Thursday, November 22, 2012

For Glory!!! The Game Play...

Despite the detail in the game, it is surprisingly simple in execution, with many of the rules being exception based.

Game Turns take the form of Rounds, which cover roughly one lunar month of time in Lemuria during which the heroes go about their business. It has 4 phases:

 There are certain events and spells within the game that have a Duration. This is marked with Lunar Cycle Tokens placed directly on the card. During this phase, one of those counters is removed. Once all of the counters are gone, the event or spell ends.

 At this point heroes recover all of the Life Blood they lost in the previous Round, readying them for a new month of adventure. They also recover a single Hero Point and a Single Arcane Power Point.

One of the driving forces behind the game, adventures provide a framework for the characters' wanderings. During this phase, one adventure is added to the Adventure Track, filling in the first available empty space (each space having a corresponding difficulty modifier which rises from left to right). Gradually, six adventures will be available, allowing every Hero a chance to participate in one, although the ones on the far right end will be a bear to complete.

Once these three preliminary phases are completed, we move on to this, the Player Turn phase. Players compete for initiative and then play proceeds clockwise.

 Player turns are relatively simple consisting of two phases...

On Land, heroes move one hex in any direction. They may push their movement by rolling their STR+2D6 against the difficulty level of the terrain they are leaving (which is conveniently indicated on the board underneath the various terrain card slots). If they succeed, they move one more hex. If they roll a Mighty Success (or spend a Hero Point to make a Success into a Mighty Success) they may move two additional hexes.

To move on water, heroes must have a ship. There are six unique ships in the game, each with their own special bonus and if they don't start out with one, a hero can always exchange 5 Trade Value points worth of gear and treasure for one in any city located on a river or ocean coast. Once they have a ship, they may move down rivers and across ocean hexes at a rate of two hexes per Move Phase. They may make a MIN+2D6 roll to push their movement in the same way as land movement.

Once a hero has ended their move, they have an encounter. They have three choices:

1. If there is another hero in that space they may encounter that hero. Living heroes may be fought or traded with (you can trade anything, including task counters, just so long as they share a space). Dead heroes can be looted.

2. If there is a 1 task counter and you have no other task counters, or if it is a 2 or 3 and you have the proceeding task counter for that adventure, you may try and complete that task.

3. If you do niether of the above, you encounter the space, drawing one card for that Terrain type. In cases where there are multiple terrain types in the hex, you may choose which of those decks to draw from.

That covers the basic gameplay, but there are a few bits and bobs that throw some variety into the mix.

It can be very easy to die in Lemuria, but Hero Points are the tool by which true heroes stave off their fate for a time. They are a dwindling resource that must be carefully managed, recovering at a rate of only 1 point per Round, but there are many ways in which they might be used:

1. Foresight of the Gods: Sometimes a hero will draw a Deodarg as soon as they step foot in the jungle and that means pretty much certain death. By using a Hero Point, however, the hero will get a 'bad feeling' about going one direction over the other and the encounter may be discarded and a new one drawn in its place.

2. Might of the Gods: Heroes can accomplish mighty by spending a Hero Point will make a regular Success into a Mighty Success. A Hero Point is also the only way to turn a Mighty Success into a Legendary Success, the benefits of which are an extra D6 Glory (and three points of damage in combat, which will fell most creates or mobs).

3. Luck of the Gods: Sometimes the gods have to intervene more directly in the lives of the heroes, changing the playing field to give the hero an advantage. By spending a Hero Point, they can reroll the dice once (the guard at the treasure room door is asleep) or totally negate a hit caused by an enemy in combat (the enemy slips on an icy patch at just the moment they were preparing a killing blow).

The one career that doesn't show up on any Encounter card is Sorcerer and that is because sorcery is useful in every situation. If the Sorcerer is too weak to climb the side of a mountain or too odious to appeal to anyone, they can always give themselves the ability to climb like a spider or ensorcell a lesser mortal into giving them what they want

Now, in the last day, I've been really thinking about this aspect of the game (it is, after all a sword & sorcery game) and how to streamline it while still retaining the BoL flavor. As such, I've gone ahead and applied the same logic to it that I did with Life Blood and reduced the Arcane Power Point total to something more manageable and less fiddly: MIN + 1. This of course changes how the mechanic operates a bit, although mainly on the low end.

There are now three distinct levels of spell in the game, to match the three levels of magic in the BoL RPG:

First Magnitude
By spending 1AP, the Sorcerer can substitute their MIN+Sorcerer for whatever attribute or careers are normally used for the task or encounter at hand. The disadvantage is that the fates tend to oppose those who try to usurp their power (you may not use Hero Points on any roll that involves Sorcery, although you can use additional AP to boost success levels) 

In addition, even though most people fear and respect a sorcery, they also despise the use of it enough that, while the mighty deeds of sorcerers are still recorded, they are not as well regarded as those of more mundane heroes (Sorcerers collect 1 less Glory if they use Sorcery to complete an Encounter or Task). In addition, some places and encounters actively resist or punish sorcerers, so it is often a good idea to use one's other abilities to accomplish certain tasks.

