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SpellMasters: Version 2.0

And so I have been working on "SpellMasters" knowing fully well that the design was "incomplete" and had a bunch of ideas -- but nothing strong enough for me to get excited about the game.

That was until YESTERDAY, where I got to thinking that:

  1. I don't need a board, instead a puzzle like game such as "Crosswords".
  2. If I introduce a "Dungeon Lord", the game can be controlled by one player while the other players work co-opetively to conquer each level.
  3. A randomizer for the puzzle part giving varying amounts of experience.

I'm still not 100% certain about how this all "meshes together", but never the less, I'm thinking about it.

Currently what I have is from three (3) to five (5) players. Each player is a Wizard from one (1) of nine (9) races. Each Wizard has his own play board which describes the advancements and spells/abilities he/she can harness. And one (1) of those players is the "Dungeon Lord" and helps "define" the solutions to be "spell-ed".

Anyways the ideas SOUND "fresh"... Not having seen anything like this, encourages me to invest more time into the idea.



Note: "Crosswords" while interesting would make the game BORING, because it would mean only a LIMITED amount of replayability. That's why I'm going to focus my efforts on designing a "dynamic" puzzle engine that can be used over and over, with different "Dungeon Lords", allowing each game to be unique based on whatever background/culture/experiences each "Dungeon Lord" may have had during their "real lives"...

Definitely seeing an "angle" here ... and it's got me excited.


So what's the HOOK???

Well since the game is called "SpellMasters", you must "SPELL" words in ways to earn Mana and Experience. One (1) Player is the "Dungeon Lord" and the other players are all "Wizards" from different races. Again Masters in weaving "Spells" together... (Another reason why it's call SpellMasters too!)

Right now the combat mechanic is "bare-bones". But I'm looking into something like the "FATE"-system with the associated dice to determine how battle are conducted.

It's co-operative but also competitive (so co-opetive) where Wizards help each other out in battling minions and finally a Boss on the last level of the game. There are also Loot (Treasures, items and equipment) and Quests (bonus experience and loot) to discover too.

As I mentioned earlier, I'm sort of basing myself on creating a "dynamic crossword engine" that will be used by "Dungeon Lords" to control and define the delve in different ways each time the game is played.

Also with nine (9) races, there is also a lot of replayability in terms of Wizards and their competencies/abilities.

This design has sort of "grown" on me... now that it's less about a bunch of pieces and seems to sort of becoming a bigger whole. We'll see where things lead...

Component information

So aside from a "Tile bag" and letter "shards" (probably like 150 shards ... I don't want to go with Scrabble's distribution - for legal reasons...) and a "Campaign Deck" of sixty (60) cards.

  • 20 "Lore" Cards - relevant to the adventure/campaign
  • 20 "Loot" Cards - various items, treasures and equipment
  • 20 "Quest" Cards - Add some variability to the "Lore" cards
  • 20 "Encounter" Cards - Give a combat mechanic to tie things together

The goal is with a PACK ("Deck") of sixty (60) cards you can play a campaign/adventure as many times as you LIKE -- but you could also buy a NEW pack with a different adventure/campaign ... in some different setting.

Since the game will use a "dynamic" puzzle engine, each game will be different. But there can be overlapping in terms of the "storyline". Still working on defining how "VARIABLE" that can be... But if you WANT there to be some kind of "storyline", you need an arc. More thinking has to be done... but generally I like where this design is going!


More thinking required...

It would seem as if the "Dungeon Lord" idea isn't a good idea.

Firstly if there were 3 words (or more) to be chosen by the "Dungeon Lord". I agree that making the words up "dynamically" would be "interesting" BUT there is a serious drawback: the game would be more like a "Wheel of Fortune" where the guessing of the words is what would be required.

But this game-system (aka Wheel of Fortune) has near-zero (0) support for interaction among the Wizards. It's boring simply guessing letters. I've examine the system for how it could work in context with SpellMasters and I find that IT WON'T WORK. It just dumbs down the game...

If however the "Lore" deck was STATIC (closer to crosswords) and RANDOM, each level could pose new and different challenges. Granted in the LONG RUN, it would be sort of "repetitive"...

But like I said, you could purchase "Decks" of sixty (60) cards for new adventures, which would eliminate the "repetitive" nature of statically designed cards. This would eliminate the need for "Dungeon Lord" and allow all five (5) Wizards to co-opetate with each other to "solve" the current "Lore" card.

Anyway this will require some more thinking. And make for a more challenging game overall.

Keep you all posted about my efforts. Cheers!

First attempt at "Lore" cards!

Well I'm using Excel to define the "Lore" cards which instruct the Wizards what they must accomplish before finishing a level. These cards define timers for "Q"uests and "E"ncounters (and the number of Wizards who may partake) which vary per "Lore" card.

