Ian Arbuckle
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I've been casually developing an idea for a deduction/adventure game for a few months, and am looking for some feedback on what I've got so far. It's intended to be a true deduction game, with conditions that players can control in order to refine their suspicions, as well as a move/fight/encounter sort of adventure game with influence from Arkham Horror. I've long-enjoyed both deduction and adventure games, so I wanted to try combining them. I owe a debt to Android for planting the seed of the idea, even if the idea has grown into something very different.

Working Title: Nemesis

Theme: Dark fantasy. Players are humans who have been abducted into a Fairy Tale Land by storybook villains. There is an ancient Law in the land of stories: villains can be set free of their eternal lives of defeat and humiliation if they can trap someone else in the realm and break their spirit. One such villain has kidnapped each of the players, and somewhere in the land has hidden a key that would allow that player to return home.

Objective: Each player must travel around the land, gathering courage, defeating monsters, encountering locations, and questioning his or her nemesis about the hidden location of his or her key. When I player correctly deduces his or her key's location, he or she can travel to that location, search it, and win the game.

Core Ideas: A few of the gameplay concepts that define the game.

Courage -- The only currency in the game will be courage, since it stands at the heart of so many fairy and folk tales. Players will gain courage by accomplishing feats of strength, wit, and memory, or lose it by failing contests in the those stats. Courage can also be spent to improve a player's chances at success in stat contests. Moving around the board requires courage, in a Mancala-esque fashion. Players pick up all the courage left on their square at the beginning of their turn, and each square they move through, they must leave 1 courage behind.

Transformation -- The villain who kidnapped you -- your nemesis for the duration of the game -- slowly infiltrates your body and soul. Every time your courage is reduced to 0, your character becomes a bit more like your nemesis. This is reflected in a slight alteration of the character's stats. (Character stat values indicate what numbers count as successes when rolled on dice; the nemesis stat values indicate how many dice are rolled for each stat. Only nemesis stat values change during transformation.) With random pairings of player characters and nemeses, I'm hoping that the combinations will allow a good deal of replay, though there's obviously going to be a lot of balancing work to do. If you lose all your courage 4 times, you have become completely transformed. Your nemesis has escaped his life as a villain, and now your only hope is to someday pluck a human from the real world to replace you...

Nemesis Player -- Rather than letting the game determine the locations of each player's keys, I wanted the deduction element to involve definite data. Deduction will still be a process of elimination, but it will be slightly different from the "look at what other player's possess" method of deduction employed in Mystery of the Abbey, Cluedo, the upcoming Mystery Express... In Nemesis, each player has an associated Nemesis player (the player to their left.) That nemesis player will draw a card secretly at the beginning of the game which indicates the location of the key of the player to their right. During the game, a nemesis player must answer truthfully to certain questions to him or her.

The player characters I've been developing so far include Thora (a tough gal who works as a cashier in a hardware store), Red (a bike courier who lives with her grandma), Pete (president of a fraternity, long past the age of graduation) and George (a law student who helps on pro bono social cases).

To accompany them, the nemeses I have worked on so far include Loki, The Wolf, Captain Hook, and The Dragon.

The map board will be divided into four regions, with each region holding two named locations and several intervening squares on which courage and combat can be found. Locations would include places like Grandmother's House, Yggdrasil, Pirate Bay, Castle in the Clouds, and the like. Each named location will have a small encounter deck. Encounter cards will have different effects based on how much courage the player who is reading them has-- the more courage they have, the more likely they are to get into riskier and more rewarding encounters.

When players gather enough courage to confront their nemeses, they can ask about the region their key is in, the number of encounter cards remaining at the location where their key is hidden, or the type of monster guarding their key. The questions have to be specific ("Is my key in the Mountains?") and the nemesis player has to answer yes/no truthfully. Monsters will be of three types, but with different stat contests and rewards on them. Players will thus be able to manipulate their chances at valuable feedback from their opponent by encountering locations (changing the number of encounter cards available) and defeating monsters (changing which monsters guard a given location).

