Category: Brainstorm

Productive night and a first rulebook of The Grand Adventure

What’s that? A new rulebook in the span of a day? That’s right, it was a productive time but I’ve put together a (probably over-ambitiously versioned) v0.9 of The Grand Adventure. It’s still missing Jobs (classes) and a character sheet, but that’s okay. The new dedicated listing page has some more info.

And here is The Grand Adventure rulebook (v0.9 PDF).

But basically I needed a more narrative, grid-less/board-less, kid friendly RPG for my nieces and nephews on my wife’s side. After a quick playtest and further refinements, The Grand Adventure is the result.

I can’t wait to play it all weekend with my own kids! And probably it and some Santorini next week with my nieces (because everyone seems to really love Santorini, enough so that we bought our own copy after giving it as a gift at Christmas).

At some point I’ll get back to games aimed at grown adults, since I’d like to finish up Glowquest. But I’m not in a huge rush, it’s nice to just be productive when I feel like it, and not try to force game design until it becomes a chore.

The Grand Adventure – brainstorm and images

Well that was a nice Christmas and New Year for me. We played a lot of Santorini (my oldest daughter loved it) and some Quest for El Dorado and so on. With my other nieces and nephews (who aren’t as avid of game players) I had bought one of them some D&D stuff, but it was clearly a bit too much for them, so we tried Party of Light, and even that was a bit too much and not what they were after (they wanted less grid combat and more adventure-y stuff). So I off-the-cuff threw some rules together on vacation, and now wanted to refine them into yet another RPG for kids. I mean adults will find something fun in it too, obviously. So The Grand Adventure (working title) is roughly the result so far, which has no board/grid, so it’s easier to prepare (helps me a lot!), and has a focus on fast combat where you still get to have something fun happen on a miss, and other stuff kids tend to like (such as re-rolls and no dying – just losing overall as a party). So taking some elements from Glowquest a bit.

Anyway I’ve been looking around a bit for some title page art (premature much?!) and wanted to share some cool images. These would be recolored, touched up, and overlayed with the title.





So far I’m tending towards the colorful plant/jungle, the waterfall, and the fantastical house or airship thing. I think some simple line art of explorers could work for the inside like the series called Middle Earth Traveller by Evankart.

And here is a dump of the brainstorm document I have:

– Overall game uses no board, but has relative positioning so we can still use minis

– Body
— Strong
— Swift
– Mind
— Smart
— Social
– Soul
— Tough
— Tricky

– Above attributes are assigned Best (+3), Good (+1), Bad (-1), and Worst (-2) and two 0s.
– Stats are assigned secretly during creation
– Skill checks are D10+attr >= DC = success
— Could have a couple of named Skills that give +1
— Would be more interesting if Skill did something else, like roll 2D10 choose highest?
—- Reason being a +1 doesn’t feel hugely impactful, results in more math for mods, etc.
– Basic check should be around DC 5, which results in 60% chance of success

– Character sheet should be a half page, with instructions on what to do right on the sheet
– Then your class is another half a sheet you put below. So you have attributes/stamina/name/etc. and your spendable abilities

– Combat/attack is 3D6, do 1 damage per 5 or 6 rolled
– Most monsters have 1-2 Stamina so they die quickly
– Also gain 1 Power counter (likely just glass beads) per: miss, roll of 6, and doubles
— For example rolling 1, 3, 5 would be 1 damage, no Power
— Rolling 3, 3, 5 would be 1 damage, 1 Power (from doubles)
— Rolling 1, 2, 4 would be 0 damage, 1 Power (from miss)
— etc
– Only have a set amount of Power available from the glass bead pool, so players are encouraged to spend and not horde
– Power is spent on class features, like a whirlwind attack for a Berserker or a Double Shot for a Ranger or a Healing Word for a Healer, etc.
— Almost like Surges from Glowquest
— Try to avoid a generic list of spendables (at first?) for heroes. DM would only have a generic list most likely, to save on monster creation time
– Max spendable Power cost is 4
– Power is reset to 0 at the end of the battle
– Every hero gets 1 re-roll per encounter, as kids like re-rolls
– Math odds for attack https://forum.rpg.net/index.php?threads/odds-of-rolling-at-least-one-5-with-xd6.776415/

– Heroes have 5 (?) Stamina total, and take Damage (counting up from 0). If they reach their max Stamina, they are placed face down and the party loses 1 Resolve
— At the end of a turn face down they stand back up with 0 Damage (fully healed). So basically miss a turn by dying
– Resolve is set at the start of each session, likely 4. Lose the game or have dire, critical consequences if 0 Resolve remains
– Magic used outside of combat costs 1 Stamina
— Help balances when to use it. Magic doesn’t boost Skill check, just gives more options/tools
— Maybe non-Magic classes have better base stats like more Stamina or damage per hit or something

– Classes can level up and choose new bonuses and power spenders (need a name – Ability most likely)
— For example a lvl 2 Berserker could choose a Blood Rage skill or a Deadly Chop or +1 max Stamina or a new Skill or some combination of all
Classes:
Knight (sword+shield defender), Healer (duh), Savage (offensive melee), Archer (ranger type), Shapeshifter, Wizard (uses fire/ice/earth/wind elements), Shaman (uses summons?)

