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Spear of Seth starts to take shape

I’m working on doing a board game for the forthcoming book Spear of Seth (See: http://www.thothfantasyquests.com/books.html). It’s an adventurous tale in the vein of Jules Verne set in Egypt.

Because it would be next to impossible to represent the full story in any detail we have chosen to focus on only one part. What I see as the most adventures part, traveling through the underworld.

I am taking a number of obstacles that the main character encounters and turning them into a series of challenges for the players to overcome. Players will be working co-operatively to do this while racing both the clock and the stories antagonist which is advanced through the challenges by a semi random mechanism. The players must complete the challenges within the time limit and before the nemesis does. Since they are traveling along the same path the players must contend with their foe anytime they catch up to him or when he catches up to them.

Later in the process I will be working with the author to supply flavor text for the board and cards for atmosphere. One thing that a board game offers that standard writing doesn’t is participation. Players will be part of the adventure. If I have done my job correctly players won’t just be playing a game with characters from the book they will be reliving parts of the story. A story which may not go exactly as in the book but still taking them on the same journey.

This is all very raw right now. Timer length, card values, etc… are tentative. I’m hoping to have a proper test of it this weekend. My biggest concern is making sure the author is happy with my interpretation of the work. After I get the mechanics ironed out we’ll see if I have captured the essence of the story or just bits and pieces.

Comments

First Tests

The tests went well. Im making some changes on how players take their turns but otherwise the game functions mechanically well enough.

Is the game Fun?

This is a hard call at this point. Im bias so I’m going to have to have my testers determine that for me. Before the next test I’m going to make it more challenging. The first test with 3 players had the team winning with half the time left, a good lead on the enemy and with only 1 point out of 5 damage taken. The second test with small difficulty adjustments was a bit closer but still too easy. If the game is too easy it will be dull, to hard and players will not want to play it again.

Being a cooperative game it will need to be scalable to the group’s capability. There are three factors in the game that can be easily adjusted.

1. The number of rounds players have to complete the quest. (Each lasting only 2 Min)
2. The lead the antagonist starts with.
3. The amount of damage the players can sustain before they lose.

How to recommend these adjustments to players for their first game may be the most difficult part. Once a group has played they will have some idea on which offers the most challenge to them.

Redesign

After showing the SoS game idea to some colleagues that collectively have 50 years of experience in the adventure gaming field and the consensus was my concept didn’t offer enough challenge or range of play options for adults.

Because of their feedback i have decided to take a less linear approach. Players will still be contending with a number of obstacles in the story but instead of completing them in order they will be completing them in the order that best suits their strategy. Think of it like putting together a puzzle. Players will complete what piece they can when they can and in the end they will have to complete the story to win.

This means I will be starting over yet it is a positive step. Better to start over with a stronger base then to try and build on a weak one.

Note: Project put on indefinite hold because books publisher went under.

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blog | by Dr. Radut