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Creating "AI" Without Using Cards

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Abandoned Arts
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Hi! Long-time game design aspirant, first-time poster.

I'm working on a co-operative game (also playable solo) with a fantasy adventuring theme. Original, I know! There are certainly some "catches" that set this game apart from the rest, but that's unimportant to this discussion.

What I need is an elegant way for the "monsters" to choose their targets when attacking the players.

Depending on how many "characters" a solo player is running, this may or may not matter during solo play (if you're the only player... the monsters always attack YOU!) but it matters a great deal during co-operative games in which multiple players are each running their own characters. Remember: there's no "game master" playing with you; the game is fully co-operative.

This game will NOT feature any deck of cards - just dice. For reasons I won't go into here, a "monster deck" is a non-option. The basic fighting mechanics revolve around characters using a pool of Action Dice to attack, move around, use special abilities, and so on. They can use whatever dice they do NOT spend on attacks, movement, and special abilities to defend themselves against the monsters when it's time for the monsters to act.

Monsters have static attack and defense values: you ROLL your attack against a monster's defense value, you ROLL your defense against a monster's attack value, and so on. That way, you're never rolling against yourself. What I'm having trouble with is determining which player (or players?) each monster attacks.

Because rolling dice is at the heart of the game, I don't want to end up with a system in which one character winds up rolling all (or even the vast majority) of the dice during the monster's turns. I can specify "attack conditions" (for example: goblins always attack the target with the smallest pool of action dice), but unless I include numerous different kinds of monsters, each with different attack conditions, in each in-game conflict, then I'll still end up with one or two players (i.e. the players whose characters meet those conditions) making ALL of the "defense" rolls. In addition, this method makes monster attacks VERY predictable, freeing those characters who know they will NOT be attacked from the decision of whether or not to save any dice for defense. This is a systemic side-effect that takes choice and tactical decision-making OUT of the game. Obviously, I'd prefer to avoid that!

Furthermore, every line of text that the players have to read or remember (e.g. "goblins always attack the character with the smallest pool of action dice") adds complexity to the game without necessarily adding depth or elegance to it.

I could have players roll a die to determine who gets attacked, but there are several problems with this as well. For one, that's a lot of rolling EVERY round, and - if you don't want to be the monster's target then it feels like you were "rolling against yourself" if you "win" the roll.

So... the question is: using only STANDARD (six-sided, non-custom) dice, token placement, and static values, how can I implement an elegant "AI" mechanic that allows monsters to choose targets (and preferably not-entirely-predictable ones) for their attacks without a lot of "if; then" logic or text-heavy "flowchart AI," all without ever forcing the players to roll against themselves? Can it be done (neatly)?

Your thoughts are appreciated; thanks in advance!

Daron Woodson
Abandoned Arts

questccg
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While I was reading...

I was thinking you could use COLORS to determine what monster attacks which character.

Random draw
You can do this RANDOMLY by using d6's that are of a different color (Red-Green-Blue-Black-White).

You put all the dice in the bag and then draw one (1) for the 1st Character. Depending on the COLOR of the dice, players choose to battle a creature of that color (Player's choice). If there is no creature matching that color, that character does not get attacked this turn.

Note: You put back the die you drew and repeat for each Character...

That's my *simple* idea.

You might also be able to use a RPS-5 (Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock) such that each combination battles their counterpart. Like Black fights White and Blue. Player's again choose what creature they combat.

BTW if you are doing this the *other way around* (Creature attacking a character) these two (2) solutions work well also...

I'll think about it some more to see if I have other ideas...

Stormyknight1976
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Try this,

1) Room check; players rolls a dice to see who or who isn't the room. Second: Two Mangler Blood Trolls are in the room. Player sees 2 doors behind these beasts. One door opens up if one troll is killed: both doors open when both trolls are killed. Doors are color coded? Yellow door is a treasure room : yellow mangler blood troll. Other door is red exit door?. Size of monsters could also be a factor with the weapon at hand. Bows long range weapon and so for?

StagCutlery
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More info needed

Is this a co-op game? If so, you can manually accumulate "aggro" using tokens.

If you use colored dice, perhaps creatures target you if you roll enough misses of a certain color?

questccg
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Need clarification

Abandoned Arts wrote:
This game will NOT feature any deck of cards - just dice. For reasons I won't go into here, a "monster deck" is a non-option. The basic fighting mechanics revolve around characters using a pool of Action Dice to attack, move around, use special abilities, and so on.

You say that you do not want to use a "monster deck" made up of cards. Question: How will you know if you are fighting that mean old Troll or that scary Vampire? If you only use dice how are you going to differentiate between monsters.

The one thing I can think up is something I have seen a long time ago in Dungeon & Dragons: a lookup table.

Basically you would roll a 1d100 and you would match the monster from that table.

To be honest, I'm not even sure it was a monster table, might have been a weapon's table or something similar.

In any case, the only other possibility is to use some form of TABLE for monsters and their stats. I think it's possible - but that means always having to lookup the monster from the table...

Correct me if I am wrong. But I can't figure out any other way to distinguish between monsters...

Abandoned Arts
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questccg wrote:Abandoned Arts

questccg wrote:
Abandoned Arts wrote:
This game will NOT feature any deck of cards - just dice. For reasons I won't go into here, a "monster deck" is a non-option. The basic fighting mechanics revolve around characters using a pool of Action Dice to attack, move around, use special abilities, and so on.

