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Goal-oriented fantasy lite-RPG design: "Kingdom Siege"

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RanDomino
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Joined: 04/20/2009

('mob' = 'mobile object'; monsters; goblins, skeletons, trolls, ogres, etc; bad stuff that needs to be killed)

I've been doing an ongoing study of cooperative DM-less fantasy RPG boardgames with strong character building (experience, skills, equipment, special abilities, physical attributes, spellcasting), believable AI (semi-programmed, semi-random), tactical combat (as opposed to roll-and-compare), and procedurally-generated content.

I've noticed there are three types of goals in most of these games:

1. Defeat a particular monster (The Nameless, Margath, what have you)
2. Acquire a certain number of points, levels, experience (Magic Realm)
3. No goal; game is meant to be played as an endless or story-based campaign (rare)

As opposed to an MMORPG where the point is to kill time, a board game should aim to finish in 2 or 3 hours, so the goal is important. You might only have a dozen turns to run around a board killing mobs, taking their stuff, and building your character. The goal also drives the design of the rest of the game; so if you want a particular sort of gameplay you have to pick the right sort of goal.

I've tried a goal where the players direct compete to retrieve flags from a dungeon, killing everything in their way, including the other players (it's complete and I really should upload it to the Geek as a print-and-play), but the player interaction is purely competitive and combat is either too complicated or too brainless on a tactical combat grid. I've thought about having one player as the "Overlord" trying to destroy a player-controlled city while the heroes get more powerful to attack the Overlord's fortress, but I think the Overlord player wouldn't feel like he's actually playing the game and I couldn't figure out how to compel him to spawn weak monsters for the players to level up with. I've tried a Magic Realm-style game but with monsters spawned and controlled by other players like in the Lord of the Rings CCG, but then there's no cooperative player interaction at all.

I recently played the "Tower Defense"-style computer game GemCraft (google it). In these games, vast quantities of brainless mobs run in a straight line toward your fortress; the player builds defenses and uses special abilities to kill, blow up, crush, shoot, or otherwise eliminate the threats. If too many monsters reach your tower, you lose. If you kill them all, you win.

The AI is simple enough that it could be a board game- mobs run along a straight line toward your tower. There's character-building in a sense: your defenses become more powerful as the game progresses. If you build the wrong sort of defenses, your 'character' wouldn't be as powerful as possible; also, you can flavor your strategy however strikes your fancy- if you're in a long-range bombardment mood, you could build lots of catapults; if you're in a slash-and-kill mood, you could build lots of swordsmen or the like. It scratches the character-building itch.

So here's my idea: "Kingdom Siege". Rather than running around like it's a monster scavenger hunt, the players have to intercept and defeat monsters attacking a city. If the city is destroyed, the players lose. If the city is saved, the players win.

The game starts with a small area explored around a generic fantasy castle/city. The board consists of tiles made of seven hexagons put together in a larger hexagon. Every turn, another tile is added, spiraling out from the starting tile. Most of the tiles have 'lairs' that spawn mobs (others could have beneficial places, like villages or wise men or fountains or what have you).

Mobs are spawned from the lairs, then march toward the city in a drunken, semi-random semi-programmed way. The players' heroes have to intercept most of the monsters before they reach the city; the city's defenses (the development of which is directed by the players) can take care of some. As the game proceeds, the players get more powerful, more powerful mobs are spawned, and the city's defenses get better; so monsters that would have wrecked you in the early game can just be ignored for the city to take care of while the players go do more interesting things.

Driving the PCs out of the city would be two types of rewards for raiding lairs: Powerful loot, and shutting down the lair like closing gates in Arkham Horror. So there would be a tension between wanting to stay close to the city to better defend it, and attacking lairs to get powerful enough to defeat the later mobs: Because lairs would exist in a circle around the outside of the board, if you try to raid a lair on one side you risk a mob too powerful for the city's defenses spawning on the other side of the map- but you could also form two or more weak parties to attack and defend at the same time.

