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The Affliction Deck

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King-William
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Just wanted some feedback on a mechanic in my game Containment. When a unit is attacked by an alien and hit they dont suffer typical health damage but draw from the affliction deck. These afflictions can range from minor injuries like cuts and lacerations to major wounds like dismemberment or outright death. The game is a coop horror survival game taking inspiration from games like Kingdom Death, Deep Madness, and Zombicide.

Fertessa
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Seems like a fine mechanic,

Seems like a fine mechanic, so long as it's balanced. If players have an equal opportunity to gather supplies/equipment to help mitigate large, sudden damage, then I don't see a problem. If not, it would be more of a game of luck, which I think would work against the spirit of cooperation.

Tim Edwards
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King-William wrote:Just

King-William wrote:
Just wanted some feedback on a mechanic in my game Containment. When a unit is attacked by an alien and hit they dont suffer typical health damage but draw from the affliction deck. These afflictions can range from minor injuries like cuts and lacerations to major wounds like dismemberment or outright death. The game is a coop horror survival game taking inspiration from games like Kingdom Death, Deep Madness, and Zombicide.

I really like it. Gives some character to their pain! I love the permanence and critical nature of "You've just lose a finger" or "Your arm is broken" over generic "-5 health".

The only game I've found with that was an RPG called Maelstrom. You did have hit points, but you might lose...bits of you too. Losing an eye cost you some Perception (as it would!), etc

Will the afflictions translate into stat adjustments, or is there a way of avoiding stats and just having the cards? Maybe if the latter, possession of certain cards encumbers you with penalties for certain actions?

Tim Edwards
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Fertessa wrote:Seems like a

Fertessa wrote:
Seems like a fine mechanic, so long as it's balanced. If players have an equal opportunity to gather supplies/equipment to help mitigate large, sudden damage, then I don't see a problem. If not, it would be more of a game of luck, which I think would work against the spirit of cooperation.

Yes, sudden death can be as much an anti-climax as a thrilling danger. Perhaps actual death should be incremental with health point deductions attached to each horrific injury.

Jay103
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Agree.. that could be an

Agree.. that could be an awesome mechanic, especially with ways to remove afflictions occasionally (aka “healing”, but more more nuanced this way)

King-William
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Damage Mitigation

Players have different classes with various inherent armor and agility with which to avoid hits. The players can also spend research points during the development phase to research new weapons, armor, tech, and stations to bolster their abilities between expeditions. Players can also achieve veteran status with long lived crew members that give them access to further traits that improve survival or combat effectiveness. Stations on the ship, the medic class, and the rest phase all work to allow the players acess to healing. Players can also enhance the med bay to research cybernetics to allow them to cure dismemberment by allowing them to use android pieces for non lethal dismemberment.

Edit: The mechanic class allows access to abilities that deny enemy access such as shields, sealing bulkheads, etc so there is that mitigation in play as well. Demolitions class allows for good crowd control at the expense of needing protection whilst they use turrets and the like.

King-William
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Damage Mitigation Cont

Damage sustained always bears consequence. It could be progressive blood loss, lost accuracy due to lost limbs or blindness, reduced agility due to damaged or missing legs. Increased problems enduring in low oxygen settings due to a punctured lung and various other effects. Getting hit will always hurt.

let-off studios
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MERP Crit Tables

Haven't played and/or seen how this mechanic plays out in a game session, but your description reminds me of the Critical Hit tables from MERP - Middle Earth Role Playing - from back in the day.

Depending on the type of attack the target experienced, ranging from melee weapons to missiles to specific elemental/magical effects, a Critical Hit result warranted a throw of percentile dice and a lookup on the relevant reference table. All sorts of horrible, entertaining stuff would happen to victims with it in play. It was so good/terrible that we added it into our ADD&D 2nd Edition games.

My gut tells me that this kind of mechanic would work well with an action-oriented game, but not so much survival horror. You'll need to keep an eye on balance here so as not to simply frustrate players with the amount of insurmountable setbacks they experience in relation to ability to succeed at even the most elementary of tasks.

A nice thing about your use of a card deck is that players can dial-back or amplify the difficulty of the hardships they face by simply adding or removing cards from this deck prior to a play session. Something the MERP tables were unable to do... I can't tell you how many one-eyed, one-handed rogues and wizards were running around because of this... :)

More details regarding MERP if you're interested:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle-earth_Role_Playing

King-William
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My brother suggested

My brother suggested utilizing difficulty settings that omit certain afflictions from the deck or call for them to be added. The idea is for it to be a bit like Aliens as a blend of action and survival horror. The horror comes from the threats presented and horrific wounds, while the action comes from the tactical play and strategy used in the engagements.

Think of it as in the vein of something like Kingdom Death: Monster where wounds come frequently and harm you in more than just raw hp. So while crew members might die fairly often due to a number of possible ways they can be killed, the Tartarus development and experience allowa you to better manage these wounds.

Cybernetics for example if researched will replace most dismemberment with android parts through the use of research points or crafting (havent decided which) allowing crew that are on the bench due to lost limbs to get back into it as cyborgs.

