Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Another Day: Wandering the Wastes, Olde School Style

I've already mentioned that play in this game is getting from point A to point B, the assumption being that both points afford safety, and the in between most assuredly does not. Now, travel quests are nothing new, but the way I actually envisioned this was something closer to a dungeon crawl, sans dungeon.

Rather than ask the GM to plot out a map for every session and stock it with a massive number of encounters so that the players will encounter at least some of them, I decided to try abstracting the whole thing. And since old school design received such a hard push in this, I figured what the hell, let's randomize it while we're at it. Old school games loved random elements.

So here's the rundown: at the start of play, you decide how many encounters you'll face before you reach your next safepoint. This could be because the distance is long, but it could also be a short overland trek fraught with extreme danger. Up to you. Also up to you is what "you" means in this case, meaning that the players could request a certain encounter count, everyone could come to a consensus, or GM could just tell the players how many they're facing. He could also not tell them, if he wanted to be like that.

That's so old school.

Then, once you've got the number, everyone plays the journey, day by day, encounter by encounter. Every day you consume some food (or you take starving damage), and you deal with an encounter. That encounter might beat you up, force you to consume some resources, maybe both, and if you don't successfully deal with it that day, nothing says it won't be there tomorrow too. Remember, your journey's only over once you face a certain number of encounters. That could take 3 days; it could take 3 weeks. You've only got enough resources to survive for so long. Now, you can choose to ignore an encounter (and suffer for it) in order to scrounge for food and gear, but that takes time, and time means more food and water consumed.

In essence, the game is one of resource management across multiple spectrums. Health metrics are interlaced, and there's an ever dwindling pool of resources to contend with. Every day is a decision to push forward or break and loot, which comes with no guarantees.

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