Bojan Prakljacic
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I might have a small game for the 9-cards contest that uses social-deduction and cube allocation, so I'll try to explain the main concept in this WIP thread...

Terror is based on the book of the same name by Dan Simmons about the unexplained disappearance of the Franklin's expedition during a search for the North-West passage through Arctic.

In this game, that can be played solo using a simple Automa, or with 3-5 players normally, each player will have a hidden allegiance to England and the captains, to mutineers or be neutral in the internal conflict of the two crews from the Terror and Erebus, two ships trapped in ice.

Game uses:
9 cards (with artwork on both-side, so double-sided)
17 cubes of various colors (5 blue, 5 red, 5 yellow and 2 white)
1 white meeple (used only when playing solo)
1 bag for storing cubes (doesn't come with the game)

How the game works:

Game begins after the cards are shuffled and spread in a row on the table one-by-one face up. Card faces represent characters from the book and are marked so players know which side goes face up.

Between these cards is one special character - Tuunbaq, that is controlled by the game AI. When Tuunbaq is drawn he stays on top of the card that is drawn after him. If he's drawn first or last, he goes to the first character in the row.

Tuunbag is the force of nature and at the end of each turn will attack and try to kill a character that he marked (card under him).

After that, all cubes are placed in the bag and shuffled, then each player will take one into his/her left hand.

THAT CUBE IS REPRESENTING PLAYER'S ALLEGIANCE to one of the THREE sides in the conflict and MUST STAY HIDDEN (do not show it to other players)!

BLUE - Crew loyal to England and officers
RED - Mutineers
YELLOW - Neutral players

For the rest of the game that cubes stays hidden in his/her right hand, unless something happens that forces player to reveal it.

First Player:
The oldest player is the first player, the rest goes clock-wise.

On Each turn:

- Every player takes one cube from the bag and then he can do one action or pass

- After all Players have used their actions or passed, Tuunbaq activates and attacks the character he has marked. Or, if there is no character under him, Tuunbaq draws one cube and activates one of the events from the other side of his card. That cube is then discarded.

- Everything is repeated until bag contains only white cubes or player couldn't draw a cube from the bag that isn't white. In that case game ends and the winners are determined.

Winning the game:

Player or Players win the game as a group.

Loyal crew members and officers win if there is more BLUE characters alive than any other characters.

Mutineers win if there is more RED characters alive than any other characters.

Neutral group wins if there is the same amount of BLUE and RED characters alive.

Player Actions:

After taking one cube from the bag player can do one of the actions below:

1. Use 1 or 2 cubes to activate one special ability from the character's or nature's card

2. Place 1 cube on the character's image

3. Pass.

These action cubes are stored in front of the player, visible to everyone. Player can't have more than 2 cubes in front of him. When taking the third cube, he must discard one into the bag and stay with only 2 cubes in his personal supply.

Every time the cubes are used for activation, they go back into the bag.

If player draws a white cube, he must place it on the Tuunbaq card and continue to draw his cube. If he can't draw a cube of different color than white, game ends. (White cubes are returned to the bag before Tuunbaq activation)

Tuunbaq ATTACK (or event activation):

After players finish their actions, Tuunbaq will automatically attack the character card that is under him.

ATTACK proceeds as follow:

Draw number of cubes one-by-one depending on the value of the character's card (top right corner of the card).
If white cube is drawn - character is dead - flip his card to the other side (nature). Then move Tuunbaq 1 space to the right for each drawn cube. That is his new mark. Return all drawn cubes back to the bag.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
MOVEMENT:
After attack Tuunbaq always moves to the right, over the characters and he cycles around the row.

When character card have to be moved to any direction, cards that are not moving shift to the opposite direction depending on the number of spaces the moving card is moved.

When the moving card gets to the end of the row, it will jump to the leftmost or rightmost place in the row (depending on the direction of its movement). So, cards circle around the row when moving.


If there was a Nature card under Tuunbaq, instead of attacking he will draw 1 cube and activate one of his events on the other side of his card. That cube is then removed from the game.

When all characters are killed, game ends and no one wins!

SPECIAL RULES:

1. Player can always use the color of his ALLEGIANCE cube to activate special abilities on character cards. He can do this as a one cube activation, or as a mix of his ALLEGIANCE color and the cube from his supply. Needless to say, he can bluff about the color of his ALLEGIANCE.

2. If challenged by other player for bluffing, player must show his ALLEGIANCE cube. If he wasn't bluffing, the player that challenged him must show his ALLEGIANCE cube and kill one character of that color (flip him to nature side)
If the bluff was busted, player that tried to bluff must show his ALLEGIANCE cube and kill one character of that color.
From that point on, everyone will know the ALLEGIANCE of those players.

