Literature-Based Horror/Fantasy Card Game Discussion

TMS

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Besides Digimon Tactics, I've been working on another CCG inspired by classic (pre-WWII, public domain) literature in the horror, fantasy, science fiction, and mystery genres. It's still in early development at the moment, but I've been wanting to discuss it and thought that I may as well try starting a topic on this forum as well as the Call of Cthulhu-centered forum I'm a member of.

At the moment I have a general idea of what I want to do with the game, but I'm still having trouble getting the rules nailed down. I would like to create an "atmospheric" card game, if possible. This may mean creating a setting using Location and Condition cards, but I'm not sure of the exact role they should play. It's a little difficult to design a card game which, while it will involve combat, is not focused on battling like most card games I've had experience with.

Currently I have Character, Event, Condition, Item, and Location cards as the main card types. There may also be Ending cards that determine how the "stories" that make up the game are won. Cards that are mundane and non-supernatural, including most human characters, are colorless. Cards having to deal with the supernatural or non-human races are divided into five colors instead of factions.

- Blue forces are concerned with righteousness and the punishment of what they deem evil. Orthodox religion tends to arise from blue forces, but that doesn't make them any less dangerous or terrifying.
- Red forces are pretty much the opposite of blue, having to do with traditional demonic forces and related concepts.
- Green forces are ancient, powerful, and often horrific. They are associated with dark forests and the depths of the ocean, and seek to return the world to an older state of nature.
- Yellow forces deal with psychological concepts, and are a source of both creativity and madness. Ghosts and other beings that mess with the mind rather than the body are common yellow characters.
- Violet forces are among the most mystical and alien. They often have to do with magic and obscure science, which are used to manipulate time and space as well as life and death.

I don't really have a goal for this thread. Any comments, questions, or suggestions are welcome, or we could just discuss what type of sources the game will draw on. While working on the rules I'm also trying to assemble a Core Set from some of the fundamental works of horror literature and related genres.
 
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TMS

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I'm starting to refine the rules of the game a little bit, since Digimon Tactics has slowed down recently. I'm thinking that the "setting" of the game will be determined by Location cards, to which Character cards can go to interact with each other. But I'm not sure on how to go about choosing a Location to start the game out with. Should I have players flip a coin to see which one of them gets to choose a Location from their deck to put into play at the beginning of the game? There are some other possibilities, but I wanted to see if anyone who's played card games before would have a problem with that system or be able to suggest a better one.

I'm also wavering on to what extent I should make the game focused on the Cthulhu Mythos. Obviously it will be in there, but I don't know if I should make it the main draw, considering that I'll also be including stuff from tangentially-related but equally famous works like Dracula and the adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Does anyone have an opinion on this?
 

Abysswalker90

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I think it sounds pretty interesting. I would have offered my help with the artwork, but all I know is pencil drawing on MS paint.

You can maybe have a rock-paper-scissors kind of system for location cards to determine which location is used?
 

Inpu

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I'm starting to refine the rules of the game a little bit, since Digimon Tactics has slowed down recently. I'm thinking that the "setting" of the game will be determined by Location cards, to which Character cards can go to interact with each other. But I'm not sure on how to go about choosing a Location to start the game out with. Should I have players flip a coin to see which one of them gets to choose a Location from their deck to put into play at the beginning of the game? There are some other possibilities, but I wanted to see if anyone who's played card games before would have a problem with that system or be able to suggest a better one.
Does the Location deck have to be a deck owned by the player? Hate to beat a dead horse, but Munchkin accomplishes this satisfactorily by having the dungeon cards be shared across the table, and then you have "portal" cards that allow you to add, remove, or switch the in-play dungeon, as well as being able to modify which card is on top of the Dungeon Draw deck.
 

TMS

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Hmm... I'll have to take a look at that system. I've considered having a deck of neutral location cards, with other locations in the decks of the players (with the other card types), but I wasn't sure if it fits with the concept. Each game is basically a story that starts with one location as the setting. Others can be added later, or the whole story can center on that one location. Players can use their locations strategically and as resources, so I don't want all of them to belong to a neutral "Location Deck." Looking at it from a thematic perspective, it would make sense for some games to perhaps start on neutral ground, but not really every game.
 

Inpu

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You could have locations as a separate personal deck, then, or allow players to draw until they get a location; whoever gets one first gets to play it?
 

TMS

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That's an idea. Maybe I'll go with that for now...
 

