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Subject: The BGG Perfect Adventure Game Project. rss

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James Hutchings
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Post your ideas for your unfinished, non dungeon-crawl adventure game.

A spinoff of this thread which is for dungeon-crawls.

zombie arrrh devil robot ninja goo sauron zombie arrrh devil robot ninja goo sauron zombie arrrh devil robot ninja goo sauron zombie arrrh devil robot ninja goo sauron
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Jorge Arroyo
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I don't have any unfinished project, but I'll just add my thoughts about adventure games to the thread...

I think that Magic Realm is the best of the published adventure games, but it is a complex game. It has been suggested that a system of "starter kits" like those for ASL could work well to introduce it to new players (see http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/276417 )

That said, I think for me, an adventure game must provide a detailed and dynamic game system so that whatever adventures occur do so from the gameplay and not from some flavor text on a card. So first, I'd leave out random encounters with pretty pictures and descriptive text (like those found in Runebound) totally out.
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Sean
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Runebound has its merits, is very popular and rightly so. It also has its drawbacks. But whatever design you come up with make sure it is anti WoW:TaG. That game has no saving graces. Nil.
You have to also look at systems, and as Maka says; adventures should occur from gameplay and not flavortext on a card. Many ad games are either dice driven (Talisman) or card driven (Runebound\Prophecy). I liked the mechanic in Return of the Heroes of drawing from the bag and having quests that were multipart, but there again was a flaw where your quest could be located at the far corner of the board.
I like the idea of a semi co-op game: players perhaps having the same ultimate goal but have to each take their own mini quest or quests at some point during the adventure. And unless they all complete these quests (to collect parts of ......) then the whole thing fails. Yet in the end only one can win. Something like that.
Yes I've been reading the reviews of Cutthroat Caverns!
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James Hutchings
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My ideas, posted from the other thread:

My overall aim in terms of theme is to make "a fantasy game rather than a D&D game."

I actually originally wanted to make a 'clone' of The Sorcerer's Cave, but I kept thinking of small changes to make, to the point that it became a design for a new game.

I was also influenced by a mixture of fascination and frustration with Talisman and its various spinoffs. Fascination in terms of how simply it expresses its theme, and its capacity for house-ruling, and frustration in terms of how lacking it is as a game, especially given its length.

So, "a shorter Talisman with more interesting strategy" is one way to express what I want.

I don't really think I've achieved either my rules or theme aims, which is why these are ideas rather than a finished game.

Setup

Each player represents the temple of a particular (historically worshipped) god or goddess. The temples tell you which characters you start with. For example the temple of Diana might start with a Huntress and a Wild Dog. The temple of Hermes might start with several Scoundrels. The temple of Thoth might start with some Student Wizards. And so on.

There's a capacity to make the temples more individual, for example by giving them bonuses or penalties when trying to recruit particular types of characters, and/or giving them distinctive magic.

The temples also have an alignment, which rewards or penalises players for particular actions (of which more below.)

The characters are simpler than even Talisman characters, since a player can control many characters and characters should die quite often. You improve your group rather than improve the individual characters (although there might be some ways that can happen too).

There's no expectation that player-characters will be tougher than opponents they meet - the opposite if anything.

Some possible characters are:

Blacksmith
Cat Lady or Goodwife or Alewife
Ogre (Sarah Impalin' and Al Gore)
Talking Bear
Wicked Priest
Student Wizard
Scoundrel
Shepherd, Woodcutter, Huntress
Gnome (Gnome Chomsky and Gnome E. Klein)

The main differences between this list and those of other games are

i) Although there are wizards and priests, the characters are much more 'low-powered' than in most similar games.
ii) The character types are taken from fantasy (either modern works or fairy tales) much more than from role-playing games.

Once players have their characters, they have to semi-randomly come up with each character's origin. There are four possible origins: Barbarian, Peasant, Townsfolk, or Noble (as in RuneQuest). Each gives a different small advantage. For example Townsfolk might be able to move around more quickly in a city, and be better at bargaining.

Some characters will automatically be one particular origin (for example Shepherds would always be Peasants). Others will require a roll (for example for Scoundrels: 1 Peasant 2-5 Townsfolk 6 Noble).

Anyway, having chosen a temple and set up their initial characters, the main part of the game begins.

Player Elimination, Interaction and Game Length

...are problems with Talisman, and apparently with a lot of fantasy-themed games.

One way that I intend to get more interaction is by having a movement system which allows players to land on each other more often (see below).

Another is an idea taken from Vampire: The Eternal Struggle: that of having another player as your target. The basic idea is that each player has exactly one target player, and each player is the target of exactly one player.

In my game if a player is eliminated before anyone finishes, the game ends. The winner is whoever has that player as a target, regardless of who eliminated the player. This is intended to encourage players to actively chase their target, as well as propping up players in trouble that aren't their target, and trying to defend against threats without crippling the player attacking them.

I'm not sure whether to have targets as open information, as in Vampire, or secret, as in some Risk variants.