I've done about 50% (5/10) "Lore" cards -- and I'm liking it... Liking it A LOT!!! It really feels natural and how the other cards such as Encounters or Quests are defined is sufficiently simple, yet it seem to be FUN too!

Very happy with how this design is progressing.

Obviously there are two (2) elements that need further examination and those are: 1> A "FATE"-like combat engine and 2> "Wizard Mats" for each character.

The "Wizard Mats" will start with six (6) mats and the rest can remain Kickstarter bonus material (Stretch Goals). More "Lore" cards for the base game, currently there are only ten (10)... which could add to the replayability too. And then there are the fifteen (15) "Loot" cards. By adding more of these -- may vary play a little bit too.

I was thinking about "Saving" the game with the use of stickers... But I am going to abandon that idea. My solution to saving the game? Simple. All you do is take a PICTURE with your SMARTPHONE of YOUR "Wizard's Mat" to keep track of your Wizard's progression... Pretty cool, eh?

Going to try to work on getting the "Lore" cards finished today.

Keep you all posted on my progress. Cheers.

Working on the Tiles

Well I chose a "nice" font for the Tiles and Verdana for Point Values. Made the Letters a bit "smaller" too... Just so you can clearly see the Tile and it's value easily. I decided to go with a WHITE font and a "gray" background (instead of White). Otherwise I would need to double the Tiles and make one set White and the other set Black...

Nah. White on darker GRAY will look fine!

Uploaded and ordered from TGC

Well I completed all six (6) sets of Game Tiles for this version of the game. That's a whooping 600 Game Tiles (100 per player). We'll see if this is TOO MUCH but being able to playtest the "Lore" Cards with the Game Tiles will give me a clue about how much is necessary (in terms of Game Tiles).

I'm now going to focus on the "Battle" engine, I have some ideas - just wanted the Character Mats to be filled with all kinds of knowledge ladders for all kinds of stats and abilities.

Instead of having "Equipment" for Knives, Daggers, Staffs, Wands, Scepters, etc. Each Wizard will have his own upgrade tree.

Right now without playtesting -- my worry is that insufficient players may get in on the action. It seems like everyone is "playing" but not everyone will get the chance to earn experience. What I have been thinking is that instead of just one (1) dungeon deck, the publisher could offer two (2)... We'll see once I get some playtesting done.


Update: I am thinking that the Game Tiles might be slashed in half (so around the 50 range) per player. This of course needs more playtesting by yours truly... So I can get a better feel for what is required per player.

The cool thing is that this a "cooperative" game with a "competitive" feel to it. So it's going to be FUN playtesting the game -- because I'm just playing with the game and seeing how it goes. The cooperative angle will make it easier to playtesting (IMHO).

Combat system has been resolved

Well I have designed a simple combat mechanic which requires rolling of 2d6 (fudge dice) and then rolling a damage die/dice depending on the weapon's basic attack.

Looks pretty "clean" and can allow for counter-attacks by the enemy minions. This occurs when pushing your luck and with poor dice rolls in favour of your enemy...

Let you all know what's next for this game...


"Basic" attacks - Try #1

So I didn't get too much time to work on this design (maybe 2 hours only), but I setup some stats with XP to see how one character could evolve.

This is still in spreadsheet form, so I will need to probably tweak it for the player mats.

On the spreadsheet, I have 6 weapons. I think trimming it down to 3 might be better. I'll work on this tomorrow.


Got my Tile Pouches TODAY!

Well I searched the Internet a few weeks ago dice pouches... I couldn't find some "basic" dice pouch bags for my Game Tiles. So I remembered that "The Game Crafter" (TGC) and checked to see what they had available.

And it turned out TGC had small dice pouches ... the perfect size for one player's Game Tiles. I even got an extra "plastic baggie" which held all of the dice pouches and I will store the extra tiles in that baggie.

I recently did a "re-think" about the number of Game Tiles. I've taken the numbers from 100 Game Tiles to 60 Game Tiles. Less is better because of creating more co-operative game play (and score more XP "Experince Points"). This is primarily because Game Tiles are less present and force players to co-operate as opposed of being only competitive.

Waiting for my Game Tiles from TGC (should come in a week)... More updates once I get those too!

Note: I managed to get SIX (6) different colored pouches which correspond to the colors of the Game Tiles (Red, Green, Blue, Purple, Gray and Black).

"Basic" attacks - Continued

So my Human Mage (Holy) has a mighty "Holy Mace" as one of his unlockable stats. Take a closer look:

Weapon Damage die Type Stats XP Total
Novice Familiar Average Expert Master
Holy Mace 1d10 Melee/Blunt 4 5 6 7 8
+5 XP +10 XP +15 XP +20 XP +25 XP +75 XP

Plus when you become an "Expert" with the "Holy Mace", you can unlock "Life Link": Drain 4 HP for 2 Mana (Cost = 10 XP).

Replayability of the "core" game.