There's a way to short-circuit the whole game that I can see, if a player asks his nemesis about the region of his key, gets it correct, and then searches at both locations in that region. If he guesses incorrectly the first time, he will lose all his courage (the penalty for searching an incorrect location for your key) but then be guaranteed to find his key the next time he has a chance to explore.

I'm very interested in any feedback the community here might offer. This is the most complex game I have tried to get functional, and I'd love a critical eye or two to point out the missing teeth in these gears. The game isn't even ready for playtesting yet, so I'm a flexible guy right now. Thanks for taking a look!
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David Janik-Jones
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Up Front fan, Cats were once worshipped as gods and they haven't forgotten this, Combat Commander series fan, The Raven King (game publisher) ... that's me!, Fields of Fire fan
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Slywester Janik, awarded the Krzyż Walecznych (Polish Cross of Valour), August 1944
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I like it. The whole idea sounds really good. I'll add more thoughts later.
 
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Joe Mucchiello
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Saltboy wrote:
To accompany them, the nemeses I have worked on so far include Loki, The Wolf, Captain Hook, and The Dragon.

I'm no expert but I think there might be some IP issues involving Captain Hook in some countries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_and_Wendy#Copyright_statu...

Regardless of how valid those issues are, you might be better off just avoiding the issue and finding a different villain.
 
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Mike Bourgeois
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jmucchiello wrote:
Saltboy wrote:
To accompany them, the nemeses I have worked on so far include Loki, The Wolf, Captain Hook, and The Dragon.

I'm no expert but I think there might be some IP issues involving Captain Hook in some countries.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_and_Wendy#Copyright_statu...

Regardless of how valid those issues are, you might be better off just avoiding the issue and finding a different villain.


Just call Hook something like 'The Debonaire Pirate'. Use a piece of artwork that gives you the idea without blatently using a well known children's badguy.
 
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Ian Arbuckle
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I'm not too concerned with having to swap out characters/nemeses at this point. It's plenty easy to come up with new pairs. Alice and the red queen, Jack and the Giant, Scheherezade and caliph al-rahoun... Ok, I'm not even kind of confident I got those last ones right. Any favorites?
 
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Samuel Hinz
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the idea sounds quite good.
i can't exactly picture how it all works. but i like deduction games.
best of luck with it all.
 
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Ian Arbuckle
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Here's a little step-by-step through the encounter process. Encounters only happen at the 8 named locations on the board; other intervening squares have monster tokens you must fight (in the vein of Arkham Horror) or may just be empty and allow you to gather a bit of extra courage.

When you stop at a named location, however, you get to pull one of these suckers:



Each encounter card has three paragraphs, associated with a range of courage. When you draw an encounter card, you check your current courage against those specified on the card and resolve the corresponding paragraph.

Say I have 3 courage when I stop at the Pirate Cove. I therefore resolve the first paragraph, which tells me that a need to have a Strength contest with a drunken pirate. Contests are phrased with a character stat followed by a number of red dots representing courage. To resolve a contest, the player grabs a number of 6-sided dice equal to their Nemesis' rating in the indicated stat and roll them. Any dice that come up equal-to or greater-than their Character's rating in the same stat count as successes. Generally, only a single success is required to have a positive outcome.

The single courage dot shown on the first paragraph's Strength contest shows you how much courage is on the line. If you roll at least one success in the encounter, you gain 1 courage for having stood up to the lout. If you fail to roll any successes, however, you lose 1 courage for having had your butt roundly kicked.

As you can see, it's not much of a risk and not much of a reward for the lower amounts of courage. But if you have 4-6 courage, or 7 or more courage, your encounters will typically require more decisions and pay out (or damage) you to greater degrees.

Regardless of the outcome (even if you lose all your courage) the encounter card goes into that location's discard pile, potentially giving you another point of data with which to question your Nemesis...
 
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