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A problem with endings

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EdWedig
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Joined: 09/15/2009

Hey everyone,

I'm having a problem with one of my current game projects "Deep, Dark Dungeon." The theme of the game is explorers trapped in a dungeon that they need to explore to find the Exit and escape. But, the exit is locked, so they need to find the Key hidden in the dungeon, and also defeat a powerful Guardian at the Exit.

Hex tiles are drawn from a bag to create the dungeon as the players explore. Each tile has a number (1-5) to represent the relative height, and explorers can only move between tiles that are of up to 1 height difference (so, move from a #1 tile to a #2, but not to a #4). Some of the tiles are Encounters, and players draw from an Encounter deck. The deck contains Treasures (Swords, Healing Potions, Rope, etc), or Monsters or Traps. The deck also contains 2 Key cards to unlock the exit. The exit is one of the tiles that can be drawn.

The problem I am having is that the ending of the game can be anti-climatic. Players fight Monsters, the Guardian, or other players by rolling 1 die and adding their Explorers STR value (usually 4, but can be 2 is they are hurt). They add 1 is they have a Sword. Monsters have a STR of between 2-4, and the Guardian has a STR of 5. So, it is possible for a hurt Explorer (STR 2) with no Sword to fight and defeat the Guardian with a lucky roll. This is unsatisfying, but I'm not sure how to fix it. I want the Guardian to be tough, but still beatable, but I don't like that it can be beaten with one lucky roll.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

-Ed

JustActCasual
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Joined: 11/20/2012
,

A quick solution would be to simply make the Guardian require multiple successful rolls (say 3x STR 4 rolls). This makes it clear that the Guardian is an epic monster and provides tension at the end of the game (yes, yes...3? NOOO!!!)

Another way would be to change the keys from a literal key for the door and instead made them items that weakened the Guardian to a defeatable level from initial invincibility (so on paper he has STR 8, and the key brings him -3 STR). This has some nice side effects, as it really focuses the conclusion on player action and confrontation with a discernible enemy, and it makes getting both keys matter.

You might also want to amp up your monsters: with an average roll of 3.5 on a d6 even a hurt adventurer has an average result of 5.5, which will kill anything in your dungeon. A healthy adventurer with a sword will just auto kill everything with results always 6+... unless you're saying the monsters are ALSO rolling, in which case I'd say just give them a Difficulty Class instead :/

UnnumberedT
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Joined: 01/17/2013
some thoughts

I agree with JustActCasual. I think that your problem with the ending is a piece of a larger problem with balance.

The idea of "multiple successful rolls" is equivalent to hit points. What if some monsters had multiple hit points, and each successful attack reduced the HP by one? That's an added complexity, but it could make the game more flexible. If you don't want to have actual Hit Points, you can fake it with good iconography and good visuals. For example, what if the Guardian had multiple heads, and each successful attack killed one head? The guardian could be a 2-3 card sized monster, with one head on each card. This way, it would look bigger and feel bigger than other monsters. Following on that same notion, What if some monsters came in groups? e.g. an encounter with three weak goblins would require three successful rolls, one for each goblin.

EdWedig
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Joined: 09/15/2009
I like the ideas of making

I like the ideas of making the Guardian tougher unless you have the Key. Tried a version that way yesterday morning with my son and nephew, and it seemed to work much better. I also changed it so that you had to defeat the Guardian twice. Eventually, the Guardian will have a 2-sided card (like Explorers) with different STR and abilities on each side.

Yes, Monsters also roll in combat, so there is still a chance for a Healthy Explorer (STR 4) to fall to a weak Monster (STR 2). It happened to me yesterday!

Can you explain what you mean by Difficulty Class?

Thanks!
-Ed

JustActCasual
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Joined: 11/20/2012
DC

Difficulty Class (DC) is pretty much just the idea that you're trying to roll a particular number or above. You see this a lot in D&D or other d20 systems. The advantage of this is that it loads all the random on one side: this makes the players more invested and tries to keep the dice in their hands (possibly eliminating the GM role). For example an easy challenge for 1d6 might be DC 2, an average challenge DC 4, and a hard challenge DC 6. So the player rolls, adds or subtracts modifiers, and then sees if they met or exceeded the DC. So a wounded Explorer with a sword might meet an average monster (DC 4), roll for attack (rolls 1d6 for a result of 4), but then miss because of his weakness (4 +1[for sword] -2[for wounds] = 3, 3<4 therefore failure).

You can do this and get a nice bell curve distribution with 2d6, making it easier to balance your game. DC 6 for weak, DC 8 for average, and DC 10 for difficult should serve you pretty well once you factor in modifiers. If you like the idea of occasional swinginess you can always use doubles for auto-success or auto-failures and let the goblins club the champion.

EdWedig
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Joined: 09/15/2009
Here is what I did that seems

Here is what I did that seems to have solved the problem: I changed the rules so Monsters don't roll, and Explorers roll 2d6 for combat. I also increased the STR of the Monsters to 11, 12, and 13, and made the Guardian a STR 15 monster. You also need to defeat the Guardian twice, and I plan on giving the Guardian different powers depending on if it's hurt or not. Also, the Key gives you a +2 when fighting the Guardian only.

I played a test game with my son tonight, and it made the game much longer, but there were multiple ups and downs. He was Healthy and had a Sword and the Key (effective STR of 7), but rolled badly when he tried to fight the Guardian. The Guardian stole his Key, and we both had to keep searching. I, on the other hand, got lots of bad Encounters, and got beat up by the Monsters quite a bit. But, at the end, he fought the Guardian and defeated him once, and I was able to defeat it the second time and escape. Much more exciting!

Thanks for the assistance. I need to do more playtesting and see how it goes.

-Ed

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