Doug Russell
United States
Washington
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Greetings Everyone!

Long time lurker, first time poster.

My story:

I have 4 kids at home, the youngest is 7 years old. She likes to hang out with Dad and we try to do a lot together. Recently I had a game night at my house. Friends were over and we were playing Settlers of Catan and Munchkin. Savannah, my daughter, reeaaally wanted to play, but the games were just above her head. She was disappointed – and so was I. Over the next couple of days I looked for “gateway” games for us (games that would introduce her to board game play, D&D type of characters, gameplay, and scenarios) and found nothing interesting. So, being the Geek-Dad that I am I created a board game of our own. The game is based on stories and characters my daughter and I made up over the years. It takes place in "The Land of Syzygy". The main characters are the Smiggle Biggles and the Uggie Sluggies. It is a work in progress, but we are playing as a family and having fun doing so.

Savannah, out of the blue, came to me a month ago and said “Dad, I want to open a lemonade stand and raise money for Cancer.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that Cancer doesn’t need any money and that she may want to raise money to fight Cancer instead, but I'll be darned if she didn’t put one together, go out one Sunday afternoon and raise $32. I was VERY proud of her. She asked if she could donate it to my work (I work at the University of Washington with Research Scientists who are working to fight all sorts of diseases – including Cancer). I told her I would gladly do it, and she commented that she wanted to continue raising money. We talked about it and during our conversation she asked if we could sell our game to other families so they could play as well. I told her that I would look into it and see what I could do. We decided that we would try and take our “Family” game to the next level and see if we could turn it into something for her to continue her fundraising.

That brings me here. This isn't a new story - I am sure there are lots of Dads out there that have created games to play with the family. I put this one together and thought I would at least bring it to the community to see if it has merit.

Note: Art is always a huge concern. I do have an artist lined up to create a box-top splash for the game, which will include development of the two main character races - the Smiggle Biggles and the Uggie Sluggies. Other than that, I have a looonnnngg way to go. I figure there are about 230 cards - all will need some type of artwork. Cha-ching.



The Game:


The Smiggle Biggles, Uggie Sluggies, and the Land of Syzygy were created by my daughter and myself over the first few years of her life. I have tried to use these characters as representations of the different things Savannah would encounter in life; Boys vs. Girls, nice vs. grumpy or mean (although I try not to portray the Uggie Sluggies as necessarily mean); or just dealing with people and situations that are different that what she is used to. She has always been my “Smiggle Biggle” or my “Princess Smiggle.”


**PLEASE NOTE: This game is in Beta test and is a work in progress. All drawings, images, and descriptions are for reference only and do not reflect final design, artwork, or gameplay. As we continue to play we are finding ways to refine and improve the game. We are trying to make this game challenging and fun for everyone, but the focus is keeping our young ones involved and excited about the game and gameplay. **

A game for 1-8 players, ages 7 and up.

This game is designed to be a “Gateway” game; an introduction for young kids to a world of fantasy, to board games, role-playing, characters, creatures, and D&D like gameplay. We hope that parents will play with their kids, coaching them and helping them as they explore the idea and process of fantasy role-playing, game play, and all the fun that will follow.

Parents: Please read through the instructions for gameplay to the end. We have designed this game to have several different styles of play. Gauge you child’s abilities and personality. Are they more apt to want to work as a team or do you think they can handle a solo adventure? Are they easily discouraged by loss or can they handle setbacks well? As you read through the instructions for gameplay you will find suggestions and rules that can be tailored to your child. But please, don’t be afraid to push the limits. This can be a great opportunity to get them out of their comfort zone a bit and challenge them! Most of all, don’t be afraid to create “house rules” for our game. If you see an aspect of gameplay or a rule that you don’t think will fit with your family, or you think of a better way of doing it (we will be the first to admit that we can’t come up with EVERY solution!) please change it, modify it, make it yours, and most of all, have fun!

The Land of Syzygy – Attack of the SMOG!

The Story of the Game (to be read to all who would take part for the first time):

The Land of Syzygy is inhabited by many normal animals, several wonderfully exotic creatures, the Smiggle Biggles and the Uggie Sluggies.

The Smiggle Biggles (sometimes called Smiggles) and the Uggie Sluggies (sometimes called Uggies) live together in the Land of Syzygy. The Smiggles live in the fields and valleys of Syzygy where the sun shines, the skies are blue, and the grass grows tall and green. The Uggie Sluggies live in the forests and hills, where it rains – a lot, the sky is almost always grey, and the weeds and trees seem to get in your way everywhere you go.