One of the things that I "struggle" with "SpellMasters" is replayability. Why? Because the "Lore" cards are ten (10) pre-defined cards, with ten (10) pre-defined minions... Fundamentally the game is relatively simple. But it's also COMPETITIVE: players fight to get the most experience and butt heads sometimes too (lol).

However if I compared it with "Scrabble: the Hobbit" Edition (S:H) -- SpellMasters has an RPG element that S:H does not have. It's not just another flavor of Scrabble. Yes the "Lore" cards provide Words the Wizards must spell... but it's different than Scrabble. How? Well each player can contribute to a Word and earn XP for whatever letters they lay down -- provided they are in sequence.

So if the "Encounter" is "Zombies" players must spell out "Z-o-m-b..." in order where players can score multiple points if they lay down for example the "omb" (from Z"omb"ies)...

Also I need to playtest the POINT values for the Game Tiles. They may be too LOW and not offer enough experience to make the Character Mats work properly (requiring XP to upgrade your characters)!

Amazingly streamlined

I just figured out that I only need two types of cards: "Lore" cards and "Quest" cards. But those cards are all double sided.

This means 25 "Lore" cards and 25 "Quest". And 2 cover cards for each pile. This means 52 cards to each expansion... Adds more replayability too!

More details to follow...

Five (5) Wizards instead of races

Wizard Color Type Ability Description
Abjuror Blue Water Dispel auras, protective or force barriers
Enchanter Green Earth Mana Tap charms, bonuses or penalties
Sorcerer Red Fire Scry manipulate energy or tap unseen power
Warlock Brown Death Exchange channel powerful abilities of arcane might
Conjuror Yellow Life Summon calls materials, creatures or energy

I have decided AGAINST having "Character Races" and am now going with BASIC types of Wizards (Schools of Magic).

These will be included within the "core" of the game. Other components are markers, damage tokens, game tiles, tile pouches, and polyhedral dice.

This means out-of-the-box you will have everything you need to play the game ... and "expansions" will focus on story arc and individual dungeon delving or travelling the lands of "?"...

BGG Micro-badge for SpellMasters

Here is the Micro-badge for SpellMasters:

I have also changed direction and reduced the number of Wizards to FIVE (5).

Finally started my own PLAYTESTING!

SpellMasters has officially gone from Game "Concept" to an actual set of components (part of a prototype) that I am playtesting. I've spent about 1 hour playtesting, two (2) separate games -- and I'm finding that THE GAME HAS POTENTIAL...

But it's very far from done.

Pacing seems to be an issue and maybe it's because the Abilities are not yet at 100%. Maybe around 75%... And I'm finding that I need to add steps to increase the speed of the game just a bit.

I'm also gravitating to a TURN-ORDER. I don't have one currently and it is leading to some confusion (especially when drawing NEW tiles from a bag).

It's still early -- but I'm not giving up on the game... Unlike other unsuccessful "concepts", this one has some merit and simply needs MORE revisions, editing and playtesting.

This one could be my third (3rd) game -- if all goes well during the revision process ... where I tweak abilities. Some things that I thought up were good, but every player should have that ability (as an example). Or discards should be for everyone, it speeds up the process of matching Game Tiles (and since pacing is a bit of a concern early on...) as the game moves forwards (in time played).

Should get more playtesting done tomorrow too!

Revision of Abilities is DONE!

So now I believe that the Wizard Abilities are at 90% firm. Obviously I have not yet sat down and playtested each of them. I will do this tomorrow. But it's cool from sitting down and actually PLAYING the game, even if it's just one component (or mechanic), it makes a significant difference in seeing what was purely a "concept" into something that actually WORKS!

With this revision, I've managed to identify Abilities that are:

A> Common to all Wizards (or Players).
B> Fix the cost per ability to something more manageable.
C> Give asymmetric abilities that are unique for each Wizard.

I am also thinking about FINE-TUNING the Game Tiles. Right now all 100 per Wizard (or Player) are identical among each other. But I'm thinking about changing this to help score more points in certain circumstances. Generally speaking each Wizard will have bonus points for certain Game Tiles.

It just makes sense - to add MORE variability and replayability too!

I'll post a new update tomorrow, once I get the chance to run YET another playtest (probably before noon).


Trying out the new engine

Well the abilities are pretty decent... Less of a pacing issue. It seems like it takes a reasonable amount of time to conquer a level. But now it looks like SCORING seems to be a problem:

One of the three (3) players score 0 XP points during the level. While this seems like it's not a problem... I'd like for all players to get the feeling of "advancement". And least score many like 3-4 XP...

IDK - I also had an issues about resetting the level once you beat it. Now I think instead of a complete reset (return all Game Tiles), you keep the ones you have for next round and the Wizard who scores the LEAST amount of XP on the previous level goes FIRST.

This might help the player who scored no XP on the previous level... Definitely MORE playtesting is required!

