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An idea for a storytelling survival (horror) card game

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StagCutlery
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Apologies if this is tl;dr.

My friend and I initially started working on this idea years ago (and it was closer to Arkham Horror/Betrayal than it is now), so now I'm worried genre fatigue might turn people off off this idea, but here it is anyway.

The game's premise is that you're a character in a story (you get a character card with stats and abilities) working your way through a haunted hotel (location cards randomly make up the hotel) trying to complete your story (you have facedown mission cards that you're trying to accomplish).

During your turn, you try to walk from location to location, completing tasks and searching for items to accomplish your goals, while the other players interrupt your story by playing complications for you to overcome (like monsters and traps).

Tasks are completed by assigning symbols to them. For example, one task might be "Looking for a Book" which requires two Search symbols to complete. Complications add more symbols to the task; another player shouts, "when suddenly...!" and plays a monster card that adds one Fight symbol, so you now need two Search symbols and one Fight symbol to successfully find this book. The system is a little more involved than this (symbols come in different colors) and how you combine and convert these symbols is the biggest part of the game.

Your missions range from item finding (place the Metal Gears inside the Solid Snake Statue), to accomplishing something (defeat ten monsters), to interacting with another player (exit the foyer with another player/kill another player over the altar).

You should have action cards in your hand and item cards in front of you to complete your tasks. How you use these symbols is up to how you tell your story. You can't use symbols of different colors normally, but you can exchange/combine symbols to form a matching set. Using the book example, say it needs two Red Search symbols. If I had four Red Fight symbols, I could convert those into two Red Search symbols and as I tell the story, I could say that while searching for the book, I started knocking along a wall and hit a hollow patch, so I punched the wall until this little hole gave way and I found the book inside. If your story sounds a little reaching (you're using symbols that don't make thematic sense), the other players can call shenanigans and you'd have to pay some penalty.

The idea is to be a tongue in cheek homage to survival horror games - so there's no centralized type of horror - and there's a kitchen sink approach to building the game, the idea being you can add/remove card types as you like. For example, you don't like magic in your game, so you take out the magic deck before play. I don't have specific cards fleshed out yet because I'm still tweaking the mechanics, but this is mostly what I've written down so far. Things marked with an asterisk are ideas I'm reserving for expansions once I have the main game fleshed out enough.

Play:
Framing a scene - try to tell a story
Play a location
Match tokens to move out to new location
Play a challenge
Match tokens on the card
Convert - Swap two matching tokens of the same color (2 blue Fire for one blue Search)
Combine - Swap two matching tokens of the same symbol (1 green fire and 1 blue fire for 1 red fire)
Freeform - discard 2+ cards to gain Wildcard tokens equal to total discard -1
If successful, continue your turn with another challenge or pass
Pass - Draw two cards from location deck, action deck, or either's discard pile

Missions:
Three facedown Challenges. Accomplish all three to win.

Decks:
Location - Locations and Quests
Action - Challenges, Complications, Conditions, Setbacks, Tactics

Scene Cards:
Locations (where) - Rooms, Hallways, etc.
Challenges (what you're doing) - Search for item, etc.
Complications ("when suddenly...") - Monsters, Darkness, Loud noises, etc.
Conditions (modifies other cards) - intelligent monster, extra pages, horde, secret room, etc.
Setbacks ("oh no!") - played after successful checks. Discards cards/tokens
Tactics (actions) - run, hide, fight, etc. Provide alternate checks, or tokens
Quests - mini quests, Discard [Item] while at [Location] to gain something
*Events - Global complications in the Location deck; darkness/power outage, creature buffs, etc.

Challenges:
Tokens needed will mostly only need color, so you can work it into your story. You just have to create a flush
Ex - card needs [Red Punch] + 2[Red] to overcome
Complication will add specific tokens a Challenge

Item Cards:
Gear (provide tokens) - Matches, guns, bullets, flashlights, batteries, ...
Spells (drawback: sanity, target number) - element tokens, healing, card drawing, ...
*Psionics (drawback: headaches, harder to to do tasks and slowly go away) - mental tokens, deck manipulation, hand reveal, ...
*Gadgets (drawback: paradox, something bad and then wipe) - do overs, token manipulation, ...

Sanity/Headaches/Paradox:
Tokens will build up. Tokens cannot be used to swap. Each respective deck will have trap cards that activate based on these tokens

Tokens:
Travel
Search
Fire
Punch/Hit
Spotlight/Wildcard
Insanity
*Paradox
Salt
Silver
Water (Holy Water = Green Water)
*Headache
Shield
Lightning

Colors:
Brown (move)
Blue (mental)
Red (physical)
Green (magic)
Gray (wildcard)
Yellow (energy)
Orange (location)

Stormyknight1976
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I like it.

