Trimming and polishing White Line Fever

I’ve been wanting to wrap up White Line Fever for a bit here, since after my rework to a more “push your luck” style I’ve really enjoyed my playtests of it. Plus there’s something satisfying about having your own car combat game. I’m even MORE motivated now since I’ve sunk a bit of time in the recently released computer game Dark Future: Blood Red States, which I honestly thought would never come out but they pulled it together pretty well. So all those guns on cars and explosions got my psyched. I never played the original boardgame, but I’ve read through the rulebook and all expansions. Pretty standard 1980s fare from Games Workshop in the sense of being clunky and awkward but with a lot of heart and a certain “feel” that modern games don’t normally have.

Anyway I took my Glowquest approach to White Line Fever, wherein I trim any fat to make a good, basic core ruleset, and plan for future expansions/add-ons. So I took out the “Barebones Mode”, which was intended to be paperless (no record sheets) and simplify the car building and stuff. I also removed the per-car abilities of Adrenaline and Lucky Hit. Otherwise I simplified Collisions to work the same whether car vs car or car vs obstacle, so no slight, hard to remember difference of -1 Speed compared to -2 Speed.

Besides that I’m going to add a Drift rule, to make those cases where you want to go ahead but slightly dodge terrain/obstacle a lot less awkward. And I also moved to the idea of keeping tokens for how many Maneuvers you’ve done in a round, so you can easily see what your next modifier would be if you want to Floor It.

As for future expansions the biggest one I want to do, and HAVE wanted to do in a game FOREVER, is to have a road trip campaign mode using real world road maps. Kind of like Jalopy…except, um, better. Maybe the old Car Wars idea of road Atlases and whatever the really good cross country campaign was called. Anyway it’d be fun to have a mix of resource management, route choosing, risk analysis, etc.

Speaking of Car Wars I wonder how their fabled Sixth Edition is going to work, or if it’ll ever come out.

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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

The great Glowquest rework! (Cards for abilities now, etc.)

Been a while! Besides making a light Superhero game for my daughter (using HeroClix minis – might post more in the future) and playing some of the dice game One Deck Dungeon and the video games Grim Dawn (thanks to their new expansion), Book of Demons (great Diablo 1 homage), and Deep Rock Galactic (great coop experience with friends) and absolutely salivating over Rebel Galaxy Outlaw (might FINALLY be the spiritual successor to Wing Commander Privateer we all want) I’ve spent a bunch of time reworking Glowquest!
Still so excited for this game; I really want to provide an enjoyable Advanced Heroquest experience with more in-depth and tactical combat. Besides the huge shot of nostalgia from aiming it at me and my 2 childhood friends who played AHQ through junior high & high school, that’s really what Glowquest is about.

So what’s changed? TONS of streamlining and ripping out concepts, to push them to future “expansions”. I really would rather have a tight, playable core framework to build on instead of trying to throw in the kitchen sink on the first go around.

Biggest Changes

  • Skills/powers/abilities/activators are now cards called Benefits! The game is almost “roguelike” in nature as it has a narrowed focus onto heroes completing a single expedition into the dungeon (the Quest is also always the same), with no in-between town events or locations. To make a hero they still choose a Role (which gives some basic stat modifications), and then “gain” from their Role deck (of Benefits), which means draw 3 cards and keep 1, which they do 3 times. Then they gain from a Passive deck in the same way. Then the real roguelike element is after every fight the heroes “level up” by Gaining from a deck of their choice (Role, Equipment, or Passive). This means they slowly flesh out their character without the tedium of gold/Crowns management, improving equipment, figuring out what skills come from what items, etc.
  • Surge generation! You now roll 1D6 at the start of your turn for the number of Surges you get, but you also re-roll once if you get a 1. This sounds like the complete opposite of the odds I was trying to fight against with the original game, BUT the big a-ha (take two?) was to shift every single Benefit to cost 1-3 ONLY. AND movement is now a basic Benefit you can do for 1 Surge, so you don’t even have to move or you can move multiple times. Surges of course are what you spend/use to activate cards.
  • Attacks to-hit rolls! You now roll a simple 1D12 to attack, hitting if the result is greater than or equal to the enemy Grit. Damage is still a flat number with ways to increase it from skills.
  • Interrupts are gone at least for the time being. Just too much to track. I had already taken them off monsters after my last playtest, but now they are gone for heroes too.
  • Elemental damage is gone. so no more weakness/resist. Partially this came from playing Grim Dawn, which has like 9+ resists and was hella boring to try to max them all. So why would I want that in my game? Exactly…gone!
  • Dodge and “attacks of opportunity” have been simplified to a choice: leave combat freely but take Unsteady (which means you are easier to hit) OR risk trying to escape (4+) or get stuck there. Ever since Dinosaur Cowboys I’ve loved choices like those.
  • Momentum is still there, because honestly fights in 5×5 rooms would stagnate otherwise. Besides Blood Bowl being a super fun light game, I can thank it for the idea of Momentum (where you HAVE to push or be pushed by an enemy based on if you hit or not).
  • Roles do more such as Offense letting you roll 2D12 and choose the highest for attack. Or Defense getting bonus effects if an enemy tries to leave combat. Or Utility getting special “Blessing” tokens to heal out of turn.
  • Exploration is a bit different now to fit into the turn structure. Now you can go double your Speed, and don’t have to roll for Surges or anything. Part of me wants it to fit the same as combat turns, but part of me wants to be true to the Advanced Heroquest roots which also had split turn styles.
  • Glory has been renamed to Resolve (thanks Renowned Explorers I guess?), but still functions the same in that you can lose the game if you run out. You can also choose how much Resolve the party wants to start with, from 2-4.
  • Unconscious is a bit more interesting as it provides 3 choices for your special truncated turn: Try to Recover, Throw Rock, or Crawl Away
  • Dungeon generation is now a single D20 roll for passage length + doors + passage end, which is vastly simplified from the D20/D12/D10 mess I had before.
  • Fate has been removed because under the new system it didn’t feel impactful enough, and was just another thing to track. I still like the idea of a spendable resource, so maybe it’ll make an appearance in the future.
  • Monster changes are coming…it’s my next big chunk to do. I came up with the concept of a “Monster Controller” player who alternates each combat before I did the rework, so I need to port that over and flesh it out. I also had the idea of a Monster Strength if I go the route of a “Monster deck” of stat cards to draw from.
  • And many more removals and changes. I had written them all down at first (like no more weapon swapping) but then as I progressed through my TODOs I pulled that information out. Regardless the rules should be much tighter with a much more realistic and focused plan.

Updated documents, rules, cards, reference sheets, etc. to come soon!

“Knight, Death and the Devil” arguably one of my favorite engravings

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight,_Death_and_the_Devil comes an AMAZING engraving from 1513 (?!?!). How can a piece speak so much to me over 500 years later…so powerful and well done. Click for the absolutely massive size to truly appreciate the detail. Likely going to get this one printed and hung on the wall soon. Plus I wanted to have a copy here just because it’s a worthwhile image to spread to every corner of the internet.