Thursday, 10 May 2012

Resource system for a superpowers CCG

I've had a CCG system based on SPBs (Super Powered Beings) kicking around the back of my head for a while now. It's actually based on a superhero RPG that I had an idea for, so it sort of follows that basic formula: You have a party of three heroes who will battle and level up to learn new ways to use their powers.

I don't have any specifics down yet, but one thing that's been sticking in my craw is the resource system, which I believe needs to be simplified. Here's what I've got:

There are two different types of resources: XP and Energy.

  • XP is a threshold-based system, that would be raised in a manner similar to Magic's land drop per turn. Cards require you to have a certain amount of XP to play; once you've reached their XP level, you can play them at will. All characters share the same XP.
  • Energy is a usable resource. Each hero has his own maximum energy; most cards have an energy cost, and playing one depletes the appropriate hero of that much energy. The unique part here is the way it refills: during the refill phase, your heroes' remaining energy doubles.

For example, say I have Cyclops out with a full 6 energy, and I have him attack with Optic Blast. Not too trying an attack, it costs 3 energy, leaving him with 3. That number will double during the refill phase, and he'll be back at 6. Now say I have him attack with an Optic Nova, which costs 5. This will leave him at 1 energy and set him back quite a bit; next turn he'll be at 2, then the turn after that he'll be at 4, and finally able to use the weaker Optic Blast again (but at great cost; he'll be back at 1).

I'm very satisfied with the energy system, but the problem is this leaves a lot of bookkeeping for the player. With three heroes, individual energy totals can be tracked with counters, and the XP can be tracked with a D10, but this makes for a very cluttered board. Throw in the fact that I want to have a rotating damage system, where every character rotates 90 degrees when injured (going an entire 360 means death), and this gets complicated fast.

I'm very happy with this system, but it doesn't seem very practical. Anyone out there have any ideas? Can I keep it as-is? Keep in mind that I don't really mind the rest of the game involving little-to-no permanents, so as muddled as the field is with this system it won't get any worse.

As always, feedback is much needed and appreciated.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Time-travel CCG brainstorm

After a bit of a break, here's what's been on my mind:

I've been mulling over a CCG for a while now that would be time-travel based, but I haven't been too sure how to go about this. The inspiration for this was the temporal cold war from Star Trek: Enterprise. You don't get to see to much of it in the show, but the concept of different times using temporal warfare against each other intrigued me.

As to the battlefield, I figured a hodge-podge of different timelines would be a good place to start. All these time-travel shenanigans would have reduced history to a wasteland battleground with samples from all eras. Time travel as we think of it would have become irrelevant since the timeline has been messed with so much. (Muddying the timeline like this would also prevent boring moves like "I go back in time and kill you when you were a kid!" scenarios.)

With direct time travel more-or-less out of the picture, I figured it would be interesting to explore how the pasts of characters, events, and locations could be changed to "edit" the present version. Alternate versions of things and people would be common, and could be messed with by finding the right way to alter their pasts. Characters can be "edited" to have different eras intersect with their histories; samurais with access to semi-automatics, or scientists able to tame dinosaurs. Everyone knows something is off with the timeline and that things don't quite make sense. In terms of a CCG, this could either be done as pre-packaged cards ("I play "Uzi Samurai"), cards with alternate versions that need to be activated (a bit like the transform mechanic for Magic werewolves, but more possibilities would be preferable), or activations through other cards ("I use my temporal agent to tweak the timeline and give my samurai +3/+0 and range").

Now onto the mechanics:
With access to all of history, the different "factions" (or MTG-like colors) would be different eras in history. One way to represent this would be by having cards come from different eras, numbered from 1 to 9 (2nd era, 3rd era, and so on). Early eras would have cards like dinosaurs, cavemen, and a Wrath of God-style meteor strike. Then we move on to antiquity, feudal Japan, the middle ages, the Age of Discovery, the Industrial Revolution, the present day, and the future before time travel was invented. (As soon as time travel was invented, the eventual damage to the timeline happened instantly (since we are dealing with time here) and for all intents and purposes there is no future beyond that.) Different ways to mess with this would be:

  • Each player has an era number. This would start on 1 or 10, representing their starting era (yes, players can start in the first era since all time-travel is rerouted through the Big Bang! Duh). If a player wants to play a card from a different era, they have to pay the difference between their current era and the era of that card, since the further up- or down-stream you travel, the harder it is. So from starting era 1, playing a Panzer division from the 7th era would be more expensive than playing a Roman legion from the 4th. Once that card is played, though, the player's era becomes the era of that card (represented by a D10) and era differences are adjusted accordingly.
  • Both players share an era number. Since the battlefield is an erratic mess of timelines, a D10 is rolled at the start of every turn (players take shared turns), and the result is the current era. On a 9 roll, my Panzer division comes into play cheap, but your Roman legion will have to wait until next turn since you can't afford it.
  • Use Planechase. Similar to the above idea, but instead of rolling a D10 players bring 5 era cards each to the table. They are shuffled together at the beginning of the game and an era is revealed from the top of the deck at the beginning of every turn. This allows for additional effects to be included on the cards, as well as allowing players to steer the flow of the game some more. I can, however, imagine turns see-sawing, in that one turn favors player A and shuts down player B, and the next turn does the opposite.
  • Use suspend. This Magic mechanic would be useful in creating a cost for cards, in that pulling an object to you from further in time would take more of a delay.
  • Use number loyalty. I'm not too sure this idea works well, but having every card have two era numbers (one for the aforementioned samurai, another for the bazooka he wields) would allow a player to "jump through time": say the samurai's eras are 3 and 8. My first play of the game is "free", and I use it to play him. These are my current eras; I can only play cards that have either a 3 or an 8. This lets me play my Knight-hijacked Panzer division, which boasts an 8 and a 5. These are my new numbers. And so on...
Anyway, these are simply ideas. I don't really know where I'm going with this yet, but a shape is starting to emerge. Please feel free to comment on these ideas or add more!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

