Skirmish Game Design - An Ongoing, Open Discussion - 7-2-23 Random Floaty Things

I don't think you can go too far into roleplaying territory, as far as solo gaming goes. But I do say this as a huge fan of rp-games. As a solo player, you have full control over how deep you dive into the story, so the game facilitating roleplaying will let those who enjoy it delve into it, and for others it'll just be another roll on a table. Depending on how you implement, of course.
My 2 cents.
 
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I’d imagine you could go too far, but I’d think you’d really have to be getting into the minutiae for that to happen. Leaving it vague like “an old enemy” or “a new enemy” (or allies) would be good. Then the player can flesh it out with the models in their collection. But then again, I love the Rolemaster rule set, and that RPG system is tables on tables on tables for days.
 
Can't help myself...another question for anyone who has a thought about it.

Many RPGs use an 0 level adventure, sometimes called a funnel adventure, where a player rolls up several potential characters and then runs them through the funnel mission to see who survives. The last character standing is the one the player uses from that point on in the greater campaign.

I am thinking of adapting that for solo skirmish games. The player creates 4 or 5 characters and runs them through a tough mission. When their numbers are reduced to 2, the mission ends and the player chooses one of them to be the warband leader and the other becomes the 2nd in command. As the warband continues on through subsequent adventures, if/when the Warband Leader dies, the 2nd in command is elevated to Leader and he then chooses a new 2nd.

I feel like this ads some interest for those just starting the game and allows the game to feel almost generational in a way. It also allows for an interesting origin story to be put in place for the player.

Any thoughts on this approach?
 
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Can't help myself...another question for anyone who has a thought about it.

Many RPGs use an 0 level adventure, sometimes called a funnel adventure, where a player rolls up several potential characters and then runs them through the funnel mission to see who survives. The last character standing is the one the player uses from that point on in the greater campaign.

I am thinking of adapting that for solo skirmish games. The player creates 4 or 5 characters and runs them through a tough mission. When their numbers are reduced to 2, the mission ends and the player chooses one of them to be the warband leader and the other becomes the 2nd in command. As the warband continues on through subsequent adventures, if/when the Warband Leader dies, the 2nd in command is elevated to Leader and he then chooses a new 2nd.

I feel like this ads some interest for those just starting the game and allows the game to feel almost generational in a way. It also allows for an interesting origin story to be put in place for the player.

Any thoughts on this approach?
I've known starter adventures where people get eased into the mechanics, and can keep their starting characters if they want or roll new ones.

I've known starter adventures where all the characters die at the end, and new characters are rolled for everyone to go investigate what happened.

Call of Cthulhu and the like frequently advise rolling multiple characters due to potentially high churn, to make it easier to get back in the game.

Ars Magica has a mechanic where a player has two (three?) Characters and alternate between them.

I, like @Wasteland, have never heard of this explanation of a "funnel" adventure. Managing more than one character can be a chore, especially for new players, so doing an adventure just to whittle it down to one character would probably just put me/them off the system. Let me just make my character!

For a skirmish game, it's not too bad (hopefully), but the same principle would likely apply.

This approach would only help those who can't think of a backstory to their group/leader, and that backstory would be very particular to that scenario.
 
That's interesting, perhaps it's popping up more in indie RPG games, which is something I tend to pay more attention to. When I say adventure, I mean a scenario, so it wouldn't be any different from running a typical warband.

Also, there is the "fate" element. It becomes a matter of the dice to determine which two ultimately survive. It's meant to appeal to folks who are wanting some depth to their solo game.

Nevertheless, sounds like it might not be worth the effort. Thanks for the honesty ;)
 
For those who may be interested...

"A "funnel" is an adventure designed to take in a large number of 1st- or 0th-level characters and spit out just the survivors, if any. The metaphor is the shape of the PC pool: large at the entrance, small at the exit.

The term was coined by, and comes from the way character creation works in, Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG: each player creates and plays four 0th-level PCs during the adventure. Due to the fragility of these starting characters and the relative deadliness of DCC RPG, many are expected to die. From the survivors you advance one to 1st level. The result is that your "starting" 1st-level character has a bit of a history, some stories to tell, and a connection to the other PCs that's forged in fire."
 
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I also never encountered this funnel idea, and don't think I'd like it. In an rpg, I want my character to be the most interesting (to me), not necessarily the most survivable. In terms of backstory, one scenario also sems a little shallow. Maybe some tables with different background elements, for the player to flesh out? Just to help the player form a narrative.
 
