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Tracking things like HP, Experience... etc

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DevinSmith
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Joined: 09/02/2012

Struggling a bit with tracking these things. Basically my game is going to have some resources...

HP - No clue how to track this, as it is supposed to inrease as a player levels or uses an item or whatever.
Mana - same as above
Experience - Heroes require more experience to level each time they gain a level... I thought of using a static "path" for each player on the side of the board that heroes can move along "dots" with a small piece to track this but I dunno if there's anything better.
Energy

All of them mean very different things obviously but I'm struggling on how to track them. Energy I'm not too worried about (given the way it works in the game) but how do people usually go about tracking these things in general?

I'm looking for something elegant... not writing shit down or remembering it or having a billion cards to track it.

Anyone have any ideas or have seen any elegant systems?

Evil ColSanders
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Make a mini board for each

Make a mini board for each character or class (or whatever your players are) just like Arkham Horror does. Each board already has the levels, health, and mana printed on the board. Use markers/tokens to keep track of what level they are on and have red tokens for health and blue for mana.

MarkKreitler
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Break free of the RPG mindset

I love RPGs, but they rely on systems that spell death for board games. "Stat tracking" is a prime example.

Consider a generic RPG structure: players have characters with stats and XP. Characters earn XP and possibly stat bonuses. To determine skill success, players cross reference their XP with monsters' hit dice, possibly add in stat bonuses and subtract monster stat bonuses, look everything up in a table, and roll dice (possibly class-dependent) to determine success.

Ouch.

One way to tighten this up for a board game is to get rid of the indirection of stats and tables. In other words, let the "leveling" directly affect the success mechanic.

Example: each player starts the game with Attack, Defense, Mana, and Energy ratings. Attack, Defense, and Mana ratings correspond to colored dice, as follows:

Attack = black
Defense = white
Mana = green

A fighter may start with 2 black and 2 white dice, no green.
A mage may start with 1 black, 1 white, and 2 green.
Etc.

Players resolve combat by rolling black dice to attack and comparing against enemies' white defense numbers.

When attacked, players roll white dice to resist enemies' black attack value.

Players roll green dice to activate spell cards and other magic items, which can add black and/or white values or produce other special effects (like restoring energy).

As players level up, they earn more dice of various colors.

For example:
Fighter level 2 earns +1 black die.
Cleric level 2 earns +1 white die.
Etc.

Energy (health) ratings for characters and monsters are shown as a raw number on the character card. Each card has 4 Energy numbers -- one on each of the card's 4 sides. The number on the top edge is greatest, and the numbers decrease going counter clockwise. The last number is always '0'.

Example:
Fighter: top = 6, left edge = 4, bottom = 2, right edge = 0
Cleric: top = 5, left edge = 4, bottom = 2, right edge = 0
Mage: top = 3, left edge = 2, bottom = 1, right edge = 0

If a player or monster takes enough damage to drop to a lower edge value, the owner rotates the card clockwise to the appropriate edge. Similarly, if a character receives enough healing to reach a new edge, the owner rotates the card counter-clockwise.

Example:
Gert the Fighter takes 3 damage from a giant spider. She rotates her card twice from 6 down to 4 (since she has no '3', she rotates to the nearest greater number. This makes her a little tougher than other charaters).

Meanwhile, Farquar the Wise, down to 1 energy, is healed for 2 and rotates his card twice to his original total of 3.

In this system, energy never "levels up," but since defense dice do, characters still get stronger over time.

The particulars of the system don't matter. What's important is that you do don't keep intermediate stats. Instead, let the stats be the rules: "attack" = the number of attack cards you hold, "speed" is the number of cards you can play, "defense" is the number of cards you can play when it's not your turn, etc.

Granted, this still requires you to track experience, you can abstract that in helpful ways, too. For instance, instead of tracking "experience," just track "gold" and allow players to purchase "training," "equipment," and "magic." Treasure cards can have gold values which players can easily add to compute their current total.

Dang...now you have me all excited to make a dungeon crawler. :D

DevinSmith
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Joined: 09/02/2012
Mark Kreitler, thank you

Dude...