An overview of SINGULARITY

Allow me today to outline one of the projects I've been devoting the most mental space to in the past few weeks. It is an RPG called Singularity (and by RPG, I mean a Final Fantasy-type linear role playing game, but the story and concept could be adapted to anything). I originally started this while watching Record of Lodoss War and challenging myself to create a fantasy world featuring the standard adventuring party tropes while steering clear of any science fiction elements. I ended up failing that last clause, but I think I've come up with a pretty interesting concept nonetheless. Here goes.

The world of Singularity is one based on repetition. One of the many meanings of the term "singularity" is that one day, humankind will reach a point of exponential technological advancement that is incomprehensible to us right now. Technology would be used to enhance intelligence, which would be used to enhance technology... in brief, it is a theoretical point in time when we would stop being human as we understand the term today. The singularity is presumed to be brought on by technology; this story challenges that view.

What ends up happening to the species of Singularity is that they enjoy a traditional fantasy setting, with elves, goblins, and a prevalence of magic. Eventually technological advancements are made, industry is created, and the myriad of races learn to eschew magic in favor of these scientific breakthroughs. A technologically advanced civilization flourishes, and everyone thinks they're headed towards singularity... but they never make it. Advances in industry and disputes over resources inevitably cause them to annihilate each other. The flourishing "futuristic" society ends, followed by a period of post-apocalyptic rebuilding, where people rediscover magic and basic means of survival. Soon, we have the exact same situation which started this whole mess: your traditional fantasy setting.

The events of Singularity are brought on because someone in one of the "future" eras of this cycle has become wise to the cyclical nature of their world. The theory here is that the correct way for these races to actually reach a point of singularity and "evolve" is not through technology, but through the more natural and innate process of magic. But how to stop industry from taking hold again? detonating an EMP bomb into the sun, that's how. A scientist from one of the future iterations, realizing his current world is doomed, hides various parts of a rocket deep underground, with a robot being tasked to awaken in a few millenia. There, he will be able to assemble the rocket and launch it, unfettered by anyone who would know what he's doing and try to stop him. Once it reaches its destination it will explode, causing a reaction in the sun that will have it rain a steady electromagnetic pulse on the planet for another thousand millenia, thereby preventing any form of advanced electrical technology from taking hold and allowing the citizens of the world to explore magical means of reaching their singularity.

Ooof. You still with me? Good. The story here would follow said robot, who awakens to a world of magic and fantasy and must travel the world to find different parts of this rocket. Of course, being asleep for thousands of years underground means he has amnesia, so his exact goal will become revealed as the story progresses. He will also meet and assemble a party to aid him in his quest, with your standard fantasy tropes; the thief, the paladin, the mage, the berserker. But the details of his entourage are a subject for another post.

There is an entity, however, that is trying to prevent the robot from achieving his goal. It will work behind the scenes for the most part, but will ultimately reveal itself in time for the BIG BOSS BATTLE at the end. It is a dragon, a quasi-mythical being on this world. Dragons are a feuding race, and are few and far between. The thing is, they are one of the few creatures to actually live long enough so as to be able to view different iterations of the cycle that is happening. They have a nice, cushy racket going on: they lord over the myriad races during the "fantasy" portions of the cycle, bending events to their liking and manipulating entire empires by proxy. When technology begins to flourish, they burrow themselves underground and lie dormant, waiting for this era to pass and awakening when the lesser races are once again weak enough to dominate. This is a nice rhythm for them, and races actually reaching their singularity would disrupt this. Hence our main villain.

There are many more stories to be told within this world, but I think that's enough for one post. Feel free to tear this idea apart!

Thursday, 2 February 2012


Well, I guess I should start somewhere.

Hello, my name is gwago, and I'm a geek. Ever since I can remember I've been preoccupied with science fiction, fantasy, RPGs, CCGs, and the like. As a matter of fact, I remember creating a game with my Marvel Universe cards on my living room floor, essentially creating CCGs before the acronym existed. But I digress.

I'm someone who has started many, many creative projects in my life. Unfortunately, I have a little bit of trouble actually finishing said projects. Be it the sudden onset of boredom in what I'm working on, or the lack of drive or discipline, my work never ends up coming to fruition. "Always Be Closing" is something that I need to work on.

So, I created this blog in an effort to correct this. I'll post and discuss many of the story or game ideas I've had over the years here, in an effort to (at best) push myself to go through with them and get feedback from my peers, or (at worst) have an opportunity to think aloud, so to speak. Hopefully what I post here can serve as a sort of portfolio.

So, on with it then. I encourage anyone reading this to comment on whatever comes up here, even if its to tell me my ideas suck. Ideally I won't bore everyone that comes through here to death, and I'll actually get some readership.

To the drawing board!