Monthly Archives: May, 2016

Just Decking Around

I had an epiphany of sorts last night. Also, insomnia; the epiphany might be nothing of the sort.

In my previous post about the card crawl I described PCs as starting at ‘second level’, and that each level made them better in one area of endeavor (martial, arcane, divine, skill), with a specialized skill within that. I considered the different pieces that can be assembled for the initial character builds and realized that I might actually want three levels at the start instead of two. Dwarves are classically powerful warriors and skilled crafters (argument for martial and skill), elves are magical warriors (martial and arcane), paladins are holy warriors (lots of martial with a bit of divine) and clerics are crusaders (lots of divine with some martial). It starts to make sense to have characters starting with three levels instead of two, especially since it allows initial builds to have uneven amounts of two areas of endeavor.

I originally expected PCs to start at second level and perhaps reach seventh or so. If the overland map is a 3×3 array, the PCs start in one corner and must travel to the diametrically-opposite corner to complete their quest they’ll have to pass through at least three and probably up to five of the other locations. This aligns closely enough with the design of Echelon that I can probably look at that for guidance. Start at third tier, each dungeon completed can result in a tier gain (and new cards are based on tier, so the later-game gains get to be pretty impressive)… this could work well for me.

Which led me to think: Echelon assumes that higher-tier characters are simply better than lower-tier characters, at least as far as adventuring capability is concerned. The d20 model of the game uses a 4e-style Level Bonus as a base modifier for rolls, and the dice pool version adds another die to all rolls at each tier (and talents improve the size of the die rolled). Higher-tier characters are more likely to succeed at tasks than lower-tier characters.

Having recently played some One Deck Dungeon (card-based rogue-like game) recently I realized that having none of something can be a problem. Higher-level characters are supposed to be better, and this can entirely hamstring them in some area. I am inclined to have each level provide a ‘general bonus’ (that applies to pretty much anything) in addition to the level-specific abilities. This gives space for higher-tier characters to be generally more capable than lower-tier characters, while actually reducing the significance of the potentially greater number of levels — I now picture gaining up to eight or ten instead of three to five — between characters of the same tier. That is, a sixth-tier character has six general levels (typeless, no specific ability, etc.) and up to six levels of martial ability, and acts with twelve martial and six anything-else, while another (four arcane levels and two skill levels) acts with ten arcane, eight skill, and six anything-else.

This can apply when buying new cards as well, though I might want to double the cost to account for the greater purchasing power available. Anyone could afford an ‘arcane 6’ card when they reach the sixth tier, but a dedicated arcanist could afford the card at the start of the game (three arcane levels and three general). This opens things up a bit for those who need to spread their abilities out, without requiring large diversions to get the basic ability needed to branch out at all.

I’ll want to keep an eye on that. There is merit to having an “arcanist” that is only good at magic and a warrior that is only good at martial activity. This might not work well in very small groups because too much specialization can be a problem… but it’s worth examining both options. I could even have both built in, but ‘hard mode’ means you don’t count the general levels.

More grist for the mill.

Keeping My Hands Off My Deck

… or not. I’m working around the edges of a card-based crawl game. I don’t know all the resolution mechanics yet, but I’m starting to see the shape of it.

  • Probably co-op (adventuring party)
    • Possibly competitive co-op: party has a shared goal, but each PC might have individual goals that score as well.
  • Card-based play. Randomness lies in the draw of the cards, card resolution is deterministic.
  • Hand management: strict limit to number of cards in hand and in play (stacks in play — if one card augments another, they count as a single card for hand purposes). Probably 5 or 7 cards, might get extended by certain powers or at certain levels.
    • You can play more than one card (major and minor actions?) each round.
    • End of each round you can draw up to 2 cards and keep up to your limit (if limit is 7 and you have 6 cards, you can draw 2 and discard any of the 8 you now hold — except curses).
  • Fatigue: if you are required to draw a card and cannot, you are exhausted and can only provide minor support (per Sentinels of the Multiverse hero cards).
    • Deck resets when team leaves a dungeon.
    • Deck resets when team defeats a boss.
  • Wounds: if you take damage you must discard from your hand/equipped or deck (running your cards out faster).
    • Hard mode: bury cards starting from hand/equipped, deck, then discard pile. Buried cards are not available on deck reset, but healing will restore them.
    • Wounds cannot be paid with curse cards.
  • Deck-building: hero decks build up over time.
    • Encounter rewards are added to a player’s deck (discard pile; must reset to be able to use).
    • Probably can spend cards from hand to buy new cards (to discard pile). Might not allow buying new cards in a boss fight.
    • Cannot spend curse cards to buy new cards.
  • Hero cards have two levels (chosen from martial, arcane, divine, skill; both levels do not need to be the same type) and a specific ability (which might be keyed to level and level type). Probably also have a keyword or two.
  • Gaining levels: defeating a boss makes two level cards available.
    • Each level card typically represents ability taken from defeated boss or ability representing defeating boss (defeating the Necromancer might mean you gain Guardian of Life to represent your being champion of the forces of life, or it might mean you gain Dread Arcanist to represent you learning knowledge of death magic).
    • Level cards can be applied any time before leaving the dungeon. You’d likely want to see all options available before assigning.
    • Each hero can gain only one level card per dungeon.
    • Level card increases level in one axis (martial, arcane, divine, skill) and keyword (special ability).
    • Level cards are applied to hero card, not added to draw deck.
  • Equipment cards typically represent objects with persistent effects, such as weapons or armor.
    • May be equipped (placed on table); still count against hand size.
    • May be augmented (other card added to equipped card to increase effect); augmenting cards do not count against hand size (already covered by item being augmented).
  • Spell cards typically represent magical effects.
    • May be immediate or persistent; if immediate may be played directly from hand, if persistent get ‘equipped’ and count against hand size.
    • Effects may depend on or be augmented by arcane or divine level.
    • Availability or usability might be constrained by arcane or divine level.
  • Technique cards are mundane ‘spell cards’.
    • May be immediate or persistent; if immediate may be played directly from hand, if persistent get ‘equipped’ and count against hand size.
    • Effects may depend on or be augmented by martial or skill level.
    • Availability or usability might be constrained by martial or skill level.
  • Might be ‘gish cards’.
    • May be immediate or persistent; if immediate may be played directly from hand, if persistent get ‘equipped’ and count against hand size.
    • Effects may depend on or be augmented by (martial|skill) and (arcane|divine) level, probably using the lower of the two or the sum of the two.
  • Curse cards are added to heroes’ hands under certain circumstances (described below). Added to deck normally and when drawn can be held in hand ‘with no effect’ beyond tying up hand real estate. When played may have immediate effect (and get discarded) or ongoing effect (lasts longer and may tie up an equipment slot as normal). Cannot be discarded or buried for damage.
    • Starting a dungeon but not completing gives each hero a curse card specific to that dungeon.
    • Encountering a boss but running away gives each hero a curse card specific to that boss.
    • Defeating the source of the curse removes the curse,
  • Card effects are deterministic. Play (or activate) card, effect happens.

Initial thoughts, and subject to change. Also, very flow of thought.