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Author Topic: [MERC] making resource management fun  (Read 2629 times)
Charlie Gilb
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Posts: 42


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« on: January 20, 2010, 12:42:34 PM »

('MERC' is the working title)

Hello,

I am currently writing a draft of a game about playing a squad of mercenaries on a post-apocalyptic world. Each player creates one member of the squad. Each member will have particular strengths and weaknesses, with relatively strong niche-protection for each character (i.e., 'a sniper guy', a 'melee guy', a 'medic guy').

Over the course of a campaign, you are assigned missions by various patrons, and expected to carry them out. On the surface, the game's focus is over-the top violent action, killing all sorts of bad guys and taking their stuff, getting bigger and better guns, equipment and powers, and an underlying competition between players to see who is the biggest badass around. I think that, given time, emergent play can yield something very different, but that will not be the topic of this post.

More details will come out on it when I begin playtesting, but suffice to say that its aesthetics were heavily influenced by Shadowrun, Borderlands (video game), and 3:16. The combat rules are designed to be simple and unrealistic, but tactical. My main influences there were Redbox Hack, Empire of Dust, and Mechaton. I hope that those quick comparisons at least give some idea of what I am going for.

If you would like further clarification, I am happy to provide it.

In this post, I want to discuss management of party resources and inventory. In my setting, there is no traditional money. Four common goods are valuable: Food, Fuel, Scrap, and Weapons. I thought that the best way to model overall wealth would be to have the first three things each represented by a dice value, much like Resources are handled in Burning Wheel. As the characters travel across the wasteland, their Fuel stat will be taxed. They might need to take a bounty (getting paid in Fuel) in the next town just so they can reach their ultimate destination, or they might be able to trade excess Food or Scrap to refuel their vehicle. Scrap might also be able to be used to make repairs to armor, or traded to buy weapons or other supplies.

Another reason that I think a system like this could be fun is that it reinforces how scarce resources are in the setting and it gives the players interesting choices to make. If they are starving, and come across a town with a lot of Food and no way to defend it, do they just take some? What if they come across a group of stranded wastelanders whose vehicle just broke down. Do they help them fix it, even if cannibals are hot on their tail, or do they siphon the Fuel and run? OR do they stay and fight the cannibals off, knowing that the battle will cost them in Scrap (when they have to repair damage they've suffered)?

Now, my concerns. I am worried about how this sort of mechanic can be executed effectively. I DON'T want the players to sit around and play accountant too much, but I DO want them to think about what their current resources are, and how they can increase them. Ultimately, I think it could lead to a group 'commoditizing' some NPCs they meet, which I don't think is a bad thing, given the context. They are mercenaries, after all.

My questions:

Have you seen something like this implemented effectively in any other tabletop RPG, or boardgame for that matter? I am struggling thinking of any examples where it has been done in a compelling way, beyond the time I've spent playing Burning Wheel.

Does it sound like too much bookwork, having 3 different Resources to keep track of?

Do you foresee any other problems I am overlooking here?

Any thoughts are welcome. Thank you for your time!
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Ar Kayon
Member

Posts: 190


« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2010, 08:09:38 PM »

3 things don't sound like much bookkeeping at all.  For comparison, think of how many entities a 3.5e DM needs to keep track of during combat, in which players and monsters have a laundry list of feats and abilities, not to mention large quantities of hit points.
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JoyWriter
Member

Posts: 469

also known as Josh W


« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2010, 05:29:51 AM »

That already sounds fun to me, providing the interaction of costs is interesting. The tricky bit is making it predictable enough what they will need so they can think ahead, complex/variable enough that they can't make default choices, but easily learnt.

It could also be amusing if people have weapons as cards, and the other resources as a pile of different beads, which they can squabble over and choose to pile in the centre of the table (for their wagon) or pile on their character sheet (but having the pile be bigger than a certain box on the sheet means encumbrance!). The only downside to making weapons as cards is that although it underlines the activity of trying to acquire weapons, it puts real world limits on amounts that you might want to be ridiculous.
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Charlie Gilb
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« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2010, 06:43:55 AM »

Thanks for the responses, guys!

@Ar Kayon- I definitely had games like DnD and the like in mind when I started devising these rules. I will start another thread soon discussing my combat rules, once this one has been seen through to completion.

