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from cooperative to VS game master

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larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008

I was currently designing a game where players needs to play against the game. While talking to my father about that game, he made me realized that it would be much interesting and there would be actually more thrill if the bad guys were actually played by a real player.

Which kept me thinking that indeed "fury of dracula" has a unique feeling that cannot be found anywhere else. My father played "fury of dracula" and it strongly influenced his suggestion above.

So I was wondering if all these cooperative games out there could have been better designed with a game master. For example: "arkham horror" and "a touch of evil"

There are other games like shadow over camelot and Battle star galactica where there is an unknown player as a "game master"(the traitor). This way, it is like if the game was partially controled by a game master. Still even if there is no game master, the traitor still add an interesting effect.

I was comparing to dungeon crawlers too. The problem with dungeon crawlers and RPG is that the Game Master is no there to win, he just show what is hidden. While in "fury of dracula" the game master wants to win. Also playing dracula gives you a feeling of power and superiority that some players may like.

This is why I decided to change my design and set a player that would control the bad guys.

But that kept me thinking: Would it be possible to adapt a game like "Arkham horror" or "a touch of evil" to have a game master and actually get a better result?

Any comments?

Joined: 08/04/2008
Game master games

Other games with game masters would be Descent, Scottland Yard (like fury of dracula), & Doom.
I think Arkham wouldn't work w/out re writing the game to work with a game master. A touch of evil maybe but still needs re written. Both games as they are there is really nothing a game master could do besides move monster tokens which in arkham move pretty well as is. and in touch of evil aren't really meant to move unless it can move which if memory serves me right some can move.
any game can be re written to do this but unless it is designed for that specifically it probably won't work as well as the way the designer created it.

Joined: 01/21/2009
This one's always interesting

This style of game is interesting, but is borderline-impossible to balance. Good luck to you!

truekid games
truekid games's picture
Joined: 10/29/2008
i wouldn't say impossible to

i wouldn't say impossible to balance, but in general i prefer games without a DM. Warhammer Quest > Descent, for instance.

And while I see your point about the traitor mechanic, I don't put that in the same boat as a DM mechanic. basically because it's a thin line between a DM and someone just playing the other side. A DM being someone who facilitates the game by playing certain aspects- his goal is not (necessarily) to destroy the other players, but to enact a facet of the game that would be otherwise cumbersome to generate with automated rules.

for instance, Space Hulk (while a "2 player" game, can accomodate more)... The Genestealer player is not really "facilitating" the game AI, he's just playing his side.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
I think "game master" might

I think "game master" might be the wrong word because we always refer to RPG and dungeon crawler.

My objective was to make a game where the bad guy wants to win, he is not just there to facilitate the play of the game. That mechanic adds a feeling to the game that is non-existant is many cooperative games. Games with traitor does it partially.

ilta's picture
Joined: 12/05/2008
The term you're looking for

The term you're looking for is "one vs. many". "Game Master" usually implies RPG, and usually pen-and-paper at that, and this isn't really the forum for it.

Shadows Over Camelot and Fury of Dracula are excellent examples of one vs. many board games. Also take a look at Scotland Yard. Children's schoolyard games are often one vs. many: "What Time Is It, Mr. Wolf" and of course the always-popular Tag are examples of the form.

Here are two (outdated and hardly definitive) lists on BGG:

hoywolf's picture
Joined: 01/27/2009
Hard Game to Play

The problem with a one vs. many game is that normally you have players that dont want to play the role, or several but only 1 can play the role. When you dont get the role you want, the game becomes sur-par in your point of view of not getting the role you want. Shadows Over Camelot or Battlestar G have this element of team play, but there can be (can not also) be a traitor or enemy in the team, this is great mechanic for a one vs. many game, the issue that i see is the learning curve of this game for new players. If a new players tries to play the game and is that one, how will he learn to deal with the many? Its her/his first time, so winning is slim to none. Games of these require a certain level of play in order for strategies to arise.

This game mechanic i believe is best with a 6-8 player range. If you want a one vs. many type game, then i believe you need to look into the game i mentioned above. The Fury of Dracula (or the Cowardness of Dracula) is a good mechanic as well, its just when you start with a role you have to stay with it, one other thing i dont like about it is that you must alway have 4 hunters, which makes it a 5-5 player game, it just doesnt feel right that 1 player can control 2 hunters and have 2 separate hands and all, it should have a way to scale down like Shadow of Camelot does, but the progression of evil is as fast as how many players you have. Removing a hunter can mean never finding Dracula.

Joined: 02/06/2009
Last Night on Earth/Options

Last Night on Earth does a commendable job with this allowing 1-4 people to play Heroes and 1 or 2 to play Zombies. In their expasion, they aslo made a whole list of balancing options that can be quickly added. This is important because balance in these games can be quite dynamic. With the standard rules, an experianced zombie player can kick a disorginised four headed hero team every time. Conversely, in one-on-one play the Heroes can act like a SWAT team and the zombies have no chance. But having a list of tweaks fixes this quickly.

I aslo think it's important these games play quicklly so you can get at least two in a night. This allows more people to try different roles.

Finially, If you've allready written it co-operatively I'd keep those rules as the Basic Game. Then you could add a section of Advance Rules incluing rules to take over the bad guy. This will extend the lifespan of your game considerably.

As far as a true Game Master who's not there to win- that concept relies on acting and story playing elements that are intrisicly rewarding. In most (good) RPG's the players aren't there to win either, they want to do well but with a charater they identify with. Really RPGs are a 'game' in the sense love is a 'game'. If you have a 'game' in the sense of tennis or chess, it doesn't really fly.

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