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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Running and Gunning on my table top.

Lately I have been thinking allot about table top miniatures games, such as my "Block game" (the game that consumes all.)

So I got to thinking  about  writing a table top game based on the  run-> gun-> loot ->repeat paradigm that exists in many of my favorite video games. (Borderlands and Diablo 3 being the most well known current examples.)

I know there are others working on similar (read, better) things that are emulating the shoot and loot genre of video-games.

Here are some links.

Check out The Preview of "Shoot N Loot" being written by game designer John Harper. This game is a great example of  genre emulation within the exact genre I'm talking about. (In particular I think his Agro system for combat hits a home run. A decidedly elegant and deeply strategic mechanic.)

Related This is a great idea form a man of many great ideas,  Dyson Logos
I love this idea from Dyson it's got a high cool factor, and is what started me thinking about working on a project myself. I quickly rejected personally doing loot in this fashion because I know I would never be able to implement it. As in I woudl not have the wear-with-all to draw the tiles needed for the gun parts. I would start and never finish. Also having  something printed from say Gamecrafter or a similar service is not currently on my radar.

Also a game which was mentioned in Dyson's related thread is "Nefertiti Overdrive" by Fraser Ronald. This game promises "High Octane Action in Ancient Egypt" so I'm already totally sold. The  quick start guide is here. Admittedly I have not downloaded it yet, but I will tonight. Visually it looks great and even if it does not exactly fit into what I'm writing about, I'm still happy to boost the signal.


What makes run and gun for me?

  • Speed is a big thing.
    Combat should not drag unless the monster is something special like an area boss. Looking at Borderlands, unless a character is over-matched it rarely takes more than  3 to 5 hits to kill normal creatures, many times one critical is all you need. This is a good thing it keeps the game moving, Keeps the players moving and  keeps the loot flowing.
  • Characters are a sum of who they are plus what they carry.
    Often times in these kinds of games the character's attributes are so bolstered by equipment as to become secondary. 
  • Skills
    Like what people carry in these kind of games characters are much more defined by what they can do than by who they are, skills provide the basis for what a character can do.
  • Loot
    I think this  goes with out saying but loot must be varied, falling into several types and extensive. There has to be lots of things to find, different things, good things, bad things, rare things. It's a reward cycle and  nothing  stinks more than finding the same old pistol again and again. Loot needs to have variety. (This is where I think the recent game "Destiny" falls down a bit, it feels like a kill an loot game, but it needs to drop loot more frequently and have more loot boxes.)


How am I going to approach capturing these traits on the table top?

  • Speed:
    First I have to pretty much  toss all my preconceived notions left over from "The Block Game." The detailed initiative system in blocks especially has to go.
    Primarily I need a slimmed down system, that will handle firing guns, allot. As well as taking down lots of monsters.
    Combat will involve rolling  D6's each representing a pull of the trigger. Each die that exceeds a targets dodge attribute is a hit. A simple base system that can be  played with mechanically via upgrades and skills.
    Monsters will be defined as a sketch Name, Level, Health, Movement, Dodge, Attack, Damage and any special abilities they might have.
    Like So:
    Skag, Level 1, Health 5, Movement 6, Dodge 3, Attack 3 Damage 2, Special: move and attack.
    Monsters will also generaly have low health and be made more difficult via their special abilities and  or armor.
    Initiative will be handled on an as needed basis, if no one is attacking a monster the monster goes last.
    Key thought: Only make a roll when it matters..
  • Characters are the sum of Who they are and what they carry.
    Character attributes will be simple, immutable and pretty low. Characters effectiveness will improve through what they find and the bonuses those things grant, exclusively. This is not exactly genre emulation, but I'm writing a skirmish type table top game, keeping things simple will help the game run smoothly. Exploding or limitless attribute curves don't always promote simplicity.
  • Skills.
    I plan on writing five classes or roles with  10 unique skills each to start with. Players can pick (or random? Hmmm) three skills at the beginning of the game to run with. Simplicity. Lets players mix and match and doesn't ask players to commit to a long campaign of trying to unlock things, which  may work in the  video games but would never happen at my table.
  • Loot.
    As I wrote above, I like Dyver's idea of using hexes to mix and match gun parts very much. Unfortunately I know I would never execute it. I hope someone does.
    I am going to have to go with loot charts, allot of them. I don't necessarily look forward to writing them and I know I need to put more thought into exactly how I'm going to implement them. I do know I need to make the charts very rich as in they hold allot of usable info in each column. Otherwise I woudl have to  do  a ton of separate charts that would take a long time to reference during the game.

    When a loot Box is opened each character will roll to see what they found. Why? I'm making it this way for a few reasons. Finding things is fun, I don't want the players shooting each other over loot, It gives all the players the same chance to get better during the game, and finally as with skills I don't want to tie the player a grind to find stuff. ("Ok I got the last box you open this one." should be replaced with  "What did you get?") This will slow the game down. I don't see a way around that slow down yet.
He thought only the  bard can Lute.
Those are the ideas I'm kicking around.
Once I get it sketched out I will  play it with our group a few times to find the  glaring chunks of suck and hopefuly cut those chunks off.

As usual if I think it's fun I will put together a PDF and give it away for free just like I did AAIE 
(AAIE? Never heard of it? use the search button on the blog)



Thank you for reading 
Please place any thoughts, questions, or comments in the hollow Bullynong corpse below.
-Mark.