In combat, sorcerers can spend 1 AP to fight without weapons or resulting to brawling through the use of sorcery. By spending AP and using their MIN + (BRA, MEL or RAN) + Sorcerer, they can make sorcerous attacks.

Second Magnitude & Third Magnitude
As mentioned in this post, spells of this magnitude are represented by the Sorcery Cards. Nothing much has changed from that earlier iteration except for the cost of the spells in Arcane Power (2 and 3 respectively) and a modification to the Mortification requirement which is now 1 LB or 1 Penalty Token, to represent the physical and mental toll of Sorcery (based on a very helpful suggestion by James Hutchings over on the Boardgame Geek forums). This actually fixes my fragile sorcerers problem, where the Zalutian Sorceress with 1 LB would kill herself if she cast a spell that required Mortification, without having to artificially boost all the characters Life Blood totals.

One of the major goals of this game is to ensure player interaction and have a number of side stories emerge from that. Talisman has this in the form of players jumping each other to steal their goodies or kill them when they are too close to winning the game, but there is little other reason for the players to interact. Runebound may as well be a solo game with other people playing at the same time. For Glory!!! is being designed to ensure that palyers will find it very hard to avoid each other during the course of the game, making it more than a 'pull a card, pass your turn' game. It does this in a number of ways:

Encounter Heroes
During the Encounter phase of the Player Turn, a hero entering a hex containing another hero may encounter that Hero. They may attack them, in classic Talisman 'stab your buddy and take their stuff' fashion, or they may trade with them. They can trade anything, including Task Tokens for adventures. This means that cooperating to complete adventures becomes a possibility, where one adventurer completes a task they are particularly good at and then trades it to another Hero who would never in a million years have completed that first task but is more than capable of finishing said adventure.

Even if the players aren't feeling that particularly cooperative, there are adventures with such global consequences that it will behoove them to work together to complete the adventure and avoid disaster for all.

From this dynamic, a side story evolves: will the Tyran Witch Hunter work with the Zalutian Sorceress for the greater good? Will the Valgardian Barbarian accept help from any one or are they too proud and vainglorious?

The Valgardian Barbarian may not want to interact with other heroes, preferring to go his own way, but what if a sorcerer casts a spell on him to make him do so? There are spells in the game that can force the reluctant hero to get involved with other heroes and side track them from important quests. And even if the spell fails, what hero worth his salt will brook such an offense and not seek revenge?

Glory Levels
If a Hero gains too great a lead in Glory, you can be assured that the others will often cooperate to take them down, in some cases they may even decide that they would rather lose than see Player A win yet again.

So there are many ways, from trading or stealing tasks or rewards, to sorcery to simply taking too wide a lead or settling old scores, that will often draw heroes to each other in the game. The emergent play that results from these interactions are what will give the game legs in the long run...


  1. "And even if the spell fails, what hero worth his salt will brook such an offense and not seek revenge?"

    Is there a rule for this?

    I'm reading the 'Savage Sword of Conan' comics at the moment, and Conan seems to spend a lot of time risking his life for the sake of revenge.

    Maybe a VP penalty which is regained if you take an appropriate revenge on the sorcerer?

    1. No, there's no particular rule. This is an area where I'm expecting the emergent play factor will kick in, initiated by the heavy role-play elements inherent in the design.

      You're right, though. Revenge is a large motivator in a lot of S&S fiction, even if there is a grander plot, revenge typically fits in there somewhere.

      A prime example is 'The Pheonix on the Sword' where the main plot is political intrigue and usurpation, but at least one of the villains, Gromel, is out for revenge on Conan for choosing a rival for command of the army, and another, Thoth-Amon, is out for revenge against Ascalante for his enslavement and harsh treatment (a sub-plot which ends up saving Conan in the end)...

  2. "there are adventures with such global consequences that it will behoove them to work together to complete the adventure and avoid disaster for all."

    many players will only look at how well they're doing relative to other players - that is, if everyone gets eaten by Yog-Sothoth then it's a draw, not a loss for everyone, and that's better than me losing and you winning.

    1. This is very true in some cases, especially one of my groups who believe firmly in the 'spirit bomb' approach to play: screw the guy who's winning, or even not winning if he screwed you over last turn! Revenge, in my group is a dish best served with constant dogging!

      But, in this game in particular, the rules on winning state very clearly:

      "There are no ties. You are either a winner, and earn the right to boast of your glorious victory over the other lesser players loudly and at length whenever they are within earshot, or you are all losers, and should hang your heads in shame until you can again tread the lands of Lemuria and attempt to restore your honor."