let's go over these for now.
* Attack – The player chooses to attack with whatever weapon is equipped in the character's main or off-hand, or if dual wielding, both.
* Defend – The character defends (only applicable if a shield or a blocking-type weapon is equipped in the off-hand).
* Cast – The player chooses any one of his or her equipped spells to cast.
* Use Item – The player uses any one of his or her consumable items. Items are lost and returned to the tray upon consumption.
* Dodge – The player attempts to dodge the enemy's attack by moving in a direction, up to a maximum of 1 tile away (left, right, backwards, or diagonally). According to their Equip Weight, the character may then have the opportunity to attack immediately after a Dodge as if it were all a single action. But be careful, as each action will consume stamina, and doing this too often will deplete your stamina very quickly.
* Run/Sprint – The player can choose to abandon the fight and flee, moving up to two tiles away. Any damage that has been sustained by both parties remains, and all stamina is restored after two turns, or 50 stamina per turn, unless combat is re-entered. Some enemies may give chase, so watch out! If this option is used under circumstances where escape is impossible (locked rooms, boss fights), the player simply selects a tile to move to up to one tile away – if possible – and the rest of the rules still apply (sustained damage and restored stamina). When the enemy is re-encountered, combat resumes. Sprint is an advanced version of Run that requires a minimum of 5 stamina to perform. You can move up to as many tiles away as you please if you Sprint; however, each title will consume 5 additional stamina, until the player either chooses to stop or the character runs out, at which point the 0 stamina penalty (explained below) is triggered.

- All actions except Use Item and Run will require a set amount of stamina. Stamina is measured on the character sheet by a slider that always begins at 100 at the start of a fight. If the slider is ever reduced to 0 during an action, the player cannot take any actions (except Use Item or Run) for two enemy turns. Some actions require a minimum amount of stamina to simply be performed (such as Attack, Cast, Dodge, and Sprint), while other actions will consume stamina after the fact (such as Defend). Any time stamina is completely depleted during a defense, the character is considered guard broken and cannot perform an action for one turn, including Run or Use Item. Stamina is restored by 50 on your subsequent turn.

- Enemy actions are determined by a die roll. Most enemies will have a minimum of three actions that can be performed, while some of the toughest will have six. The die roll will determine exactly which of these actions the enemy will take. This is made before the player takes his or her action, allowing the player to decide the best way to deal with the attack. Unless otherwise specified, the player will always act first in combat situations, despite the fact that the die for an enemy's action is rolled first. That way players, even in their most dire circumstances, still have a chance to kill the enemy. Occasionally, the player will be allowed to roll the die on his or her turn, when specified by spell or weapon cards. The number rolled is added to the damage as a bonus modifier.

- [Soul Survivor] is all about overcoming the challenges before you, even if you fail, fail, and fail again. It is a game of persistence and determination. Players who explore the dungeons and unlock the secrets will find their stay in [Reach] very rewarding, while those looking for the optimal challenge can simply try to complete the campaign with their base equipment, or without leveling up. That's the beauty of the game – you play how you wish! And when the dungeon enemies either prove too difficult or too tiresome, invite a friend over to spice it up a little.

- Invading players function similarly to the host player – they abide by nearly all of the same rules. However, as an invader, you are considered an enemy, and therefore your rules are defined by those of the creatures. In this particular instance, Attack would be a roll of 1, Defend would be 2, Cast would be 3, so on and so forth. In the event that a roll occurs where there are multiple options to choose from (such as Cast, Use Item, or Run/Sprint), then the Invader may choose from all available options. Should the Invader choose to not keep the roll, he or she may re-roll up to one time. The second roll must be kept, or under very unfortunate circumstances (such as rolling to Use Item twice when no items are available), the Invader may choose to simply do nothing. We'll just call this “striking fear into the heart of your opponent.” Only Invaders may re-roll the die; this cannot be used when fighting non-player controlled monsters.

- When acting as an Invader, you can choose from custom built characters based on the dungeon you are invading. For instance, if you are invading a level 15 dungeon, then refer to the Invader Sheet and choose from any of the pre-made level 15 characters to invade with. Invaders can only invade at specific locations in any given dungeon, also designated by the Invader Sheet, as well as up to a maximum of three times per dungeon. You do not have to use the same Invader for each subsequent invasion, however; spice it up and challenge the host a little! Have some fun with it.
Note: There can only be one invader in a dungeon at a time. Don't be cruel!