Next playtest with less Game Tiles

Well I'm doing the hard job of REDUCING the number of Game Tiles from 100 to 60. This is a test -- but is something that I thought would be good because it would mean that less expensive to produce the game.

During my earlier playtests today and yesterday, it was "difficult" to get the right Game Tiles at the right moment. Sure you could use the "Wildcard" ability, but then you would score 0 points of XP!

So I'm going to conduct another playtest with the same "Lore" card as before and see how well it goes. On the average most Game Tiles have doubles (so two identical Game Tiles) and I've reduced the more common tiles to less, effectively cutting down the amount of Game Tiles.

I will conduct a playtest as soon as it's ready... I maybe about 1 hour or so and report back the results of the fluidity (is it easier/more natural or is it unbalanced...) TBD!

So 60 Game Tiles is better ...

But I'm still not too happy about SCORING. Firstly I am thinking about ABANDONING 1 Point Game Tiles and make them 2 Points and 3 Points. 2 Points are standard Game Tiles and 3 Points are specific per Wizard. Also generally BOOST the Game Tile by a +1 Points making the most valuable Game Tile = 9 XP Points.

This will of course mean that I need to RE-DESIGN ALL of the Game Tiles and go through another upload of the new Game Tiles to "The Game Crafter" (TGC).

I will need to update the prototype and while I am in the process, create the Game Tiles for both Yellow and Brown. While TGC doesn't have a YELLOW or ocre pouch for those tiles -- I will use the Gray pouch for the time being.

Another few days of work to REFINE all those Game Tiles!

These are the conclusion of the latest playtests. With the revised Game Tiles, the players should score MORE XP too...

Now I've got a couple days of EDITING to do ... and maybe upload on Sunday the new Game Tiles -- and have them ready in a couple of weeks!

Prototype #2

Well I re-designed all the Game Tiles with the *NEW* Experience Points (XPs) and I uploaded all the tiles to "The Game Crafter" (TGC). This time around I am keep track of ALL "expenses" in one spreadsheet. Unlike TradeWorlds, I am working on a limited budget -- since I am already highly invested in TradeWorlds...

This will allow me to know EXACTLY how much money I have invested in the game. And I plan to be very religious about it ... add anything that has to do with spending hard earned money for the game.

So far with two (2) Prototypes, the total is just over $100 USD.

Making games is expensive, especially when I contact my artist to do some preliminary cards samples -- to help me sell the game to a Publisher. I already have some ideas to whom I want to pitch the game... But we'll see with the artwork what can be done... And then if it all looks AMAZING; maybe then I can pitch BOTH my game design and my artist too!

We'll see...

Roadblock overcome!

Well since this is only a "prototype", I figured I'd design the "Quests" similar to the "Loot" Cards. Not that this is very relevant because "Quests" are chosen at random... So they really don't need to match with the "Lore" Cards. But for simplicity (and low creative juices), I made all of the "side-quests" corresponding to a "Lore" Card.

How I have overcome the roadblock with ASSIGNING the "Loot" Card to a player, is that the LAST "Game Tile" in the quest's word will result in that player earning the "Loot".

Example: "Pay as you Go"

The word is "Thievery" and it comes from the Goblins trying to force you to pay a toll to pass. The winner of the loot is the player who lays down the "Y" (Last "Game Tile").

All the other Game Tiles used for the word earn XP too!

I currently have TEN (10) "Quests" defined, each ending with a different letter... Will be hard to target 25 unique letters, since there will be 25 "Quest" Cards. But I will try to keep the words as unique as possible.

Next step is working on the SPELLS used by each Wizard. I'll let you all know when I have something to show regarding spells!


New "core" cards: Creep cards

The core system has been modified to now use "Creep" cards. There are 15 cards in total which modify the base stats of each minion card.

A "Creep" card is chosen each level.

The result of this card is computed at the beginning of each battle.

I'm really excited with this new direction since I was unhappy with the previous version...

I still need to finish up designing all the "Creep" cards to see if everything is balanced.

Will let you know how it works out!

"Creep" deck adds variability

I am very happy that the *NEW* "Creep" deck adds HUGE replayability to the game... Works even better than "static" values per level. Originally I felt that the only approach was to define levels (1-3, 4-6, 7-9, 10+) and have varying stats...

But this was BORING and just didn't make the presentation of the cards appealing in any way. It made the cards look like a "clutter", just too messy...

So now I have this "deck" of cards which uses 2/3 of the deck to "build up" the Encounter cards. That adds a lot of replayability and makes it that some of the Monsters are *tougher* based on the "Creep" cards that have been randomly chosen for that playthru. Which is pretty interesting as a mechanic in itself...

I've been really working on "refining" the game, from the Game Tiles, to the Wizard Abilities and now to the level progression (via the "Creep" deck). I am super excited to get the latest Game Tiles either this or next week.