@Joy Writer- Glad you like the core idea. As far as the interaction between the three, I was thinking of having a small ruleset to run the setting economy. For example, let's say the players want to head to Junktown from an old farm they have been squatting at for a few days. Judging by the terrain and distance on their map, it will cost them 2 Fuel and 1 Food to make the journey. Right now, they have 3 Fuel, 8 Scrap, and 2 Food.

Junktown has a 'Resource Profile', that might look like the following. The players would be aware of what this profile looks like if they have either a.) been to Junktown before, or b.) made a successful Brains roll (Brains is a stat in the game)

Junktown
Fuel: 2d6
Food: 1d4
Scrap: 1d6
Weapons: 1d10


When they arrive in Junktown, the GM would roll each of the four Resources as listed above. The number he rolls is the number of Resources available for trade in the town. A roll of '1' for any Resource means that there is a shortage due to Trouble of some kind. The exchange rates for the different types of Resources could be a very simple exercise in ratios. Maybe the town has a Supply Rating that is a static number, like '3'. Any Resources that it has above that number indicate that it has a surplus of that Resource, and will trade the surplus amount on a 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 basis. The opposite would be true for Resources that they have below their Supply Rating.

Beads are an excellent idea; I love adding that sort of tactile experience to games. It makes them more fun and intuitive.

Now for weapons, I think we have the same idea. My plan all along has been to have the weapons as cards. When the players loot enemies, they get a random draw from a Spoils of War deck. Sometimes, the cards will have the stats for a specific, unique type of weapon or equipment. Othertimes, it might just say 'cache of arms', and is assumed to be a pile of guns that they can trade like any other commodity.

At one time, they can carry 2 specific weapons, 1 armor, and 3 other pieces of noteworthy equipment. I could impose some other kind of limitation--perhaps each person can carry 5 Resources, in any combination they like, and the rest goes in the wagon.

Does that seem like it could work pretty cleanly to you? I want to be extremely wary of 'rules bloat' with this game, and above everything it must be intuitive and fun.

Any other thoughts? If I should be asking more direct questions, please let me know.
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Ar Kayon
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Posts: 190


« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2010, 06:52:16 AM »

What about water?  You can survive much longer without food than water.
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Charlie Gilb
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« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2010, 07:43:54 AM »

What about water?  You can survive much longer without food than water.

I had given some thought into including water, and various other resources, but I figure that the simpler this is, the better. For my purposes, I think it's sufficient for water to be included in the Food category.
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JoyWriter
Member

Posts: 469

also known as Josh W


« Reply #6 on: January 23, 2010, 03:29:06 PM »

I can't help wondering, have we both been playing borderlands? Tongue

I love the idea of sticking basic economic scarcity into the price model, really good idea. Means you could actually start trading. I agree you probably don't want to start complicating the game, but one idea I have is that if you keep selling a certain thing at a certain town there's a chance of increasing the dice size, and if you keep buying at that town there's a risk of raising the dice size. This system would be an "advance rule", that kicks in after players have been pulling some trading trick a few times, and starts to complicate the situation (if they're into trading, might as well make things more interesting for them). Putting in some limit before the rules kick in means that most players won't see it, but if they've mastered the economic system sufficiently to start thinking like that, perhaps their ready for extra complexity. (As an idea for how that would work, after trading re-roll the dice for that towns element, if your selling and roll __ or below then increase the dice, if your buying and roll __ or above decrease the dice) I'm not sure whether the system should be self-balancing like that, or if the slightly more accurate version (it's always roll under "quantity bought") would be sufficiently balanced by the price increases as you try to buy the last few drops of fuel from a town.

But on the standard middle bit of the game, I've lately been quite into using the physical character sheet as a rules element, so if you have 5 weapon slots on your sheet, it's because that's the amount you can hold. The trouble I've found with this idea is that the more variable characters are, the more you have to adjust the character sheet for each person, and you get funny set-ups like the old paradox/quintessence dial from mage. The advantage and disadvantages are basically the same as those cards; by tying game elements more heavily to physical objects, you add restrictions to the fictional potential as a price for obviousness.

