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Subject: Graphite Adventures: Perils in Pencil PnP WIP rss

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Patrick Robles
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Our adventurer:


Originally titled The Indelible Dungeon: An index card adventure, I'm still on the fence about that, a solo "dungeon" crawler that *almost* fits in your pocket.

My goal this Thanksgiving weekend was to make a stripped down version of my WIP caRdPG. If anyone here has read or watched Wonderboys you have an idea of the scope of my RPG, staggering and ridiculous. This as an exercise in adding lightness, as I have complexity down pat.

Condensing so much into so little, my target being 54 cards, was an interesting experience. The end result bears no real significant similarity to the original save a few very loosely related mechanics, which you can only see if you squint.

I've been playtesting as time allows since T-giving weekend and all I can say is this sucker is hard. Maybe annoyingly so, if you are a fan of dying a lot you will want to check back later when I have the files posted. Starting out every encounter leaves you bloodied and battered, trying to decide which of your starting resources to use to continue the fight, whether to take the easy path in the hopes of finding a campsite or the difficult to have a shot at gaining more food.

As it sits now there are 27 area cards, 9 of each suit (Light, Form, Shadow) numbered 1-3, each with 1-3 possible paths to choose placed on the top and/or side edges. Each path will be either clear, or with faint tracks, the tracks will be either bipedal or quad. Once a path is chosen a new area card is drawn and placed along the edge corresponding to the direction decided. The bottom edge of the new card, and all cards, will have between 1-3 icons that determine if the tracks are reinforced and creat an encounter.

Pencil roughs to illustrate path icons:




Players start with 2 points in each suit: Light, Form, and Shadow. Originally Mind, Body, and Soul/Spark/Spirit in the more ambitious game, each comprised of 4 sub-stats I found the new names more fitting with the simplified single value stat. For now lets call these Karma. Players have 3 points to spend on increasing these values, each point spent nets two points to increase skills.

Within Light there are 3 skills: Knowledge, Perception, Parley. Form has Athletics, Defense, and Strength/Damage. Shadow includes Locksmith, Dodge, Sneak.

Each skill has multiple uses, for instance Parley lowers prices when trading and allows a player to talk her way out of encounters with intelligent adversaries. Increasing points in Karma unlocks abilities related to that suit, the first in Shadow, meant to simulate luck, allows a player to spend a point of Shadow to add the value of the extra card to the active card during a draw (see below).

Skill checks are accomplished by drawing 2-3 cards from a 9 card deck, each card valued 1-3 in the suits L/F/S, to contest a draw from the "house deck." The player and the house each play 1 fewer cards than drawn, so 1-2 although most are 2 cards. Each contested skill or event belongs to a Karma suit, only cards of that suit type may be used to pass, however, if the ability is purchased, cards valued 1 can be used as any of the 3 suits, cards valued 2 are paired to 1 other suit in the same way.

Each contest type has a set of numbers with a default value, IE monster stats, lock difficulty, cliff grade and surface stability. These values increase by 1-6 as the player increases in level, the increase is determined by adding the value of the two active cards that determine the encounter type. This way a card determining the top halves of a monster, which might be valued 2, will not always see the same increase to monster stat values.

"Hitpoints," in this game are tracked by the values of Karma. So a player will have 3 HP gauges and is not considered dead until all are exhausted. Penalties are levied when a Karma type is depleted, this to all checks of that type.

This is rambling a bit so I'll wrap up with a few random bits.

Time is tracked with a 4th gauge, each card drawn represents 1 hour of exploration, a player must eat every 8 hours or his gauges begin to decrease.

A player may choose to activate Sneak when drawing a new card to potentially, uh, sneak past a monster. Doing this doubles the elapsed time per card to 2 hours.

Not yet implemented but I plan on adding items to upgrade weapons. Ideas so far: werewolf blood applied to your blade adds damage to any attacks made on an Shadow area card, troll skin stretched over your shield increases its efficiency, bathing in rat blood allows for easier sneaking.

I'll get rules up once I get them out of my skull and written down on digital paper. Pictures of the "character and inventory screens" should be up later tonight.