As you can guess, the Smiggle Biggles and Uggie Sluggies have never really gotten along. They aren’t necessarily enemies, but it is hard for the Smiggle Biggles and Uggie Sluggies to understand each other because their differences seem so drastic. The Smiggles can’t understand how anyone could live in such a dismal place like where the Uggies live, and the Uggies can’t understand what all the fuss is about sunshine. They do run into each other, have adventures both with and against each other, and have to find ways to get along from time to time. In the end, they both have a lot to learn about each other, and maybe, just maybe, they will learn something about themselves as well.

The Smiggle Biggles and Uggie Sluggies had managed to live peacefully for years - until the day the SMOG arrived. That was the day everything changed. No one knows where the SMOG came from, or why it settled into the Land of Syzygy, but the effects of the SMOG have been terrible. Whatever the SMOG touches in the Land of Syzygy is poisoned with anger and evil. Plants and animals have been changed by the SMOG, and they are turning against the Smiggles and the Uggies. If the Smiggle Biggles and Uggie Sluggies don’t act soon, the very land they love will be completely overrun by the SMOG and everything they know and love will be changed forever. This could bring the end to everything and everyone in Syzygy!

The King of the Smiggle Biggles and Emperor of the Uggie Sluggies have met and decided that they will send out only the bravest members of each race to face the evil SMOG – and they have chosen you! The Elders of your village have given you equipment and magic to help you begin your journey. It is your job as a Smiggle Biggle or an Uggie Sluggie to venture out into the now dangerous land of Syzygy and make your way to the Cave of Wisdom. In that cave rests the Orb of Bravery, the only thing with the power to force the SMOG out of Syzygy and restore the land. Your journey won’t be easy, for the SMOG has poisoned the plants and creatures of Syzygy and they will try to keep you from your goal. Along your journey you may have random encounters with creatures, or the elders of your village may send you equipment or magic to help you along the way. Good Luck all you Smiggle Biggles and Uggie Sluggies. You are going to need it!


Game Pieces:
1 Game Board
4 Smiggle Biggle Character Pieces
4 Uggie Sluggie Character Pieces
50 Smiggle Biggle Equipment Cards
50 Uggie Sluggie Equipment Cards
50 Magic Cards
80 Creature Cards
8 Character Mats (one side for Smiggles, the other side for Uggies)
1 1d4 numbered 1-4
1 1d20 with
10 "Encounter" spaces

4 "Equipment" spaces

4 "Magic" spaces

2 blank spaces

Game Board:

I went to the Goodwill and found an old Lord of the Rings Monopoly game for .99 cents. I taped paper over top for a temporary game board. The board has four (4) spots from which you can start, each one on the right side of one of the sides of the board. There are thirty (30) spaces to move from the start to the end objective which is the Cave. Each starting point has its own path to the cave. This makes the board a bit busy, but is essential for gameplay.

Player Mat:

I don't have a demo of this piece yet. It will have a space for each equipment card, spaces for your magic cards, and the numbers 1-20 across the top, bottom, or both. These mats are not intergal to gameplay but are used to assist new players. They could be left out of final production to help keep costs down.

Cards

Equipment Cards:

I'll be the first to admit that I have no design skills. The cards that I have created are for reference only. They were created in Power Point, which is what I am most familiar with. From there I can turn them into .PDF files and print demo cards for game testing.




1. Equipment Description: This will tell you what kind of item it is. Hats and Helmets go on your head, Wands, Rings, Clubs, and Gloves are for your hands, Shoes and Boots are for your feet.
2. A wonderful picture of the item.
3. A brief description about the item you have.
4. This box tells you where the item is used – Head, Hands or Feet.
5. This is the strength of the item. You will add all of these numbers up on your equipment (and sometimes Magic) cards to determine your character’s total strength (more about that in a minute).

Creature Cards




1. Creature Name: Tells you the name of the creature you have to face.
2. A close up look of the creature.
3. A brief description of the creature.
4. Creature Attack: This box tells you how the creature is going to attack. The creatures have four basic attacks – STINK!, SLIME!, SCREAM! and SMACK!. There are magic cards that will help you defend against these attacks.
5. This is the strength of the creature.

Magic Cards




1. Item Description: This will tell you what kind of magic item you have or the name of the magic spell you can use.
2. A wonderfully imaginative picture
3. Description: This will tell you how to use your magic item or spell and what effect it may have.
4. This box will tell you what type of creature your item or magic is used against, or what effect it may have.
5. This box will tell you whether you can keep your item and use it continuously or if you can only use it once and then must discard it.