Anyhow just wanted to share some progress. Cheers.

Update: Just got Prototype #2 TONIGHT! The package was delivered and I've open it up. Looks like everything is there for a five (5) player co-op challenge... I'll be playtesting the new Point System and the various Wizard Abilities too...

Just to see what a typical playthru looks like. Super excited I can playtest the game tomorrow... Let's hope the new Point System is more balanced (in terms of giving MORE XP points to players).

More re-factoring to be done

Well although my "crossword"-style dungeon-esque Game Tiles are cool... They really don't work with the game. It's already difficult getting the right Game Tiles without actually being FORCED to "wait" for a word to get completed.

And while three (3) players scored 15+ XP points, one player got stuck with only 2 XP...

My thinking is this: maybe there should be five (5) words per level, one for each of the wizards to spell. It's a first come with the right Game Tiles, and points get scored that way.

One word triggers the Quest and another the Encounter. So no more "waiting" for a word to finish... Just try and SPELL the words that are related to the level.

So more thinking needs to go into this new "system". The current one is sort of "cool" ... but not practical. Sometimes as designers we need to make compromises: is it better to improve game play or to preserve some fancy "crossword" mechanic.

I personally think: "it's better to improve game play!"

Therefore I am going to take a break... And think about *NEW* ways of playing the game. And see if I can find something with more potential.


Better level test

Well I conducted yet another playtest with the revised Game Tiles and new Lore cards... and... it turned out pretty good. Again Player #5 was a bit left behind but still managed to score 11 XP. Compare to 2 XP the last time around... it's better.

But a bit a luck playing the "K" in the word "FAKE" (because of a Wildcard)... gave him 7 XP plus two other tiles. Wasn't great since Player #1 scored 25 XP and Player #2 scored 28 XP. Player #2 also walked away with the Item from the Quest too... So all-in-all, I would say the big "winner" of the level was Player #2 (Green - Enchanter).

But a bit better...

Also I chose to KEEP the "Crosswords" mechanic. Without it, it makes the game sort of "dumb". The crosswords are what simulate the dungeon delving and without them ... it's just 5 words per level. Also the crosswords reduces the number of Game Tiles because of SHARED connection.

I'm going to try to do some Illustrator work today... To try to create prototypes of the "Lore" cards... and maybe the reference cards. We'll see...


Check out the Encounter card template!

Here is the "Encounter" card template:

Tell me what you think?! Is it clean enough? There is a wealth of information on that card -- even if it seem pretty basic itself.

Comments/feedback welcome!


I don't enjoy the colors. It's too monochromatic. Maybe add some bright colors, that'll look nice. Too much black and white.

But that's just my opinion.


For the prototype B&W is fine

@Super- The template is for the Prototype... It's supposed to be Black & White and show the proper "Layout" for the card. Basically it's a mock-up of one of several card types in the game (in this case the "Encounter" cards).

Tomorrow I will be working on the "Lore" cards template so I can have more definite control over the overall appearance of all the cards in the game.

There aren't many:

+ "Lore" cards/"Encounter" cards
+ "Quest" cards/"Loot" cards

Since the cards are double-sided, there are a total of four (4) templates. The "Quest" cards are pretty simple and feature "flavor" text about the storyline of the Chapter. The first version will feature ONLY Chapter #1.


Possible "new direction"...

Well I am entertaining CHANGING the "Game Tiles" mechanic. The current mechanic features English Letters and point values for Experience (XP). Each tile indicates how many point it is worth. Using "Lore" cards you need to spell words... It's kind of cool. But at the same time with the NEW and "awesome" Creep mechanic... I was looking to design something more unique and with more strategy.

And so I came back to my wooden "Game Tiles", the ones with Swarovski crystals... The problem is "randomization". You don't want to mix them too hard because they could "chip" or get damaged.

So while those "Game Tiles" would really be awesome, there are some issues surrounding them.

Out of the box the quantity of tiles would be 1,296 which is pretty impressive. Since there are a maximum of 5 Wizards, the total game tiles would be 6,480. And if I add 5 symbols that would make a WHOOPING 32,400 game tiles. Symbols will mark positions on the play area.

More thinking is required. But I wanted something more ABSTRACT than simply letters. I've thought of numerals, greek lettering, etc. But the fact of the matter is it's easier to just remember "English" letters.

The NEW "Game Tiles" would be symbols with crystals. Each symbol represents one of the five (5) Wizards. Game Tiles would be color coded too ... but might not be colorblind compatible.

There's always something... LOL TBD.

"to market" strategy

Obviously it would be real neat if the "Game Tiles" were made of high quality wooden components and use authentic Swarovski Crystals. I've had this "vision" of a webstore selling individual "Game Tiles" with an accompanying "Encounter/Loot" card. Full-blown retail, on-line only.

