Rob "Bodhi" Wolff
I’ve been thinking a lot about the RPG aspects of the game, and how some OL players are misconstruing the storytelling aspects of the game as an excuse to play a less open information game.
I’d like to explore the idea of a double-sided hidden information game. I’m just spitballing some ideas, here.
I fully recognize that this would slow the game down. But, it might be fun to do as a single campaign.
I am *not* going to try to create a balanced scenario straight out of the gate. Forgive me if things are just a bit wonky during this thought-experiment.
You could start the game with each side having their own introductions, flavor text, descriptions, etc. for each quest. Neither side would reveal to the other what their flavor text or objectives tell them.
The heroes could have flavor text that tells them “You have all been specially chosen for your particular backgrounds and abilities in order to discover the weaknesses of the tyrant Overlord who has kept this land in his thrall for so long. You have been dispatched to a local ruined castle where rumours of black magic and occult menaces have recently spread.”
You have the heroes draw random special background cards, and make monitoring the effects of those backgrounds the responsibility of that player.
Example: Individual Heroic Character Backgrounds:
Reveal when attacked by a Ferrox. The smell of your blood confuses the Ferrox, and dissuades them from attacking. The OL must spend a surge on any Ferrox attack against you, or the attack counts as a miss.
Chosen of Mystra:
Attacks that utilize the Sorcery ability to alter their damage and range values will automatically fail to hit you. If the Overlord player has changed their range/damage value on an attack by using the Sorcery ability, simply inform the OL that their attack misses you.
When a lieutenant is within 4 spaces of you, inform the Overlord that the Lieutenant may pass a Lore test in order to reveal the nature your background.
So now we could have a first quest scenario where a collection of heroes is entering a dungeon. The setup instructions for the heroic side inform the heroes to that they must choose a member to keep a valuable artifact hidden about their person.
Item: Phial of Overlord’s Blood
This phial contains a small portion of the blood of the Overlord.
This item may not be carried by anyone with Ferrox ancestry.
Reveal the presence of this phial when attacked by a Ferrox. If revealed, this item is vulnerable. Any hero who is knocked down will drop this item as an objective token. As an action this token/item may be picked up or dropped by any adjacent hero or monster.
When revealed, read the following text aloud to the Overlord: “Curses! The Ferrox’s keenly attuned blood-sense has revealed that these rebels have somehow obtained a sample of your own blood! Retrieve it, lest they use it to ferret out your weaknesses!”
The Overlord’s flavor text reveals that he has awoken from his slumber, stirred by a sense of unease. He extends his senses to a nearby laboratory where his loyal sorcerers are breeding Ferrox in an attempt to magically harness their recuperative abilities, and thereby grant the Overlord immortality. Their lair is being invaded by four local rebels who are attempting to destroy the valuable work! If the master sorcerer, or the specially-bred master Ferrox are destroyed, years of effort will be lost! More importantly, however, you’ve dispatched sir Alric Farrow to help investigate why their presence disturbs you so …
The Heroes objective is revealed (to them) to be:
- destroy the master Ferrox and the master Sorcerer. Keep the phial of blood safe.
The OL’s objective is revealed (to him/her)to be:
- Discover the secret the heroes are carrying. If the secret objective is carried off the map through the exit, the Overlord wins.
The heroes would have a section on their page that reads “read this if the master Ferrox and the master Sorcerer are both destroyed”, and the OL would have a section that reads “read this if the secret objective is carried off the map through the exit”.
The heroes have an instruction to read aloud a passage when the phial of blood is within 10 spaces of a Ferrox. "Something about these heroes is driving the Ferrox mad with thirst!"
So the heroes enter the dungeon, looking to kill bad guys. The Overlord defends, using his sorcerers and his ferrox.
When the Ferrox get within 10 spaces, the flavor text is read aloud. This informs savvy players (on both sides) that the Ferrox are somehow linked to the secret objective (from a design perspective, it should hint to the Overlord that they need to use the Ferrox to ferret out the secret ... but it also is foreshadowing of the important link between the Ferrox, the Overlord, and his Blood)
One hero keeps telling the OL that his attacks keep missing, but the Overlord can’t figure out why. Eventually the presence of his Lieutenant allows him to make a Lore check, and it is revealed that utilizing Sorcery keeps failing on that hero. The Overlord switches tactics accordingly.
One hero, when attacked by a Ferrox, reveals that the Overlord must spend surges in order to have those attacks hit at all. The Overlord switches tactics accordingly.
One hero, when attacked by a Ferrox, reveals that he is carrying a phial of the Overlord’s blood. After they read the description text, the Overlord now changes tactics to attempt to steal the phial of his blood.
If the heroes win, they may choose a quest where they use the phial of blood to create a blood-frenzy ritual spell, thereby removing the Ferrox from the Overlord's clutches and removing them from all future maps.
If the Overlord wins, he/she may choose a quest where he must protect the phial of blood, and combine it with the Ferrox healing ability to gain more power for his lieutenants, and eventually lead to his own immortality!
In this design, each side has objectives. Each side has a story. Each side has hidden information. Each side is in the dark a bit, and each side contributes to the whole.
I wonder if a campaign based on this style of design would work?
Or would it slow things down too much?
Would it be fun?
Might be better to play an actual RPG to get this detailed.
Rob "Bodhi" Wolff
A point, to be sure.
But an actual RPG only has one side knowing the story. I'm thinking about an experience where both sides are contributing equally.
Well ... equally-ish. ;-)
Dong a pre-written campaign like this would be immensely difficult, especially when it comes to replayability.
You could have one player acting as the GM, explaining things to both the Overlord and hero players, since that lets an actual person make the rules and scenarios, but doing it all using a book in that GM role instead would, I think, be too much effort to bother with.
You might want to check out Betrayal at House on the Hill for an implementation of this sort of idea. Not the best implementation admittedly.