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Subject: Heroes and Villains rss

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Take Walker
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I may be able to speak for those of us who came to Spirit Island from another Greater Than Games product, Sentinels of the Multiverse, when I say that the various connections between the lore of the two games is really exciting. Something that I've been wanting to do, and have been kicking around in my head recently, is integrating the two a little more closely. It would work something like this:

You start the game with a "super-Explorer" and "super-Dahan" piece on the board, likely in the land with the City for the former and the highest-numbered land with Dahan for the latter. These are your villain and hero. They have multiple HP, upwards of 6 or 8, represented by stacking appropriate tokens under the piece, say, Disease for the villain and Wilds for the hero. Or just extra unused presence colors, it doesn't matter.

For this example, I am privately thinking of Haka and a flintlock-wielding ancestor of Ambuscade we'll call Jean-Jacques Moreau, not that either one matters.

The villain would act before the Invaders do any Ravaging or Building, so right after Fear cards are resolved. The hero would either act after Ravage, like a Dahan, or after the Invaders' turn is over, before slow powers.

What would they do? This is where the idea starts breaking down and I figure people might be able to provide some suggestions. I mean, let's work on this together.

The way I see it, movement and actions would be more or less automated. Currently, I'm thinking something like discard the top card of the Minor Powers deck and depending on how many elements it has/what the first element is/whether it has a particular element would decide what they do. For the hero, a typical action will likely be "if there are Invaders present, deal some damage to them, otherwise move to the land closest to the biggest source of invaders". Elements would allow special effects: Haka, for instance, could Rampage when given enough/the right elements, dealing lots of damage to the Invaders, but also damaging Dahan and himself. A villain like Ambuscade is likely going to be assaulting Dahan, but might also provide extra Build points -- they would not be treated as a regular Explorer in terms of Invader actions, nor would they or the hero be destructible, though it might be worth letting them be push/gatherable -- or, if things go really well for them, Blighting the land. And if the hero and villain meet up, well, they're just going to start duking it out.

I see this as being a mostly autonomous extra layer of conflict happening on the island, for all that it might not line up thematically with the amount of time rounds are meant to represent. Like I said, being able to push and gather them but otherwise not treating them as the pieces they're represented by would allow the Spirits a little bit of control, but not too much.

So the main question is, how to automate this? I haven't done any research on what elements are likely to come up, or how many a given card might have. What do people think of the idea? Actually adapting Sentinels characters to the setting might be the biggest challenge, so let's talk mechanics for the moment.
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Kyle Reeser
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I'm going to preface my comments with two caveats:

1.) I'm still new to Spirit Island; I've only played half a dozen games or so (all solo), and I don't yet have Branch & Claw, so some of what I outline below may just be the noob in me talking. I do have some experience with Sentinels of the Multiverse, though I'm by no means an expert at that game either--but that's irrelevant because...

2.) I'm actually not all that interested in mixing the two games (although I admit it would be cool to have Akash'Bhuta, or some variant thereof, as a playable spirit and/or to have her referenced in the lore for Spirit Island). Having said that, the idea of a super-Dahan and a super-Explorer (henceforth referred to as "the hero" and "the villain", respectively) is somewhat interesting to me.

3.) Not really a caveat, and probably not even relevant, but...Eric: I agree to the terms for creating Spirit Island game elements set forth in the FAQ.

With that out of the way, here are a few thoughts:

A.) Perhaps make the villain immune to the effects on Fear cards, or at least Fear effects of a certain level. (So perhaps the villain wouldn't be affected by Fear effects during Terror Level I or II, but Terror Level III would be fair game.) It would also be interesting if the villain could likewise grant Fear immunity to Invaders in whichever land they're all in.

B.) My understanding is that the Dahan are purely reactive (which is why they only act when prompted by the spirits and/or an attack by the Invaders), but it stands to reason that the hero would take a more active role in fighting off the interlopers. That being the case, you might consider having the hero act after Fear cards resolve (and probably after the villain), but before the run-of-the-mill Invaders. Or at least have the option to do so.

C.) If neither the hero nor the villain are destructible, what's the point of giving them HP, let alone tracking it? On the other hand, it could be interesting if the hero and villain have actual presence to represent their influence among both the Dahan and the Invaders. The hero could even give benefits to the Dahan--and/or penalties to the Invaders--wherever they have presence, with more presence corresponding to a greater benefit/penalty. (The villain could work in a similar fashion, but boosting the Invaders and penalizing the Dahan.) If you do it this way, you'd probably want to have the hero and villain start off with one presence each, and have each one's presence fluctuate as events (not to be confused with Events) dictate. One thing you'd have to figure out is if the hero and villain can only have presence in whichever land they currently inhabit (in which case the presence probably represents what they're capable of themselves) or if they can spread their presence around the island like Spirits can (in which case it probably corresponds to the tales the Dahan and Invaders are telling about the hero and villain, and boosting/hurting morale as appropriate).