Of course this is the general direction... And I want to see if it could be possible or not. Obviously the likely hood that it works "on-line" is the most probably since I don't need a 50% markup since there is no "brick & mortar" presence for the product.

Still more thinking required... And also from a "game" standpoint of view.

New (or old) developments

Well I have finally come back to my "senses"! Instead of trying to design a game that would require too many 3rd parties, I have realized that I should focus on "SpellMasters" (the game) as opposed to entertain other components like those super sexy wooden "Game Tiles".

Yeah they are very cool - and could work for an abstract minis game... But that is NOT "SpellMasters".

Is it as good as "TradeWorlds"? Probably not -- but then again the goal is not to compare a Sci-Fi Deck-builder with a Fantasy Game Tile RPG adventure.

And so I have decided (with all the various ideas that have been spinning in my mind) that I would come down to my "senses" and work on "SpellMasters"; but the original game with lettered Game Tiles.

It has a PURPOSE: it needs to feel more "dungeon-esque" and "delving" than the LOTR Scrabble Edition. But at the same time -- not a Descent or Gloomhaven type game... It's about SPELLING in a RPG/Dungeon context.

And it follows a SIMPLE formula with hopefully twenty (20) Chapters to the Story Arc. Each Chapter features a unique Storyline delve and can then be replayed at random for future challenges; sometimes easier and other times harder.

I've come back to reality: those wooden crystal Game Tiles while neat -- they just blow the concept that is "SpellMasters". They better fit with another concept and what might be done to that game -- in the future. So for now those "premium" tiles are ON-HOLD.

Back to "SpellMasters" and COMPLETING a game. I know some designers can get stuck growing a game with more and more to the game... My goal is for this game to see the light: a completed prototype with everything needed to play. Then we can try to SELL the twenty (20) Chapter Story Arc...

It's a bigger sized project, just because in terms of artwork we are talking about $100k worth of artwork -- if the game gains some acceptance in the marketplace. I'm stepping up my game with the "concept". Now it's just a matter of putting things together as per the original plan.

And so I'm back to working on "SpellMasters". Next step is to DESIGN the "Lore" card template.

Keep you all posted and I'll post a sneak peek at the card once it is done. Cheers!

8.5" x 11" Box design completed

Well today I spent the morning working on the BOX for the game. Only the inner part to see how the components would actually fit into the box. Since the game fundamentally allows up to five (5) players to play simultaneously, I had to see if the arranging in the box would allow a "manufacturing" config and a player config AFTER the game has been opened.

Worked pretty nicely I believe... Will review this during the week.


Check out the Lore card template!

Here is the "Lore" card template:

Tell me what you think?! Is it clean enough? There is all the information on that card for handling the level and the various tiles that can earn Experience Points (XP) -- even if it seem pretty basic itself.

Comments/feedback welcome!

Update: For more information about the colors and tiles, check out the "image" here on BGDF at: SpellMasters: Lore template #1

That should provide "basic" information regarding the card itself.

It all begins at the "star"

The Game Tile next to the "star" is the starting position of the Players in that given level. Once the fist player is determined, the game on this level starts with an "M".

Each player starts the game with six (6) Game Tiles chosen from their Tile Bag.

The goal is to PLAY into the Tile area the corresponding tiles from the current position in the level. So while at position #1 ("M"), players CANNOT lay down anything other than an "M" or use the "Wildcard" ability to "bypass" one Game Tile scoring 0 points.

The level is complete when three (3) things happen:

1. All the Game Tiles have been played in to the Tile area (and there are no more "wildcards" present).
2. The monster has been successfully defeated without any casualties.
3. The "Quest" word is completed and one (1) player has earned the reward.

So even if you use the "Wildcard" ability, at a later time ANY player may play the "correct" Game Tile and force the "wildcard" back to the player's discard. The "Wildcard" ability can increase in power as you gain and spend Experience Points (XP) too.

Very Cool

Looking at this card and only knowing the game is about words and dungeons, I am intrigued. Interested to see what the colors mean and how you "crawl" through this.

It looks pretty simple...

But trying to "design" those "Lore" cards is very TIME CONSUMING! I'll get the prototype finished and take it to my local FLGS and see if some of the board game players may want to give it a try.

The thing about the game is that it is "deceptively" simple. But as you gain MORE Experience Points (XP) and spend them upgrading your character, the game takes certain twists and will allow players the ability to "crawl" through the dungeon levels more and more quicker.

The "crawl" on Level #1 is basic. Aside from "Wildcard", "Dispel", "Refresh" abilities there isn't much else going on. But as letters get played into your "discard area" and you boost your abilities to lay two (2) "Wildcards" instead of only one (1), etc. Game play gets faster and faster, going through the levels.

Also Wizard-specific Abilities can help like "Scry" to draw six (6) tiles from your Tile Bag and select one (1) to keep. This also can get upgraded to eight (8) and even ten (10) tiles with the possibilities of keeping two (2) or three (3) Game Tiles.