Thank you. That is perfect. I can't say that I plan to copy your exact idea here, but thank you so much for helping me "break free" of that mindset. I feel like the rest of my game will be incredible but I was struggling so hard with the "RPG-esque" elements such as stats tracking that it made it impossible for me to come up with a combat system that wasn't cumbersome and boring, or that didn't rely entirely on luck.

I was working toward something similar, I feel, but the most mind-blowing breakthrough in your post for me was the Energy (or health in my case) -- Letting Health remain static and using increased "defenses" and other factors to make the character stronger...

Thank you. This is exactly what I needed to get my mind going in the right direction.

DevinSmith
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To Col, Thanks for the input

To Col,

Thanks for the input - Ironically I already am going to use some kind of player-board to track certain things (Like my Augment system) and just help organize the table in general.

DevinSmith
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Joined: 09/02/2012
To Col, Thanks for the input

To Col,

Thanks for the input - Ironically I already am going to use some kind of player-board to track certain things (Like my Augment system) and just help organize the table in general.

Awaclus
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About experience and leveling

About experience and leveling up, it's possible to do that even without the experience. Instead, every time you would gain experience, you can roll a d20 or something and if the result is at least your current level +5 or something, you gain a level, otherwise you don't.

It does increase the random element, but it's also a negative feedback loop.

MarkKreitler
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Any time

DevinSmith wrote:
Thank you. This is exactly what I needed to get my mind going in the right direction.

Glad to help! Been stuck in that loop myself.

Looking forward to hearing more about your game. And if you ever need remote playtesters...

SLiV
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Hawt

MarkKreitler wrote:
A fighter may start with 2 black and 2 white dice, no green.
A mage may start with 1 black, 1 white, and 2 green.

[...]

As players level up, they earn more dice of various colors.

[...]

Dang...now you have me all excited to make a dungeon crawler. :D


That system is such a turn on I can't even believe it. D:

Now I want to make a dungeon crawler too. xD

MarkKreitler
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Party on...

SLiV wrote:
Now I want to make a dungeon crawler too. xD

Game design party at my place!

Theme is Dungeon Crawl!

:D

DevinSmith
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Joined: 09/02/2012
Mark, My gmail is

Mark,

My gmail is smith7ds@gmail.com

Hit me up if you want to learn more about the game.

Patrick Robles
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Very nice, Mark. This very

Very nice, Mark. This very closely mirrors my own philosophy in making a board game RPG, although the nuts and bolts are completely different.

To the OP, try to reduce the purpose and feel of RPG conventions into something tangible, literally a game component, or a result of in game mechanics. Most board game players don't want to track things outside of the game system, writing down how much gold you have or how many EXP seems like a small thing but many would find it a turn off.

I don't know much about how your game is structured so I don't know how you would implement this in game but one idea for EXP is to assign a few values to each monster, or in game task, which is then payed out to a player upon whatever necessary victory condition, killing the monster delivering the key to such and such or picking a lock.

These could be tokens or tiles of some sort, you could even keep the color convention Mark mentioned above and add say gold to represent thief skills, or they could be numbered on cards if that is the direction you're headed. Players could use the points to upgrade skills or level up, either at will or once they reach a certain number of points either in a single color/denomination or in total. You could limit purchases to a like for like trade or come up with an exchange rate to buy out of type.

As for the HP tracking Mark mentioned, if you use a system like that you could add a second level, or more, to the edge of the card to give a larger and more gradual range of numbers. If you keep it limited to two levels players shouldn't have a hard time tracking which is the active number, or turn the idea on its head a bit.

Instead of four numbers along the edge of the card (which I take to be an avatar of some sort) add a small circular space on the card with a marker of some sort to specify the active point. At character creation, and perhaps during leveling up, players can purchase a disk to place on this space with a numbered face, think of a clock, which corresponds to the stat being tracked, be it HP or mana. For HP awarrior might start with a #10 disk, a mage #4, a thief #6, etc. as they take damage the player rotates the disk so that the marker points to the active value.

Hope that helps.