3. Only 1 cube can be stored on the character card. This cube has double-purpose. When that character is attacked by Tuunbaq - Tuunbaq draws one less cube. Or, cube from the character can be used for activating that character special ability, as single or as a mix of any other cubes from the Player's supply or together with his ALLEGIANCE cube! (As always, cubes used for activation go back to the bag)

4. Some cards have characters on both sides. They start as one character, and when that character is killed, the other is introduced into game (flips). But, if the new character is killed, that card is removed from the game.

Special Icons:

Every character has an icon that have passive ability, that is always active.

Lion - Red characters can't be activated when adjacent to Lion icon.

Shield (Guardian) - Attacked characters adjacent to this icon are protected from Tuunbaq. Tuunbag draws one less cube when Attacking those characters.

Anchor (Sailor) - Sailors can activate their second ability only when adjacent to other Sailors.

Crossed Sabers (Fighter) - Tuunbaq can't move over Fighters. So, he will stop 1 space in front of the character with a crossed sabers icon.

Cure (Shaman/Healer) - At the end of the game, adjacent Nature cards are flipped face up, to their character side. Basically, some dead characters might actually be alive, as they are found in the wilderness.


That's it for now... I'll post additional things later.

I have made a PSD template for the cards, so here is one of them:


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Tomas Uhlir
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Hi Bojan,

I stumbled upon your game by accident and I must say, that on the first sight it looks intriguing.

I love the theme.
The machanics looks promising as well:
- I like how the game ends when there are only white cubes in the bag. While there are possibilities to put the cubes back, they should be slowly depleted. Elegant and with a nice potential.
- I like how you activate the characters with the cubes, you draw from the bag.
- There seems to be a hidden layer of the bag manipulation. I like the fact that the more players get the blue cubes as an allegiance, the less they are left in the bag, thus making the blue characters weaker / more difficult to activate. You should also carefully consider what cubes t use, since they go back to the bag...
- The double sided cards can bring quite a lot of depth and can even introduce some interesting story or thematic moments (e.g. by killing a cook, you could flip the card to some kind of starving event...).

A few questions:
- The starting distributions seems to be a bit luck-based. What about when all but one player draw the same allegiance. Isn't the one player disadvantaged? But maybe, you are able to balance it with the character powers...
- I am not sure about the bluffing/challenging mechanism. Do I understand it right that the challenged player shows his allegiance in any case?

Overall, I am interested and looking forward for more.
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Bojan Prakljacic
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There is a layer on top of everything based on the special abilities of the characters, which are not shown for now since I need to fine-tune them and refine further during play-testing.

About ALLEGIANCE disadvantage:

few things mixed together will fix this (theoretically):

- Players have only one action - so, action limitation
- Players will not know the ALLEGIANCE of other players, and some actions from the cards will be ambiguous, helping all sides in conflict in the same amount
- Characters will die pretty soon into the game - cubes on the table lower the number of cubes in the bag, so the probability to draw white cube during the Tuunbaq attack rises with each cube out of the bag! This may push some players into changing their ALLEGIANCE in some way to be on the winning side!
- Other side of the cards (Nature ones) represent harsh conditions affecting the crews. Their effects will grant players more actions for direct attack on other players, but also the possibility to change the ALLEGIANCE!
- You can call the bluff only during action where player use his unknown Allegiance to activate something
- Tuunbaq events introduce a part of randomness that affects everyone the same, so even if all players mange to somehow find out that they are all in the same group, they still need to survive Tuunbaq and his effects.

All of that should, again: theoretically (since I have to test this throughout), make the game very engaging and unpredictable till the end. It should transfer the dread, lack of trust and small betrayals between players, that we saw in the book and the TV series.

For instance:
Action from the character's card may force you to change the ALLEGIANCE. Depending when it's done, it may force you into the other group. Or not. probability is dependent on the cubes on the table and the ones in the bag. Keeping a close eye on their number is important, same as keeping a close eye on who's doing what!

Neutral characters may want to save RED character just to keep the numbers equal. They will do the same thing for BLUE character if they have to. This will add additional confusion about who's in what group.

I think it will be very interesting. At least, I'll really try hard to make everything turbulent, but balanced for each side.
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Bojan Prakljacic
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Here's one of the Neutral characters, Lady Silence.
She comes into play after Thomas Blanky is killed. (She's on the other side of the Blanky's card)



Neutral group wins only if there is equal number of Red and Blue characters at the end of the game. They do come into count when it needs to be determined a victory condition for Red or Blue team. So, Players that belong to Red or Blue team will probably want to destroy Neutral characters once they gain an advantage.


