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Mapless Movement

3 replies [Last post]
Joined: 01/27/2017

I have the kernel of an idea for an adventure-ish game set in a prehistoric period, well before maps would have been invented.

To capture the essence of only the vaguest knowledge of the outside world, I was thinking of generating the world randomly during play. I think this would "work" but I'm not sure if it'd be "fun."

So suppose there are a few terrain types (Mountains, Hills, Plains, Islands), a few vegetation levels (Barren, Scrub, Forest), and a few climate types (Hot, Temperate, Cold). Nothing's set in stone, but that'd be 4*3*3=36 combinations.

The heroes would be standing in some combination of terrain features... for example Plains/Scrub/Temperate. The players have some clue that the next quest doodad is in a Barren Hills area.

The idea is that the heroes can move around inside the current terrain type or seek an adjacent type. Could look for Hill/Scrub/Temperate or Plains/Barren/Temperate. One a good roll, the party can be in that adjacent type next turn, on an okay roll they spotted it in the distance but need to keep moving through the current terrain for now, and on a bad roll they haven't spotted it but can look next turn.

Note that the players are NOT laying down map tiles as they go. There is no trail of breadcrumbs to get back without additional rolls. It seems reasonable that the terrain they just left would be "in the distance" for a turn, but that's it.

So far, does this sound familiar to anyone? Any existing game I could look at to avoid reinventing the wheel? Of course, this game is set before the invention of the wheel... ;-)

The problem I foresee is the following scenario:

Heroes are in Plains/Scrub/Temperate. They seek out Hills/Scrub/Temperate and find it in the distance. They trudge through Plains/Scrub/Temperate for another turn, and decide now they want to switch to seeking Plains/Barren/Temperate. Maybe they found another clue, maybe someone got poisoned and the antidote is in the desert, maybe a player is really indecisive, or whatever.

Seeking out Plains/Barren/Temperate locates it in the distance. They have the option of trudging in the direction of Hills/Scrub/Temperate, or trudging in the direction of Plains/Barren/Temperate. If they choose the one option, should they completely lose track of the other? Seems reasonable for pre-literate people with no map or compass, but I'm not sure if players used to GPS would think it unfair.

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
So If I understand correctly,

So If I understand correctly, you have manipulating 3 different variables. And once those variables are aligned with some quest on the board they could perform that quest.

It is pretty doable. In fact you could add a form of cost to switch certain variables, making it easier at some point of the game to move to the cold area, but some other events could change the cost making it more expansive later.

The cost could be a form of distance. Maybe players could change another variable before moving to the now expansive cold area, in order to make the cold area less expansive to move to.

Which could create a sort of long term planning, less move to the plain to do task A and it will be easier later to move to the cold area to do task B.

One issue I can see is quarterbacking if all players are in the same area as a group.

pelle's picture
Joined: 08/11/2008
Have you played Up Front? It

Have you played Up Front? It is probably very different from your game in many ways, but it does have groups moving from one terrain card to another, and no way of finding their way back. Normally how it works is that a group removes their terrain card to show that they are now moving, and then on a later turn a new terrain card is played on that group to show that they have arrived in some new type of terrain. But it has some interesting complications with barbed wire and other bad types of terrain that cards must be played on to leave to move on to some better destination.

Joined: 01/27/2017
Thanks both of you

Thanks both of you. I'll see if I can check out Up Front, but it does look to be a completely different game concept.

And although I did use the word "players" up there, it's entirely possible this might turn into a solo game with that one player controlling a small handful of characters.

A head-to-head version might work where each player drafts characters, and they hope to avoid each other until they've gathered up some loot.

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