Storytelling


I have started to think about my own mechanics and the way I want to explore this side of the project. And my first attempt was trough Storytelling mechanics.
All friends are late for a meeting, they get cards with their excuses and start to form a story. While the one excuse is used, all the same ones are out of the game. From round to round, players have to come up with an excuse-story which will be believable enough.

However, the main problem to face with this mechanics was the need for one player to be less active as a participant. To judge which justification is believable and which is not. Sadly, the player involvement for me was critical, so I gave up this idea.
Game Inspiration: Aye, Dark Overlord!

First Attempts


There are many major and minor changes which happen while developing the mechanics and the story at the same time. And it is not only boring but also just hard to record all the changes. Here I will make a small analysis of how I failed to come up with playable mechanics during my FMP working time from November to January.
Basically, after thinking about the storytelling game about friends, who are late for a meeting, I have started to develop more and more concepts and adding rules to the “friends” concepts. This took me to the endless path of making the game harder to play, harder to learn and harder to understand. Walking away from my initial mechanics idea lead me to nothing, except for creating a rule book a size of “War and Peace”.
“Noone likes to read the rulebook.”
Said one of the speakers on the lectures I have watched, and it is true. The game should be simple to explain and easy to play. Of course, there are examples like Arham Horror, but even though I like it, I cannot create such a game in several months.

My endless attempts to teach my friends to play Munchkin speak for themselves. Even though Munchkin is relatively easy, you need to focus and concentrate on learning to play it. And I often fail to introduce some of my friends to this game, because they don’t want to spend time learning.
After coming up with concepts and stories about bards, dragons, friends and politicians, I wrote down one of the most important things, that lead me to my final mechanics.

One Against Others

Variations


So, after researching a handful of games with Hidden Role mechanic, I have started to work on my own. Of course, the working process in this field sometimes stays unrecorded and sometimes I can’t track down where it began and when moved to a completely different idea. Still, I will try to describe it as much as I can.
I began with my previous idea of Friends being late to the meeting, however, very rapidly, I gave it up. The next move was to think, and it is easier to think in stories, than in logic and probabilities.

Four Bards
This concept was the first one after ”Friends”, it kind of was travelling with me from the very beginning, but I never had a chance to formulate it.
The idea is that four bards meet by the fire to tell stories of their adventures, but one is a coward liar. Players aim is to understand who is the lying bard.
And because I was unable to solve this mechanic, it evolved into another.
Liar mechanic led me to the memory topic and the mechanic of Roles with Asymmetric Information.


Memory
What if one player is a doctor in a Dark Asylum, the other two are patients. Still, while one has no memories (Player A), another (Player B) has them all, but is limited in communication. The aim of player B is to deliver all the memories to player A, the aim of the Doctor is to prevent player B from delivering it.
However, the theme of an Asylum is a bit of a cliche, so I thought it might be too much. Moreover, the mechanic was still a bit out of place, so I have started to adjust it and moved to the other direction.

Hidden Role Mechanic


“One Against Others”
After writing this small but important note in my sketchbook, I have started to develop a direction to work in. My first step was to understand what I want from the game. At this point, I went far away from my initial list of mechanics. I stopped looking at them and started just wandering in the world of games, which was a huge mistake, as this world is vast, and it is easy to lose track of time while exploring it. So, I got back to my original list and saw the mechanic type, which perfectly correlated with my note: hidden role.
illustration I made for blog
This became my core idea for the game: one of the roles should be secret, and the aim of the players would be to reveal it. But it was just the beginning of the final mechanic.

More on Hidden Role Mechanic Here

Fighter, Cleric, Thief and Mage


A standard party of D&D roles was my next focal point. I was looking for any clues of people having a particular interest in winning and opposing the others. What I had in my head was that people tend to betray for money and have a keen interest and need for money, so I thought about this four adventurers party. And what they have to do is to choose quests.
There are specific characteristics all the players have, they are Might, Honour, Skill and Money.
  • Fighter is interested in Might the quest will bring;
  • Cleric is interested in his Honour;
  • Mage wants to level up his Skill;
  • And Thief is there for the Money;

Every quest is chosen by the players through a voting system, and it brings them or takes of them a certain amount of every characteristic.
The aim of the Thief is to get 20 points of money without making it clear to other players that he is a thief.

To tangle the solution a bit more, cards of Needs are introduced. When every new circle starts, players take one card of Needs each. You have to satisfy your need through the round. The needs might change your primary focus, Healer might get Money as need, Mage can get Might. This will lead to complications in finding out who the thief is and make the game much more exciting to play.
What I had a strong idea about when I began to develop this concept, was the fact that I don’t want to keep it Fighter, Cleric, Thief and Mage. I wanted to replace them with more time-appropriate characters. However, before spending time on this, I needed a prototype play-test, to understand if the mechanic works.