Now, about AUTOMA:

Knowing that it will be really hard to find players to playtest this game, I've also prepared a rules set for the solo play.

In solo game Player will shuffle all cards and spread them in a row in the same fashion as in competitive multiplayer game. Tuunbaq will also mark one character in same manner.

All cubes (except white) are added to the bag and player will draw one to determine his ALLEGIANCE.
Then Player must place white meeple standing up on the rightmost character in a row that belongs to a different ALLEGIANCE than him.
After that white cubes are also shuffled in the bag and the game may start.

Solo Turn order:

- Player draws 2 cubes and then choose to do one of the actions:

1. Spend 1 or 2 cubes to activate the character's special ability
2. Place 1 cube on one characters card
3. Spend 1 cube to move meeple 1 space to the next rightmost character that belongs to a different ALLEGIANCE than him
4. Pass
(In solo game Player can hold a maximum of 3 cubes in his supply)

- Then remove 1 cube from the bag out of the game and activate Character's one-cube cost ability with a meeple on the card. After that, move the meeple to the next rightmost character that belongs to a different ALLEGIANCE than Player, but put the meeple in the lying position on that card. The meeple moves in a cycle, so when it leave the row, it goes back to first rightmost position in a row.

- Tuunbaq activates

Next turn:

- Player do the same

- Another cube is removed from the game and this time its activated character's two-cube cost ability that has a laying meeple on the card. After that, move the meeple to the next rightmost character that belongs to a different ALLEGIANCE than Player, but place meeple in a standing up position.

- Tuunbaq activates.

And this cycle continues till the end of the game.

Game ends regularly when player can't draw any cubes except white from the bag. Same victory conditions apply as for the competitive game.

If Player belonged to the BLUE team, he must have the majority of BLUE characters alive.
If he belonged to the RED team, he must be in a RED majority.
If he belonged to the Neutral group, equal number of BLUE and RED characters must be alive (not counting the Neutral characters).

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Mark Perry
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Looks like fun. I have one question, though: Is it OK that the game uses a characters straight from the book? While Terror and Erebus are historical, the characters of Lady Silence and the Tuunbaq are not.

 
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Bojan Prakljacic
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Game is based on the book.

Why would you think that's not ok?
 
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Mark Perry
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Because the book is copyrighted, and I presume no money is being paid to Dan Simmons to use his creation.
 
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Bojan Prakljacic
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That's true, but the game is a fan based project, so only for personal use.
If I would present this to a publisher, theme would be changed 100%. But, even then, lots of games are presented to publishers with an IP pasted on, with hopes that it will be picked up by someone who can obtain the IP and publish the game.

Artwork is mine, and before you say - that's also Den Simmons property, I'll have to point you toward billions and billions of fan art all over the internet. This is not for sale.

In any case, art and theme can easily be changed considering the abstract feel of the game, its my personal preference to go with the story from the book for now. I just like the story and want to make something for myself based on it.

I also have a Cthulhu theme for this. Which will probably go if I enter this into the contest, but, as I said, I really like to have this game based on the book, printed for myself.


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epa minondas
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It looks great, haven't read the book, but I saw the TV Show. I'm eager to test it.
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Bojan Prakljacic
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Me too, that's why I'm pushing myself to finish the art this week, so I can import it in TTS and call in some favors to play-test with at least 3 ppl.

I want to see how much is viable to have cubes needed for activation be removed from the game and act as a:
- timer - therefore making this a short but intense game
- pressure on the players to use their ALLEGIANCE color cube - therefore cause the conflict and bluffing aspect
- probability increase for successful Tuunbaq attack - therefore pushing the game into the third act where the things are more ambiguous

If I manage to make those three working in a semi-balanced way, this will be very interesting game.

EDIT:


I've made a visual help to show how the game looks during play, set on table.

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Mark Perry
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Another consideration: You said "the contest". If by chance you are thinking of the 9-card contest, then you will certainly need to change your theme: Chris's contests do not allow IPs that are not owned by the designers (unless they are in PD). This has been a development that came to be since about 2016. You might be able to get around some of this by removing reference to The Terror specific characters and the setting, but if you were hoping to enter the game, certainly the Terror theme has to go. Just thought you should know, in case.
 
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Bojan Prakljacic
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I know that, that's why I'm gonna make additional artwork with different theme.

But, it's too soon to think about it, I still have to test this and see how it will work all together. It's not easy with all of the limitations to pull this off and I'm not a professional designer with a math pedigree, so I usually work by the feel and trial and error.

Game would be same if the setting was 'At the Mountain of Madness' and Tuunbaq was an Elder Thing picking off the expedition members one by one, while hidden cultists are trying to reactivate the old city, with Miskatonic team against them and the Mystic society of Kathu-Dthem that wants both sides dead to keep the secret for themselves...

