Friday, September 24, 2010

Hope vs Destiny

Heroes of Destiny is, at its core, a game that's about a certain type of hero. Think Braveheart's portrayal of William Wallace, or Gladiator's Maximus. These are badass heroes who cleave through opposition in the style befitting an action hero, or a player character in an RPG. However, there's something about them that's very much not like a typical PC: they'd rather be home. These aren't adventurers, professional or otherwise. Neither are they big damn heroes who are living up the high life of glory and grandeur. They're gifted individuals who are doing what needs to be done because no one else can, but at the end of the day they'd rather be somewhere else doing something as mundane as harvesting their crops.

That's what Heroes of Destiny is all about. You could theoretically do this in any other game, fantasy or otherwise, to be sure, but I've tried to make this conflict of interest (between the player's wants and the character's wants) the core mechanic.

Each PC in the game has a pool of resources he allocates to actions. That pool is made up of two scores: Hope and Destiny. Hope represents the power of the character's mundane dreams, the love of the simple life, his dedication to those he loves, etc. Destiny is that spark of greatness that resides in him. It's what sets him apart from the rest and dooms him to a great life, for he is better than the rest, and thus is the one others look to in turbulent times.

Hope and Destiny can be used interchangeably, but they're each better for some things than others. Hope is good for keeping you going, overcoming harm, and getting you back on your feet when you drop. After all, Hope is what you live for, and a man who has more to live for clings to life more tenaciously. Destiny, on the other hand, is much better at action and achievement. It's much easier to accomplish something using Destiny than Hope, and in fact using Destiny you can quickly outstrip people without it.

There's a catch, however. That pool is limited to 10, and its composition is controlled by gameplay, not by experience. Destiny grows the more you use it. The more great things you do, the greater your story becomes, and by extension the greater you become. However, because your pool is limited to 10, and it's made up of Hope and Destiny, as Destiny grows, Hope must shrink. Thus, as your Destiny expands, your Hope dwindles. The more swept up you are in the events that have called to you, the more remote that graceful retirement with those you love becomes. Because this happens as a result of how you use your character's resources, it means that the fate of your character, as well as the important NPCs of his life, are in your hands as a player. Every time you choose to play that big damn hero and do great things, you put others at risk. More than that though, you risk giving up certain mechanical abilities by losing Hope.

That choice is what I hope this game will be about. In order to be great, you must give something up, just as your character does. It's a tricky process, but I'm hopeful that this can be the core of something truly interesting.

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