The downside with giving the hero and villain presence is that it adds an extra level of bookkeeping. It may be manageable (especially if you leave out things like Events, Scenarios, and Adversaries), but it's definitely something to consider.

D.) As for how to automate everything, it seems like you have three choices: utilize an existing element (in which case, using the Minor Power deck, like you suggested, is probably the best way to go), create a new one (such as a deck of cards designed for this express purpose), or give the heroes/villains a set of rules they have to follow (like "If there are no Dahan in [character's] land, move [character] into an adjacent land with Dahan. Then, the Invaders Ravage in that land.").

Of these, I kind of like using one or both Power decks the best. It's simpler than the other two options, and potentially adds another level of strategy. When you pick a new power, you not only have to base your decision on the various cards' effects and the elements they'll give you when you play them; you'll also have to consider how taking a power (thus removing an instance of its elements from the deck) will likely affect the hero and/or villain in future turns.
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Take Walker
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The HP is so they can stick around for a few turns. My point was, maybe I could lure the villain into a different land with a power card that moves explorers, but I can't use another power card to just wipe him out. That would totally defeat the purpose of having a villain or hero in the game in the first place!

I like the idea of the villain being able to soak fear like the spirits can soak Invader damage. I imagine some kind of army commander or charismatic priest who's able to inspire the invaders in the land he's in.

That being said, I imagine the best way to approach this would be as a series of archetypes (the priest who prevents fear, the Dahan shaman who inspires his kin to deal more damage, etc.) with characters like Haka and Ambuscade added in as Easter eggs.

Notes for personal reference:

Base Game: (+1 Elemental Boon)
Number of Minor Powers with Sun as first element: 13 (36.1%)
Number of Minor Powers with Moon as first element: 11 (30.5%)
Number of Minor Powers with Fire as first element: 4 (11.1%)
Number of Minor Powers with Air as first element: 2 (5.6%)
Number of Minor Powers with Water as first element: 3 (8.3%)
Number of Minor Powers with Earth as first element: 2 (5.6%)
Number of Minor Powers with Plant as first element: 0
Number of Minor Powers with Animal as first element: 0

Number of Major Powers with Sun as first element: 7 (31.8%)
Number of Major Powers with Moon as first element: 6 (27.3%)
Number of Major Powers with Fire as first element: 4 (18.2%)
Number of Major Powers with Air as first element: 2 (9.1%)
Number of Major Powers with Water as first element: 1 (4.5%)
Number of Major Powers with Earth as first element: 2 (9.1%)
Number of Major Powers with Plant as first element: 0
Number of Major Powers with Animal as first element: 0

Branch & Claw:
Number of Minor Powers with Sun as first element: 13 (41.9%)
Number of Minor Powers with Moon as first element: 10 (32.2%)
Number of Minor Powers with Fire as first element: 3 (9.7%)
Number of Minor Powers with Air as first element: 4 (12.9%)
Number of Minor Powers with Water as first element: 1 (3.2%)
Number of Minor Powers with Earth as first element: 0
Number of Minor Powers with Plant as first element: 0
Number of Minor Powers with Animal as first element: 0

Number of Major Powers with Sun as first element: 10 (47.6%)
Number of Major Powers with Moon as first element: 3 (14.3%)
Number of Major Powers with Fire as first element: 3 (14.3%)
Number of Major Powers with Air as first element: 2 (9.5%)
Number of Major Powers with Water as first element: 3 (14.3%)
Number of Major Powers with Earth as first element: 0
Number of Major Powers with Plant as first element: 0
Number of Major Powers with Animal as first element: 0

Overall:
Number of Minor Powers with Sun as first element: 27 (40.3%)
Number of Minor Powers with Moon as first element: 21 (31.3%)
Number of Minor Powers with Fire as first element: 7 (10.4%)
Number of Minor Powers with Air as first element: 6 (9.0%)
Number of Minor Powers with Water as first element: 4 (6.0%)
Number of Minor Powers with Earth as first element: 2 (3.0%)

Number of Major Powers with Sun as first element: 17 (39.5%)
Number of Major Powers with Moon as first element: 9 (20.9%)
Number of Major Powers with Fire as first element: 7 (16.3%)
Number of Major Powers with Air as first element: 4 (9.3%)
Number of Major Powers with Water as first element: 4 (9.3%)
Number of Major Powers with Earth as first element: 2 (4.7%)

Final numbers calculated taking Elemental Boon to have Sun first.

I'm starting to think your suggestion about having them act between Fear cards and the Invader turn is a good idea. Would allow for things like the hero defending Dahan.
 
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