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That's interesting, perhaps it's popping up more in indie RPG games, which is something I tend to pay more attention to. When I say adventure, I mean a scenario, so it wouldn't be any different from running a typical warband.

Also, there is the "fate" element. It becomes a matter of the dice to determine which two ultimately survive. It's meant to appeal to folks who are wanting some depth to their solo game.

Nevertheless, sounds like it might not be worth the effort. Thanks for the honesty ;)
When you say adventure, I thought in terms of an RPG session or a single skirmish game, a couple of hours each, so it's comparable in length.

I appreciate that perhaps there is a desire for a different mechanic than what has been done before, but a matter of dice determining things might be easier using random tables.
For those who may be interested...

"A "funnel" is an adventure designed to take in a large number of 1st- or 0th-level characters and spit out just the survivors, if any. The metaphor is the shape of the PC pool: large at the entrance, small at the exit.

The term was coined by, and comes from the way character creation works in, Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG: each player creates and plays four 0th-level PCs during the adventure. Due to the fragility of these starting characters and the relative deadliness of DCC RPG, many are expected to die. From the survivors you advance one to 1st level. The result is that your "starting" 1st-level character has a bit of a history, some stories to tell, and a connection to the other PCs that's forged in fire."
First published 2012, so I've had a good ten years to have tried it, but sadly haven't. I've picked up some other systems during that time, but not many and most probably quite a bit older, publication date wise. I've just picked a few GURPS books up from a charity shop recently, as an example.
 
I’m in agreement with the others. I’ve never heard of the funnel lvl 0 thing. The background tables, however, I remember from RPGs like Cyberpunk 2020 and Rolemaster. Five Parsecs also has it during the crew generator phase, and it helps flesh out what each member brings to the team (contacts, rivals, bonus gear, etc.). I’d be more interested in something along those lines. Tailored for your universe, of course.
 
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In response to all the feedback, which I greatly appreciate, I was considering an alternative to rolling on tables by playing through part of the backstory on the table top. The funnel adventure was part of that approach as well.

I’m still not convinced it’s worth tackling at all. I’m trying to maintain a “fast and easy“ approach to these rules, and even rolling on tables for the background seems overly crunchy. I tend to agree with the idea that it’s easier to let the player come up with their own backstory. The setting can provide enough fuel for that fire.
 
Erm. At the risk of being the outsider, I like it. I get Firefly / Serenity vibes from it. And if the game declares that the group is an assembly of random individuals then I think this approach is very suitable. As opposed to creating factions where group cohesion is presumed, like in Necromunda where Goliaths band together BECAUSE they are Goliaths.

In the Apocalypse world rpg there is a principle of 'play to find out', meaning that you don't decide the answers to questions that arise, but you write down the question and see how it is answered during play. And character creation encourages players to simply pick options and play their character without a backstory. That approach feels fresh to me. In that case characters are what they do. Not a mix of what they do and what the players declare that they are.

I can totally see it in how I understand the game you are designing. Correct me if I am wrong, but I see the game is a series of campaign trees, so this would likely be a first scenario of a particular tree. Then the characters might get dumped or re-envisioned for the next campaign.

Coming up with a back story for two characters might alleviate pressure to make so much fluff and to present the characters as individuals as opposed to a group of nondescript members.

Personally I like it when backstory is linked to the mechanics. As in, I don't pick the skill to allow Ld rerolls, instead I pick the ex-military option as part of that character's backstory and all ex-military characters reroll Ld.
 
Another way I see this principle working is if in the skirmish game the players' groups all start as a military regiment. The first scenario is the regiment's first contact and not all of them will survive. Of the survivors some become veterans, others leave and some fresh recruits are added to the ranks.

The first scenario is a mix of computer game style demo and a Kobayashi Maru no-win test.
 
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Erm. At the risk of being the outsider, I like it. I get Firefly / Serenity vibes from it. And if the game declares that the group is an assembly of random individuals then I think this approach is very suitable. As opposed to creating factions where group cohesion is presumed, like in Necromunda where Goliaths band together BECAUSE they are Goliaths.

In the Apocalypse world rpg there is a principle of 'play to find out', meaning that you don't decide the answers to questions that arise, but you write down the question and see how it is answered during play. And character creation encourages players to simply pick options and play their character without a backstory. That approach feels fresh to me. In that case characters are what they do. Not a mix of what they do and what the players declare that they are.