So for example, if you want templates for weapons, so as to expand the potential for "loot drops" to something equivalent to what a MMORPG can include, then single cards don't cut it, because the random generation is multi-dimensional; the combined result of more than one random table. Also, if you want duplication to be allowed (there are definitely arguments against it; nWFRP career cards insure a diversity of player characters) then you'll have to build that in.

My bead-pile idea was for the idea of people getting huge packs full of stuff (if they do a really good raid or are just really suspicious of the others) but being really slow and with impaired vision because of it. Seems an amusing tradeoff that a pile of beads could make quite visible, particularly as they don't stack well, making actually fitting them within the box a problem equivalent to old inventory tetris. Now that does effect the size of the numbers you can use; it has to be reasonable for people to have about 15 tokens each in each resource before the pile looks right, and to be honest that might work against the vibe you have; how much do you want things to vary between scarcity and stockpiling? All needy all the time? Occasional hoards that people save up to make it through gaps with no stuff? Or are you just going to play around until you get one that feels right?

On weapon/armour slots, "5 things" seems pretty good to me, (depending on what extra equipment you have) as long as you handwave getting things to and from the wagon, so it doesn't turn into this! It also means you can do tradeoffs within that like "monster-heavy armour" (that takes up two slots), but only if people are likely to want to use all that space. As a general rule, I try to keep things like that within the 7+/- 2 limit, until I do proper playtesting, just based on those old studies of working memory.

On getting information on settlements, perhaps the brains roll gives you a certain portion of the resource profile, and you have one try each. That way, like with combat, multiple people can have an influence on finding out stuff, although one specialist can do the same job as a few generalists. For example, you could roll a d4 and then go down through the list from there, depending on degree of success. On the other hand that does relate difficulty of information gathering to number of players, which might be an interesting thing to balance.
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Charlie Gilb
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« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2010, 01:56:58 AM »

Thanks for the response. I'll try and address your points piece-by-piece. You raise a lot of good ones.

I can't help wondering, have we both been playing borderlands? Tongue

Yes.... LOTS of it. Tongue

I love the idea of sticking basic economic scarcity into the price model, really good idea. Means you could actually start trading. I agree you probably don't want to start complicating the game, but one idea I have is that if you keep selling a certain thing at a certain town there's a chance of increasing the dice size, and if you keep buying at that town there's a risk of raising the dice size. This system would be an "advance rule", that kicks in after players have been pulling some trading trick a few times, and starts to complicate the situation (if they're into trading, might as well make things more interesting for them). Putting in some limit before the rules kick in means that most players won't see it, but if they've mastered the economic system sufficiently to start thinking like that, perhaps their ready for extra complexity. (As an idea for how that would work, after trading re-roll the dice for that towns element, if your selling and roll __ or below then increase the dice, if your buying and roll __ or above decrease the dice) I'm not sure whether the system should be self-balancing like that, or if the slightly more accurate version (it's always roll under "quantity bought") would be sufficiently balanced by the price increases as you try to buy the last few drops of fuel from a town.

You raise some very interesting points here. I think it would be kind of neat to have the actual resource profile of the town change over time as the players travel and trade with them. I will definitely mull this over. For now, I may run a bit of playtesting with the current system (once the rest is complete) and see how it shakes out. After that point, I'll look at options for 'advanced' rules. I want the game to be modular in nature, so I think they will fit in quite nicely, at the playgroup's option.

But on the standard middle bit of the game, I've lately been quite into using the physical character sheet as a rules element, so if you have 5 weapon slots on your sheet, it's because that's the amount you can hold. The trouble I've found with this idea is that the more variable characters are, the more you have to adjust the character sheet for each person, and you get funny set-ups like the old paradox/quintessence dial from mage. The advantage and disadvantages are basically the same as those cards; by tying game elements more heavily to physical objects, you add restrictions to the fictional potential as a price for obviousness.

I agree with your point about using the actual character sheet as a rules element. In this game, realism is not a priority. Characters get two guns and 3 items, because it's easy. Anything else they have (including weapons) is abstracted into resource rolls. As far as placing restrictions on the fictional potential, I think that in this case, it's marginal at best.

You also brought up the point of variable character sheets. That's reaching beyond the scope of my goal for this particular thread, but I did have that issue in mind. In this game character abilities will be vastly variable. I plan on having cards for each class or specialty that characters can acquire. Most powers, abilities, and weapons will be exception-based (much like DnD 4e, but not nearly as expansive).


