For Christmas, I got a copy of the Dungeon board game. I have enjoyed playing it, even if it is a bit too minimalistic (and for me, that’s saying something!).
I was playing around with how the game might be more engaging with a few tweaks, and how I would go about setting up a game like this… I ended up drifting to think about the LOTR CCG, and the handful of times I’ve played that. I like the idea that characters are simple (they fit on a trading card), have a few basic stats, and they are customizable as you play through getting items. So far, so good. I like how the encounters are pre-programmed, with storyline quests you follow that can have unexpected events and which are different every time, but which still fundamentally follow the same framework. I liked all of this, but I wanted to layer on the things I like best about tabletop RPGs: you play a character for an extended time who slowly gets better and grows.
So, I took Saga of the Splintered Realm and stripped it to the rails. I worked out a mechanic where you have five attributes, roll 1d6 for everything, and all beasts are passive (with pre-programmed abilities). I figured out how to differentiate the various character classes, how to create a framework for growth over time, how to establish rules for ongoing campaigns, how to work out a magic system, and how to have rules for characters to gather wealth, power, and magical items over time.
And, I got it into six pages!
The draft is basically done (I’m dotting i’s and crossing t’s right now), but I wanted to start to play test and post some actual play results… so, here goes!
I am going to make a team, and I’m going to start with the leader being the most versatile of the character classes: the elf champion. The elf champion starts with the following stats:
The elf champion also starts with two abilities. The first is scroll use, which allows for spell casting like a wizard; in this game, there are no prepared spells. You get one offensive basic attack bolt spell, and then everything else comes from scrolls you either purchase or find; wizards get free spell scrolls at the beginning of every quest, but elves don’t. I digress… The second ability is a buff that allows you to increase any ability of yourself or an ally. At first level, I get only 1 point, but I can put it anywhere. This makes the elf a good soloist, but also an excellent team member. I think the playtest will bear this out…
Every level, you get 1 point to distribute anywhere you want, and you also get 1 point in health. I’m going to put the extra point in attack, just so I’m more effective in combat. I expect other members of the team to soak up damage, so I don’t need to go for a defensive build. If I was soloing, I’d probably go defensive for level 1, putting the point into defense, armor, or hits. I also get one extra ability: I am going to pick invocation, which allows me to take advantage (roll 2d6 and take the better roll) on damage rolls with spells. Since the group is not going to have a wizard proper, I’m going to have to be the magic-casting character, and this will make my arcane bolt more effective. My final write up looks like this:
Aldarra, Elf Champion 1
Attack: +3 (longsword or arcane bolt)
Damage: +2 (longsword; take advantage with arcane dart)
Armor: +2 (chainmail armor)
And now for some combat… Aldarra is on her way to meet up with allies to start a quest. However, a pair of goblin skirmishers are hiding along the fringe of the woods, and they prepare bows to attack her…
Their stats are:
Goblin Skirmisher (Minion 0) Atk 4; Def 5; Dmg 3; Amr 4; Hits 1
Attacks with a light bow or a short sword
We’re going to say that they are at least 30’ away, and roll 1d6x10 for additional distance. I get a 1, so they start 40’ away. They don’t have sneak, so it is a straight up initiative roll. The goblins have a static result of 3+ level, so a 3. Aldarra rolls 1d6 + level, and gets 3+1=4. She wins. She sees the goblins pop up and knock arrows, and she throws an arcane bolt. She rolls an attack, getting 4+3=7. The goblins have a static 5 for defense, so she hits. For damage, she rolls two dice, getting (2,2). So much for advantage… she deals 2+2=4 damage. They have armor 4, so this succeeds (the beast’s ability rating sets the target for a hero’s success. A 4 or more means that she deals 1 hit of damage; if she gets an 8 or more, she deals 2 hits of damage… these are minions with only 1 hit anyway, so any damage is enough to drop them). The first goblin is down.
The second goblin fires an arrow, having a static attack of 4. Aldarra hasn’t used her buff ability, and would probably put it in defense if she had an action… but she doesn’t. She rolls to defend against the arrow, and gets 2+2=4. The attack was a 4, so (again) she barely succeeds. FYI, these are minions (they should miss a lot) and Aldarra automatically fails a check with a 1, so there is always a 1 in 6 chance you get hit with an attack, even against inferior foes.
Aldarra’s turn. She throws another arcane bolt, rolling a natural 1 and missing. Sigh.
The goblin fires again, and she rolls 5+2=7, so easily sidesteps the arrow.
She throws another arcane bolt, rolling 5+2=7, hitting vs. the goblin’s defense of 5. She rolls for damage (with advantage) getting (1, 3). Advantage paid off… that 1 would mean she automatically failed to deal damage, but the 3 + her 2 bonus gives a total result of 5. This is more than the goblin’s armor of 4. She drops it.
Technically, these are minions, and do not drop treasure. However, I will round them up to level 1 (because I am kind to myself), meaning they have a 1 in 6 chance of dropping a gold coin, and a 1 in 6 chance of dropping a minor magic item. I roll for the coin and get 2. No coin. I also roll for the minor magic, and get a 1! Nice. I roll on the random minor magic table, and I get 1, a spell scroll. I roll 1d6 for the type and get 4 (common scroll). I roll for the specific spell and get 1 (charm). Nice. Now I have a spell I can cast!
Next time, the next hero...