Basic Gameplay:


There are four sets of cards for the game:
Equipment cards for the Smiggle Biggles
Equipment Cards for the Uggie Sluggies
Magic Cards and
Creature Cards.

Please ensure all cards are shuffled (not all together!) and placed in their appropriate place. Please place the Orb of Bravery on the indentation on the center of the board, within the Cave of Wisdom.

The game starts by players choosing to be either a Smiggle Biggle or Uggie Sluggie. Each race has equipment that is unique to it and can not be used by the other. Smiggle Biggles can be equipped with Hats, Wands, Rings, and Shoes. Uggie Sluggies can wear Helmets, use Clubs and Gloves, and wear Boots.

Each character can carry/wear one (1) hat or helmet, two (2) wands/rings or gloves/clubs, one (1) necklace or collar, and one (1) pair of shoes or boots.

Once a player chooses a race they may turn their Character Mat over to the side that corresponds to their character’s race. Character Mats are not required for gameplay but are designed to help new players keep track of their cards and can be used during single player gaming which will be explained later.

Each player places his or her character game piece at the start of a path. Multiple characters can use the same path if needed. There will be no interaction between characters on the same path using the basic rules. See the end of the game play instructions for advanced rules.

Each race is then dealt Three (3) equipment cards that correspond to their race. Start with the youngest player (action will always start with the youngest player) and deal clockwise from there. (For example if you have two Smiggle Biggles and Two Uggie Sluggies you would deal three Smiggle Biggle equipment cards to each Smiggle Biggle, and then three Uggie Sluggie equipment cards to each Uggie Sluggie)

Equipment cards are the equipment you carry throughout the game. You will see on the card the strength of the equipment (dark blue square) and where it is worn (light blue square). If you receive a new equipment card with a higher strength than one you already own you may replace your old card with the new one. Place your old card at the bottom of the equipment deck. Your goal is to build the strongest character you can by keeping the strongest equipment you can.

Players can place their equipment cards face-up on the corresponding spots on their mat. If you are dealt more cards that you have room for (you can’t wear 2 pair of boots for example) you must give your extra card to a person of the same race, or discard your card. This is the only time you will be able to share cards using the Basic Gameplay rules.


Next deal two (2) Magic Cards to every player, beginning with the youngest and working clockwise. You may only keep three (3) Magic Cards during the game. If you have three and draw a new Magic Card you must discard one of the cards.

There are several different types of magic cards. The type and function of the card is described on the card and indicated in the light blue square. The use of the card (one time, keep) is indicated in the dark blue square. Magic cards may be played at any time, by any player, during gameplay. Most Magic Cards will be used before/during a battle, but there are some cards that can be used to slow down other players during their journey. You may use more than one card before battle if you have them available (for example you may have a +2 bonus Magic Card and use a Hat o’ the Cat card against a creature as well).


Protection Cards:

There are 4 types of protection cards. These cards provide protection against the various attacks that creatures possess. Umbrella cards protect you from SLIME! attacks, Ear Plug cards protect you from SCREAM! attacks, Heavy Coat cards protect you from SMACK! attacks, and Nose Clamp cards protect you from STINK! attacks. If you possess a protection card that protects against a creatures attack you automatically defeat that creature and send it fleeing into the wild.

Spell Cards:

Spell cards allow you to use magic against a creature, or possibly against another player. Check the card description for use of the card. (Note: The Math Wizard lets you cut a creatures strength in half. If the creatures strength is an odd number you may round down… or up, it’s up to you)

Bonus Cards:

Bonus magic cards add bonuses to your characters strength or give you other turn based opportunities. Make sure you check your cards before every battle and add up your bonus magic with your equipment strength!

Place your magic cards face up on your character mat.  

Beginning Play:

Begin the game by placing your play piece on a starting spot closest to you. There is one starting spot on each side of the board. Play begins with the youngest player and moves clockwise from there. The first player begins by rolling the four-sided dice (1d4). The player moves according to the number rolled on the 1d4.

Encounters: You never know what lies around the corner in Syzygy. After every movement roll (1d4) you must roll the encounter dice (1d20) to find out your fate, unless you land on a green space. Green spaces are encounter free spaces. Nothing happens when you land here, you just get to rest and get ready for your next roll.

