Monday, December 27, 2010

Two possible changes

Hey All,

Haven't updated this in forever. I've been getting side-tracked with a board game of mine, which I am calling "For Science!!!" I really need to playtest this. That said, I was thinking about it this morning, and had two new thoughts:

1) Orders: Currently, during the first phase of each turn is the "Orders Phase." You will have 5 actions, and during this phase must decide what you will do with them. For each action, you must write down who will act (i.e. "Balthazar"), what they will do (i.e. "cast Fireball"), and if applicable, a target (i.e. "at the enemy general"). In later phases, each player performs each of their actions one at a time, or decides to skip the action (i.e. "Oh no, Balthazar has moved out of sight; I can't cast Fireball now."). This mechanic has definitely added a really strong flavor to the game, but has also made things significantly more complicated. I think one of the biggest things I have had to monkey around with is figuring out who must declare orders, how much detail must be given, if and when characters can disobey orders. It has caused a lot of frustrations throughout playtesting, with players getting surprised, or writing down the wrong things. Worst off, I had a friend tell me that it actually wasn't very thematic. He said that though this mechanism would work great in a game built around, say, dueling armies of space-ships (where communication would pose problems), that it is not very realistic for a game about small gangs of characters.

Thus, I'm thinking I might just want to scrap everything. I think instead of what I have, I'll make it that during the Orders Phase, all that you need to decide is who acts, and you can decide on their actual actions later. I'll need to playtest this with people who have tried it the old way, just to see what they think. I worry that it will remove a major element from the game, but it might be worth it just to really streamline everything.

2) Health: In this game, battle is done in two worlds. Characters fight in the "real" world, and the "spirit" world. Originally, I made it that real world characters were tougher, but slower, while spirits were faster but weaker. The result of this was often that the bulk of combat would take place in the spirit world, with real world characters only reaching each other after all else was long done. I'm now debating one of two options: making the real world characters the weak ones, or making both characters have equal toughness. If I do the later, it might not solve the problem, as spirits will still likely get killed first. If I do the former, it might mean that even if real characters are slower to get into combat, they might die first. However, it might also make archery overpowered in the real world (something that has been really problematic in the past). I'll keep thinking, and keep working on it.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Weird Idea...

It hit me that it's been almost a year since the last time I've played Illeria. I really need to fix that. I need to find more wargamer friends in the area.

I had an idea a few days ago, that I'm not sure what I think about. The game has always been played on two boards. The thought hit me, what if you played on one board, but that spirits could only affect other spirits and vessels could only affect other vessels? This could have a few possible advantages. First, before you had to split the table, which always made the surface really narrow. Here you could fix that. Also, now you could have some kind of idea of how "close" a vessel was to her specter (and as such, you could have abilities that would only work if they were close enough together). The downside is that it might get really confusing. Also, it would mean that you were fighting on the exact same terrain in both worlds. I'm not sure if I do or don't like that. It would take a little flavor away from the spirit realm (where there is a lot of bizarre terrain), but might add some connectivity.

Perhaps I'll ask my next playtester about this.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Okay, I figured out how to upload the drawings. Here are some sketches of possible Specter characters...


Friday, May 7, 2010


Oh man, I haven't posted to this thing in forever. Such is life in grad school I guess.

Anyway, I've been working a lot on my new backstory, and I think I finally have one that I feel really really good about. So, this is what will appear in the front of the book:

"If you are reading this, it means you have found my notebooks. Most likely, I am no longer of this world, or any world for that matter. These books are my research journals. They chronicle my discoveries, indeed our discoveries, along with the rise and downfall of Illeria. What happened on this island must never be forgotten.

Though I hardly believe it myself, ten short years ago. King Paris ruled Avon, there was peace, and all was right with the world. Back then magic was a purely esoteric subject. It was an art, just as music or history are arts. It was never of practical use. Why learn to make fire with your fingers, when a flint and tinder are easier to learn? King Paris hired us to be scholars of magic, because he so enjoyed learning, and because we entertained him.

His death left a power vacuum, and lead to a bloody war of succession. His youngest son, Balthazar, rose to power by being the meanest and scariest of the litter. Though the war took its toll on him. A near death from an assassin’s bullet left him with a profound sense of paranoia, and shaped many of his future policies. He began rounding up those that he mistrusted, and established forced labor camps to put them in. It should be no surprise that a small faction, still loyal to his dead brother Montano, soon rebelled.