- If you feel like being friendly, you can choose to cooperate with the host. If you are joining a game mid-dungeon, there is a specific Cooperator's Sheet that you can refer to to simply jump in and join in on the demon slaying. Similar to Invasions, the host must reach specific landmarks on the dungeon map in order to “invite” the other players to his game. If you are starting a brand new campaign with a group of friends, you may all select new characters from the ground up to adventure with together. If you already have a specific character from one of your own campaigns that you would like to take into a friend's, you can do this, but some restrictions apply.
- You must be at least 5 levels below or above the minimum level for that dungeon.
- If you are more than 5 levels above, then you are reduced until you are at that point. If you are more than 5 levels below, then you cannot join.
- All character-restrictions that would apply were you at the reduced level take effect (if you have a spell equipped that you could not have at that level simply because you do not meet the requirements, than you must remove the spell temporarily. You may replace it with something more level appropriate).
- Invaders may also choose to use their own custom characters, following the same restrictions.

- Should a cooperator die in the host's dungeon, all is not lost. The host must simply reach or return to an invitation point for the cooperator to rejoin the game.

- These invitation points also serve as checkpoints for the host player. Reaching one guarantees that you will start there upon your next death, or should you have to postpone the game for whatever reason. Abandoning the dungeon, or dying to an enemy, will return you back to your previously visited checkpoint, and all subsequent enemies will have returned. This can be used to your advantage, however, as this will allow you to continue killing enemies you may have had an easy time with for fast Ether. But use this wisely, as checkpoints will not repair durability loss. As mentioned previously, only special items or blacksmiths can get the job done.

- You may abandon the dungeon at any time during your adventure. This is considered “returning back to town.” All Ether gained is kept, but all progress made in the dungeon is lost. Upon returning, you must start the entire dungeon over. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as perhaps the dungeon was proving too difficult but you have accumulated enough Ether to buy a new weapon or spell in town.

- When in town, you have a few things to do. As previously mentioned, you can buy new Spells or Equipment (Weapons, Armor, Items). You can repair. And you can customize. The customize option is only available in town, whereas sometimes you might stumble upon a Shopkeep or Blacksmith in certain dungeons. With customize, you can reequip your character with the gear you have just bought, or gear that you may have in storage (storage is simply considered anything that is not equipped on your character at that moment). You can reassign spells should you desire. And you may also redistribute stat points (without altering the class's base allocation, when playing anything other than the Apprentice). This will allow you to play around with various styles of combat and adds tremendous flexibility to the game.
Note: If you find new gear in a dungeon, you must return to town to equip it.

Classes
All classes have 100 Stamina and 100 Equip Burden

Knight
Starting Gear: Long Sword (20atk), Kite Shield (20def), Plate Armor (70def)
Starting Spells: None
Starting Items: Whetstone x2, Firebomb x2, Healing Potion x3

Attributes
Vitality - 4
Strength - 3
Dexterity - 1
Intelligence - 1
Piety - 1
Starting Level – 10

Stats
Health - 130
Melee Attack – 50
Ranged Attack - 10
Defense - 100
Magic Attack - 10
Magic Defense – 10

Warrior
Starting Gear: Battle Axe (30atk), Chainmail (50def)
Starting Spells: None
Starting Items: Whetstone x2, Firebomb x3, Healing Potion x2

Attributes
Vitality – 2
Strength – 5
Dexterity – 1
Intelligence – 1
Piety – 1
Starting Level – 10

Stats
Health – 110
Melee Attack – 80
Ranged Attack - 10
Defense – 60
Magic Attack – 10
Magic Defense – 10

Ranger
Starting Gear: Shortbow (20ratk), Dagger (10atk) Leather Armor (30def)
Starting Spells: None
Starting Items: Whetstone x1, Throwing Knives x5, Healing Potion x2

Attributes
Vitality – 2
Strength – 2
Dexterity – 4
Intelligence – 1
Piety – 1
Starting Leaving – 10

Stats
Health – 110
Melee Attack – 30
Ranged Attack - 60
Defense – 40
Magic Attack – 10
Magic Defense – 10

Rogue
Starting Gear: Dual Daggers (30atk, 15 each), Leather Armor (30def)
Starting Spells: None
Starting Items: Whetstone x2, Smoke Bomb x3, Healing Potion x2, Poison Oil x2