HarleyThomas

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How do locations work outside of being where the story is set?

Do they offer benefits to a player based on a color of card they play? Or can another player throw one down at some point to alter the course of the story possibly in their favor?

Such as if someone isn't keen on some New England town, they can throw down...Purgatory or something.
 

TMS

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(Huh. Not the card game I was expecting a comment on.)

Well, my thinking at the moment is that there can be multiple locations in play at once, with characters able to move from one to another. Besides providing a setting, locations can also have effects on gameplay, either affecting the game as a whole or only the characters at that location.

Thinking about all this, though, brings up another issue, which is why a character would move to a location that might seem "hostile" to it. Maybe this doesn't really matter, or maybe it could have to do with scoring (struggles must be won at all locations, or something like that). It's hard for me to say at the moment. I'm having trouble getting the rules of the game nailed down, and I'm starting to second guess myself. I've even considered changing the game's fundamental nature, such as making it cooperative (along the lines of The Lord of the Rings LCG) or asymmetrical.
 

TMS

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I've been having a rough time with this game, and there's a chance that there might be more difficulty to come, but tonight I think I may have hit upon a way to work out some of the major kinks. I've been having trouble with card classification as well as the problem of how to use cards to establish a setting. Originally I started working on this game basically as a response to the Call of Cthulhu LCG. I wanted to expand that game's horizons and render it more faithful to the actual stories, and I set about adapting it to my vision. I realized recently that part of my problem has been that the Call of Cthulhu LCG isn't the type of game that I was interested in making, so I scrapped pretty much all of my ideas and started over from scratch. The setting problem is still a bit of a bother, but I think I've come up with a card classification system that works much better than the one I outlined in my first post. The new card types are as follows:

Character: Still pretty self-explanatory. However, besides normal characters the game will also have neutral characters (wild animals, mindless monsters, etc.). Instead of being paid for by the player who draws them, their effects tell them when to enter play and how to act once there. They can pose a threat to either player, but whoever included them in their deck will presumably have a means of manipulating them so that they become powerful assets. I'm not sure yet whether I'll give these neutral characters their own card type or not.

Support: These cards can represent just about anything that a player can use to support his/her characters. Items, special conditions, legends, and useful events all fall under this category.

Fate: These cards are the same type of thing as the Support cards, only they are not paid for and are automated the way neutral characters are. These represent conditions and events that players (usually) don't have control over, such as weather, times of the day and year, and madness. As with the neutral characters, however, there are certain effects that can make sure they are turned to their player's advantage.

Spell: I'm not sure whether to make this its own card type or to stick it under Support. Regardless, what sets Spell cards apart from other cards is that they are paid for by using characters' magical powers rather than spending normal resources.

Location: Places the characters can go to. As I said, I'm still working on this concept. I'm toying with the idea of classifying locations by region to provide a greater unity of setting. For example, characters at a Location in Britain would have a hard time moving to a Location in Antarctica. Some other stuff like neutral characters may also be restricted by region.

I'm going to give the setting thing a little more thought later. Cards are still going to be either colorless or associated with one of the five colors, with a card's color determining (among other things) what kind of resources can be used to pay for it. Anyway, what does everyone think about this new system?
 

HarleyThomas

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What are the resources?

You mentioned magic power under Spells, but is there anything else? Given the source material, I imagine sanity would be a resource, but would there be anything else?
 

TMS

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Well, for the most part I was going to leave resources rather generic, like the data points in Digimon Tactics. A player would get a set number of resources to use on the first turn (or maybe each turn), which would be augmented later by the resource values listed at the bottom of cards, which could be tapped in order to pay for new cards. My thought was to substitute this for the Call of Cthulhu LCG's method of turning entire cards into resources; I didn't like having to sacrifice cards like that.

But I'm a little shaky on the whole thing. I would need to beta test it to see if it would work. I'm still having a lot of the trouble with nailing down the rules. Recently I started a topic on that Yog-Sothoth.com forum asking people what they would be looking for in a game like this, since that was how I first started getting a good idea of what Digimon Tactics would look like.
 

HarleyThomas

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So it's be like Magic: The Gathering's resource system?

Before you can do something you need enough mana and in order to attack you need to tap the desired creature.

At least I think that's how it goes. Haven't played Magic in over a decade.
 

TMS

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Something like that, though instead of there being a specific type of card (Land) that serves as a resource and has no other real purpose, any type of card might have a resource value. So, for example, you could tap a character to use an ability they have, or you could tap that character in order to pay for putting another card into play.
 