– Races eventually, which give a Power spendable ability, such as Elf having “1: Keen Sight”
— Could also provide a +/- to attributes like +1 Strong
– Initiative is just whoever wants to go first, then DM acts after each player, as usual. A turn order token to pass to the next person seemed to help a lot
– Choose only 1 Item at the start. No Party of Light style split between normal/magic items to begin with
– Make a list of magic items (by name only) for ease of handing out
– Currency? Gold coins makes the most sense, very basic though? 10 Gold = 1 Item?
– Need a broad world map for where they are going, seemed to help a lot

Glowquest TODO from my playtest and expansion ideas

My playtest went really well last month. I was Utility and my two friends played the other roles. They had played my earlier version of Glowquest and this playtest went a lot better. The game was much smoother with the fat trimmed, ability cards, less passives, no interrupts, simpler monster presentation and management (monster power was great!), etc. I think one or two more substantial passes of polish to the game and it should be close to done. Then I can worry about tacking on expansion pieces. Remember of course that while I want anyone to be able to enjoy the game, realistically I’m making it for me and 2 childhood friends who used to play Advanced Heroquest together. Just sort of a nostalgic nod to that game and an excuse to bust out the old tiles.

TODOs from Playtest

Anyway here’s a rough list of the TODOs I have from both the playtest and previously. It’s straight from my notes so might be a bit disorganized:

– Whoever opens door gets to place Glow
– Different name for “Instant” type card, seem too much like an interrupt. Maybe “Action”?
– Reorder Monster Card to have Grit, Defensive Layers/HP, Speed
— Easier to reference than two similar sized boxes side by side
– Need to specify there is a minimum Grit of 2
— For cards like Tear
– Try Features in the base game instead of Glow, to add some variety to rooms
— Maybe place a token, not knowing what feature it is, THEN generate it and put where the token is
— Helps prevent min/maximizing the feature placement
– Rename Grit to Guard and Shield to Grit, and remove/rename Guard Basic Benefit
– Get rid of +1 Resolve passive
– ALL passives need a downside/trade off, no straight out better ones (like the existing +1 Armor, +1 to-hit, etc.)
– Offense gets Line as a default? Then has Slide in some Benefits
– More Monster Power spending options
— New Basic Benefits?
— Three checkboxes for each Level Up, so you could do +1 base damage 3x
— Bonus with only a single creature to make a “boss type”?
– Give up on re-rolls, they make original roll feel less impactful and are too tedious/rare to bother tracking
– No more passage fights? Rooms only?
— Then slow pace gives +MP to next Encounter?
– Note that Setup Distance is maximum, for hallways and the like

Continue reading “Glowquest TODO from my playtest and expansion ideas”

First pass at Glowquest monster cards and sheet

My remaining big chunk of work is around the Monsters. Previously I had done simple sheets, but that was a bit complex and tedious to track especially once a lot of monsters were involved. I think I came up with a good compromise with Monster Cards that you then put onto a Monster Sheet for tracking which mini is which monster and their current Reflect/Shield/Armor and HP. That sheet also has some dice tables for how to decide which monster acts. Lots of solo playtesting to do around this (hopefully tonight and tomorrow) before my actual playtest with friends this weekend.

The cards themselves are through Nandeck again, and although they may look busy they aren’t too bad once you cut them out and try to use them.

Here’s a preview of how the cards look and a PDF of the cards themselves:

Here’s a look at the monster sheet and a PDF of the full monster sheet:

With all of this I reworked how monsters are managed. Now instead of EVERY player taking a Monster Turn after their own turn, just one player PER ENCOUNTER does so, and they are given the title of Overlord. This has a ton of benefits such as the other two players not getting brain drained trying to swap the monsters around, more consistent monster behaviour (because it’s all from one player), a bit of variety depending on how each player chooses to build and setup their monsters, etc. I know this might kind of sound like a DM, but it really isn’t because the role rotates every encounter, and the player is still primarily managing their hero. Anyway again something to try out in the upcoming playtest (can you tell I’m excited about it?)

Glowquest rework updated documents

Glowquest rework updated documents

At this point I’ll likely just call it Glowquest as the rework has for sure replaced the original brainstorm/prototype. That’s what early playtests and attempts are for! Anyway here are a bunch of documents that I’m going to use for my next group playtest at the end of the month:

Glowquest Rules (rework Apr 2019)
Hero Sheet (rework Apr 2019)
Reference Sheet (rework Apr 2019)

Offense Deck
Defense Deck
Utility Deck
Passive Deck

And some screenshots showing the new cards and other documents:

So yeah I’m really liking the changes and streamlining so far. Moving to cards has really helped cut down an overwhelming list of options (like 200+) on what you can buy/build/equip/learn into a simple choice between 3 cards at the moment.