Jay103
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You could have Severe and

You could have Severe and Critical Wounds cards that were color-coded on the face for easy location, and keep them out of the deck, but then maybe shuffle some in at later game stages based on other things that happen..

Dunno if you could make that work, but you could have dynamic difficulty based on game events.

King-William
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That could work, though if

That could work, though if they are all reserved for later stages it takes some of the fear of getting hit out. That fear of an alien jumping out of the vents and dropping you right there like something out of Alien or predator which is a level of suspense and horror I want players to feel as they are playing. I want players to feel like being smart and tactically will get them through but thoughtless action could make things go very bad very quickly.

Kingdom Death has a lot of gotcha's that just sort of happen. I want containment to have those moments of clear 'this is why you died' if something kills you that will allow the players to determine how to tackle the problem the next time it comes up or if something similar arises. The goal is for players to utilize the tools given to them to avoid getting hit rather than the more common method of tanking as many hits as possible.

Armor in containment works on a system of durability where it can resist so many hits or endure against varying degrees of hit severity. Each hit taken reduces that armor rating till the armor breaks, at which point you have to start drawing Afflictions which could be any number of wound types.

The players should be developing weapons, armor, and tech that allows them to keep themselves from reaching that point where their armor fails them.

Jay103
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Well, I was thinking more

Well, I was thinking more like, when the aliens board the ship (or whatever), then you add the "aliens might jump out and kill you" sorts of things. Though I suppose that would be an event deck, not an affliction deck.

King-William
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There is a whole expedition

There is a whole expedition phase full of random events (a d100 roll) to mess with players along with threat specific events.

Tim Edwards
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King-William wrote:That could

King-William wrote:
That could work, though if they are all reserved for later stages it takes some of the fear of getting hit out. That fear of an alien jumping out of the vents and dropping you right there like something out of Alien or predator which is a level of suspense and horror I want players to feel as they are playing. I want players to feel like being smart and tactically will get them through but thoughtless action could make things go very bad very quickly.

Feel free to ignore this rambling post but there's a paradox to be negotiated here, I think.

The threat of unexpected death = suspense (good)
Unexpected death = Argh! right... ok. damn. I guess I shouldn't have risked it, but...it might have worked. (not as good as the build up?)

Can characters die without having the game end for the player? Maybe players have several characters to play with?

I'm thinking about your desire to capture the experience of watching Alien. I think it's worth bearing in mind, that both the threat AND actualisation of sudden deaths created suspense because our experience of the film didn't end with the deaths. No-one got kicked out of the cinema when a death occurred.

If the game time was short, you could happily kill off players so the surviving players felt more and more isolated and scared. That wouldn't be an issue, I think. But if the game was longer, it might not be so good to kick players out of the game, particularly if death is unpredictable.

You want the players to worry about taking risks. But they will take them, if there's a reward for it (I mean, you WANT them to take risks too). Maybe the price of failure should be pain rather than death. Something to be afraid of, but not something to end the fun?

I suppose what I'm suggesting is - to get the Alien film experience, the players might be immortal, controlling mortal characters with whom they have some emotional investment.

I might be totally wrong. I just have reservations about sudden game-ending things, unless it's done in some special kind of way...

King-William
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Keeping Players Playing

So the system works a lot like Kingdom Death in that regard. Your landing team is a squad of 6 but you have the whole crew of the Tartarus at your disposal. The players will have a limited number of guys that can be bolstered through development, events, and using the comms array to call for reinforcements. So if a player dies they cant command their landing team guy anymore for that expedition/engagement. In death though they can target their allies with SI-Buffs (Survival Bonus). Each dead player can bestow one SI-Buff on an ally that can do things such as increase agility or attack for a game round. Through upgrades they could even bestow an ability to shrug off an affliction and discard it rather than applying it. During expedition players can retreat back to the Tartarus but have to roll on the extraction table. This usually will cause damage to gear or deal minor wounds as consequence for failing the expedition.

Through the SI system I hope to keep players who have died involved in an ongoing engagement or expedition phase during the campaign so that they arent sitting around waiting. Each of their activations would be applying these buffs, so they could read the situations the living are dealing with and try to help them with SI accordingly.

There is a crew manifest system in play that allows the players to track their characters and switch them in and out depending on the missions they undertake or to allow the wounded to rest and heal. A player dying is not a game ender for them as it would be in Zombicide for example. So player 1 might have his guy Johnny die, but once they get to the development phase he simply makes a new guy from the crew, logs him in the manifest, then jumps back in the next round.

wob
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hi. one of the simplest ways

hi. one of the simplest ways to limit the threat of sudden death is to vary how the deck is shuffled (the wording of this will need tweaking) " shuffle 2 thirds of the deck in 1 pile. shuffle all the instant death and the other third of the deck into a second pile. place the first (nonfatal) pile on to the other (fatal) pile." as i say the wording was horrible but the method would mean that nobody dies until the deck is 2/3 depleted. i have played a few games that use this in event decks, but i cant recall their names. your system sounds cool. the additional flavour text could really add to the atmosphere.

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