That is it so far. Cheers.
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Patrick Robles
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Queue the sound of a needle dragging across a record. I've decided to shelf this or drastically re-theme the game, depending on how you look at it. With the change in theme comes altered mechanics and a new focus.

New idea, title TBD, the adventurer has been replaced with a stone age hunter. Monsters are now boar, deer, saber tooth cats, and- grandaddy of them all- the mammoth.

Light, Form, Shadow are simplified to Brains, and Brawn. Instead of leveling up players choose how to "evolve," Sneaking is now Stalking, Knowledge now allows the player to invent new hunting technologies.

The player starts as an adolescent, chased out of his hunting grounds in a fertile jungle. The game follows him into middle age as he travels north through vast plains, eventually reaching the northern stomping grounds of the mammoth as the encroaching ice age destroys the once fertile lands of the south.

Along the way the hunter will encounter other travelers that he may try and recruit into his burgeoning tribe. Safety in numbers, but more mouths to feed. How many do you need to win the game by taking down a mammoth?

I'm far more excited about this theme than the dungeon crawler, although I hope I can salvage a fair amount of the work already done.
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Cool, that sounds like fun!

I'm loving your art too. Subscribed so I can keep an eye on this one.
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Albert Hernandez
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silverleaf79 wrote:
Cool, that sounds like fun!

I'm loving your art too. Subscribed so I can keep an eye on this one.

Me too!
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Patrick Robles
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Thanks, guys

My first goal is to rework how time is measured. Originally it was simple enough, each card drawn equaled 1 hour, 2 if sneaking. The new game encompass decades so that level of detail might prove a bit tedious.

My initial idea, which is not yet fully realized, is to change the interplay between area cards, lets call the cards with the active prey bottom halves Camp card, and the cards with the upper half Range cards.

The player draws a Camp card, which will have several icons for animal tracks, bi and quad, and for foraging. I'm thinking each card will have a Fertility/Abundance rating for each category which determines how many Range cards are drawn for the corresponding icon.

I'd like to add terrain type, or some other modifier, so that on a given Camp card you might have 2 quad tracks with each presenting a different tactical choice, say one yields less frequently but elapsed time per card is less as well.

Once Range cards are depleted...

hold on, just had an idea.

Camp cards represent a month of, uh, camping. Abundance ratings dictate how many Game cards (formerly Range) are produced per week. Starting from Camp card 1, the range cards are placed face down in a line branching off of the Camp card and the appropriate resource icon, then another Camp card is drawn, and the process is repeated.

This creates a map of the territory the hunter and his growing tribe cover during each "epoch." I'll need to come up with rules that govern how the cards are placed so that the map circles back on itself creating a route that the nomads follow.

Travel between Camps takes a week, new Game cards are added to a path each month. These cards are added on top of the existing Game cards, each sub stack is flipped and dealt with in turn. Obviously allowing these stacks to build up will allow for far more opportunities to gain resources in a given week.

Incentive to stay in a camp being the only time to attempt weapons upgrades. Possibly births of tribe members that will be active the next epoch?

This is a side project for me, a bit of a diversion from my main concern which I plan on starting up again come the new year. Fingers crossed I can find the time to make a fully functioning and fun game by then. I'd like to make this a competitive game, with multiple players playing their own tribe competing for resources on the same route...

Although having a shared route and each player having their own specific extension that they can protect and fight over might be interesting.

Back to the point. I'd like to make this multi player but in the foreseeable future I plan on focusing on a solo game.

Cheers.

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Manuel Ingeland
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I'm also looking forward to try this one!
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Patrick Robles
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Played around a bit last night with hunting parties made from commingled attack decks. Originally the attack deck was 9 cards but this is too cumbersome for more than one hunter, pending further testing the best option is reducing each hunter to 2 cards, one each of Brains, and Brawn. This way 10 hunters would only amount to 20 cards.

What I still need to do are rules to govern how a party interacts with more than one animal, how a party can corral an animal, and on a different level how do parties change my original idea of traveling and camping.