My planned playtest near the end of the month will really put the game through it’s strides, so that should be cool.

Glowquest cards thanks to Nandeck

Glowquest cards thanks to Nandeck

I’m quite experienced with LibreOffice and other similar spreadsheet programs (like it’s predecessor Open Office…never really got into Excel since I do most of my game design on Linux). And I knew as soon as I added the concept of cards to Glowquest that I did not in a million years want to manually design, copy-and-paste, and update and maintain them as a spreadsheet. So I went looking for card programs. One of the most recommended, albeit complex, is Nandeck. Yes the website and UI are from the 1990s, but it’s a solo Italian dude developing the whole thing and with that limitation in mind he’s really achieved some good stuff.

Nandeck uses a declarative language, kind of like HTML or programming, to lay out your cards and dump some data into them. You can pull from Comma Separated Value (CSV) files which is terrific as I can maintain a “deck” of cards there, and have it populate any layout changes I make on the fly. The learning curve was steep because the tool is so powerful and has so many commands/options (see the PDF manual for more), but the time invested was worth it. Also I have wanted an excuse for a while to try to figure out a way to make good cards.

Anyway I’ll post the results tomorrow, and I’d love to post the various CSV files for each deck but WordPress is stingy about that kind of thing. Unfortunately the same thing goes for the .NDE files used with Nandeck. When everything is all solidified I’ll eventually post the finished scripts directly in a blog entry.

Originally my plan was to go to my local Digital Post print shop and get the PDFs dumped in color onto some thin cardstock, but when I get the game to a REALLY stable point I might just use The Game Crafter and order a few decks of cards that way. For now though I’m still printing on plain, thin paper and cutting them up by hand (thanks Fiskars!)

Ideas for future Glowquest expansions

Ideas for future Glowquest expansions

I know it seems really early to be thinking about expansions, but I wanted to keep the core/basic game of Glowquest quite simple, and the only way I could do that was to push a bunch of complex features until later, optional add-ons/expansions. So here are bunch of maybe-who-knows ideas for expansions (these are somewhat ordered in the way/priority I want to tackle them):

  • Dungeon features, like gargoyle statues, pits, etc. that have different abilities and rules and cards for each
  • Classes
    — Different “Class Cards” that have different base abilities
    — Very small but distinguishing differences
    — For example Duelist (Offense) always rolls 2D12 and picks highest for attack,
    whereas Gambler (Offense) rolls 1D6 damage instead of a set amount
    — Could combine Role cards into this, so like “Barbarian (Defense)” on your card
    — Realistically only want 1 card for who you are
    — Most likely move Hero-Sheet to Nandeck and pull Class/Role data from a CSV file above the fillable stuff
  • Cross Role expansion (discard 3 Benefits to gain 1 from other Role deck?)
    — Also promotes a bit of discussion on re-shuffling the deck with the secondary player asking the primary player
    — Could limit to only 1 other Role? So Offense/Utility, but not Off/Util/Def on a single guy
  • Campaign (grow/keep characters, town stuff in between)
    — Probably need to add money/currency, but keeping to use Benefits as a pseudo-currency would be awesome for simplicity
  • Quests and different objectives
    — Maybe even different lose conditions?
  • Interrupts (Belt/Gloves – encounter start, Helmet – ally unconscious)
    — Be very careful with this, perhaps the game functions fine without out-of-turn actions
  • Reserved Surges, can put some aside to save for interrupts or other effects
    — Maybe replaces Interrupts entirely? And makes every Benefit you have an Interrupt? Could very, very quickly get out of control that way for minimal benefit
  • Races
    — Similar to Classes in that you can choose 1 card that gives a special bonus that really sums up a Race
    — Generally just makes starting a new game more complex/overwhelming unless experienced
  • Elemental damage
    — As long as it’s done right: more Spiral Knights than Grim Dawn
  • Difficulty modifiers
    — Kind of like totems from Bastion or relics from Risk of Rain. New monster Basics? New passives?
  • Dungeon creation rules
    — Certain races only allowed, certain buffs given to all monsters, certain environmental factors
  • Add an optional “Escalation” choice (maybe in an expansion?) that the party can agree to do
    — Primarily designed to break up boring fights (ideally this is solved another way, like changing boring enemies or tweaking to-hit/dam numbers)
    — But anyway idea is EVERYONE gets +1 attack dice and chooses highest, so basically like Offense (who would now be 3D12?)
    — Theory is fast and deadly combat with tons of hits. Harder on Utility likely?
    – If players tend towards this mode ALL the time then maybe there is a more fundamental problem with the base math