You say that you do not want to use a "monster deck" made up of cards. Question: How will you know if you are fighting that mean old Troll or that scary Vampire? If you only use dice how are you going to differentiate between monsters.

The one thing I can think up is something I have seen a long time ago in Dungeon & Dragons: a lookup table.

Basically you would roll a 1d100 and you would match the monster from that table.

To be honest, I'm not even sure it was a monster table, might have been a weapon's table or something similar.

In any case, the only other possibility is to use some form of TABLE for monsters and their stats. I think it's possible - but that means always having to lookup the monster from the table...

Correct me if I am wrong. But I can't figure out any other way to distinguish between monsters...

Actually, you're not far from wrong at all. What I'm designing isn't strictly a board game: it's a board game / tabletop roleplaying game hybrid (with plans for numerous expansions). It's not a physical product - it's a series of PDFs that you can use to play with paper, a printer, and some six-sided dice and minis or tokens. About half of what you'd need to play a game of Dungeons & Dragons (minis optional, and no stack of hefty books to lug around). The ruleset is much, MUCH simpler than a tabletop roleplaying game - equivalent to a moderately complex fantasy board game.

Abandoned Arts
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Stormyknight1976 wrote:1)

Stormyknight1976 wrote:
1) Room check; players rolls a dice to see who or who isn't the room. Second: Two Mangler Blood Trolls are in the room. Player sees 2 doors behind these beasts. One door opens up if one troll is killed: both doors open when both trolls are killed. Doors are color coded? Yellow door is a treasure room : yellow mangler blood troll. Other door is red exit door?. Size of monsters could also be a factor with the weapon at hand. Bows long range weapon and so for?

These sorts of extra checks and rolls are part of what I'm trying to avoid. Priority #1 is simplicity and ease of use. Priority #2 is SOME degree of unpredictability.

Abandoned Arts
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Between this and questccg's

StagCutlery wrote:
Is this a co-op game? If so, you can manually accumulate "aggro" using tokens.

If you use colored dice, perhaps creatures target you if you roll enough misses of a certain color?

Between this and questccg's suggestion, I think I might have a solution...

The colored whatsits or "aggro tokens" could simply be the dice you're rolling for defense. Every time you defend, it costs you one or more of the dice that you saved for defense - maybe a random number (all rolls of 1) or maybe a preset number (determined by the monster). The monsters attack the guy with the most dice, and that number naturally changes as you end up SPENDING dice to defend (the random method works best for this, I think).

Thoughts?

questccg
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Lookup table, huh?

Abandoned Arts wrote:
Between this and questccg's suggestion, I think I might have a solution...

The colored whatsits or "aggro tokens" could simply be the dice you're rolling for defense. Every time you defend, it costs you one or more of the dice that you saved for defense - maybe a random number (all rolls of 1) or maybe a preset number (determined by the monster).

Not sure I understand what "aggro tokens" are. And you are saying the *whatsits* are dice you roll for defense... First question: are your dice colored? Like are the "Defense" dice a specific color? If you are using the dice for defense, you should lose a *preset number* determined by the monster. For example, that old Troll would only costs 1d6 vs. evil vampire costs 2d6. You could put that into a nice and neat table...

Abandoned Arts wrote:
The monsters attack the guy with the most dice, and that number naturally changes as you end up SPENDING dice to defend (the random method works best for this, I think).

This makes sense, the most dice = the player who will be attack.

Orangebeard
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Monster AI?

Could the monsters be grouped into different AI Classes? For example, the simplest AI always attacks the closest player, the next smartest AI always attacks the player that is inflicting the most damage, the next smartest AI always attacks the players closest to the object the monster is guarding, and so on...

Highly intelligent monsters could have a more advanced AI that allows for attacks against players with certain equipment or abilities; or perhaps the "smart" monsters could move and attack, could gang up on weak players or may retreat from a losing battle?

Based on your description of the game, the players would probably learn the various AI patterns quickly, but they would still need to content with numbers, tactics and rooms with monster's of mixed AI.

larienna
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Have you checked the Dungeons

Have you checked the Dungeons and Dragons dungeon crawler games. Each monster has a kind of algorithm to follow. Sometimes it's attack the closest heroe, but it could be other things. Here are links on some of the creature:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/822533/dungeons-dragons-castle-ravenl...

Yes the information are on cards, but they could be in a rule book or a reference sheet.

drktron
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Expanding on the colored dice

Expanding on the colored dice suggestions, here's my approach:

You mentioned that players use Action Dice for attack, movement, and special actions. What if the player used a particular color dice when performing these actions:

Attack=red dice
Movement=blue
Special=yellow

Each monster is associated with a color and will attack the player that rolled the highest value in that color (or alternatively the player that used the most dice of that color).

"Red" monsters attack the player with the highest red dice (attack) value
"Orange" monsters attack the player with the highest combined roll of attack (red) and Special (yellow) dice
and so on..

Players who do more (roll more dice) are more likely to be attacked but will have less defense dice available. This is a nice decision point for the player.

A color system like this seems to be intuitive and doesn't require additional rolling for targeting but offers some variety and unpredictability.

I hope this helps, good luck!

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