So for example, if you want templates for weapons, so as to expand the potential for "loot drops" to something equivalent to what a MMORPG can include, then single cards don't cut it, because the random generation is multi-dimensional; the combined result of more than one random table. Also, if you want duplication to be allowed (there are definitely arguments against it; nWFRP career cards insure a diversity of player characters) then you'll have to build that in.

I was discussing the 'loot drops' in my game with a friend of mine, and we hashed out an idea to address it. In the 'Loot Deck' (that seems an apt name, for now), there are a few different types of cards. There are standard resource cards, that just say 'Fuel', 'Food' or 'Scrap'. For weapons and the like, you get a card that has a 'Weapon Template'. For example, there is a card for a shotgun. On the card, there are different improvements listed with check boxes next to them. Now, also in the deck, there are cards that just say 'Weapon Upgrade'. When you draw a Weapon Upgrade card, you can check an improvement box on one of your current weapons, or trade it like any other commodity. By doing this, players still get the excitement of the treasure draw, and the GM doesn't have to do tons of extra work creating a diverse loot deck. If more variability is desired, it would be a simple task to design a few different templates for each category of weapon. Another way to create variation is to maybe have each weapon card have anywhere from 5-8 improvements they can be given, but only allow a max of 3 improvements on each weapons. This would create a large number of permutations for the same types of guns very quickly, and also give players more control and choices.

As far as duplication in character abilities is concerned, I will start a new thread on that soon. I think discussion on that would be beyond the bounds of this particular thread.

My bead-pile idea was for the idea of people getting huge packs full of stuff (if they do a really good raid or are just really suspicious of the others) but being really slow and with impaired vision because of it. Seems an amusing tradeoff that a pile of beads could make quite visible, particularly as they don't stack well, making actually fitting them within the box a problem equivalent to old inventory tetris. Now that does effect the size of the numbers you can use; it has to be reasonable for people to have about 15 tokens each in each resource before the pile looks right, and to be honest that might work against the vibe you have; how much do you want things to vary between scarcity and stockpiling? All needy all the time? Occasional hoards that people save up to make it through gaps with no stuff? Or are you just going to play around until you get one that feels right?

I think for now, I am just going to play around until it feels right. Hoarding could certainly be possible, but I imagine resources will stay pretty liquid. If players get a big pile of scrap, they'll probably want to unload it on weapon upgrades as soon as they can.


On weapon/armour slots, "5 things" seems pretty good to me, (depending on what extra equipment you have) as long as you handwave getting things to and from the wagon, so it doesn't turn into this! It also means you can do tradeoffs within that like "monster-heavy armour" (that takes up two slots), but only if people are likely to want to use all that space. As a general rule, I try to keep things like that within the 7+/- 2 limit, until I do proper playtesting, just based on those old studies of working memory.

I largely agree with you here. I'll start with five things and hand-wave some of the logistics of it if they get in the way.

On getting information on settlements, perhaps the brains roll gives you a certain portion of the resource profile, and you have one try each. That way, like with combat, multiple people can have an influence on finding out stuff, although one specialist can do the same job as a few generalists. For example, you could roll a d4 and then go down through the list from there, depending on degree of success. On the other hand that does relate difficulty of information gathering to number of players, which might be an interesting thing to balance.

With the nature of the task resolution system, I think I have this covered. Each person has a Brains stat, which is a die value: (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, etc.). I could have one person make the roll and the rest of the group 'assist' by adding the die from their Brains stat to the roll. Margin of success could determined exactly what is found out. A margin of 1 means one piece of the profile is learned. A margin of 2 means two things are learned, etc.
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JoyWriter
Member

Posts: 469

also known as Josh W


« Reply #8 on: January 25, 2010, 03:18:02 PM »

I like that assist mechanism, especially if each player owns one of those dice boxes with each of the classic types of dice; you would literally be lending them your dice to roll with! Also nice that two guys with d10 skill are slightly better than one guy with d20 skill, and if loads of people pile in on either side of a skill check (holding a door closed against bandits comes to mind) then the bell curves the two dice sets produce encourage slight advantages over big swings. It's also cool in that it gives bragging rights to the guy who helped the most, because if you have different dice, it's obvious who's help rolled high or low. It can be a roleplaying cue.

