Sunday, August 24, 2014

Talking about an Analogue Goblin-Tribe Simulator Pre-Beta Single-Player Version Part 1 (Basics)

What is this?

With all my talk about what a gaming system is and how it's different parts should work (here), I'd be hard pressed not to think about building something of my own design. What direction this might go was discussed in passing when I wrote about my love for the Goblin as a playable race here. It took me some time, but I collected enough ideas now to give this little board game about the rise and fall of some random goblin-tribe (because that is what it's going to be) some shape.

The basic idea behind this was to build a little game where some players manage a tribe of goblins and try to survive against a hostile environment (played by a DM). This is still the final goal, I guess, but it evolved somewhat beyond that basic premise. The second variant was a game for two players, one player is the environment, the other a tribe of goblins living in that environment. This, also, is a part of the game I want to see done. But after thinking about ways to make something like this work, I had to decide what I wanted to be possible in a game like this. So the question "How do those Goblins advance?" lead to the outlines of the little single-player against-the-board-variant of the game I want to talk about today.

You could call this a show-case for some of the ideas I've been writing about in the last two years ...

What should it do?

In an ideal world, a game like this is fun on it's own. That design goal shouldn't leave line of sight, like, ever. But the whole premise being about role-playing games in general and D&D in particular, it would be very nice (and advisable, I guess) to have some synergy effects that make it easy to use the results in The Game. So what could a DM need in a game? A Dungeon with traps and some ecology, that's a given. Some idea of the surroundings, like food sources, dangerous areas, settlements of non-goblins or other tribes would be nice, too. And of course you'd have the tribe itself, with all the necessary variants (the warriors, the women, the sick and the children, etc.) and their possessions in names and numbers that evolve randomly and in a fun way.

Easy to build, easy to access, fun on it's own and easy to convert should be high priorities.

How could it be done?

The main game will be played on a hybrid between a board and a character sheet that collects all data in an easy-to-access way, but is flexible enough to leave room for the game and advancements:

This might give you an idea for the structure I had in mind, not necessarily for the look.

Some explanations (clockwise, starting in the upper left corner):
  • Ye olde Tribe Name - Exactly that.
  • Phase 1 to Phase 3 - Core Actions of the game in which a player decides what needs to be done and what priority is given to a task (basically: gathering/creating/opposition).
  • Breeding - Will give indications how many goblins are "in the works", how many children there are, etc..
  • Mining - Building/Expanding Tunnels, Traps and Rooms, Features, etc. (based on "Noggin", which means tribe experience).
  • Crafting - Weapons, clothes, carpentry, etc. (also based on "Noggin").
  • Aggressive <-> Happy-scale - Indicator how well of your tribe is, both extremes will have implications (to happy will mean lots and lots of fornication, with nothing else getting done, too aggressive might mean they get rebellious and do stupid things ...).
  • Noggin - The tribe's experience.
  • Nosh - Indicates the amount of food with a distinction between available food and stored food (hungry Goblins are a bad thing ...).
  • Toughs - Champions of the Goblin Tribe, with a class, level and hp (there are all kinds of toughs, from goblin shamans to ogres).
  • Population - Number of Goblins in the tribe (will give indications of territory and space they need and a threshold before another goblin tribe splits off ...).
  • Discoveries - Features and gathered intelligence of their surroundings (villages/creatures/places/etc.).
  • Tribe chronicles - Important events in the tribe's history.
  • Map (center) - Opposition Countdown shows how the environment reacts to the goblins, Legend gives explanations for the map, AC and Saves are a tribes defenses.

That's the basics as far as I deem them necessary to get a grasp of what I'm aiming for here. How all this is supposed to interact and work, where I am right now in getting there and what is still missing will be in Part 2 (I hope I'll get this done this week ...). I hope I'll be able to put a beta-version up until end of September (the latest ...). Sorry for the lack of art and fluff ...

Any opinions so far?


  1. Are goblins cannibalistic? Can you feed your spawn to each other?


    1. Okay, good question. As I see it, Goblins are no fungi or some such thing (I have seen this done somewhere ... Warhammer, maybe?). Don't know if that was what you were aiming for. So I'd go for mammals and omnivores, if pressed. That would mean, they'd cannibalize each other in extreme situations (which would translate like: no food, angry goblin population and high opposition, as far as the game is concerned ...). And that could be something a player might force, if he wanted to. If nothing else, it would give an interesting scenario for adventurers to discover. I hope that answered your question?


Recent developments made it necessary to moderate posts again. Sorry about that, folks.