I like what you and friend are doing. So are you looking for help in any in your guys game project? How long is the game to take place? Is there a time period for the storyline? What is the purpose to playing through this game? Is the protagonist male or female?

Aerjen
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Interesting

Sounds interesting and feels like a Fairy Tale meets Elder Sign kind of game. Are you looking for any kind of feedback right now or just sharing your idea?

StagCutlery
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Thanks for the comments. :-)

Stormyknight1976 wrote:
I like what you and friend are doing. So are you looking for help in any in your guys game project? How long is the game to take place? Is there a time period for the storyline? What is the purpose to playing through this game? Is the protagonist male or female?

Right now, I'm just putting this out there to see if something like this is already being done. My friend dropped out an iteration ago.
Once I have the rules in place, I wants to make a short version of the game (three characters, truncated decks) to see how it plays and about how long a game lasts.
Right now, the time period is present day. I want to add time travel at some point, but that idea is on the back burner.
Uhh, the purpose is to have fun, I hope?
There are characters for the players to play. Back when this was a board game there was going to be an accompanying webcomic, so I got a good starting point for characters.

StagCutlery
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Once Upon an Elder Sign

Aerjen wrote:
Sounds interesting and feels like a Fairy Tale meets Elder Sign kind of game. Are you looking for any kind of feedback right now or just sharing your idea?

Once Upon a Time is my go-to example for a storytelling game. I'm trying hard to balance the game enough to easily tell your story without making it too rigid with accomplishing tasks.
I'm just sharing right now to see if anyone says, "That's just like my game," or, "That sound like ___ from years ago."

Corsaire
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My main project working with

My main project working with my wife and kid on is in a similar vein, but different genre. In thinking through it, I've split it into different play modes, at a certain threshold of game mechanics, it feels like the subjective judgements will undermine the play value.

Right now my mechanics are lighter than you have and already seems to have passed that threshold. Thus we have a resource mode and a storytelling mode. Two games in one. Oddly we worked backwards from thinking about an app first and realizing that making a board game first would be the way to go. But looking at an app in the future really opens a Pandora's box of story elements that could be included.

StagCutlery
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Corsaire wrote:My main

Corsaire wrote:
My main project working with my wife and kid on is in a similar vein, but different genre. In thinking through it, I've split it into different play modes, at a certain threshold of game mechanics, it feels like the subjective judgements will undermine the play value.

Right now my mechanics are lighter than you have and already seems to have passed that threshold. Thus we have a resource mode and a storytelling mode. Two games in one. Oddly we worked backwards from thinking about an app first and realizing that making a board game first would be the way to go. But looking at an app in the future really opens a Pandora's box of story elements that could be included.


I'm sorry, could you elaborate?

Corsaire
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I'll try, not sure what part

I'll try, not sure what part needs elaboration.... So we have actions to accomplish based on abilities. Originally,we discussed having to describe how those are resolved as part of the story. Then to have the other players judge whether it was a good story part. But if you are working to get the right abilities, and say are close to wining then other players could say: Nope, no good like your shenanigans. So, we decided we either have the ability based solutions or the story based ones for any particular session.

Basically, my worry was that the competitiveness of a game with a strategic component could become unfun if people are unfair in their judgements.

StagCutlery
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Corsaire wrote:I'll try, not

Corsaire wrote:
I'll try, not sure what part needs elaboration.... So we have actions to accomplish based on abilities. Originally,we discussed having to describe how those are resolved as part of the story. Then to have the other players judge whether it was a good story part. But if you are working to get the right abilities, and say are close to wining then other players could say: Nope, no good like your shenanigans. So, we decided we either have the ability based solutions or the story based ones for any particular session.

Basically, my worry was that the competitiveness of a game with a strategic component could become unfun if people are unfair in their judgments.

Ah. I thought that's what you meant.

Games like these require a lot of trust from the players. The players need to police themselves for the sake of the game, and not to game the system. One of the things I'm considering is putting something in place where even if the other players call shenanigans, the act still goes through if the player wants, but the penalty is to give the other players something in return.

Corsaire
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StagCutlery wrote: Ah. I

StagCutlery wrote:

Ah. I thought that's what you meant.

Games like these require a lot of trust from the players. The players need to police themselves for the sake of the game, and not to game the system. One of the things I'm considering is putting something in place where even if the other players call shenanigans, the act still goes through if the player wants, but the penalty is to give the other players something in return.

That's an interesting option, like buying an artistic license. I've run into people kingmaking, and getting caught up in the metagame even in something like Balderdash that I'm a bit gun-shy about it. But it sounds fun and integral to yours.

Aerjen
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Story Telling

I have two favorites when it comes to (non-rpg) story telling games. One is Fairy Tale and the other is Aye, Dark Overlord! If you're not familiar with that one, I recommend taking a look at it: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/18723/aye-dark-overlord

It's definitely different from what you're doing, but it has some interesting elements that you might want to look at.

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