Saturday, April 20, 2013

The White Whale and the Sickness (Noircana and lack of posting)

Long story short, got the flu from my nephews and wasn't able to post or read anything the last few days. But I will be back very soon....

Noircana could very well be my White Whale. I had time to think about it and it really is a lot to digest. But...

This being a crazy pet project, I still think it can be done (love Porky's enthusiasm and ideas, too, so there is that). And just when I was out on the balcony smoking a cigarette, thinking about Moby Dick and how this could be the perfect excuse, I had an idea how to frame the boardgame aspect. Life stays interesting that way.

So I'm giving this some air now to let it breathe and will be back with an example as soon as I have whipped it up (hoping for suggestions on the way...).

Noircana Boardgame Aspect (pitch)

Giving a region ability scores works. Class is a bit more difficult, mainly because harvesting and nurturing them will alter the stats of a region.

Anyway, I was thinking about this the wrong way. Or at least I was intimidated by the sheer amount of the necessary results to make this work. It should simulate some kind of evolution, after all.

Now for the frame (need to flesh this out more):
  • One round covers 100 years development in a region.
  • 10+1d10 rounds constitute  a turn and that's the time between cataclysms (a tabula rasa with left overs, basically).
  • INT (for Mana) and WIS (for Chi) give a region Action Points to handle the opposition. They regenerate every round.
  • At the beginning of every round, a region may invest in several things to "gear up" for the opposition (Class could be one of those things, but also nurturing aspects, etc.). Initiative might be a good idea here, too.
  • One of the things that have to be bought, is a "die against the universe". It's the bet a region has to make. A low die (d4) would be cheap (and would leave more room to handle existing threats or create sentient beings in harmony with the region), but dangerous (could cause new opposition or catastrophes).
  • Before every round, every region gets 1d4-1 opposition dice (the cataclysms before should leave some opposition before the game starts, too, I guess).
  • Every opposition will have a d6 score (rolled just like for the regions, reroll 6s and doubles, triples produce 2 rerolls), targeting one of the regions ability scores (random, 1d6 decides). Apply bonuses (this will result in penalties for low oppositions and I think it could be the harvesting-rate), define by the nature of the ability score attacked (WIS could be climate or earthquakes, CON biomass, etc.).
  • More than one ability score as opposition could mean several "weak" entities or just one strong (DM decides/sees what fits).
  • This being about ressource management, the decisions how many points are used for the "die against the universe" and how the rest is distributed (in connection with initiative and, maybe, level) will make the game. Describing how the effects manifest will describe the world (Mana will have a magic related effect, Chi will have natural consequences).
  • Now the fighting begins, with the ability scores being the targets. This is another tricky part. My core idea so far is to make a die drop chart to use with all the "bought" dice, using the interrelations between the dice to interpret the results (with higher results being more favourable, and the decisions made before minimizing the risk).
  • Cooperation between regions and Adaptation (I'm thinking, giving a region the Thief Class could allow some "stealing", for example) will be part of this (same could go for the opposition, cataclysm could be unifying factors for that, like spawning leaders and/or immortals).
  • Final thoughts: Opposition might be turned (a MU living in harmony with the region, for example) or destroyed, but it might also establish itself (a city could be an example for that). The summ of the abillity scores could be the size of a region (maybe creating 2 miles hexes per point), harvested regions could be (dependig on the nature of the harvesting, that is: the decreased ability score) settlements, badlands, monsters, dead woods, dungeons, etc., so the region evolves automatically and will have "traces" of the past. Catastrophes will harm land AND opposition, so so forcing them will be a gambit, but could help a region (wars, earthquakes, etc.).

Now, this is the back of the White Whale in the distance. I'll be off, trying to get a better look and - hopefully - slay the beast some day in the future*.

*This means some more digesting and playtesting, I guess.


  1. Don't let it get you down - remember, we don't have to solve the problem, ever. It can be more a focus for a kind of design meditation. We can take a broader, cooler view than Ahab.

    That list makes things more clear for me, and I hope for you too. Maybe it would help to break it down even further - for me it often does, but I'm maybe too simple a guy.

    Here's a breakdown that might help, either by giving you new things to think about or helping you feel more sure the fuller version is better. The idea is this: you could make the regions almost exactly like characters, and have players play them in pretty much the same way.

    - Keep the idea of regiond having the usual characteristics and the various things these characteristics represent, affect etc.

    - Keep the suggested turn and round lengths.

    - Instead of characters moving over regions, regions move under characters, i.e. populations. A region has a move rate, but this represents the number of people or amount of material (including biomass) a region can move in or out each turn.

    - Encounters (potential opposition) are generated in two ways: by regions moving material (as characters moving into dangerous places) or by random table etc. (as if a wandering monster roll).

    - Opposition is resolved using the normal rules for combat, with combat movement of material in or out and 'attacks' that represent material acting or having some passive effect. Damage rolls for different weapons would be understood as structures and technologies the region's material has.

    - Opposition could have an XP value and maybe carry 'treasure' in the form of new structures and technologies.

    Just some late night musings, looking out over the wide sea in that piece of art and feeling a cooler Ahabesque fire. Again, we don't ever have to solve this.

  2. You're right, meditation sounds very good And your ideas are sound. Playing regions as characters has a few disadvantages, though (I thought about moving the encounters to the region, etc.). For one, it doesn't produce the results needed to formulate a history of the events changing the region and without that it would be another process, not part of the "game". The other thing is that seeing ability scores as what descrbes a region makes it impracticle to use classes. Because as soon as the land changes, the ability scores change and class benefits may be lost. Making this (or anything D&D related, really) something that is invested in on a round-to-round basis, opens the concept for changing ability scores without changing too much.

    Right now I'm thinking about giving regions higher ability scores at the beginning, reflecting rich land and allowing harvesting to a certain degree. The idea is to give regions the means to "send" encounters away when the try to harvest low ability scores and to allow them if a ability score is high (could lead to nomad encounters, like orcs, never to settle in an area for good). Low levels for regions would mean that there is a good chance for empires to emerge (it's appropriate for the early ages).

    I'll post an example (got too long for a comment).

  3. And of course we don't have to finish this, but it's fun to try. It'll take the time it needs :)

  4. Example and summary are posted.