Thursday, December 13, 2007

More on the Slam! or On Design and Development

So, unable to sleep yet again this early morning, I broke out some of my work on Dungeon Slam!

One thing that the game is particularly lacking is a series of straight-forward damaging spells. Bolt of Lightning provides one such spell, as does Shadow Storm, but aside from those two, there are no major damaging spells. Virulent Toxin and Spirit Poison both fulfill that role, as well, but...well, we're talking about 4 spells in the entire deck so far.

I'm not sure how I feel about that. I like the idea of damaging spells, but I also tend to feel that the spells are meant to be strategic elements, rather than simply "the beat-stick". The weapons and their concurrent enchantments (which stack really nicely, by the way!) are meant to put the beat down. Spells, in my eyes, are more meant to be the means by which you wear down your foes--take out their resources, milk their Arcana, break their equipment--before you move in for the kill.

Beyond this, it's looking like I need to tone down the Intellect tests necessary to cast the spells. Right now, with a lot of spells (even moderate level ones) requiring an Intellect test of 18 or higher, it becomes impossible for almost any class outside of the spellcasting classes to achieve with any regularity. While it's obvious that the Sorcerer and the Warlock should get the best shot at pulling off a spell, even the Berserker should be able to whip out a spell once in a while with his miserable Intellect score.

The gear, so far, looks good. I'm liking where the weapons and armor are, but I the costs have some issues involved with them. I think that's something that I can get ironed out in playtesting, though. I would like to put together some additional miscellaneous items that would add to various Skills or Stats, but that's easily done.

One of the things that's hung me up on this game for so long was the ability for me to get a stat array down for the characters--a range for each of the characters for their basic six stats. I decided to go back to one of my major inspirations--Arkham Horror--for some help here.

AH uses a basic Stamina + Sanity = 10 formula. While I like this idea, as it levels the playing field for all of the characters, I don't like the fact that there seems to be a definitive favoritism. The best characters, almost always, are either 6/4 characters or 4/6 characters. 5/5 Characters lack focus, while 7/3 and 3/7 characters remain so weak that they fall short of accomplishing their intended focus.

As such, I decided to use a similar formula, but with an odd number. Health + Arcana = 13. Right now, there's only one (out of 12) character that has a 9. The skew that weakens the AH characters, hopefully, will be absent, while still retaining the nice focus that is retained with characters like my personal favorite in Arkham, Bobby Jenkins. :D

As I've planned in the past, the stats will work on an opposed slider system (again, taking a page from AH), but with an expanded array for additional heroics. Having a max of 6 just isn't going to cut it. This'll all make more sense once I post one of the first character cards, I'm sure.

So, priorities for the holiday break?
1) Encounter cards. Right now, I only have 6 White Encounters. I need a ton more, in all 5 types.

2) Refine the spells. Gotta adjust the Arcana costs, as well as incorporate at least two more direct damage spells.

3) Add more miscellaneous items. Items designed specifically for each class, perhaps, may be in order, but that could get messy. Center perhaps on skills and class abilities, perhaps?

4) Put it all together. Get the pieces together, bring the board with it, and all will hopefully be well.

5) Run the first playtest! If I can get all this done by WittCon V, I'll be a happy man!

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