MarkKreitler wrote:
I love RPGs, but they rely on systems that spell death for board games. "Stat tracking" is a prime example.

SNIP

Dang...now you have me all excited to make a dungeon crawler. :D

Zodiak Team
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Joined: 09/09/2012
When your creature level's up

When your creature level's up do they get new powers and abilities?

Zodiak Team
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MarkKreitler wrote:I love

MarkKreitler wrote:
I love RPGs, but they rely on systems that spell death for board games. "Stat tracking" is a prime example.

Consider a generic RPG structure: players have characters with stats and XP. Characters earn XP and possibly stat bonuses. To determine skill success, players cross reference their XP with monsters' hit dice, possibly add in stat bonuses and subtract monster stat bonuses, look everything up in a table, and roll dice (possibly class-dependent) to determine success.

Ouch.

One way to tighten this up for a board game is to get rid of the indirection of stats and tables. In other words, let the "leveling" directly affect the success mechanic.

Example: each player starts the game with Attack, Defense, Mana, and Energy ratings. Attack, Defense, and Mana ratings correspond to colored dice, as follows:

Attack = black
Defense = white
Mana = green

A fighter may start with 2 black and 2 white dice, no green.
A mage may start with 1 black, 1 white, and 2 green.
Etc.

Players resolve combat by rolling black dice to attack and comparing against enemies' white defense numbers.

When attacked, players roll white dice to resist enemies' black attack value.

Players roll green dice to activate spell cards and other magic items, which can add black and/or white values or produce other special effects (like restoring energy).

As players level up, they earn more dice of various colors.

For example:
Fighter level 2 earns +1 black die.
Cleric level 2 earns +1 white die.
Etc.

Energy (health) ratings for characters and monsters are shown as a raw number on the character card. Each card has 4 Energy numbers -- one on each of the card's 4 sides. The number on the top edge is greatest, and the numbers decrease going counter clockwise. The last number is always '0'.

Example:
Fighter: top = 6, left edge = 4, bottom = 2, right edge = 0
Cleric: top = 5, left edge = 4, bottom = 2, right edge = 0
Mage: top = 3, left edge = 2, bottom = 1, right edge = 0

If a player or monster takes enough damage to drop to a lower edge value, the owner rotates the card clockwise to the appropriate edge. Similarly, if a character receives enough healing to reach a new edge, the owner rotates the card counter-clockwise.

Example:
Gert the Fighter takes 3 damage from a giant spider. She rotates her card twice from 6 down to 4 (since she has no '3', she rotates to the nearest greater number. This makes her a little tougher than other charaters).

Meanwhile, Farquar the Wise, down to 1 energy, is healed for 2 and rotates his card twice to his original total of 3.

In this system, energy never "levels up," but since defense dice do, characters still get stronger over time.

The particulars of the system don't matter. What's important is that you do don't keep intermediate stats. Instead, let the stats be the rules: "attack" = the number of attack cards you hold, "speed" is the number of cards you can play, "defense" is the number of cards you can play when it's not your turn, etc.

Granted, this still requires you to track experience, you can abstract that in helpful ways, too. For instance, instead of tracking "experience," just track "gold" and allow players to purchase "training," "equipment," and "magic." Treasure cards can have gold values which players can easily add to compute their current total.

Dang...now you have me all excited to make a dungeon crawler. :D

>Steals idea and patents mechanics< This is very impressive!

MarkKreitler
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Joined: 11/12/2008
Nice!

Patrick Robles wrote:
This very closely mirrors my own philosophy in making a board game RPG, although the nuts and bolts are completely different.

Players could use the points to upgrade skills or level up, either at will or once they reach a certain number of points either in a single color/denomination or in total. You could limit purchases to a like for like trade or come up with an exchange rate to buy out of type.

At character creation, and perhaps during leveling up, players can purchase a disk to place on this space with a numbered face, think of a clock, which corresponds to the stat being tracked, be it HP or mana. For HP awarrior might start with a #10 disk, a mage #4, a thief #6, etc. as they take damage the player rotates the disk so that the marker points to the active value.