Attributes
Vitality – 1
Strength – 6
Dexterity – 1
Intelligence – 1
Piety – 1
Starting Leveling – 10

Stats
Health – 100
Melee Attack – 90
Ranged Attack – 10
Defense – 40
Magic Attack – 10
Magic Defense – 10

Wizard
Starting Gear: Staff (30matk, 10ratk/atk), Robes (10def, 20mdef)
Starting Spells: Fireball, Quake
Starting Items: Herbs x4, Healing Potion x2

Attributes
Vitality – 1
Strength – 1
Dexterity – 1
Intelligence – 6
Piety – 1
Starting Level – 10

Stats
Health – 100
Melee Attack – 20
Ranged Attack – 20
Defense – 20
Magic Attack – 90
Magic Defense – 40

Cleric
Starting Gear: Rod (20matk, 10atk), Robes (10def, 20mdef), Amulet
Starting Spells: Heal, Protect, Smite
Starting Items: Herbs x5, Healing Potion x1

Attributes
Vitality – 2
Strength – 1
Dexterity – 1
Intelligence – 1
Piety – 5
Staring Leveling – 10

Stats
Health – 110
Melee Attack – 20
Ranged Attack – 10
Defense – 10
Magic Attack – 70
Magic Defense – 30

Barbarian
Starting Gear: Club (50atk), Loincloth (10def)
Starting Spells: None
Starting Items: Healing Potion x1

Attributes
Vitality – 1
Strength – 6
Dexterity – 1
Intelligence – 1
Piety – 1
Starting Level – 10

Stats
Health – 100
Melee Attack – 110
Ranged Attack – 10
Defense – 20
Magic Attack – 10
Magic Defense – 10

Apprentice
Starting Gear: None
Starting Spells: None
Staring Items: None

Attributes
Vitality – 1
Strength – 1
Dexterity – 1
Intelligence – 1
Piety – 1
Starting Leveling – 5 (10 available points)

Stats
Health – 100
Melee Attack – 10
Ranged Attack – 10
Defense – 10
Magic Attack – 10
Magic Defense – 10

And that's all I got for now. I understand some of it may be a bit too much, and that's okay. I can trim a lot of it down. I just wanted to set a framework with which to work from. Thanks again for any input or suggestions! I look forward to any and all replies.
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Brendan Riley
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"Life is more fun if you play games." - Roald Dahl
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Next step, prototype and try it.
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Michael Brettell
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As Brendan said, getting it printed out and tested by yourself is the first step. Just printing very roughly. There's some software programs that can help with cards and whatnot, but I just used MS Word to do my first ones, with cards in a 3x3 table. Obviously no images or anything, just the minimum to play the game.

As soon as you think it is remotely decent, commandeer a couple of friends to play it while you teach and watch, still with the rough version. At this stage, you're not trying to test the rulebook - you're just trying to find out if what you've designed is fun. Pay attention to the energy in the room - where the excitement is, and where the lulls are.

Make it absolutely clear to your friends that they'll help you by being as critical as possible - they won't do you any favours by telling you the game is better than it is.

Good luck!
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Ben Ryan
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I just saw your post after posting...sigh...so embarrassing.whistle Cool stuff, the souls games do really lend themselves perfectly to board gaming! I like your idea for stamina use. How would combat play out?
 
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Mike Siciliano
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I was thinking something along the lines of simple damage number comparisons, but I'm not sure. I definitely don't want to rely on dice for anything related to a character's actions since that random chance seems to go entirely against the whole philosophy of Dark Souls. I'm still brewing some ideas though. I want the combat to feel as satisfying as it is in the video games.
 
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Ben Ryan
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I agree it has to feel rewarding. Thats why i feel the game should rely heavily on stamina management. Pure number comparison is something im toying with as well. Problem i see with it is players simply not doing anything until they know they can and then just spamming the weapon use until an enemy is beaten. Im thinking of using d6s to represent a hunters stamina. Each action uses a different amount of d6s. Weapons that are heavy use a lot. Movement uses one. If you can roll within your endurance you are successful in the action but the dice are depleted. If you fail you either cancel the action and submit to a possible free enemy spawnn or action. Or you attempt to use more stamina to complete said action. At the end of your turn you recover your endurance worth of dice. You cannot recover stamina while adjacent to enemies. Weapons have a static damage as in the game. But as i said im trying to figure how to resolve static damage against static armor ratings.
 
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