Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Unlocking downtime activities via adventures

So I've been running two competing groups through a bronze age kingdom building game for the last six months. There have been various tweaks I've made to it through play testing, all in terms of the "downtime" activities.

One of the big conceits of the game is that each game session represents one season of time, the level of magic is tied to the seasons which has big implications on what people do (As well as the need for things like planting and harvest). The big initial design decision is that wars (largely ritualistic battles) and livestock raids happen in the summer.

Livestock raids (basically cattle rustling) is an important part of the setting and going through a livestock raid is important to the feel of the game.  Its also fun pretty much exactly once.  It gets old pretty fast. The solution that arose is to make it a seasonal downtime activity with some abstracted mechanics.  That loses some of the charm and feel, its a little too "gamey" and mechanical.

To that end, the idea of "unlocking" downtime activities through an adventure was born.  Livestock raids as a downtime action would require first successfully completing such a raid in game.  In a Caribbean game you might say  you can't pirate raid merchants as a downtime action until you've done that successfully in a game session.  Boar hunting, patrolling for goblins, running cargo along a trade route, and competing in a jousting tournament are all the sorts of activities this would be ideal for.

Part of the mechanics of the downtime activity should be an element of risk.  For livestock raids I have it deal an exploding die of damage.  It COULD kill you, its probably unlikely after a certain point but it isn't impossible.  The rewards are also something I link to class.  Rogues are better at stealth,  so rogues get a bonus on the livestock raid downtime action.  In a tournament you might give warriors a mechanical bonus.

This also has a benefit in player driven games of giving them clear objectives and goals.  If they complete a livestock raid they gain a permanent option.  The reward of the individual adventure need not be huge, as the simple fact that a recurring option is available IS the reward.

Just something to chew on when setting up your own campaign.

I swear this is still upcoming

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