But back on to the resource stuff;

I was discussing the 'loot drops' in my game with a friend of mine, and we hashed out an idea to address it. In the 'Loot Deck' (that seems an apt name, for now), there are a few different types of cards. There are standard resource cards, that just say 'Fuel', 'Food' or 'Scrap'. For weapons and the like, you get a card that has a 'Weapon Template'. For example, there is a card for a shotgun. On the card, there are different improvements listed with check boxes next to them. Now, also in the deck, there are cards that just say 'Weapon Upgrade'. When you draw a Weapon Upgrade card, you can check an improvement box on one of your current weapons, or trade it like any other commodity. By doing this, players still get the excitement of the treasure draw, and the GM doesn't have to do tons of extra work creating a diverse loot deck. If more variability is desired, it would be a simple task to design a few different templates for each category of weapon. Another way to create variation is to maybe have each weapon card have anywhere from 5-8 improvements they can be given, but only allow a max of 3 improvements on each weapons. This would create a large number of permutations for the same types of guns very quickly, and also give players more control and choices.

It's a good system, having slots on the weapons for different upgrade types is similar to how the first Deus Ex did it (it's also similar to materia/enhancement gems etc but I loved the way Deus Ex did it). The fact that the upgrades come by themselves means that you can customise your weapons from very early on, and you trade off whether to keep this upgrade until you find a better gun, or to use it now. It also means that an item starts feeling really like it's yours because of the thought you've put into it, meaning that people can stick with it for sentimental reasons etc. On the other hand, it makes you less likely to accidently slide into alternate strategies, by picking up a "slow-poison" pistol for it's silencer, and finding that you can use it on melee guys too. That's a bit of a shame, but on the other hand, you can do what Hellgate london did and pre-attach certain upgrades with others spare, so you just say "this has a ___ already attached to it" this could be done by having upgrade cards that say "built in" on them, with the requirement that if you draw them without an applicable weapon, you have to put them back and draw another card, but if you do, they are automatically applied. That should give you the best of both worlds, as well as providing the good old "silenced heavy machine gun".

A downside of cards vs tables is the level appropriateness issue. If you have one table, then people can get anything at any time, and harder opponents have no guarantee of dropping better loot. Now you could tier them in about 4 different piles, and go "one from this one from that" etc but man, that's a lot of cards! You could easily be talking 200 cards.


The next thought I come to is map generation, because making resource choices interesting needs fuel. I was thinking you could create a zoomed out overland map, possibly getting filled in bit by bit as people explore, and with "bandit regions" and stuff like that, so you know that if you can get to that town you can sell your scrap for loads, but it means cutting through territory claimed by beef-hook and his gang. Map formation and terrain will likely have a big effect on how interesting the resources are, because they will likely be managed based on the differing distances around the map to different trading places.
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Charlie Gilb
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« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2010, 08:12:47 PM »

Thanks again for the reply, Josh. You raise another batch of good points!

It's a good system, having slots on the weapons for different upgrade types is similar to how the first Deus Ex did it (it's also similar to materia/enhancement gems etc but I loved the way Deus Ex did it). The fact that the upgrades come by themselves means that you can customise your weapons from very early on, and you trade off whether to keep this upgrade until you find a better gun, or to use it now. It also means that an item starts feeling really like it's yours because of the thought you've put into it, meaning that people can stick with it for sentimental reasons etc. On the other hand, it makes you less likely to accidently slide into alternate strategies, by picking up a "slow-poison" pistol for it's silencer, and finding that you can use it on melee guys too. That's a bit of a shame, but on the other hand, you can do what Hellgate london did and pre-attach certain upgrades with others spare, so you just say "this has a ___ already attached to it" this could be done by having upgrade cards that say "built in" on them, with the requirement that if you draw them without an applicable weapon, you have to put them back and draw another card, but if you do, they are automatically applied. That should give you the best of both worlds, as well as providing the good old "silenced heavy machine gun".

I am not sure I understand what you are getting at in the second part of this paragraph, specifically the part about 'built-in' item upgrades. Do you mean to say that if you draw both a weapon and a 'built in' weapon upgrade card, it is automatically put on that weapon, and doesn't go against it's maximum upgrades?

