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Subject: DIY Board game idea - need suggestions rss

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Aaron Sewell
Australia
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So I've decided that I want to try and make an RPG game (I've made simple games for my son before but nothing like this). I used to love playing Hero Quest and have recently started playing again with my son (who is 7). I'd like to make something along the same lines except I want it to be a competitive game in the setting of an open landscape where players traverse the country between cities. The board will be fairly large (24x24" or 18x27").

The characters will be a human wizard, an orc shaman and an elven druid. Rather than a choice between magic, strength and agility the characters will be equally matched. This means that each player will start with a selection of spells - this may be a random selection drawn from either a single large set of spells or a smaller set of spells for each character (e.g. dark magic for the shaman).

There will need to be a 4th player that controls the map and the unaligned 'monsters' they will encounter. I'm thinking this player could be a sorcerer or necromancer that may also have spells - though I'm concerned about potential bias in how these are used that could advantage one player over another.

The game would follow a series of quests where players could accumulate items across multiple games. The map would start rather bare and players would discover enemies, cities, treasure, etc along the way as they aim to complete the task that will win the game. The problem, is I've not played many RPG games and one of the advantages of Hero Quest is that the rooms and corridors provide small but clear spaces that can be seen and searched. In an open setting, this is problematic. I don't want to drop everything on the board from the beginning as the scale of the map implies that not everything can be seen, it also creates logistical issues. The board will be a hex map and movement will not be in large leaps, using either a D6 or D8 (when items/spells allow faster movement) so I'm thinking visibility could be anything within a 3-4 hex radius. There would be no searching and items/treasure would be dropped as a result of either proximity or by defeating certain enemies.

What I'm hoping to get suggestions on is:
Is the idea of a competitive game with a "dungeon master" type player really feasible? Bias is a very real possibility which could unbalance the game. Is there a better way that would eliminate the need for a 4th player? I was thinking maybe each turn, players would draw a card, some of which would add enemies to the map, these would then be played in attack by the player on the right, but this creates the issue that if the player chooses to run away, the enemy would be rogue and still controlled by the other player.
Are there better ways to explore the map rather than just proximity?

Any other suggestions, criticisms or ideas that I can consider?
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Laura Creighton
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Is this a competitive game you want to play with your son? Or with older people?
 
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Aaron Sewell
Australia
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lacreighton wrote:
Is this a competitive game you want to play with your son? Or with older people?


Designing it for older people. My son will play with assistance from an older person initially.
 
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Laura Creighton
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The competitive thing with a dungeon master is very feasible. The trick is to find a group that wants to do that -- if you already have one, great. However, the design decisions there really do tend to rely on 'and if all else fails, the DM will curse silently to himself and then use his wits and famililarity with the game to get himself out of the mess he is in' which is fine if you are DMing your game to your friends, but not so good when strangers are DMing your game to other strangers.

But the other approach is to make an automa. Have you considered this?

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/209213/games-automa-o... This is a list of games with automo for solo play. Some of the RPG there have automa which can be used for multi-use play -- unless I have been an idiot and pasted in the wrong list.

Some games have been designed to make use of The Solo System. I suspect your game won't be a good fit, but worth a look if only to learn why.

The 1PG, unexpectedly discusses such things a good bit. If you popped on over to https://boardgamegeek.com/guild/view/1303 and posted to the general section 'what makes for a good rpg automa, I want to design something that can be used solo and multiplayer' you will get a lot of feedback from people who aren't reading DIY -- but might be reading Design, another place to post questions -- but who play solo dungeon crawlers all the time and know exactly what makes an automa that suits them. They won't all agree, naturally, people being what they are. But it is a friendly place.

Just from a 'here are some ideas' for designing RPG/boardgame hybrid perspective you might want to look at Four Against Darkness which you can buy PnP here: http://www.wargamevault.com/product/180588/Four-Against-Dark... -- this is single player, though we run it co op here too. Inexpensive with some very good mechanics, but amimed at the 'not afraid of using pencils' crowd -- if that is not you, then this is not the game to steal ideas from.

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Leif Carlsen
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Many games have such a design. Study what's already available.

For no GM, look at Mechs vs. Minions, Kingdom Death: Monster, Too Many Bones, Dead of Winter: A Crossroads Game for ideas closer to the board game end of the spectrum. For closer to the rpg direction, look at The Shab Al-Hiri Roach or Fiasco. There are many others I could point you at. GMless systems are many and sundry. Learn design by studying design.

To include a GM without bias, look at Nuns on the Run or Vast: The Crystal Caverns. Both have highly asymmetrical play with wildly different win conditions. A novice Nuns GM may be tempted to go after the same target repeatedly, but that lets the other players run unimpeded. Nuns in particular has a limited sight/hearing mechanism that seems relevant to your post.

We have an asymmetrical design in a game we're working on. The GM can redesign the unexplored areas of the map, which are cards but could be tiles. The GM can place encounters on map sections. One of the characters can investigate the map beyond normal range.

My advice: make a simple prototype. Just the bare minimum. Play it yourself a couple times. Add/remove things based on your experience. Repeat until you like it. Then bring it to your local game design group and be prepared for them to tear it apart.
 
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David Cheng
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Some questions for you.
1. Are the characters travelling together or start in different places?
2. If in separate places, how can players interact with each other?
 
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Aaron Sewell
Australia
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Being a competitive game, they will have to start in different places. They may or may not interact with each other but the idea is for them to complete a task. The winner is the player that does this. They may choose to attack each other or avoid each other.

For example, the task may be to find a defeat a dragon that has taken over a city. Player 1 may find the dragon, player 2 may choose to attack player 1 while he is attacking the dragon but at the risk of being attacked himself.
 
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Derek H
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A game that covers similar territory - exploring the wilderness; encounters/markets in cities; gaining magic items (and other treasures); overcoming foes of increasing strength & magical ability - is Runebound (Third Edition). I sure there are ideas/mechanics you can steal borrow from that. Its not one of my personal favourite games, but I do like the idea of the terrain dice that can limit, to some extent, where you can move. I also think the ranged/melee/magical combat system is effective and interesting, while still quite simple.
 
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JPotter - Bits77
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Ultracheng wrote:
Some questions for you.
1. Are the characters travelling together or start in different places?
2. If in separate places, how can players interact with each other?


Smart phones, of course. They would be instagram'ing their kills and loot drops.

To the OP, there are numerous games that cover some or all of what you're describing but don't let that stop you from making your own with and for your kids. Much better memories and far more to learn than buying something readymade.

Just don't be disappointed when they age a bit and decide dad's efforts aren't cool any more.

After they age a bit more, they be crazy nostalgic for the old games with dad!
 
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I think it sounds great. You'd probably need to figure out goals for the 4th player that will equally get in the way of all the other players. That will help make it so that targeting just 1 player will likely lose this 4th player the game, hopefully convincing them to NOT focus on a single player.
 
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