Recommend
2 
 Thumb up
 Hide
6 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: paragraph book or cards - where's the line? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Ryan Twombly
United States
North Carolina
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm considering a fantasy game that tracks the lives of its adventurers from birth to the great challenge of their era. So far as I have it worked out, each round would have players rolling dice to determine whether they experience an event in their own lives or a "Realm Event" affecting everyone. Personal events would progress through time, so there would be a limited pool for each round based on the character's age. I've considered representing these events as cards or as entries in a paragraph book.

Cards have the advantage of being discardable after a single selection, which fits my idea of having only a single such instance per round. However, I want the personal events to vary based on a character's origin. For instance, an orphan committed to the Abbey might experience a prophetic vision, or a shepherd might have his flock stolen by bandits. Even when the events themselves are similar, the consequences might be very different. The death of a sibling would be a powerful formative influence in the life of a merchant's daughter, but it might put a King's son in line for the throne. Were these cards they would comprise multiple semi-ordered decks. As the design stands now, there would be need to be nine groups of ten cards for each of eight players - that's 10x9x8=720 cards! Alternatively, I could group the players into three categories, cutting the cards down to 10x9x3=270. That's much more manageable. What bugs me is the need to reshuffle groups of 10 cards between players of the same group and age, and the need to retain the card group ordering, not to mention the additional cost in producing card groups with different backs.

There could be a single paragraph book, or eight, or three, with the same info, and I could make longer entries in a book than on a card, with more art in the finished game. However, I'm not all that sure the entries need be very long. Consider this example, for our Abbey orphan:


"You are a foundling of uncertain parentage, committed to the Abbey by person unknown. Your early life was spent in the kitchens, where the head cook fostered you on her sturdy bosom. The Abbot awaits your decision. Will you join the Holy Order or forsake its cloistered embrace?

Starting Age: 14
Starting Stats: (GOOD)/(EVIL)'


The "(GOOD)/(EVIL)" part stands in for the different stats you would take based on the implied choice, GOOD if you become a Novice, EVIL if you do not. That could easily be accommodated on a card, especially if printed in landscape. Cards are more usual, and some players might not like having to flip through a book to find their place, particularly when their character reaches middle-age, and thus the middle of the book, or when they make a jump in age, such as in the next turn after the example.

On the other hand, this is not the be-all-end-all of examples. I might have longer passages with longer explanations and more complicated decisions to make. I would also be more inclined to devise 720 slightly different paragraphs than 720 slightly different cards. There's also the question of sex. The eldest daughter is still not the heir in a patriarchal society, so to realistically portray the consequences of a sibling's death in such a setting would require two cards, not one.

So what do you think? Would you rather draw cards from several small decks or flip through a voluminous paragraph book? Would splitting the book among players change you opinion? Do you think your opinion goes with or against that of the game-buying public?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Paul Schulzetenberg
United States
Albuquerque
NM
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
If you could give a book to each player, that'd be my preference. Passing around a paragraph book can be a pain, or can lead to just one player doing all the reading, which can suck the fun out for the other players. I like the card idea, though. I think if you can make it work with fewer cards, that would also be a good solution.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
M. Shanmugasundaram
United States
Sunnyvale
California
flag msg tools
badge
mbmbmbmbmb
I think cards increase production costs and game fiddlyness. Even if you gave the same paragraph book to four or five players, I think you'd still be cutting costs.

FFG Arkham Horror is a an example of a game that desperately needed a paragraph approach. It's just annoying to wade through all the options with cards littered everywhere.

With the CCG craze a while back, it's tough to avoid the tendency of companies to product cards for games. The paragraph approach is pretty dead, as far as I can tell. I think the last paragraph game that was published was City of Chaos.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ryan Twombly
United States
North Carolina
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
rumble wrote:
I think cards increase production costs and game fiddlyness. Even if you gave the same paragraph book to four or five players, I think you'd still be cutting costs.

FFG Arkham Horror is a an example of a game that desperately needed a paragraph approach. It's just annoying to wade through all the options with cards littered everywhere.

With the CCG craze a while back, it's tough to avoid the tendency of companies to product cards for games. The paragraph approach is pretty dead, as far as I can tell. I think the last paragraph game that was published was City of Chaos.

Well, Z-Man's republishing effort with Tales of the Arabian Nights was what got me thinking in that direction. If not for reading up on that and the original game, I wouldn't have been aware of the mechanic. Could you elaborate on Arkham Horror, please? Do you sift through the decks to find specific cards or are these random draws from multiple decks? I'd also like to know how Talisman handles its loot draws. I believe these are non-random card draws.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeremy Holcomb
United States
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
mbmbmbmbmb
rumble wrote:
I think cards increase production costs and game fiddlyness. Even if you gave the same paragraph book to four or five players, I think you'd still be cutting costs.

I don't think thats true. Cards are cheap, even on high quality card stock. I recommend worrying far more about usability: Do what creates the best user experience. The Publisher can worry about keeping costs down, and will suggest component modifications if they feel they are needed.

I agree that if you go the book route having a book for each player would be ideal. The Game Designer in me wants this to be decks of cards, but you'll have to do a lot of playtesting to see if that works.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Wim van Gruisen
Netherlands
Den Bosch
Unspecified
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmb
If you use cards, see if you can use a clue from AH and use different entries on your card. You can leave most of the text equal for all entries, only splitting in the last paragraphs (akin to the old Fighting Fantasy books).

Think of having the player note things down during the process, or taking tokens.

Quote:
Your older brother sinks through the ice. You look for a way to help him.

If you have the "Swim" skill, you rescue your brother. Add one point to Glory"
If you don't have the "Swim" skill you watch with horror as he dies. Take one Insanity point. If this makes you the oldest brother, take the "oldest brother" token as well.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.