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!