Initially you could travel or camp, once travel was initiated it didn't end until the next camp was reached. Now that I am thinking of more than one hunting party it makes sense that they head off from the camp along different paths, collect resources, and return. To make that work I think it will be necessary to put a rigid cap on the distance the parties can stray from the main camp. The alternative is to keep the restriction on camping and traveling but allow the tribe to split, in other words each party takes a percentage of the non-hunters and heads off in another direction.

That in turn leads me to wanting to penalize keeping the tribe split too long. My idea for that is a competition for dominance when the factions rendezvous. Basically a player could lose to herself.

That's it for now, still yet much more to go.

A quick drawing of the hunter during the Ice Age from this morning on where I think the art will go:


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Patrick Robles
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Quick update.

Mucking about with a Fertility/virility stat to vie with Brain, and Brawn for upgrade points. Basically B&B directly impact how well you hunt, which is necessary to eat and survive, F/V determines how many infants are born in a given age, which nets you more hunters and gathers in the next age. And tribe size *might* serve as victory points of sorts. Not yet sure of that.

Still working on the corralling mechanic, which is absolutely vital. How else can you drive a herd of mammoths off of a cliff?



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Manuel Ingeland
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I'm VERY excited! thumbsupthumbsupthumbsup
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Patrick Robles
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Not a huge amount to report, been working on my Zelda inspired action RPG.

Here is a breakdown of game phases and my goals for each:

Jungle phase: Wander through the jungle honing your skills. Decisions here determine how you "evolve" and directly impact the next phase of the game. End of phase is triggered once you find a mate and successfully birth a child. Gameplay in this phase is closest to that described in the initial post for the dungeon crawler.

Grassland phase: Build and lead a nomadic tribe. Balance resources between developing more advanced hunting, and societal technologies, procreation, and plain survival. Decisions in this phase determine the strength and size of your hunting party, the technology, and the tactics, available in the final phase of the game. Gameplay now involves multiple hunters each represented by 3 cards, one each of Brains, Brawn, and Virility. Sophie's Choice between traveling to encounter potential new recruits and gathering resources, or camping to birth children and develop new technologies.

Tundra phase: Use the technologies developed and the tactics learned in the earlier stages to hunt mammoths. Hunters are now reduced to a single card, reproduction and technological advancement are eliminated to focus on tracking and hunting. Expressed in extremes hunting mammoths is either by corralling herds into environmental dangers, or by separating the weak or young from the herd.

This project is growing quite a bit, I might need to give it a bit of a makeover into a more abstracted expression. As it sits now I don't see each phase taking less than an hour or so to play out. Essentially making this a 3-4 hour solo play game. Which might work considering the clear distinction between phases, as person could play over a few days instead of trying to stay put and tough out the entire game.



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Patrick Robles
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So I've decided to shelve this design for awhile so I can concentrate on my entry into the 2013 2 player contest and my Zelda homage but I certainly plan on returning when time allows.

The game grew beyond the time frame I decided on initially and I think it has the value to warrant allocating more time than I have available at present.

With that said here is a picture of a play test of the Tundra Phase battle mechanics. Initial thoughts: too easy. None of the hunters ended up squashed, which is not good, and too many of the mammoths are going to be bagged by the hunters.



The geriatric mammoth (sugar barrel) in the middle was corralled by the 2 groups of hunters but they don't have the Brawn nor the Tech to take him down, the youngster (coffee) in the pit is toast, the adult mammoth (tobacco) on the left edge will plummet in the next round. The two tobaccos in the lower left are bound for freedom.

The fate of the rest are all in question, as I abandoned the test at this point as I realized it was too easy.

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Manuel Ingeland
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Patrick Robles wrote:
So I've decided to shelve this design for awhile




WHAAAT?! No, please go on!!! You can't stop this!
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Patrick Robles
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Thanks for the the interest! I'm not abandoning it, just taking a break to focus on some other things.

I've been mucking about with too many card only games recently, I need a breather. Hopefully when I come back to it I will have some fresh ideas and a new perspective to liven things up.

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Manuel Ingeland
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Yes, please realize this game at some point! I love the artwork and the idea!
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Patrick Robles
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I'm not really a video gamer any longer but I just had to support this:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gaspoweredgames/wildman-...


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