A relic hunt by Jeff Warrender and Steve Sisk

Friday, November 11, 2011

Steve Checking In

- Is there a way to make the temple exploration feel more like temple exploration? It's tough -- we don't want to distract the players with more stuff todo. It's more a question of, are we getting the feel right? The stone door slowly swings open, and a staircase leads down into the black depths of the temple before you -- what dangers await you inside? Can we communicate this more palpably? I don't know. Does it matter if we can't? Probably not.

I like the concept of more immersive temple exploration, but have to bring up the importance of keeping the general rules of the temple the same as on the outside. Movement should be the same (one space for free plus AP to move more quickly), stopping at challenges and facing them the same way (die roll plus cards committed). That was a major concern during the last playtest here in Rochester.

Can we make the exploration more immersive without changing the structure or adding to the length of the temple section game (last 1/4)? For now can we focus on the challenge system within the temple and making it more organic.

I also like the idea of some clues costing more than three check marks to access. That would make it OK to have a lot more theme cards rotating through (I imagine 24 for some variety). The absolute most necessary clues are correct grail and temple features. The location of the temple is a close third, but if the worst that happens is that no one gets the 2VP if the enemy finds it, then that's not a big deal. We could make it more of a big deal in the VP award (3 instead of 2?) and starting the enemy track much lower than 35 (or whatever it ends up being) if the enemy finds the temple.

Then the remaining clues would be less valuable and require fewer checks to view.

- What should the structure of the clues be? Right now (v7) they have the virtue of being infinitely replayable. I wrote a blog post about a possible alternative clue structure -- instead of each clue adding 1/3 of a composite total, it would be that each clue potentially (but not always) appends the lower level clues. So you don't know for sure whether you actually need that level 3 clue or not -- in some cases the level 2 clue will be sufficient. But since you can't know, it's always better to get that level 3 clue if you can. It's a different kind of risk assumption. In v7, if you have level 2 temple info, you've got a 50-50 guess on your hands, and it's just fundamentally a guess, a coin toss -- you simply do not have any way to know for sure, period. But an approach where you might know, but can't be certain whether you know, could be interesting in a different way. There may be other possible clue structures as well. And maybe different scenarios can structure the clues in different ways, so it doesn't necessarily have to be a uniform solution across the board.

I like the idea of the more ambiguous third clue, though it only changes the finer appreciation of the system. As such I'd like to keep that change on the backburner until we're ready for an entire prototype overhaul. For now can we focus on everything that can be fine tuned without redoing the clue cards for now? Let's save that for the major anniversary edition Lost Adventures session!

Back to challenges for a minute, I'm on board with the idea of 6 different decks of (undoubtedly half size) cards, one for each type in each region. What should the challenges look like? Do we want a simple smattering of challenge types in each deck (maybe 2-3 of each type per deck)?

I like the idea of having each card be ambiguous in the challenge that you face, but am not in favor of making each challenge a metagame that operates outside the rest of the game. Specifically, I'm not a fan of having multiple paths to succeed from each challenge. That combined with the possibility of recruiting allies with specific bonuses means that the challenges will be too easy to beat and provide no tension.

The abstraction of having specific challenges designated on the card with two types mainly in each deck (like having more fight and wits challenges in the markets of the near east, etc.) works very well in v7 (in a far more abstract form). Can we use that as the foundation for the next playtest, just with cards instead of a bland die roll?

I'd also like to have special item cards sprinkled into the challenges for players to find and then interface them with character cards from the theme deck. For example, a player turns over a challenge and finds it's the grail diary! He faces a challenge to retrieve it, but must take it to Henry Jones, Sr. to get anything from either ("I wrote them down so I won't have to remember...").


  1. Hey Steve,

    I have a couple of very rough ideas for how the temple might perhaps be made more immersive -- it pertains to imposing overarching structure on the temple that supercedes the turn-level mechanics -- but let me think about that further, so I agree, let's table that for now.

    Similarly, if you want to table the subject of a different framework for the clues, that's also fine.

    Re: challenges/encounters, it sounds like you're advocating an approach that is basically like what I tried in v8 (which you never played), as opposed to the new "visual" concept, or at least, that that should be our starting point. I have no problem with that, and indeed, one of the great virtues of that approach is its simplicity to prototype -- every challenge has a single obstacle and a single outcome. I like that.

    The only thing I will say in favor of the "visual" system is that it could, in my opinion, add something extremely innovative to the game, taking it beyond just a really cool Indiana Jones game and into something potentially more groundbreaking. Or possibly not. It will be very challenging to make it work, and whether it fits, or could be made to fit, is by no means clear. I do agree that staying away from a new metagame (eg the playtester's session to have inactive players "voting" on how you should pass the challenge, Dixit-style) is probably prudent. But there may be a clean, non-fiddly way to do it. I'll keep thinking about it in the background.

  2. "The only thing I will say in favor of the "visual" system is that it could, in my opinion, add something extremely innovative to the game, taking it beyond just a really cool Indiana Jones game and into something potentially more groundbreaking."

    Ironically, I think that the information system already does this!

    I did like the visual concept and think that it has a lot of potential. It is enough of a game mechanic that it could support an entire game on its own. On the drive home from Spielbany Rich, Brian and I talked extensively about how that mechanic could be used in a storytelling game.

  3. "Ironically, I think that the information system already does this!"

    Very true!