1d20 Roll:

If you roll an "Encounter" you have encountered a creature! Draw the top card on the creature card pile to see which creature you are going to face. Here is how you battle:

1. Check the creature card to see what its strength is (red square) and see what kind of attack it uses (blue square).
2. Add up the strength of all of your equipment. This is your basic character strength.
3. Add to your basic character strength any bonus you may get from bonus magic cards. This is your total strength (equipment + magic).
4. Check you magic cards for any spells or defenses you may have.

To defeat a creature:
1. Your total strength must be more than the creature’s strength. If it is you have defeated that creature and it runs away never to be seen again.
2. Use a spell card on a creature to cause it to flee, or lower its strength so you can defeat it.
3. If you have a protection magic card that defends against (light blue square) the creatures attack (light blue square) you automatically defend against that creature and send it away.

If you defeat a creature – Congratulations! This isn’t always easy. You will be rewarded by the elders of your village with EITHER a new equipment card or a new magic card. Your choice. Choose which one you want and draw 1 card from that pile.

If there is a tie – your strength is equal to the strength of the creature – it is a stalemate. You both fight until you are exhausted. The creature will wander away, and you will stay at your spot on the board. You don’t get any rewards, but you don’t lose either. Stay at that spot until your next turn.

If a creature defeats you - you must roll the 1d4 and move backward the number of spaces you roll. You do not have to roll the encounter dice again once you move backward.


If you roll an "Equipment" the Elders have given you a new piece of equipment! Draw one (1) Equipment card. Stay at that spot until your next turn.


If you roll a "Magic" the Elders have given you a new spell! Draw one (1) Magic card. Stay at that spot until your next turn.

If you roll a blank spot, well, you just get to rest, relax, and pass the dice to the next person.

Play continues until someone reaches the Cave of Wisdom.

Cave of Wisdom

The Cave of Wisdom is a unique place. You do not need an exact roll to enter the cave. If you are one spot away and roll a 4 you may enter the cave. However, in order to enter the cave you MUST battle a creature, which is drawn from the top of the Creature deck. You need not roll the Encounter Dice (1d20) if your roll takes you into the cave. However, the Cave of Wisdom is a unique place in the Land of Syzygy (that is why the elders put the Orb there). You can not use ANY magic in the Cave. No magic bonuses, no magic protection, and no magic spells. You must defeat the creature drawn with your strength and your strength only. You must be brave to win the Orb of Bravery, and only the truly brave would fight without any magic.

Cave Battle:

If you defeat the creature in the cave you recover the Orb of Bravery, say the magic words given to you by the elders, and defeat the SMOG! Congratulations, you have won the game!

If there is a tie – your strength is equal to the strength of the Creature – stalemate! The creature flees the cave, but you are too tired to move. You must sit in the cave until your next turn, draw a new Creature card, and try again.

If you are defeated in the Cave – you must roll the 1d4 and exit the cave, moving back the number of spaces you have rolled. On your next turn you may roll the 1d4 again to try to re-enter the cave, drawing a new Creature card when you enter.


Advanced Play:

For the older kids or parents who want an extra challenge, don’t mind extended game play, and would like to battle each other we offer this alternate ending:

“The Chase.” As you can see by the board there are several different paths into the Cave of Wisdom. If your players are up for a challenge they can play using the alternate ending called “The Chase”.

Alternate ending Synopsis:

Once someone has defeated the Creature in the Cave they retrieve the Orb of Bravery and place the Orb of Bravery in the holder on their character piece. They have now become the Keeper of the Orb. The Keeper of the Orb must now make their way back, on the path they traveled, to the village at the end of the path so the elders may take possession of the Orb. Other players may pass through the Cave of Wisdom (they must battle a creature to pass though the cave – the cave does not house only the Orb of Bravery!) and try to catch the Keeper of the Orb.

Alternate ending gameplay:

The Keeper of the Orb stays in the Cave of Wisdom after collecting the orb. On their next turn the Keeper rolls the 1d4 and begins their travel on their previous path back to a village. You must still roll the encounter dice (1d20) as you would during regular game play, but the Orb will give the Keeper an automatic +2 bonus to their strength.

Other players must enter the cave, defeat a creature, and then proceed on the Keeper’s path to catch the Keeper. If you catch the Keeper you must battle the Keeper for control of the Orb. You may use any magic cards you have to battle each other, treating your opponent as a creature. If you defeat the Keeper, you take possession of the Orb on your game piece and become the new Keeper of the Orb. The defeated player must roll the 1d4 and move backwards. Winning players will still get the card bonus for winning (either one equipment card or one magic card). Play continues until one player reaches the village with the Orb, at which point they become the winner! Once the players begin travel back to a village on a path they will stay on that particular path until someone reaches the end. You do not have to go back on your individual path if you were not the original Keeper.

