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Roleplay fights!

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Sliverik's picture
Joined: 02/27/2015
RPF cards sample 1
RPF cards sample 2
RPF cards sample 3


(Firstly, before anything else: if it's not the right forum for this, please say so! I looked around, and wasn't sure...)

I wanted to present you this game, because it is playable, but has still some problems. I would love to get some feedback from different people.

All pictures do present the cards in french, the language I usually work in. I'll translate for each of them.

I will present you a game I did in a quite short time, including the card list, game design, rule writing, balancing, testing, card design, etc. Think about a month for everything except testing, and a few weeks of testing.
You may guess it: it's far from being perfect.
BUT! People enjoy it, and it's really fun to play.

"Roleplay fights!"

The idea of this game was originally to allow my usual roleplaying group to play with all the player-characters and the villains and other notable NPCs. We do play a lot of games (Mainly Pathfinder, Dark Heresy, some Anima, Warhammer, Vampire, Nightprawler, INS, and one-shots in different settings) and have a lot of characters I wanted to include (the first list showed over 100 of them, and I had to "forget" some.). But in addition to the characters, there are interesting locations, iconic spells and items to play.

This is a card game with shared decks, for 2+ players, but optimal with 4+ players, and the most enjoyable at 6. Games at 8 players have been done too, and I'm sure you could manage to get 10 players at it.

To prepare the game, shuffle the three decks. The first one is the encounter deck: it has a lot of characters in it and some events. The current event deck contains around 200 different cards.
The second deck is the boon deck. It contains spells and items. It contains about 25 cards of each sort.
The last deck is the locations deck. It contains 10 cards for now.

Each player gets a character card choosen randomly from the encounter deck (pick until you have a normal character for everyone, shuffle the other cards back into the deck). The first sample image shows you three "normal" character cards. Here are the translations and description of the basic characteristics:
-Oro is a Chaotic Good (CB in the corner) female dragon who can fly (Vol). She has 1 point in Strength, 3 HP, 4 in Magic and 2 in Wealth. (She's a golden dragon teenager who's fond of firey magic.)
-Klara Lupa is a Loyal Neutral (LN) female human who has two abilities: Aim (Viseur) and Stealth (Furtivité).
-Maskarne is a Neutral Evil (NM) male human who heals all his wounds if he is on the front line when a character from an enemy group dies.

The key-word effects are explained later (Such as flying, stealth or aim).

Each player gets a "Fate point" (a token) he can use to save his character once in the game. This has been set to help people with supporting characters, who don't have a group to support...

Reveal the first card of the Location deck.

The game can start!

The goal is to be the first player to have a party of characters with 6 bonuses. You get bonuses when winning fights against rival groups or enemy encounters.

On his turn, a player reveals the first card of the encounter deck. It may be a character, or an event.
-If it is an event, do what is said on the card.
-If it is a character, he may join the party if all the following conditions are verified:
--The party has less than four characters.
--The character is of an adjacent or same alignment than another character that is in the party. (The exception is that you can take two alignement differences if you only have one character, to make it easier to form a party.)
--The party can't have more than three different alignements in total. (For example, a group with a Chaotic Good, a Chaotic Neutral and a Pure Neutral characters can't accept a character that isn't from one of these alignements, since there are already three different.)
There are two kinds of special characters: Epic characters and Invocations.
-Epic characters have a letter "E" in the top left corner and are really stronger than the usual lot. When defeated, they award a boon card in addition to the usual bonus. An epic character will only join a party if the exact same alignement is already present in it. A party can NEVER have more than a single epic character.
-Invocations have a number (their level) in the top left corner and don't have an alignement. They can only join a party if it contains a character with the "Summon X" ability, where X must be higher or equal than the invocation's level. A character can only have an invocation per "Summon" ability and he has to keep it until it dies, even if he encounters another, more powerful. Invocations don't count in the maximum limit of four characters per party.

The second sample of cards gives you examples of these three types of encounters:
-Norris is a level 2 invocation. It is a male beast that has no special ability. He only has a reasonable 3 in damage, and a solid score of 5 HP.
-The Lady of Pain is an epic Pure Neutral character. Her stat block is impresive, and she decreases the magic value of each other character by 2.
-The Portal is an event that allows the player to change the actual location. We will see soon what it means.

When a character joins a party, he is placed where the player wants in the line. The characters on the right are on the front line, while the left is the back of the group.
If a character can't join a party, he fights the group.


Each side inflicts to the opposing side as many damages as the sum of the damage scores from each of its characters.
The damage is taken from the front line to the back. The character on the right takes as many damages as he needs to die. Discard his card and continue assigning damage to the characters until no damage is left. If the damages taken are not enough to kill the first character, just place all of them on him.
If a side lost a character, the opposing side gets as many bonuses as the number of characters it deafeted and the fight ends. If no character died, start a new round (of damages) until a character dies.
A fight may end on a draw (each side defeated the same amount of characters) or on a win (a side got more bonuses than the other one).