A downside of cards vs tables is the level appropriateness issue. If you have one table, then people can get anything at any time, and harder opponents have no guarantee of dropping better loot. Now you could tier them in about 4 different piles, and go "one from this one from that" etc but man, that's a lot of cards! You could easily be talking 200 cards.

You're right, it probably would end up being a lot of cards. I haven't yet decided whether or not that would be a problem. For me, a huge pile of cards is infinitely preferable to (though not as portable as) a book full of charts. The nice thing is that the majority of cards (say, 80%) would always be reusable, because they would just say 'Fuel', 'Food', 'Scrap' or 'Weapons Upgrade'. Now, let's say I create a few different 'tiers' for each type of weapon. For our purposes, 3 or 4 seems like what I would be going for. Right now, I would say there are roughly 7 or 8 different weapons categories. If I wanted a bit of variation between each tier (like two different tier 1 shotguns or something), then yeah, I think it would shake out to about 200 cards total. At first glance, that seems to add a layer of unnecessary complexity to the game, but since all of the rules of each weapon will be on the cards, I think it will be much simpler for players. There would be no thought regarding which charts to reference and roll off or anything like that; just draw a card and go.

To deal with level and tier scaling, you can have the tier rating on the bottom corner of the front of the card. Each tier would be defined as a certain 'level range' of players (much like you see in DnD 4e). Once the players hit a certain level, the next tier of items are placed in the deck with all the rest. So, as you play, you get higher level, and more variable loot drops. Another way that stops players from exhausting a potential smaller deck would be the fact that you wouldn't get all the way through it by the end of a session. Hell, you could reshuffle the discard pile into the deck at the end of every encounter as well.

It also would be pertinent here to bring up my publishing goals for this game. Currently, I am eyeing the possibility of releasing as a serialized set of rules and content updates. Once I bang out a solid playtest draft, I will be putting it online for free as a pdf file. Week-by-week, I can release new weapons cards, items, classes, enemies, etc. So, the game can start small, with low tier items, and over a long period of time more and more will be added. Players are given the power to customize their Loot Decks with items on the site, or would be encouraged to create their own using a card template that would be provided.

So, time will tell if all that works out, and I understand your concern with having so many cards. If it ends up being too much, I will certainly have to re-evaluate the design.

The next thought I come to is map generation, because making resource choices interesting needs fuel. I was thinking you could create a zoomed out overland map, possibly getting filled in bit by bit as people explore, and with "bandit regions" and stuff like that, so you know that if you can get to that town you can sell your scrap for loads, but it means cutting through territory claimed by beef-hook and his gang. Map formation and terrain will likely have a big effect on how interesting the resources are, because they will likely be managed based on the differing distances around the map to different trading places.

You are absolutely right that an overland map would be a useful tool. I want that in the game, and it would be neat if it were something players could fill in, like you say.

I've been mulling over map generation, and this is an area that I am struggling. I currently have an idea about situation-generation, which I would like to feed into the map generation mechanics. See, each game session will most often consist of the players undertaking a specific mission. At the beginning of a campaign, the players and GM devise 4 different small decks of cards. These could also just be little scraps of paper, since they are discarded after use. The current decks are 'Task', 'Target', 'Hostiles', and 'Location'. Rather than explaining each, here are some examples; they should be pretty intuitive:

Task: Destroy, Kidnap, Assassinate, Escort, Guard, Sabotage, Raid, Steal

Target: a drug addled bandit king with delusions of grandeur, a pack of child cannibals, a new prototype biological weapon, a rare flower, a caravan of mutated nomads looking for a home.

Hostiles: a pack of ghouls, a rival mercenary team, a crazed biker gang who wears the skin of their victims.

Location: a hive of scum and villainy, the husk of a dead giant, a crashed starship of unknown origin, a hidden corporate research facility, an old homestead.

At the beginning of the game, each player (including the GM) contributes an equal amount of each category to each separate deck (maybe 2 or 3 of each as a baseline). When a new mission needs to be generated, or whenever there is a lull in the action, one or more of the Oracles (to borrow a term of IaWA) can be consulted to provide inspiration. Once it's drawn, it is discarded and implemented into the story in some way.

