Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.

Main Menu

[The Heartbreaker War] Not what I expected

Started by Simon C, November 03, 2009, 02:49:54 AM

Previous topic - Next topic

Simon C

Over the weekend we played a full-length runthrough of the Heartbreaker War, my character creation/game setting game supplement.

I got a lot of good feedback from the game, and a lot of things to think about.  I'm especially thinking about what form the eventual product will take - moving away from what I expected the product to be, and moving to better capture what's fun about the thing I've made.  We played for about an hour and a half, which is about three times longer than I'd initially planned, but I think it was a pretty fun experience.

Gregor, the rule that new characters have a relationship to the dead character was fantastic.  It worked very well, and with some tweaking will be perfect.

Among all the things that I'm thinking about, there are three specific rules for cards that need changing.  They were the least interesting cards, and consequently were never chosen, even when they were a "safer" option than others.

I'll present them as is, and talk about the intent of the rule, and why it's not working.  They are:

"Your character gets a piece of equipment.  Roll on the following table [table gives range of equipment from mundane to valuable].  If your character dies, you can pass on equipment to other characters."

This card is kind of a hold-over from when the game was a much more "straight" character generator.  Consequently, it's quick, but it's also boring.  The chance of possibly getting something neat isn't worth the boredom. 

Suggestions for improving it included tying the equipment to some kind of relationship or complication, making the equipment better, or adding some danger or element of story around aquiring the equipment.

"The character makes a friend or ally.  Describe the new relationship"

Once again, boring. I want a way to introduce NPCs, but this is incredibly static and boring.  It's also very demanding creatively.

I'd like a way for the NPCs to develop their own stories, or to add complications and interest to the game.  I'd also like the game to prompt more about the nature of the NPC.

"The character finds an item with magical properties. Roll a d8. On a 1-2, the item is cursed and burdensome. On a 3+ it is useful, but sinister and dangerous. Describe the item."

This introduces some magic and mystery to the characters, and gives them a chance to have something really game-changing.  It's the kind of thing you could build a whole campaign around.  Unfortunately, it's a boring rule.  You have to make up something compelling and evocative, in a short amount of time.  I'd like some formal process for quickly creating an item with benefits and costs and a sense of magic about it.

So those are my "problem" cards.  I'd appreciate any suggestions.


Not sure if this is the kind of stuff you're thinking about, but:

Equipment: Split it up to battlefield throphies and things pilfered from the common arsenal? Instant conversation piece.

Friendship: instead of a straightforward "you make a friend"... Maybe the NPC in question is asking for your trust, and it's risky somehow? An enemy soldier wants to switch sides, a deserter from your side wants to go home to take care of his family, a villager you're shaking down for supplies asks to leave him enough for the winter? So you have to choose between maybe getting a friend and maybe getting stabbed in the back, found out by an officer, not having enough to eat yourself...

Marvels: Maybe split it up into two cards? One, you get something, and it's immediatelly and noticeably harmful (like, your hat begins singing to you). Two, there's a card that gives you a really bad result unless you have some sort of marvel (you hear your would-be ambusher singing along to the hat, or something). If I could hazard a guess, the main issue is the "useful, but sinister and dangerous" bit - it makes the brain go in two directions at one, calculating and counterbalancing. A straightforwardly good/bad item that has a not so straightforwardly good or bad effect every once in a while is much easier to think of.


One possibility is that you could use a random complication table for any friend you gain. Cross referencing this with the circumstances of gaining him, (and so his race/age/preferences/skills etc) might be enough to work from, but designing the table in a way that really adds to things without just producing nonsense might be tricky.