Waypoint Tabletop Game Design Thread! (No Experience Needed ;3)

#22

I’ve been working with a professor of mine for over a year on a game that we recently decided to title The Voice in the Dark. It has a horror theme, as you can probably guess. The subject matter includes cults (which I have been studying extensively for the game’s story), identity and small town culture.

In the game, you and your friends play as members of a cult who, just before a sort of “mass suicide” event, have decided to run away from the cult. You are chased by cult members while the leader of the cult uses his psychic ability to project intrusive thoughts into your head. You use mental energy tokens to process the thoughts while taking care to keep enough of the tokens saved to be able to continue running from the cult members.

It’s a weird premise and taking all of this bizarre shit and making mechanics out of it has been fun and challenging. I read through Kobold’s Guide to Board Game Design, which is an excellent book.

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#23

Ugg-Tect is sort of like this, but in a more formalised way than Codenames, and super silly. It’s themed as cavepeople trying to build structures. There are teams of players and one leader for each team, the leader has a card only they can see showing a structure the team has to build. The leader can only communicate using a few made-up words & gestures defined by the game, and hitting the team with an inflatable club once if they do the right thing, twice if they get it wrong.

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#24

I have been trying to get into designing a system of my own before. I do more homebrew than original work, really. I made three species (Vong, Mahran, and an original) for the FFG Star Wars system, and I tried to make a Powered by the Apocalypse system for horror games about military squads like Aliens or Resident Evil but it’s unfinished and I rarely have the motivation to work on it.

I did make a very rules light storytelling game for the 200 Word RPG Challenge called Pantheon, which you could read here if you wanted: http://bit.ly/2pQUDse

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#25

I’ll have to check it out, thanks for the tip!

#26

I absolutely love the idea of the inflatable club. Fun little gimmicks like that can make an already-fun game much more memorable.

#27

So one thing we could probably debate: whenever I play a game, I like for there to be as few systems as possible. Unless it is absolutely necessary to insert another system, say to portray a critical element of the story, I have a tendency to try to keep my design as lean as possible. I’m not a fan of complexity for its own sake, or of having to take half-an-hour just to set up the game.

How do you guys feel about this?

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#28

Is this thread primarily for RPGs? I’ve written down a couple (most recently a Judge Judy themed game for the 200 word RPG contest), but have not playtested many. Primarily I work on card games, but they are so different from RPGs that I feel they could use their own dedicated thread.

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#29

I actually considered making it about just obtaining these rings, but when I started writing out what they’d be, I ended up making some so terrible - in a funny way, I think - that I ditched the idea to make a bullet point in a feature list.

I’m still not entirely convinced this should be abandoned. There’s some brilliant simplicity going on right there.

#30

I hope they’re rings you physically wear, too.

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#31

So one thing we could probably debate: whenever I play a game, I like for there to be as few systems as possible. Unless it is absolutely necessary to insert another system, say to portray a critical element of the story, I have a tendency to try to keep my design as lean as possible. I’m not a fan of complexity for its own sake, or of having to take half-an-hour just to set up the game.

How do you guys feel about this?

As someone who is much more a player than a designer, I agree with this almost entirely (I’m sure there are exceptions to the “less is more” rule, but none come to mind at the moment). Particularly with tabletop. If there’s a game that’s doing something really crazy with the rules, I especially prefer if particular rules are printed on cards/board pieces (i.e. Fluxx) so that it isn’t a constant shuffle between the active game and the rulebook.

#32

So glad I found this, now I really want to use @unosarta 's Your Honored Guest in my next Dungeon World session.

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#33

Now I just want to wear fancy rings.

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#34

I’ve been toying around with making a horror PBTA game but not so much with a fantastic angle, more of a Get Out type feeling (which obviously requires some fantastic elements)

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#35

I wouldn’t say I strive for as few systems as possible, but there’s a real balancing act.

I really love system design, and I’m interested in the ways that mechanics can influence the pace, tone, focus, dramatic tension etc. of a game. I’m definitely in the “How can we design systems to tell stories” camp, and am less interested in designing games where the mechanics stay out of the way.

The real issue for me is that wherever you add a mechanic, the pace of the game inevitable slows down. This isn’t inherently bad, since slowing things down to concentrate on something gives it focus, but too much mechanical weight can grind things to a halt real fast if you’re not careful (Also, if you try to focus on everything, you end up focusing on nothing.)

I think a good approach is to really focus in on what’s important to your game (I’m currently working on a JoJo’s/Persona inspired game where one of the most important things is storytelling through action sequences that have the potential to escalate into absurdity) and be very light with your mechanics everywhere else.

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#36

Kobold Guide to Game Design is a must-read for tabletop design imo. Not every essay in it was the most useful for me, but I imagine anyone who reads it will get something good out of it. Tho it is more oriented towards euro boardgames than RPGs for the most part

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#37

I’ve been working on a hack of Blades in the Dark for a long time called Copperhead County, a modern-day game of provincial action-crime-drama in the vein of Justified, Fargo, etc. I don’t have any web presence beyond a few posts in the Blades G+ community, but some of it is available here (some of it I’ve taken offline while preparing the next update).

I have a somewhat-developed board game concept that I’ve been kicking around with a friend and calling Idiot King, inspired by certain current events. I’ve never really tried a full board game design before, but who knows.

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#38

One of my favorite things as an MC or GM in PbtA kinds of games is making character or plot specific moves (for initial character stuff or progression). Not just because I like making moves, but because there’s something really compelling about the stuff your character being able to do being related to what they have experienced. I’m interested in what kind of ideas you have for such a system!

#39

I remember reading Pantheons on in #the-Workshop on the waypoint discord and being extremely into it. You can put it in the spreadsheet linked in the OP if you want other people to be able to find it easily. :3

Getting motivation to write games is so tough. It can feel really unrewarding to write a game that you don’t think anyone will play, ime. :x

#40

A lot of AAA games are bogged down from having way too many systems. Systems should be built to explore or answer the questions that your overall design idea is. If a player’s mental resources are being taken up by dealing with cumbersome BS then they won’t actually be able to enjoy the game.
I see this a lot in european style board games where they can often feel like someone has just bolted on thing after thing and every turn I have to spend ten minutes to trying remember all of the things I can or have to do.

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#41

Yeah. Though I feel less that way about euro games and more fantasy flight type stuff. I really want to love the Warhammer quest card game but there is just so much you have to remember every turn. It gets ridiculously cumbersome.

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