Like I said, deceptively simple... But that's the point. I don't want something convoluted where players don't understand "how to play". Trying to keep it KISS and add enough "choice" to add layers of strategy beyond the basic game.

Anyhow I've started to design cards. So I'll continue until the prototype is finished... print everything out and cut it... And see how it goes.

I've already tested the "crawl" mechanic. And I am a version #3 of this specific mechanic. The "creep" mechanic has not been tested since combat system has not been playtested yet either. When I get a completed copy, I will run through some battles and see if it's challenging enough.

This is for a CO-OPETIVE (Cooperative and Competitive) game where three (3) to five (5) player play together to BEAT the "Chapter".

Check out another Lore card template!

Here is yet another "Lore" card template:

As a "side-note" about "SpellMasters"

I set myself a pretty "simple" GOAL to achieve: design a "word" game that is better than Scrabble.

Okay so the term "better" is relative. What I wanted was to blend RPG with spelling. That was the goal. I think this "iteration" of the game is very much "in-line" with that goal.

But I have only designed ten (10) Levels... The starting point for the "base" game. What's really COOL about the design is that each player has a unique ability they can upgrade in addition to common/shared abilities too. That means each time you play, if you choose a different Wizard, you will also be changing HOW you play that specific character.

Right now the "base" game has four (4) Wizards and I have a stretch goal for a fifth (5th) Wizard too. While I could include the fifth (5th) Wizard in the "base" game... I'm figuring that four (4) players are the maximum for the "base" game ... it can be extended into five (5) players.

From what I have experienced, SpellMasters is NOTHING like "Scrabble". Aside from having Game Tiles with letters is probably one of the only similarities.

It's cool seeing players come together to defeat a common foe or just to help out a fellow Wizard with some additional Mana (Mana Tap ability)...

Although not the most "complicated" of games... The goal here was to ensure that even an 8 year old could play the game. And that was important to me ... so that brothers could play along with mom and dad too.


Where Scrabble "excels"

I just wanted to clarify why I don't think Scrabble is the most "interesting" game... Firstly it's JUST about spelling words. Okay it's more versatile because you can CHOOSE the words you want to spell. In SpellMasters, the choice is dictated by the "Lore" and "Quest" cards.

But given that I can design a new Chapter in about 90 days, the versatility of words given a Chapter is really LARGE. So what I design to be compatible with other Chapters, you can virtually design your OWN "adventure" from all the "Lore" cards in the various Chapters.

Scrabble has it's strong suit: figuring out variable words given your Letters.

SpellMasters has it's strong suit: RPG progression in the context of dungeon delving using Game Tiles.

So you can see BOTH games "excel" at something - but they are different!

Main Mechanics

What are the main mechanics that drive your game? So you lay tiles down (with letters on them) but can only place the letters shown on the Lore cards, correct? But I also saw something about wildcards. If you've ever played Disorder, that is what I'm picturing but with predefined letters to place. Sorry if I cause you to repeat what is above. I'm not quite hooked yet to invest in reading through your design progress, even though it may be incredibly useful! But, I figured, if you're like any passionate game designer, you'll have no problem explaining your ideas to those interested :)

To be more precise

Actually you lay down Game Tiles as matching the "Lore" card. You follow the letters as if they were corridors. So when you come to an intersection, you can continue down the other path if you have the corresponding Game Tiles or can lay down a Wildcard.

So actually you "follow" the "Lore" card and make your way through the entire level. Some tiles grant you bonuses, other unlock a quest, some use the discard piles at the end of the level and another initiates combat with the monster on that level.

Each player has their own Wizard's play mat which have one (1) unique ability and three (3) common ones. In addition players have three (3) weapons they can unlock and use during combat. Lastly each Wizard has a set of four (4) distinct spells they can use during combat.

The storyline for Chapter #1 allows you to delve ten (10) levels into an abandoned dwarf mine...

That about covers it all...

Oh yeah... I almost forgot!

There is also a "creep" mechanic which makes the monsters tougher and tougher to defeat. It relies on a deck of fifteen (15) cards. During the ten (10) level story delve only nine (9) cards are used during this mode of gameplay. You can play until all fifteen (15) cards are used up -- but I'm thinking this will be super difficult if all "creep" cards are used.

If I think up anything else I may have forgotten, I will post a follow-up comment on this thread.


Example of "crawling" the dungeon...

Let's use Level #2 (Fairy Fury). For the sake of the example, I will make some assumptions not requiring precise details.