When a party gets bonuses, take as many dice and roll them.
Each 1 is a +1 bonus to the damage value.
Each 2, 3 or 4 is a +2 bonus to HP.
Each 5 is a +1 bonus to magic
Each 6 is a +3 value to wealth.
Once you rolled the dice, assign them to the party's characters, as evenly as possible. (Only the number of dice counts in balancing, not the nature of the bonuses.) (We play with small dice you could actually put next to the stat values on the cards, to keep an easy track of the bonuses)
When a player reaches a total of 6 bonuses, he wins instantly.

Continuing the turn:

Once you have done your encounter, you can take an action. Actions are defined by which location you are in, and some other (rare) cards. You have to choose one, and do it, even if you don't like any of them.
The most common options are:
-Encounter: take a new card from the encounter deck! (Often picked to get a new party member or more bonuses)
-Challenge: Randomly design an opponent who has a party of characters: your two groups fight against each other. (Picked by strong players who lack some bonuses to win the game)
-Training: Take a boon! (Often picked by players who like to play it safe: you can't lose anything in the boon deck!)
-Rest: Heal 1 damage from each of your characters (Strategic choice that can save you after a difficult encounter.)

The Boon deck:

There are two types of cards in the boon deck: Items and Spells.
-Item cards can be played at the end of the turn to equip a character. To play an item, your group's total wealth needs to be high enough to buy it! The cost of each item is defined by the value in the yellow circle in the top right corner. If the party is not rich enough, you will have to wait until you can afford it. Items have a stat block (but no wealth) that is added to the attached character. Most of the items have unique abilities. (Most items cost between 4 and 8, but the most powerful one costs as much as 20!)
-Spell cards represent abilities the characters can manifest to achieve great things, such as a bonus in fighting or a miraculous heal. To cast a spell, a character must have a magic value equal or higher to the spell's level, defined in the blue circle in the top right corner. The level of a spell can go from 1 to 5. Once a spell is played, it is discarded.

The two first cards from the third sample are quickly described here:
-The Machine Gun is a weapon that costs 10. It says that when the equiped character is in a fight, he doesn't count his own damage value, but uses the one of the machine gun instead. He also can't use Stealth, Flying and Vampirism.
-Scorching Ray is a level 4 spell that deals 4 damage to a targeted character. You can then discard a spell card from your hand to get the Scorching Ray back if you want.

The end of the turn:

Once a player chose and resolved his action, he finishes his turn by placing his characters in any order he may prefear (in case another player attacks him) and can equip item cards if he's rich enough.
After he's done, but before the next player starts his turn, the location is changed if its condition has been reached during the turn.


Location cards are the places where the characters wander, looking for enemies, loot and/or glory. Each location card has a list of possible actions for the groups in it, and sometimes special rules that affect the game. All the location cards have a condition to change location. It may be difficult or as easy as taking an action. When the conditions for leaving a location are met, the card is discarded at the end of the turn, and the next location of the deck is revealed.

The last card of the third sample is an example of location card:
-Nimbus is a city with the advanced technology trait (which can affect some characters through their abilities). It offers three action options to the players: Training, Encounter or discarding an item attached to one of their character to change location.

Character keywords:
-Flying: the character may go out of a fight at any moment, taking and dealing no damage. You can't fly out of a fight if it means that no member of your party fights anymore.
-Aim: the character can choose which character he deals his damage to, instead of stacking on the front line character.
-Stealth: the character can't be the target of spells, abilities or effects, which includes Aim.
-Hatred: The carracter can't be in a party with another character of the hatred group. (For example, a paladin character may have Hatred (Evil))
-Bravery: the characters gets a damage bonus when his party is outnumbered. The bonus is equal to the difference in the group sizes.
-Heal X: on the beginning of his party's turn, the character can heal up to X wounds on a character, even himself.
-Vampirism: after each fight, if the character has dealt at least 1 damage to the enemy side, he can heal 1 wound.
-Summoner X: this character can have an Invocation of level X or lower.


When a player is out of characters, he doesn't lose! He just gets the first normal character from the discard pile (the first that has been discarded)

Well, that's basicly the game: play rounds until a player wins.

I did test it at first with the players who knew the characters, and we had a lot of fun imagining the actual scenes described by the cards, but when I showed the game to another group, who didn't know much about our adventures, we had another great time just playing the actual game (even with 8 players at once!).
So far, anything could happen. A player once had a team full of Summoners and managed to get the best invocations. He was really weak at the beginning (the Summon ability is very strong on the high levels), but rolled on everyone when he managed to find monsters.