Points

Each player starts with a certain number of points (which should have a more evocative name). They represent the power of the god whose temple the player represents. The aim of the game is to get to a set number of points.

Points can be spent for lots of different things, hopefully leading to more interesting strategy. For example you can spend them to get extra dice when travelling or fighting. Importantly, points can be spent to make other players' movement or fighting less effective. They're also used to bid on new characters or equipment that might periodically become available in the city.

Likewise magic items and treasure are worth points, but only when they're 'sacrificed' ie the players have to travel back to their temple and discard the card. This is intended to create interesting decisions as to when to go back, as well as the points value vs the use-value of treasure.

Points are also gained or reduced based on the player's temple's alignment. For example if an evil group lands on the same space as another player's group, they might gain a point for attacking them and lose a point for leaving them alone. The point difference should be small enough that it has a real effect on what's the best choice, without dictating it.

Movement

In Talisman you move by rolling a dice and moving that many spaces, usually giving two choices but sometimes three or four.

I dislike this type of movement because it makes it very difficult for players to plan to interact, either with other players or with elements on the board, and thus makes the game less skillful. However, it does feel like wandering around a place when you don't quite know where you are.

In a lot of dungeon-crawling games, on the other hand, you move freely. This can make for more strategy, but it gives the player a control that for me doesn't really fit with the idea of a mysterious underworld or the twisting alleys of a fantasy city.

So my preferred method at the moment is for players to roll two dice and pick one, with various possible modifiers. For example groups including Barbarians might be able to choose to add 1 to either dice if they're in the wilderness. If everyone has a horse they might be able to double either dice, and so on.

There are other possibilities, for example characters could move freely normally but be at risk of becoming lost, in which case another player moves them. In any case, the aim is more control than in Talisman but not complete control.

Importantly, groups can split up, and a player can move all their seperate groups on their turn. Again, this is intended to create more interesting decisions - lots of groups = lots of opportunities for getting towards victory, but also more vulnerability.
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castiglione
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I'm actually quite taken with the system used in Mythos.

You basically have cards in your hand and the cards represent locations, means of transportation, people, etc.

The cards can either represent the actual "things" themselves OR a clue, i.e. if you have a card for a certain person in your hand BUT you are not at a location where that person can be found, the card is a "clue" that you've discovered something about that person. Once the card is played (and it can only be played under certain circumstances), it then represents the person.

I.e. you have the card for the crazy wizard; the card states that the wizard can be found in the haunted forest or the abandoned ruins. Your character is not in the haunted forest or abandoned ruins so the card represents your character finding out about the wizard. Once the character gets to the haunted forest or abandoned ruins, he can then play that card; he's found the wizard!

And so forth.
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The dungeoncrawl thread had several posts on story, which seems especially hard to implement in a board game.

What's the difference between a story and an adventure (if any)?

I agree that Runebound and Arkham Horror's event cards add flavor, but are random and unconnected, so don't really count as a story.

It would seem that to start creating story through gameplay, you need goals. But if it's always the same goal(s), it gets pretty boring pretty quickly. How to create interesting goals each play?

Arkham Horror did have a few places that could only be visited if certain conditions were met, this began to create a sense of exploration (unless you went through and read all the cards one by one). Certainly exploration is a big treat and part of the addictive quality of many digital adventure games, but it's much harder to accomplish with physical media. Expansions help, of course, but I'd like to see something that emerges from the basic gameplay before expansions are added.

Another thing that really makes a player's day in a computer game is finding a rare powerful object. The player has an investment, and doesn't want to have it stolen, or lose it by dying. Again, if all objects are represented by cards then there are no surprises, but perhaps when a player finds an object in a hard-to-reach place, he rolls on a table, adding bonuses he got from the location, to create an object with certain properties and strengths. Since it's created semi-randomly, the object may not immediately be useful in most situations, but with creative application of spells or scrolls, may be able to transform it, or combine it with other objects. Working out powerful combinations of objects is another fun aspect of computer games.
 
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Mark Wright
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On the movement front, reading the previous texts it occured to me that you could use a system like Ave Caesar.

Let me explain, ave caesar is a game where you race chariots and you each get an identical pack of cards numbered from 1-6 with 6 of each for a 36 card deck for example. (This isn't entirely true re distribution of numbers but that doesn't matter)

So you have a hand of three cards and you play a card from your hand for movement. Then draw another card. this gives you some decisions about how you move but can still trip you up, i you have 3 cards with 4 on it you can move 4 but may have a choice of locations.

This went further
Why not play talisman all like this, have a card deck and draw from it, to roll a dice totally randomly pull the top card, to make a strategic decision play a card from your hand.

Battling monsters pull a card from your hand and add to your strength and turn the top card over and add to monster strength or craft.

Perhaps this is just the start as the cards could have other information on them. Perhaps powers accessible by players or monsters only.

I think design done on that.

re scorcer's cave, mystic wood sounds like where you want to get to. That adds in some of the things you are looking at.
 