See? It can be anything as long there are 3 sides in conflict and the element of randomness that keeps everyone on their toes and ready to jump to the winning team if opportunity arises.

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epa minondas
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So, in your Cthulhu version, what will be the three sides ?
 
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Bojan Prakljacic
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Miskatonic, Cultists, Mob, could be anything once I settle the core mechanics.
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Bojan Prakljacic
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Half of the characters done.



Next: Mutineers!
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Bojan Prakljacic
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Alright, since I've finished the art for the game, now it's time to go into details about card effects.

Fronts of the cards contain character actions, while backs have 'perils of the nature' actions. These 'perils' are more direct approach to interact with other player's cubes.

Every time a character dies, card is flipped and the 'nature perils' are introduced. Besides having more 'aggressive' actions, they also have one time effect that activates with the card flip.

EXAMPLE:

Flip: Move Tuunbaq to the character with the most dread. If tied, next player must move Tuunbaq to the character of his choice.

These can 'mess' up the current 'balance of power' between player groups since they can affect specific players and their ALLEGIANCE. Known allies might turn into unknown enemies or back to allies, if their ALLEGIANCE cube get swapped with the new one from the bag.

Important thing about the game is that any 'negotiations' between players are welcomed, and the late game scarcity of cubes should prompt the players to try to cooperate with other players that may be of the same ALLEGIANCE like them, or at least have same goals.

Perils (or the harsh climate of the Arctic)

These deal with the:

- removing cubes from the other player's supplies
- moving cubes from one player supply to another
- forcing a player to grab new ALLEGIANCE cube from the bag if some conditions are met
- forcing a player to exchange his current ALLEGIANCE cube with the one from his supply if some conditions are met
- increasing the 'Dread' of the characters on the board, thus increasing their chance to 'die' during the Tuunbaq attack
- retrieving cubes from the discard pile into the bag or into the other player's supplies
- manipulating cubes of the specific color in some way
- flipping characters back into the 'alive state' (character was just lost in the blizzard and presumed dead) if some conditions are met

Important thing is that all 'nature peril' cards demand 2 cubes for activating their effects, so the ALLEGIANCE bluff will (potentially) be used more during that stage of the game.

How to be thematic with the character actions and still have the'proper' game?

This is the thing I'm wresting now. I want characters to have very thematic actions depending on the things they do in the book and the TV series, but I also have to think about the game balance and the interactions between players in the game...

For instance lets look at the Sir John Franklin card:



He is obviously a BLUE character, with his allegiance to the crown and England.

His Dread value is 5. Dread represents the number of cubes that are pulled from the bag in case he gets attacked by Tuunbaq. High Dread = high chance to die (pull the white cube).

He is also a commanding presence character (Lion icon) which means that red character's (potential mutineers) actions can't be activated when they are adjacent to him.

This will obviously make him a target for some mischief from any RED ALLEGIANCE player.

His one BLUE cube activation action says: Force one player to discard all his red cubes.

Thematically, he sways mutineers from mutiny, with his iron command and presence. This action is also more effective once the BLUE players find out for sure who are the RED players.

His second actions that uses one BLUE and one cube of ANY COLOR reads: Move one character up to 3 spaces in any direction.

This is an action that is ambiguous, and can be used by any group to their advantage. Now, moving in the game is very specific.
When you are moving a card through the row to the left some amount of spaces, card moves that much spaces toward left shifting all other cards behind that much spaces to the right.

EXAMPLE:

For the sake of this example card No. 6 is Sir John Franklin and one player decides to move him 3 spaces to the left using his second action.



Is he moved there with the purpose to save him and block 2 RED cards to be used, or is this a cunning ploy from a hidden RED player to try to kill one BLUE character and look like he is in ALLEGIANCE with BLUE?

Who knows...

In any case, my plan is to have thematic actions, but also ambiguous for the sake of keeping players guessing who is who.

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Bojan Prakljacic
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Bojan Prakljacic
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Change in the rules:

Crossed sabers icon (Fighter) - If Tuunbaq is adjacent to Fighter, instead of attacking, during his turn, Tuunbaq will do one of his events from the other side of his card.

Previously, effect of the Fighter was to stop Tuunbaq's movement, but that was a game-braking mistake.

This way, players can use Fighters to save characters from dying for the cost of speeding up the end game and some other negative effects.

 
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Salvatore Chilardi
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I was intrigued by the Terror & Erebus story when i was a boy (now I'm 50) so keep the good work on my friend.
I will be happy and glad when you will post the whole set of cards or you will publish the game.
(Oh and if you need a playtester... Here I am)
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