I think I'm going to direct my further ideas along this route. Right now I'm hung up trying to figure out a tactical-but-abstract combat system that's not just roll-and-compare and that takes into account any number of mobs, PCs, and mercenaries, and resolves fast. Ironically, I think abstracting to some extent it is the best route.

Anyway I just wanted to share this idea.

RTaylor
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Joined: 04/08/2009
When can I play?

Great ideas! You seem to have thought of a lot of ways to create tension in the game, with plenty of choices for players to make. Would this be purely cooperative, or would players compete against each other as well?

Oh- and it sounds as though it could support solo play (sometimes the hubby just doesn't want to go out slaying monsters with me...)!

I hope you develop this more- I think it has a lot of potential.

simons
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Joined: 12/28/2008
Sounds like a really neat

Sounds like a really neat idea. I'd be happy to give it a try.

But maybe I missed it, was there a question in all this?

RanDomino
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Joined: 04/20/2009
RTaylor wrote:Great ideas!

RTaylor wrote:
Great ideas! ...
I hope you develop this more- I think it has a lot of potential.

Thanks!

simons wrote:
Sounds like a really neat idea. I'd be happy to give it a try.

Thanks also!

Quote:
But maybe I missed it, was there a question in all this?

Not really, I'm just throwing the idea out there and seeing what folks think. So far I'm encouraged.

Fhizban
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Joined: 01/11/2009
I think the idea is good -

I think the idea is good - you did research on almost every aspect of the game. it sounds familiar and refreshing at the same time.

the reason of my reply:

- there is a discussion about how tower defense computer-games can be converted into boardgames on the development forums of the boardgamegeek.com. im just too lazy to lookup the direct link - search tower defense in the forums on the geek. many tried but there are a few restrictions preventing it from happening.

- similar to tower defense, we once thought about converting a 2d-sidescrolling shoot-em-up into a boardgame. for us - both games failed because the concepts are fixated towards computers. the main point was that you need an enormous amount of mobs (all with at least a few stats and abilities) AND the game has to be really fastpaced in order to be fun.

But, from what i read, i guess your game is just inspired to some degree by a TD - you dont want to create a boardgame-based TD. anyway - my 2cents.

RanDomino
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Joined: 04/20/2009
Fhizban wrote:- there is a

Fhizban wrote:
- there is a discussion about how tower defense computer-games can be converted into boardgames on the development forums of the boardgamegeek.com

Thanks, found it!

Quote:
the main point was that you need an enormous amount of mobs (all with at least a few stats and abilities) AND the game has to be really fastpaced in order to be fun.

Word; I'm thinking of something along the lines of this: There are several 'levels' of mobs, let's say 5, each represented by a chit with a number (and possibly another identifier for variety). Then there are decks of cards for each level, and the cards describe what the fight actually consists of.
So let's say the heroes attack a level 3 mob; you draw a level 3 card that says "4 Goblins and 2 Ogres". You fish out 4 Goblin and 2 Ogre chits from the cup and fight them.

The great thing about cards is that you can have tons of different information on them and just ignore the parts you're not using at that moment- for example, each card could spawn a totally different set of monsters based on the originating chit's terrain type (Forests, Mountains, Swamps, Wastelands, etc). Random spawning could do wild things; suppose if the above fight was instead "1d6 Goblins, 1d4-1 Ogres, and enough Orcs to make 6 monsters".

If you annihilate the spawned monsters, remove the mob chit from the board; if you don't (i.e. the monsters win), it remains. Then you might possibly discard the card or keep it out like in Runebound to have some continuity . If you just discard the card, then if you killed at least half the monsters (by quantity) the chit loses a level; so it will be a completely different fight despite being the same 'band' of rampaging monsters. I'm not opposed to necessary abstraction it makes the game flow without losing too much theme.

Quote:
my 2cents.

Thanks again!

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