Lots of great ideas in here. This dungeon crawler is sound like more and more fun...

MarkKreitler
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It'll never last

Zodiak Team wrote:

>Steals idea and patents mechanics< This is very impressive!

I have a knack for riffing on ideas that sound great, then turn into greasy smears once the rubber meets the road. :)

Still, this one sounds fun enough to prototype. Assuming I'm not infringing on your newly acquired patents, that is. :D

questccg
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POD restrictions

DevinSmith wrote:
HP - No clue how to track this, as it is supposed to inrease as a player levels or uses an item or whatever.
Mana - same as above
Experience - Heroes require more experience to level each time they gain a level... I thought of using a static "path" for each player on the side of the board that heroes can move along "dots" with a small piece to track this but I dunno if there's anything better.
Energy

All of them mean very different things obviously but I'm struggling on how to track them. Energy I'm not too worried about (given the way it works in the game) but how do people usually go about tracking these things in general?

One thing to consider is how you plan to publish your game. If you are planning to use a POD (Print-On-Demand) service, you should do sufficient research to determine what your POD is capable of doing. Some services provide restrictions on the contents of your game. And you may not be able to even print "mats" such that they fit in your box. Otherwise you may have to use a bigger box and not be able to fully print a box because the larger box only allows for a sticker with your game's name, etc.

So even if you think you have a good game (in design), making it publishable may be a different story.

For example: we are struggling with the fact that POD The Game Crafter does not allow for printable booklets (with staples). They only allow for a certain amount of documentation pages that are to be folded in your box. When you are trying to adapt an RPG-Story to a boardgame, you will need some kind of MANUAL not just loose leaf pages (Not too professional looking either...)

nevarin
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Joined: 11/07/2008
I've just spent the last year

I've just spent the last year working on that same sort of question... how to track stuff without needing to write anything down. The board game/rpg hybrid I'm co-designing with a friend is geared to be playable by kids as young as 5 years old, so we had some additional considerations... but basically the goal is the same, to create an elegant, simple, and effective system to track information.

What we came up with for a solution was to create a combination of hero boards (sorry, i dont know how to imbed images here so it's just a link to our bgg image gallery):
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/1388324/story-realms

...and "Trackers"
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/1399306/story-realms

that abstract the information a little bit and make the game flow smoothly. We did the same with the adventuring gear:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/1378436/story-realms

and basically all other elements of the game, by focusing on the things that were most core and "essential" to the experience. Then we got an amazing art director to put it all together in a visual style that really works. There was SOOO much effort put into the translation from our lines and boxes early prototype to what you see here, but it has really paid off. YOu don't want to worry about the polish thoguh until you have a solid framework that is well-tested. One thing we ran into was once you get wireframes mapped out to the artists it's very hard to make even small "tweaks", so make really sure you're settled on a design and have refined it before spending the time and effort on creating a final.

The main point I'd say helped us was to make a list of everything that was absolutely core to the game, see if there were any elements that could be combined or eliminated, and then consider how you can represent that information in the simplest, most straight-forward way possible. Make sure that each of those elements is doing as much heavy lifting as you can. We ended up combining the ideas of hit points and stamina and strength all into one stat we call "Oomph", and combined all of the skills we wanted to represent into 6 core stats, and simplified the concept of focus, mana, and concerted efforts into "boosts". I'm not implying that is what will work for your game, just saying that when you look at the core of it you might find that there are some things you thin you need but you really don't :)

For our game, gemstones and custom meeples are used to track stuff (because they are fun and tangible and pretty), but our original prototypes used little tokens. It's almost like designing a User Interface from a video game (that's how we approached it anyway) and once you have mapped everything that absolutely needs to be represented visually, and cut out the rest, then you get to do the fun part of playing around with it until it "feels right". Once we got a functional layout, we playtested the heck out of it and really watched how players interacted with the boards and bits, made adjustments, and playtested some more. It's really interesting to watch how different people will approach something like a player board and trying to find a solution that fits your game needs and also seems intuitive and simple for the players was for us an exercise in trial and error.

Anyhow, maybe there's some ideas there that will help. Good luck!

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