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Fantasy Game Engine

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 3 months ago

Page owner: Andrew Cooper.

Fantasy Game Engine


Last year at GenCon I played in a really fun D&D dungeon crawl tournament. I know that the hip thing nowadays is to get all starry-eyed over Story Now and really buckle down and make sure your games delve into deep thematic play. Hey! I'm cool with that. I love those games. But sometimes... I really just want to get the group together, make some kick-ass adventure characters and get our game on. I want nasty monster encounters, devious traps and enigmatic riddles! I want the DM to try to kill us within the confines of the adventure module. If we get to the end and complete the module, it was because we had skill and guts. If not, maybe we'll fair better next time.


"You can just play D&D for that!" Someone points out. Well, yeah... but while D&D does a credible job at that style of play, I find that it is weak in some areas and really relies far too much on GM fiat is certain places to make it consistantly satisfactory for me. (Please, let's not debate how wonderful D&D is or isn't. I LIKE D&D. That's not the point.) So, I'm designing at game that will deliver cool, adventure-style play. Here's some of my design goals (in no particular order):


GM's should play an adversarial role for the Players. Think of this a cooperative competition, like in sports. When playing tennis, you might be best friends with your opponent but you've agreed to come together and within the framework of the rules of tennis and strive against each other with all your skill and talent. If your opponent doesn't give it his best, you feel cheated. I want the GM's to have rules that support them taking off the kid gloves and really pushing against the other players. I should note that I'm not certain that all the GM tasks will rest with one person for this game. I leaning that way but I could see some pretty fun stuff arising from a Polaris-like arrangement where each player is the GM for one of the other players. This certainly merits some discussion. The game should revolve around Quests. Quest being my term for "Whatever goal the player has for his character to accomplish." Quests could be as simple and generic as "Get the Magical McGuffin and take it to the King." to something a bit more complex and (I think) interesting as "Find the traitor in the Palace." The adventures were what really made those dungeon crawls fun. Remember The Tomb of Horrors? Remember Against the Giants? What about Keep on the Borderlands? The modules themselves became classics and we used to make characters specifically to go on those adventures. I want to capture that feel but take the adventure off it's rails and add some cool player empowerment that really let's the GM take it to the players. The reward cycle ought to be intimately tied to the whole create and complete the Quest process. I want non-combat oriented characters to be just as viable as combat. This means that whatever conflict resolution system that I design needs to be just as interesting and fun for social and magical confrontation as it is for combat.


The magic system should be engaging and fun. I want it to have a unique (or at least interesting) flavor to it, not just "you memorize these spells today." Given the previous two points, I still want a combat resolution system that kicks ass. Let's get real. Sometimes hacking your opponent into small chunks is the RIGHT answer. Violence may not solve everything but it sure can be a fun way to solve some things. The combat has to sizzle. I'm looking hard at Sorcerer, Burning Wheel and The Shadow of Yesterday for inspiration here. I think these games really so some stuff right when it comes to killin shit. Neato equipment is a requirement. Gear can't just be handled in a vague way. It's a staple of this type of gaming and it's fun to have cool stuff for your character. I probably need to tie this into the reward cycle tightly. Dice are cool. These are my current design goals. It's not a completely definative list, I'm sure but it's what I have at the moment. I'll add to it if I come up with more stuff.


This is just a summary of the game I'm working on at the moment. I'll post more stuff here later when I have some time.


Comments (1)

Guy Shalev said

at 5:46 pm on Feb 13, 2009

This page could be edited to add more breaks between paragraphs and such to enable easier reading.

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