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Jorge Arroyo
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castiglione wrote:
I'm actually quite taken with the system used in Mythos.


Wow! That sounds interesting. In a way, it reminds me of the system from Quest for the Faysylwood, another card game, but from what you say, that one seems to be more "adventure" while this one is more "card game"...

Strangelander wrote:
It would seem that to start creating story through gameplay, you need goals. But if it's always the same goal(s), it gets pretty boring pretty quickly. How to create interesting goals each play?


Magic Realm uses a system of points, where you have to allocate 5 points to different types of goals (like gold, great treasures, fame, etc...) secretly. It works wonderfully until you know the characters so well, everyone uses the same points for each character. Expert MR players came up with a system of quests where instead of the points, each player would have a big quest to solve.

I like both systems, and they could be combined too, with the system of points including a section for quests. I did a variant that works like this for Return of the Heroes.

Quote:

Another thing that really makes a player's day in a computer game is finding a rare powerful object. The player has an investment, and doesn't want to have it stolen, or lose it by dying.


One way of adding to the "powerful object" reward is to have many different magical treasures which have little bonuses, but which can be combined cleverly for bigger powers. I'm sure veteran Magic Realm players could list a few really nice combinations that make characters very powerful, but those are not that easy to find (and may appear only once every few games). Of course, balancing so many treasures may be a bit difficult...
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Gary Simpson

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Quote:
What's the difference between a story and an adventure (if any)?


A story is bound to a parable (generalized as something to be learned). An adventure is bound to a goal or quest-resolution (generalized by chance).

Example:
The Sword in the Stone is a story of King Arthur's coming of age.
King Arthur going after the Holy Grail is an adventure.

Now that's not to say that they are strictly independent...several adventures strung together can tell a story (as it shows progression), just as several storylines can be rooted in an adventure (as it shows narrative).

Games lend themselves more towards adventures due to their inherent resolution (player does this and completes the quest). Storytelling is much more difficult given the histrionics of game play (player does this to elicit conflict resolved as a lesson).

Example:
Alexander the Great must invade Egypt (as a quest resolution)
Alexander the Great must learn to become a conquering leader not only through a show of force but also via foreign diplomacy (as a story conflict).


simpson
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James Hutchings
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hellium wrote:
Why not play talisman all like this, have a card deck and draw from it, to roll a dice totally randomly pull the top card, to make a strategic decision play a card from your hand.

Battling monsters pull a card from your hand and add to your strength and turn the top card over and add to monster strength or craft.


Or you could play a card, and someone else could play a card for the monster.
 
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castiglione
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maka wrote:
castiglione wrote:
I'm actually quite taken with the system used in Mythos.


Wow! That sounds interesting. In a way, it reminds me of the system from Quest for the Faysylwood, another card game, but from what you say, that one seems to be more "adventure" while this one is more "card game"...


You're actually correct in that Mythos is very much a card game and this is very thinly disguised.

However, I think there is a germ of a good idea in there.

Especially when it comes to more "story-based" games based around events where location is somewhat vague compared to something like a dungeon crawl which is based around location with events happening as a result of location.

In Mythos, each character was dealt a "story card" which basically outlined the story line that the character was trying to accomplish. Now, I felt the story lines were a bit clunky since they really were nothing more than a list of cards that the player needed to play and it seemed odd to me that a character would know the story before hand and attempt to bring it to fruition...but I thought one could play with this concept and have the story grow organically during the course of play (maybe have a sort of card-based "tree" mechanism where the possible course of the story advances based on cards the player plays and the cards would represent either clues when in your hand and actual things/people/etc. when they are played).

Anyway, something to think about.
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Darren Dew
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Great thoughts here, all around. If I may, I'll add my Talismanic two cents.

Over the years of adding various elements and working them into Talisman to address certain vacuums or bring tiny pieces of other games, we tried to increase player interaction and create goals specific toward that. Not entirely, but that was one of our goals.
I think any adventure game with too much direct narrative will suffer from lack of variance; too much creative lement generation leads to the Talisman/Runebound situation where its too loose and not so much of a story. Very challanging, especially if trying to create a system for all of these things from scratch.
I do think the best route is to go for the feel, relative to the games that feel closest to it that you already know, and freely hijack elements from other games that can be worked into applying their successes TO those elements. That is, work hardest at trying to create the feeling, the narrative gestalt; the finetuning of the systems can come later if you get the theme where you are aiming.

That having been said, its difficult to add enough elements that create those powerful combinations, as spoken to, without giving away a measure of that freedom. I've found the creation of those rare combinations in Mythos and Talisman to be one of their BEST qualities. However, there is a TON of elements in both of those games.

I look forward to this thread with great interest!
 
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James Hutchings
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I've just gotten a new copy of Nexus Ops, and I'm very impressed with the combat system. The only stats are the chance of hitting, and the order of who attacks first. In the game the creatures with a higher chance of hitting also attck first, but there's no reason you couldn't have an assassin-type character with a high speed but only moderate 'to hit', or a lumbering ogre or similar who was the other way round.
 
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