Some points I may have to explain/talk about:

-Do I have legal rights over the used material?
No, I don't. And I never thought about publishing the game at it is! I took pictures from the internet (sites such as Deviantart help a lot!), and as you can say, using roleplaying backgrounds won't help...
But! If I had to redo the cards, I would definitely go for a more classical fantasy setting I would create for the game.

-And what about the Alignement system?
This one is an open licence, and free to use (as much as I know... tell me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty confident I'm not) and I will probably keep it as it is.

-Why such a difference in the numbers of cards?
It was obvious from the start that the encounter deck would heed a lot of cards. I did an epic character for each alignement, nine normal characters for each alignement, a dozen of invocations and about twenty events.
The boon deck was a rough guess, but it went just right: we never actually finished it, but we managed to get pretty far. (A location allows you to take 2 boons but discard one as an action) More items and spells can be added (I have lists...), but I don't think the game needs more.
Finally, the location deck is very thin, but some locations are really difficult to escape from! We finished the deck a couple of time, in the very long games, but it is quite rare. I would like to go as far as thirty (or at least twenty-five) location cards to be sure that the players feel like discovering new places when they play.

-What is tht card design? Is it definitive?
No, it's not. I did it really quickly (again, using textures I have no rights on...), and will change them if I want to publish the game. The card template, however, may basicly stay the same, because it is easy to read.

If you have any comment or question, don't hesitate!

I would love some feedback on the game ideas, principles, rules, etc...

Troy Boy
Joined: 03/17/2015
First off I am really

First off I am really impressed! Seems like you put a lot of thought into it.

It sounds like a cool game and I wouldn't mind playing it :)

So what do you feel is lacking?

The only thing I can think of is maybe the alignment might be difficult to teach to those who don't know alignment already... but maybe not.

Sliverik's picture
Joined: 02/27/2015
Thanks for your

Thanks for your impressions!

The remark I get the most is that players don't have much choice in their actions: they cannot choose if a character joins their party or not, and resolving a fight doesn't require player actions (unless one plays a spell).
Basically, the only interesting choice there is is which action you do on your turn after the first encounter, depending on the location.

The alignments may be a point I want to clarify, especially the "can I recruit him for my party?" rules. The exception for the case of a 1-man group makes it easier to play, but more difficult to understand.

Troy Boy
Joined: 03/17/2015
I can see why the fighting

I can see why the fighting seems lack luster. To be honest that's where I was like Hmmmm. Its simple, which is good, especially since the game already has a lot going on, but I feel it needs a bit more excitement.

Do you want to avoid dice rolling?

Maybe more emphasis for variation can be placed on the spells/items. That way the fighting system stays the same.

Also maybe the front line fighter has to only take Half of the total damage and the rest can be spread out as the player decides. (not the attacker but the defender)

Have you thought about keeping some party members facedown so when rivals attack they don't know your full strength? that idea might need some more thought to be fully formed :)

Sliverik's picture
Joined: 02/27/2015
Out of the 25 spell cards,

Out of the 25 spell cards, I'd say that 20 of them have an effect on fights, be it damage, heal or misc. (helping a character or perturbing another)
The problem is that the players know if they will win a fight or not, and then decide if they play spells or not.

Adding a bit of randomness in the fight resolution could add to the enjoyment. For example, roll one die per character, and add it to his damage score... but it would be deadly. Combined to the rule you propose (half damage on the front line) would be good.
An alternative would be rolling 1d6 OR taking a character's damage value, whichever is the highest. This allows to weak characters to sometimes stand out, but a strong character with 5 in damage won't ever be weak. And this doesn't ask for much adaptation and adds quite a bit to the problem people had when they had a party full of mages with no strong spell in hand... (Absolute Zero is still a spell that damages all the characters in play, dealing 3 damages to each of them. Yes, it's a 5-level spell, but it's worth it, if you quickly want to start the game all over!)

A rule I forgot to tell was that when a player encounters an enemy from the encounter deck, it's the player on his left who can play spells from his hand as if it was this character's hand. (This avoids that encountering a mage looks like a "free bonus" encounter.)

Your idea about facedown cards made me first think "Impossible, everyone know what character you have when you get the encounter."
But! If you put them facedown in any order once you actually ended your turn, until when you play your next turn, that could be a nice point. And then, new spells/items/characters could play with that, and reveal face down cards, or be stronger if facedown.
The issue I see is that it would take a little bit more time to resolve, but it should be tested.
The second issue, more a logistical kind, is that if you put characters face down, you can't keep track of the bonuses with tokens, it has to be marked on the cards... and that's a lot more work.

Thanks for your ideas, I will keep them in mind and offer to test some the next time we play the game.

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