Olivia Whitaker
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Austin
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I have this idea of a concept to create Encounter cards for Xia: Legends of a Drift System. I got the idea after reading the review "The Patchwork Galaxy: Is Embers Enough to Fix Xia?" by user WordsofLaterDeep, which mentions that it was a missed opportunity that the game didn't have Arkham style encounters on planets.

Which made me think, well, why not? It would be a very simple mod, so I thought I'd give it a shot. This is just a rudimentary prototype and a request for creative support to the community.

I intend for these to be very much like the Arkham / Eldritch encounter cards, with some having caveats similar to the Dead of Winter crossroads cards.

I don't have the time to do a digital mock up of what the cards might look like for a myriad of reasons, not least of which I don't actually own this game yet. I should be getting a copy fairly soon my copy of this game wont be arriving until Friday, and as I don't have it in my hands to examine different names of planets and read up on any lore that might exist already, these are just generic placeholders.

I also don't really know the mechanics, but at the moment my plan is to have an encounter be forced at the very end of every turn, with a separate deck for being on a “planet” and one for “empty space”.

Example: ( of a card that might happen in empty space )

The female humanoid Tal Morgana, captain of the raider Harrier, has recently upgraded her rapid-fire railguns and she's looking for a fight to test them out!

Roll a d6

1-2: Use standard combat rules to have an all out battle with the Harrier as if it were an NPC ship.
3-4: You make a quick getaway, but not without taking damage as she unloads in your direction! Take two damage.
5-6: You throw your ship into hyper speed and get away unscathed! Move 5 spaces in any direction you wish.


I also have an idea for a two player ( or more ) variant that makes it much more like Dead of Winter cards, where you have two options to choose from, that must be read by the other player so you don't pick the best option.

Example:

You encounter the scout vessel External Reflection, piloted by K-53, a robot explorer. It has been learning something called “karaoke” and is eager to try it out with another lifeform.

Option 1: You agree to let the robot board your spacecraft.
Result: You and your crew spend the evening gallivanting with the robot. It's a great time, but you drink the night away with your debauchery. K-53 leaves you with “space junk” he'd picked up as he returns to his own ship. You loose the next turn, but gain 3 cargo cubes of your choice.

Option 2: You haven't got time for silly games.
Result: You refuse the robots offer, and head on about your way. No effect.


Again, this is all just a prototype idea. Nothing is meant to be balanced, just meant to be a fun bit of added story. And as I said, I haven't read the rules yet so there is still a lot of tweaking to be done. I intend for some cards to start with caveats such as “only have this encounter if you have an active bounty”, and “only have this encounter if you are currently acting as a cargo transport”. And I'd even like to make some cards into continuing missions, that you'd keep in front of you until you'd finished them.

Example: ( and this one is fiddly because I don't know the combat rules yet )

Only have this encounter if you are currently acting as a cargo transport.

A nearby space vessel is outputting a transmission requesting the immediate assistance of a cargo transport. The vessel is reportedly in disrepair and is carrying time sensitive cargo that must be delivered immediately.

Roll a d6

1-2: It's a trap! You are ambushed by the pirates, who steal all of your cargo. At least they leave your ship unharmed.
3-4: You approach the vessel, but spot the weapons systems marking it as a raider ship just in time to make a clean escape.
5-6: You expertly realize its a trap, and counterattack! Follow standard combat rules. You take no permanent damage from this fight, but if you win you gain 6 cargo cubes of your choice.


And now finally, the reason I'm posting this before I've done more work on it – I'd like to request the community's help in coming up with “iconic” situations. I am mostly using a random sci-fi encounter generator at the moment, as well as my own brain, but I'd like to add iconic and recognizable references; such as the canteena scene from Star Wars, giving you a choice on being the one to shoot first or not.

The problem being that I don't watch a lot of sci-fi. I haven't seen Firefly ( though I will eventually ), or Star Trek, and I've only seen each Star Wars film once. I'm looking for the most interesting, funny, or memoarble scenes from all of the best film and tv series. Even ones that aren't as mainstream like Red Dwarf. Things like Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, Farscape, Stargate SG-1, Torchwood, etc.

So! If you'd like to make a suggestion for an encounter, list it as detailed as possible. Preferably with an episode number, or a link to a youtube clip. Really anything that I can reference personally. And if you just have an interesting and unique idea for an encounter, those are welcome too.