The Battle of the Roses will forever be a day that changed the world. As Balthazar’s army closed in, a small regiment of men-at-arms came to stop them. Thinking the battle would not last an hour, Balthazar’s generals sent their forces in, only to discover that the men-at-arms were supported by a group of wizards. As arrows turned around to shoot their owners, horses became spooked and kicked off their masters, and bolts of energy spat from the ground, the armies of Balthazar became panicked and fled. Magic had officially left the ivory tower. This victory turned the entire tide of the war, and sealed our fate.

Before I knew what was happening, large men appeared at my door, tied me up, and placed a bag over my head. When it was removed, I found myself on the prison island of Illeria, surrounded by a dozen or so fellow wizards. A man with a large sword told us that King Balthazar now wanted us to take what we knew of magic, and use it to develop weapons for his generals. He said that any who refused to cooperate would be drowned in the ocean. And thus, we began spending day after day, slaving away in our makeshift labs and our makeshift libraries. Conditions were not always safe, and we soon found ourselves setting fire to our laboratories, and unleashing monsters on the land. We turned an art made for creating knowledge into a tool made for inflicting human misery.

At night they kept us locked away with the other prisoners. At first I thought I would be skinned alive, but soon came to realize that the thugs on this island were profoundly superstitious, and that we instilled fear into them. Though the common law prisoners had previously terrorized and ruled the political prisoners, that they would not touch us. The other wizards and I leveraged this power, We brought peace and community to where there was once fighting.

But still, we continued to study the art of magic. We discovered many things; how to heal wounds, how to call animals from nothing, and how to make steel walk on its own. Many of them are written within these pages. Our greatest discovery, however, was when we learned of the Spirit World. The Spirit World is a world unlike ours. The laws which govern our world seem not to apply there. It’s like a dream that you never awake from. You discover that you have a second soul, and it is through this soul that you are able to traverse the Spirit World.

Though every other discovery was eventually taught to Balthazar’s guards and generals, the Spirit World remained a secret. It was so easily hidden, and so miraculous and beautiful, that we never wanted to see it become a weapon. Little did we know what was to come.

As rumors began floating that Balthazar had crushed the rebellion, the political prisoners became nervous as to what would happen to everyone. Soon, we began plotting to overthrow the guards and claim Illeria as our own. Knowing we would be useless without weapons, the other wizards and I began teaching our fellow inmates how to use magic. We even showed them the spirit world, and how to tap into its great source of power. When the uprising came, the guards did not stand a chance.

Before the uprising, plans had been made for a new government, and a new way of life on the island. But as soon as the guards were gone, we realized just how little food and supplies there were on the island. All our noble goals for a new society crumbled, and we began fighting amongst ourselves. What’s worse, now that the common law prisoners had learned to use magic, they no longer feared it, and the prison gangs of old began to reform. Soon, there was nothing but anarchy and death."

What do you think?


“Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. Unreasonable people attempt to adapt the world to themselves. All progress, therefore, depends on unreasonable people.” – George Bernard Shaw

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Artwork & Another Simplification

Hey all,

Happy New Year and whatnot. First off, I've been thinking about artwork a bit lately. I read a review once, I think on The Forge, saying that it was sometimes better if the game designer did some of his own artwork, because it tends to be more creative, imaginative, and exactly the image he has in his head. So, on that note, I've been starting work on drawing. I feel like I really need to get better about technique, though I often sometimes feel like my imagination is lacking. Overall I'm planning on mostly doing Spirit World drawings, and thus am trying to make them look, well, surreal. I've done about 20 or so character sketches, maybe half of them are good enough that they could be fixed up and used. I've been playing around with character proportions a lot, amongst other things.

Simplification: So, originally this game included what were basically 3 non-combat stats: Intelligence, Spirit, and Save (which had originally been three different kinds of saves). After a recent post on BGDF, I started thinking I'd be better off eliminating Intelligence (since it hit me that this is a stat that you have to initiate using, and during playtests, I think I'm the only person I've ever seen use it). Then it hit me that really I could combine Spirit and Save. I don't know, before they were both made to represent similar things. A problem I'd been having is that it seemed like either you would desperately need them, or else (more often) that they'd never come up. As a result, it was usually not worth it to try to boost your Save and Spirit. If I combine them however, I think there is a much greater chance that the new stat (which I think will just be Spirit) will come up on a regular enough basis to at least sometimes be worth boosting.


“In anything at all, perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-ExpuĂ©ry