Gloom of Kilforth: Fantasy Quest - A brief word on Stats

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fantasy Quest - A brief word on Stats

A brief word on Stats.

I’ve gone back and forth on this over the years, trying to come up with cool and interesting sounding words to represent the characters’ abilities that connect inextricably with the gameplay.  A hero has Valour, right?  This could mean his strength, or combat ability.  How many different words are there for agility or dexterity that sound new and interesting?  Does magic come from intelligence?  Or spirit?  Or one of those arcane words like ‘mana’?

Let’s face it, they’re all derivative of D&D abilities in one form or another.  That’s fair enough, but my constant aim has been on emphasising the story of the adventures, and how to translate those abilities into the story aspect of the game without having to talk about Charisma and Wisdom and such.

Whilst developing the Keywords for the various places, allies, titles and characters in Fantasy Quest, repeating themes and ideas kept emerging.  And I had to start putting a limitation on how many different ways you could interact with the people and environments or the game options would spiral out of control, or I’d end up writing a book - like the (awesome) Book of Tales from Tales of the Arabian Nights.  To that end I decided to use ‘doing’ verbs for characters’ stats.  This also allowed me to neatly insert them into story and quest cards.

So you meet a stranger, and you want to talk to them.  To get the information or item or help that you need from this stranger you’d need to maybe convince them of your needs.  Perhaps they’re a cowardly thief and you need to bully them into giving back stolen goods?  Maybe they’re a noble guardian and you need to convince them of your integrity to let you pass?  Possibly you need to flirt with the royal envoy for them to send aid?  Okay, so all of this requires you to INFLUENCE that person.  Which means a saga or quest card might ask you to “INFLUENCE the HERMIT to obtain the LOCATION of the SPELL, and use this to STUDY the DEMON threat.”

Woah, do I have to look at all those shouty capital letters?  Well, maybe not that many.  But believe me, it helps the pertinent stuff stand out.  It’s brief enough to keep the game moving, and it provides a neat little narrative for you to string your gameplay actions to.

This time you might want to pick a lock, or hide from a beastly monster, or creep into an enemy fort.  Well, to me it sounds like those actions would make you a real SneaKy sort.

Next up you may need a Spell to help you on your way.  Well, you’ll have to Study hard to learn it.

But when it comes down to it, and you find you can’t Sneak past that Doom Guard, or Influence it to join you, or Study its weaknesses...  Well, then you’ll just have to Fight the damned thing.

Fantasy tropes and familiar game mechanics are impossible to avoid without fragmenting a game like this into too abstract a level.  So where I could, I’ve endeavoured to keep the good stuff in, keep it simple, keep the game moving, and keep it interesting and fresh.  Hopefully I’ve succeeded.  Here’s a quick spoiler of one of the nicer PLACEs you can visit in Fantasy Quest:

Until next time!


freourslc said...

But... I want to buy this right now !

If it is really possible to manage to handle so many possibilities the game will surely be impressive.

It should be a long and hard task to balance everything, nevertheless.

Ninjadorg said...

Haha, thanks man. I'm gonna really need enthusiasm like yours to see this project through to the finish before the year is out!

Praxus said...

This is looking very interesting! I'm excited to see a card game with a lot of player options and varied resolutions for encounters and events. Looking forward to seeing more about this, so I hope you're able to keep your momentum going!

Ninjadorg said...

Thanks Praxus, I'll try and make these updates weekly or fortnightly until I've got the solid foundations for others to start play-testing too.

I want to keep the layout and encounters as random as possible, which means balance may end up being an issue anyway. But hey, it worked for Talisman!

freourslc said...

Concerning the capital letters used for defining the keywords, they could be replaced by bold-faced characters...
A colour coded frame could also be used (although it is not always a good idea to use many colours for an enhanced readability).
I think I can live with the "shouting" keywords. At least I should not often forget them this way !

Ninjadorg said...

That's a great suggestion. Currently I have flavour text in Italics, card Keywords in Bold, and stressed elements (described Keywords, Stats, Actions, etc) on the card text in Capitals. I'll maybe try and mix them around a bit to see what looks best.

freourslc said...

I was suggesting to combine bold-face characters with colours (not many of them: black, brown, dark blue, and dark green, as an example), for the different categories of "keywords"...

i.e. Stats could appear as bold-face black characters, and so on.
This would (maybe) enable to avoid capital letters, which are not always easy to read (in my opinion).

The combination of italics + bold is easier to read than italics only (in my opinion, too). Nevertheless card flavor in italics is a standard. And relying on the standard way is good !

Best regards

Ninjadorg said...

Thanks for your thoughts, I'll bear them in mind moving forward with this!