I will be working on this over the next several weeks. I expect a working prototype to be ready in about a month. The more interest this receives, the more effort I'll put into it. At the moment, its just a fun idea I want to do in my spare time to make the game more thematic. If other people are interested in actually using these, I'll put more effort into balancing the systems. I'd like to do about 50 cards in each deck, meaning I'll need a hundred encounters.

Oh, and if this already exists somewhere, someone point me to it before I spend forever making these!
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Fed Aykin

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I like what you're going for here, but you'll need to play the game before you can really nail this design. For example, losing a turn in Xia is a huge deal, so much so that they removed that penalty in Embers. I would never sacrifice a turn to get three cargo cubes. Even if it were ten cubes (and I had the cargo space) it would still be no fun to skip a turn. Playing the game is fun; skipping a turn isn't fun.

Congrats on your acquisition of the game and good luck with your future designs!
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Olivia Whitaker
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The actual rewards / penalties are complete place holders at the moment. Right now I'm really just focused on the story elements. The text document I'm writing up is at the moment a long list of examples like above, with a situation, and the flavor text of the possible outcomes, but where I've left the actual gameplay effect blank for the exact reason you mentioned. What I used in the examples above were just things I knew could happen in the game from reviews I've seen or read.

I knew when I wrote that one that 3 cargo cubes would be insufficient, but on the one hand, I knew unless you had a two or three tier ship you probably wouldn't have space for many cargo cubes, and on the other hand the "walk away" option was actually meant to be the positive outcome. The most interesting options aren't always the best outcomes - I think that gives the potential for better stories. But I will definitely rethink having an option be to lose a turn.

I have a thought of making an optional hard difficulty, where some of the particularly nasty cards will have the "1-2" result be in red, and if you don't want to play with hard rules, you'd just treat your 1 or 2 result as a 3. In this case I might change the die to a d12, as well, to mitigate the likelihood of rolling such a bad result.

And I do have the Embers expansion! I had that first, amusingly. I should probably mention these will be made observing Embers rules as well. When its all said and finished I'll make an effort to remove cards that would be Embers only so people who just have the base game can enjoy the cards too.

Assuming they don't turn out garbage and end up being no fun to play with. Who knows, maybe there is a good reason the designers didn't include encounters in the game.
 
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Randy D

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I enjoy elements of a game that make it more of a story experience and I really like the idea of infusing more theme into the game... encountering various unexpected scenarios seems to hit that target. Normally I would be all for this, however, for me the game seems to have the potential of having too much downtime between turns and adding to this a dynamic where a short paragraph of flavor text is read aloud along with the various options and the player must now decide which course of action to take as well as follow through on the results of that action, just seems like it has the potential of tipping the scales in terms of overall too much downtime between turns. Perhaps this is why it was not explored further in the production copy?
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Olivia Whitaker
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randyd42 wrote:
just seems like it has the potential of tipping the scales in terms of overall too much downtime between turns.


Thanks for your input! This whole endeavor is meant to be fun more than some kind of core mechanic. I think maybe a possible solution to your concerns would be to only make encounters mandatory at the end of your turn in solo games. In 2+ player games it could just be an option, where you had the choice of having an encounter in your current location for a potential risk / reward.
 
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Randy D

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My suggestion is to keep developing this idea if you are having fun. I don't think it may be my cup of tea, but I could be mistaken and others might really enjoy it. Most importantly, if you are enjoying the creative process of thinking through various scenarios and envisioning how that would play out in the game, then even if it doesn't come to fruition in the end, it was still a creative exercise that you enjoyed and because of that was worth doing.

First determine if you view time spent on developing this variant as better spent elsewhere if you think it might never be played by others or if you view time spent on developing this variant as a fun, creative, enjoyable, and edifying process regardless who ends up using it in the end. Once you know the answer to that, then you'll know what to do next based on feedback you get.

As I said, it doesn't sound like my cup of tea due to concern for added time of reading and choosing actions in a game like Xia that is already pushing it for me with down-time, but then again I do enjoy the theme this mechanism brings to games like Betrayal at House on the Hill, Scythe, or Dead of Winter.
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Tyinsar -
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Interesting ideas but I have to agree with the concern about adding downtime. The one place that I might be interested in this is at outlaw planets - making them more risky to enter but possibly adding rewards (for completing a mission) as well.
 
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