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Stealing ideas from board games
Pre-order Dead Horse, co-op action points, stealing from board games, and Catan
🐴 Pre-order Dead Horse Vol. 1
🤝 Cooperative action points in Hellboy
♟️ Stealing from board games
🎲 Recently played: Catan
🐴 Pre-order Dead Horse Vol. 1
Pre-orders for Dead Horse Volume 1 end soon!
Disaster Tourism has put together a horror anthology with contributions from about 30 different authors, artists, and creators. It’s called Dead Horse, and is filled with “unsettling horror” stories, art, and games. The first issue of it comes out soon!
I’m excited to share that I have a contribution in the first issue! It’s called Music in its Roar and is a solo and/or system agnostic hex flower game engine about slowly turning into a fish. The title comes from a Lord Byron poem called Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812).
It’s been a pleasure working with the team putting this together. Having seen a PDF draft of it, I think there’s something for everyone. It’s an art/literature publication, but with ample inspiration included for TTRPG players and game designers.
Click that button to pre-order and get both the digital and physical copies!
🤝 Cooperative action points
Someone noted in the post comments that they can’t recall seeing a similar mechanism in any other dungeon crawl board games. I’d tend to agree, because I can’t think of any either!
I feel this concept could be translated to TTRPGs. Rather than everyone taking their own actions, perhaps players could help boost other’s actions? Or perhaps systems with magic already handle this via spells that provide buffs? It’s at least worth considering.
Read it at Skeleton Code Machine.
♟️ Stealing ideas from board games
As a follow-up to the thread about video game boss mechanics, there was a recent Reddit thread about mechanisms to steal from board games. Here are some of the suggestions that I think have the most potential:
Player boards: There are few things as satisfying as slotting in cubes in a nice, dual-layer player board. This would be an obvious adaption/evolution of character sheets.
Deck-building: As a huge fan of deck-building, I like this idea. Translating it both thematically and mechanically to TTRPGs may be harder, however, than you might think.
Bag building with push your luck: My favorite board game example of this is Wonderland’s War (Eisner, et al., 2022). Although it would require custom tokens, this might be otherwise easy to implement.
Simultaneous action selection: Gloomhaven (Childres, 2017) does this in a dungeon crawl setting that is already approaching an RPG. It’s a really interesting way to handle turn order and initiative in a fast and elegant manner.
Banking failed rolls: Making misses and failures meaningful is a challenge in TTRPGs, so there might be a way to learn from Too Many Bones (Carlson & Carlson, 2017). Rolling “bones” during an attack count as a miss, but may be banked to activate your Backup Plan skill.
Lowest score matters: While TTRPGs aren’t directly focused on victory points, there might be a way to incorporate the scoring concept from games like Tigris & Euphrates (Knizia, 1997). Players accumulate points in various “spheres” but only score the sphere with the lowest points. This could have direct applications to leveling up character stats.
Custom cards: While custom cards can unlock many new mechanisms and ways to run TTRPGs, they come at a higher production cost and require players to purchase custom components. That said, both Gloomhaven and Guards of Atlantis 2 (Nichipurov, 2022) make fantastic use of custom cards that could be translated to TTRPGs.
The intersection of TTRPGs and board games is something I enjoy thinking about, wondering how the line between them can be blurred. I’d point to The King’s Dilemma (Hach & Silva, 2019) as a possible example.
If you want to read more about tabletop game mechanisms in board games and roleplaying games, be sure to check out Skeleton Code Machine.
If you have any favorite examples of blending board games and TTRPGs, please let me know in the comments!
🎲 Recently played: Catan
You might be surprised that although I’ve played quite a few board games, until this week, I had only played Catan (Teuber, 1995) once… about 15 years ago! So I was excited to try it again this week, knowing that my board game tastes have changed since that previous play.
I enjoyed it! Resource collection, networking building (roads), and positioning based on probability (rolling 2d6 for locations) are all fun mechanisms. The overall design of the board and art still look really nice, even by today’s standards.
I didn’t love the robber mechanism which injected some take-that card stealing. There was also seemingly nothing I could do to get bricks! Bad dice rolls can be extremely unforgiving.
Catan is an enduring game, having sold over 32 million copies in 40 different languages as of three years ago. It’s been the entry point to the hobby for countless gamers. I look forward to more plays, possibly with some of the expansions.
If you have suggestions on which Catan expansions are the best or which one I should try first, please let me know in the comments!
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- E.P. 💀
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