You do not need to roll an exact roll to confront the Keeper. Any roll that takes you to the space the Keeper occupies works – but you must obviously stop on the Keeper’s space. Any further movement is lost.

If a player battles a creature in the Cave of Wisdom while chasing the Keeper and loses, they must roll the 1d4 and move back out of the cave. When they re-enter the cave they must face another creature (draw a new Creature card).

If a player defeats a creature in the Cave of Wisdom, moves out of the cave on the Chase, but loses a battle which sends them back into or through the Cave of Wisdom (which is counted as one spot when moving through) they do not need to fight another creature coming back through the Cave. Once you have fought and defeated a creature in the cave you have free passage through the cave henceforth. You have proven your bravery; you don’t have to impress anyone anymore.


Team Play:

Young players may want to team up with Parents or Siblings for gameplay (for these rules we consider a “team” as two players playing together). If you choose you may play The Land of Syzygy with teams. All of the same basic game rules apply, with a few changes:

1. Teams will start from the same village and travel together on the same path. You only need to use one game piece for your team.
2. Teams must be of the same race. You are a Smiggle Biggle team or an Uggie Sluggie team.
3. Team mates will still have individual characters. Each player uses their own equipment and magic cards.
4. When battling a creature with a team you must draw two (2) creature cards. Both players will add up their total strength and bonuses to battle the total of both creatures. Either player may use spell cards against creatures (one spell card works against one (1) creature only). You may use more than one spell card before a battle.
5. If your team draws an equipment or magic card it can be used by either player on the team.
6. You will have to fight two (2) creatures in the Cave of Wisdom, without magic, to win the game using Basic rules.

Cutthroat.

Cutthroat play is not for the faint of heart. Game play will be extended, and you will be going head-to-head against the other players.

Everyone starts on the same square and moves along the same path. If you land on a space occupied by an opponent you can choose to either fight the opponent or roll the encounter dice. If you choose to fight another player and defeat that player, they roll and go back. If you roll the encounter dice and win against a creature you get your normal choice of a bonus card. If you lose either encounter you are rolling and going back.

If you chose to fight a creature instead of the player occupying the square the previous occupant may not choose to fight you during their turn. They must roll and move forward.

If you land on an open space you roll the encounter dice (1d20) like you would during basic game play.

If you are sent back after defeat and land on an occupied space, you may choose to battle the player occupying that space or request peace. If the other player agrees to peace you both stay put and no one battles. If they don’t agree to peace the fight is on.

Choose your battles wisely. The player you choose to fight this turn may be the same player you request peace from the next turn.

You can end Cutthroat when the Orb is obtained in the Cave of Wisdom, or if you are really up to punish each other you can add “The Chase” to the end of Cutthroat and really make it interesting. For the Cutthroat chase you may chose any path moving forward; you do not have to return on the path everyone is traveling on.

Single Player:

You may have young ones that want to play The Land of Syzygy when no one is around, and we encourage it. The more they play the better they will get at the game and the more fun they will have.

On the character mats you will see the numbers 1-20. Players who wish to play single player should try to reach the Cave of Wisdom and defeat the Creature within the cave, using the basic game rules, in less than 12 turns (or you can help them pick a goal to start with). They can keep track of their turns by placing an object (a penny, dime, something flat) over their turn number on the character mat. If they are able to reach the Cave and defeat the creature within in 12 turns (or whatever you chose) or less they win. The next time they play they can take the number of turns they won the previous game in and use that as the target (they won the last game in 11 turns, now 10 is the target). If they didn’t make it stretch the goal out a few turns and have them try again.


That is it. You now have several ways to enjoy The Land of Syzygy – Attack of the SMOG!. We do encourage you to make house rules that will best work with your young or older players. The possibilities are endless. For example, drawing both an equipment card AND a magic card if victorious in battle will help players become more powerful quickly and speed up gameplay. You might allow players who lose a battle to pick an equipment card to help as well. You could also allow characters of the same race to share cards back and forth between themselves. Find ways to adapt the game to your players and help them enter the world of fantasy, gaming, and role playing.



Whew! Sorry about all of that text. If you made it down here thank you VERY much. I would welcome any thoughts, concerns, questions, comments; anything you would have to say which may help move this game forward.

Doug

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