Player #1 has no "F" but has an "A". So he will lay down from his pool of tiles a "C" (5 Points) upside-down to indicate it is a "Wildcard". Next he plays the "A" and two paths open up: left (can play the "M") or right (can play the remainder of the word "maGICAL". Player #1 gets to draw 2 Game Tiles (to replenish to 6). He has no more letters that he can play. He decides to return four (4) Game Tiles and uses the "Refresh" Ability... And so he draws four (4) Game Tiles... By luck he gets an "I" and lays it down in the word ("faiRY"). Once this is done, he draws one (1) additional Game Tile to replenish his Tiles to six (6). No luck, not one of the immediate Game Tiles required so play moves on to Player #2...

That's a simple example of some gameplay without too much explanations into the more finer details of the game. If anyone has comments/feedback/questions feel free to ask away!

Check out another Lore card template!

Here is yet another "Lore" card template:

50% of Lore/Encounter cards completed

Well I'm moving forwards slowly... I've gotten 50% of the "Lore/Encounter" cards done. Which is BTW not too bad. This is 5/10 of the "core" cards. I am not going to design "expansion" cards ... I'll wait for the occasion that requires it (like a successful KS ... with stretch goals achieved).

But I am overall please with the prototype's "Look & Feel" even if it might be a overly "Black & White", the goal is to have a "functional" prototype to playtest with groups, not have a production ready version of the game.

Anyways even if I wanted to, I cannot afford to invest in a THIRD (3rd) game... The cost for artwork will be over $5,000 and at this time that is too much money considering I have yet to a dollar from "TradeWorlds".

I may do some "concept" artwork -- or a couple of pieces for sampling and seeing how the art would/could look. But only a few pieces here and there.

Still got to do the "Quest/Loot" cards and design Spells for all five (5) Wizards, etc. Plenty left to do before the prototype is ready.

Cheers. Comments/Questions/Feedback are welcomed.

Player Mats - Intricacies of the design

While working on the "Lore/Encounter" cards, I started reflecting about an idea that I had of having "split" mats. The left-side mat is a "common" mat and right-side mat is "specific" to each Wizard. I'm not sure about the idea yet - mainly because the "weapons" were supposed to be on the "left-side" mat.

So I'm not 100% certain about this idea... Will need to think about it some more. Perhaps after some playtesting, I may have a better idea which will work out best: one large mat or two (2) separate mats that combine with each other.

More thinking needs to go into this idea.

Update: I think having the "left-side" mat having both a positive attribute and a negative attribute might be interesting. Something like "SmallWorld" (in that combination feel). Not sure just another idea I have been considering.

Got the Lore/Encounter cards ALL DONE!

So motivating myself to get the card templates to be done for all the "core" cards was quite the task... but never the less it's all done! I am going to try to work on the "Quest/Loot" cards next...

Right now it's pretty BASIC: the Quest card simply states ONE (1) word that needs to be spelled in order to claim the Loot (on the other side of the quest).

I'm thinking this could require some more "thought"... It may be TOO SIMPLE.

I'll get back to you all, once I've had the time to think things over a little...


Going to ADD "rooms" to the corridors

After much thought, I am planning to add actual rooms to the game. I'm not certain how I will add them, I still need "more" ideas as to how they are added.

I am thinking that they should be linked to the quest cards... How I'm not sure - Yet!!!

This is a late post since I just got the idea maybe 30 minutes ago and have been seeing how it can be implemented.


"Expandability" and "Replay value"

Although I am convinced that "rooms" will be added, my thoughts about these are that they are to be used as "creep" cards. "Creep" cards boost the challenge level of the Encounter. But sometimes they can be POSITIVE, like allowing +1 Wizard to battle or Restore +5 Health, etc.

I'm just concerned about having everything too "hardwired" for the story mode that the "random" play (High Replayability) is not do-able...

I need to figure out HOW the "random" play gets played... Since this is a major factor in playing the game multiple times (over and over). My goal is to make the game DIFFICULT to win... And "creep" cards are all about adding to the difficulty of each Encounter.

More to come - I'll be thinking about this tomorrow and see what new ideas I can get to freshen the game.


"Cooperative" Game Development

As I ponder about the feel that say a "Pandemic" has where players are struggling to battle the contagion and there is a real sense of "teamwork". I've played on a couple of occasions and we actually WON "once"! And to my knowledge, the game allows for up to four (4) players and we played with five (5)! So maybe we broke the rules and that is why we won...

So I am adding rooms to the "SpellMasters". Rooms will each have some kind of "creep" mechanic for the encounter with the level's monster.

Originally I was struggling with how to BALANCE the difficulty of the monster ... and came to the conclusion that the Players should figure out the most OPTIMAL encounter they can succeed in defeating to earn a TON of experience (XP) and one player earns the item (Reward).

And I really feel like this goes in the right direction of "cooperative" game development. Because it forces Players to make choices and then have to compete against the foe they helped "design"... To me this echos of "cooperative" decision making.

I guess the idea is that the Game will REWARD Players with more experience the tougher the challenge they choose. I'm going to revisit some more about "creep" and encounters. There may need some fine tuning to some of the combat engine...

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