I think this method is a fun way to generate missions and touch on little aesthetic bits that the players are invested in. The GM will be given a fair amount of leeway in interpreting the Oracles, and possibly the freedom to throw something out if the group agrees that it makes absolutely more sense.

One way to implement the map generation into the above mechanics might be draw the map on a 6 x 6 grid. When a mission is created, or Location is chosen, 2d6 are rolled. The number on each die corresponds with a grid coordinate, and would tell the group which sector that location is in. When the group wants to travel to a location, Food and/or Fuel expenditure could be linked to the amount of sectors they must travel to, or a list of traits in each sector or something. I am not really sure how it would work; it's very much a preliminary idea, and might be a bit clunkier than I would like. Thoughts?

Another idea might be to allow each player to name a Town, and some of its traits or resource profile or something. Maybe then the town locations are randomly placed on the map. I don't know how something like that would work.

Whatever the design ends up being, it needs to be simple and intuitive. Giving every player at the table a say in what the map looks like is also a priority.
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JoyWriter
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Posts: 469

also known as Josh W


« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2010, 01:51:00 PM »

I am not sure I understand what you are getting at in the second part of this paragraph, specifically the part about 'built-in' item upgrades. Do you mean to say that if you draw both a weapon and a 'built in' weapon upgrade card, it is automatically put on that weapon, and doesn't go against it's maximum upgrades?


The first part without the second; they count as an upgrade like any other, but they are automatically put on. You can use this particularly to make characterful weapons, because the combinatorial requirements of having a weapon they are compatible with when you draw them will make them rarer, and the lack of choice will justify making them a touch more powerful. Of course for balance reasons that is something you'd have to watch like anything, but if you create an upgrade that is really cool but at the top end of the power curve, you could make it "built in" to compensate.

Once the players hit a certain level, the next tier of items are placed in the deck with all the rest. So, as you play, you get higher level, and more variable loot drops. Another way that stops players from exhausting a potential smaller deck would be the fact that you wouldn't get all the way through it by the end of a session. Hell, you could reshuffle the discard pile into the deck at the end of every encounter as well.


Ha, I can just imagine player fury at getting yet another "pigsticker" when they wanted a "pneumatic bayonet": Bear in mind that shuffling unused cards into the deck will mean that whatever they get rid of (ie sell or just leave on the ground) will keep reappearing, and what they want will not be duplicated!

On the other hand, combined with the "built in upgrade" idea, at later levels they could start finding "pigsticker with built in electro-shock generator", or "crusty revolver with built in lazer dot sight", which could also be pretty amusing! It suggests a subtle balancing factor would be to give lower tier weapons more upgrade potential, providing you actually find those upgrades.

I think the publishing method makes a lot of sense; as you say it can expand content without expanding complexity, and it also allows players to individually agree everything they let into the game, in a much more natural fashion, avoiding the expansion-overload problems of old D&D GMs.

Another idea might be to allow each player to name a Town, and some of its traits or resource profile or something. Maybe then the town locations are randomly placed on the map. I don't know how something like that would work.


Well one stock system I have at the moment is "arbitrary placement but randomised distance": In other words you put towns or other locations onto the map (some minimum distance from other features), then roll to find the paths between them; if the roll goes high but you've put them close together, then you put more loops and physical boundaries like hills (or marshes, rivers or unstable dunes) in the way, and stick with the recorded distance. The next rule is "no shortcuts", where you join up features so that it's obvious that is the shortest path.

Then with that in place you could randomise again, seeing who gets what territory; decide what look like territorial boundaries and assign the spaces inside them to different gangs, or roll dice onto the map and see where they end up, and what kind of gang is based around there (inspired by "how to host a dungeon"), or roll by town or route.

When your filling in towns or features, making sure you have as much white space as possible is pretty useful, because it means that later you can decide that a place is "4 fuel units from the shuttle-wreck" and "2 fuel units from eagles crag" and you can use the existing things on a map as a sort of cue to where it should be given the maps internal logic. That way you can find hidden stuff within the old map even when you've been around it for a while.
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JoyWriter
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also known as Josh W


« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2010, 01:58:05 PM »

Oh, just noticed a typo in a previous post, I'm sure you got what I mean, but in the economics subsystem selling should increase the dice size for that resource (potentially lowering the price), and buying decrease it (potentially raising the price).
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