TMS

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I've been working a little more on the game recently, trying to get the rules hammered out, and I'm finally making some real progress. I've gotten rid of the idea of wildcard neutral characters - they can easily be translated into Fate card events or justified as normal Characters. Spells are now a subtype of Support cards. I've also added a new type of card, tentatively called Source cards, whose sole purpose is basically to provide a bare minimum of a player's resources (hopefully supplemented by other cards with resource icons).

I think I've got the start of the game pretty well figured out now. The players will agree on or randomly determine which of them is to be the "host player." The host chooses a Location card from his/her deck and puts it into play. Players then both draw starting hands and play cards from them whose total cost is less than or equal to a certain number, with the host player's initial Location counted as part of the total. Any resources not used up playing those cards are attached to the players' Source cards. Hopefully it's an even trade for the host and non-host players. The host gets to put any Location they want into play, but on the other hand are forced to play a Location as opposed to some other type of card, while the non-host player doesn't have that restriction.

Hopefully I'll get the rules finished before too long. Then I have to figure out what's going to go in the Core Set. I'll probably throw in some stuff that anyone will recognize, like Sherlock Holmes and Dracula, and I'd better include some Lovecraft or Cthulhu Mythos stuff so that people aren't surprised when it shows up in later sets. I'm also going to have to figure out what card subtypes and keywords to introduce from the start. Naturally, some stuff will have to be saved for expansions.

Well, that's the major news at the moment. As always, any comments or questions about the game are welcome.
 

TMS

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Me again. I'm looking for people's opinion on something. I was thinking about making a full game consist of multiple "stories," sort of like how a game of Yu-Gi-Oh is supposed to consist of three duels. Once a player earns a certain number of points, the story ends and everything is set up again, though all cards in the discard pile remain there. Does that sound like a good/interesting idea to anyone, or does it seem kind of pointless?
 

TMS

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I think that I've finally gotten the outline of the game's rules done. I should probably polish them into a final form next, though it's tempting to start trying to come up with a card list for the core set. But with such a long list of stories to draw from, and no set theme for the first set, it's hard to figure out where to start. Obviously I'm going to want a few cards with basic effects for each color. To get some "brand recognition" I'll be including a card for Sherlock Holmes and a few cards based on Dracula, and I want to include some Cthulhu Mythos stuff (preferably Lovecraft), since it's going to be a large part of the game.

Maybe I'll try and work on both the rules and set-building, switching to one when I get tired of the other. It would be nice to get some input on this, but I've failed to get a topic going on Yog-Sothoth.com, and supportive as With the Will's community is there probably aren't many people here familiar with the game's source material.
 

TMS

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I may be setting a forum record here by quintuple posting. Maybe the topic can generate more interest now.

Over the past year and four months I've devoted some thought to my horror/fantasy/sci-fi/mystery game off and on, though I've been too busy/lazy to do more than fiddle with the rules. At one point I gave them a general overhaul, but while it was an improvement it still didn't quite satisfy me. Lately I've been wondering whether I've been trying to do too much with one game, and have considered creating several related games with different focuses.

Conceptions for these games are still somewhat vague, but I'm thinking that there might turn out to be three games.

1.) A game that simulates an investigation of a single building, such as a haunted house. The game will be asymmetrical, with one player in control of the forces at work in the house, while one or more other players each take on the role of a character come to investigate. These characters will probably work together against the other player. In this respect the game will be similar to Fantasy Flight Games' Mansions of Madness, though the mechanics of the gameplay will probably wind up entirely different (after all, reviews of Mansions of Madness say that the game barely functions).

2.) A game with a focus on adventure, along the lines of FFG's Lord of the Rings LCG. The game will be cooperative, with players working together to explore exotic places (lost cities, uncharted seas, dreamlands, etc.) and facing the dangers and hostile inhabitants of those places.

3.) A game whose setting is more nebulous and general, along the lines of the Call of Cthulhu LCG that was my original inspiration. The game will be wholly competitive, with each player representing a group or organization struggling with the other(s) for dominance. This game will be the one to use some of my oldest concepts like the five colors.

So that's what I'm thinking, but I have no idea which of these games to start with. Not sure if anyone's interested enough to weigh in, but any recommendations on the subject? Which of the three concepts sounds most appealing to you? (Any other comments also welcome.)
 
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