I can totally see it in how I understand the game you are designing. Correct me if I am wrong, but I see the game is a series of campaign trees, so this would likely be a first scenario of a particular tree. Then the characters might get dumped or re-envisioned for the next campaign.

Coming up with a back story for two characters might alleviate pressure to make so much fluff and to present the characters as individuals as opposed to a group of nondescript members.

Personally I like it when backstory is linked to the mechanics. As in, I don't pick the skill to allow Ld rerolls, instead I pick the ex-military option as part of that character's backstory and all ex-military characters reroll Ld.
Differing opinions are what I'm after ;)

I guess my intent was to replace rolling on tables with playing on the table top. I'm not sure it would work, there is a gray area in narrative tabletop skirmish games. Some players prefer to keep things more practical and use rolls on the tables to get things done and underway. Others like the more immersive approach of playing out those rolls in the form of a mini-campaign.

I do also like the idea of having your 2nd in command replace the leader and continuing on rather than simply starting over with a completely new warband. That reminds of the old Xbox game called Fable where the main character was mulit-generational.

I'm still favoring the less cumbersome method but it's not something that will prevent anything else from moving forward so we'll see where it goes.
 
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Hey folks, new topic for you to ponder today. This relates to my specific design but the concept is easy applied to many game designs, I'm sure.

I've started working on a system for the player to establish and build up a settlement in the game world. There will be lots of adventures and scenarios there to develop things and see if they can make it work and be productive and/or prosperous.

However, I am concerned about the added level of complexity it adds to the game overall. As I've said previously, one of my goals in this game is to keep things relatively fast and easy. I am wondering if the settlement features will be too involved for more casual players and I am thinking of making it an optional supplement for people who want that added level of complexity.

Any thoughts on that? Does it make more sense to include it in the main rules or present it as an optional supplement?
 
My immediate thought is optional supplement. I'm a roleplayer at heart, and would love building a base in my mind theater, but it's not for everyone I think. Frostgrave does a very simple thing, where you can choose where to establish your base and get a simple bonus based on that, but this sounds much more involved, for better or worse (better, in my mind!).
 
Potential optional supplement, but it would depend on how crunchy the rules would be. Oathmark works with locations in your realm that allow for recruiting units to your army, working in a radial pattern (so things on the outside of your realm get lost first if people win territory from you, but they can be potentially better locations for unit recruitment).

If it's relatively straightforward it might not be too bad.
 
A little more detail from me may be prudent. The players establishes a location and is given a small number of settlers. The overall feel is modeled after the base system used in the video game State Of Decay. The base starts out with certain basic facilities, depending on where it's located. Your faction can potentially give you a special building type or some kind of bonus to trade, food, etc.

From there the player would embark on lots of missions to seek out resources and different pieces of tech in order to upgrade their settlements facilities. Once they are able to build thing up to a certain level, they can attract more settlers. There would also be plenty of base defense scenarios and possibly some raiding opportunities as well.
 
A little more detail from me may be prudent. The players establishes a location and is given a small number of settlers. The overall feel is modeled after the base system used in the video game State Of Decay. The base starts out with certain basic facilities, depending on where it's located. Your faction can potentially give you a special building type or some kind of bonus to trade, food, etc.

From there the player would embark on lots of missions to seek out resources and different pieces of tech in order to upgrade their settlements facilities. Once they are able to build thing up to a certain level, they can attract more settlers. There would also be plenty of base defense scenarios and possibly some raiding opportunities as well.
I'd recommend picking up the main Last Days: Zombie Apocalypse book and the Seasons expansion for comparison; it hits a lot of similar notes, but doesn't have faction bonuses or a defined trading mechanic, nor does it have generic settlers to run the base.
 
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I really like the idea of making a camp/settlement. I like mechanics that let you change the setting and political landscape, and gives you an additional economy mini game.

Rather than a supplement, I would say the key is presentation. My mind imagines a 1 page settlement roster, with tick boxes to say which facilities are available and which are taken, and a tiny note of what it gives you. I can totally imagine that as part of a quick system. So long as the rules and presentation are intuitive and concise.

Perhaps facilities have a material up front cost, but to use it you have to have settlers as a production cost. But to get settlers you need other facilities such as farms and sleeping quarters.