Saturday, December 26, 2009

[Box] Inspiration from Strange Places

So I've been putting my mind to the sort of things I can do with the format for my boxed game and what the benefits and limitations of the format are and moreover, how to use those limitations to my advantage.

For example, the recent decision of FFG to only allow you enough components in their box for a certain number of concurrent characters has raised the heckles of some people. However, in the end, thats the limitations of the format at work. We are used to wonderfully open-ended resources, limited only by the sheets of paper we have and the seats around our table and expect that from new games. Its a bit of a cheek really - most 'normal' games have very limited play resources. Two players in chess, four players in Ludo, six players in Monopoly. Of course, I could just do a book and character sheet game, but then whats the point of doing it in a box? No, there should be play resources and that means limiting the number of concurrent characters.

So how do I do this and make it part of the game and possibly turn it to my advantage? Well, one idea that I have come upon is to have character sheets about the size of CCG cards. However, I don't want to get into the mess of having to supply new sheets each time we play. So what if the character sheets were manipulatable in some way? Just keep that thought, OK.

As a system, I want to use dice pools, small dice pools. I also want different coloured dice to represent difference aspects of the character. More on this in the next post, I imagine. So the number of dice you have on your character sheet in a certain area will denote your strength in that area. Cool. Of course, that means that I can only include a certain number of dice in the box, which by its very nature means there are only a certain number of characters that can be made. Now, what if I built this into the balance of character generation. What if there was a pool of these statistic dice that all characters drew from? So, for example, there are a limited number of magic dice. If everyone were to choose their dice one at a time, then I could make it so that not everyone could be magicians. Thats kind of cool, I think.

OK, back to those character sheets on CCG cards. Well, something I really like to do is have a picture on a character sheet. Indeed, I think that games could use images so much better than they do for character generation. There are loads of totally awesome images out there - why not use them? So what if the picture part of the character card could be changed? What if the player could present the picture of the character they wanted and voila! Thats their character. Players could bring together art assets like a campaign mood board.

There is another sneaky little side effect of this. Players and GMs can draw their images from anywhere, so they can use published, copyrighted artwork, images clipped from magazines and comics and all manner of other things. Thats a huge wodge of potential art costs for my £15 sidetracked, and all in the name of flexibility.

As to how to do it? I am reminded of the concept of 'chamber cards' in the Quick Strike system CCGs (PotC and Shaman King iirc). So create a 2-ply card 'chamber' with a hole at the front which the image can be inserted from the top and then slide the whole into something like a rigid toploader and BAM! Its big enough, it can be branded with nice imagery and the image can change.

Gimmicky? Oh hell yeah. But with some underlying madness as well.

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