Having finished the first draft of Pandora’s Box, I now turn my eye back to game design. Let the others play with their rpg designs for now- what I really want to do is write a board game.
I’ve been toying with a game design inspired by Doom, Descent, Heroquest, and Tom Nipple’s ‘Dungeon’ (which likely has much of the same source material.) A bunch of peeps go into the dungeon, another person controls the monsters, hack and slash ensues. Good times.
What I’m looking at using is a form of Action Points, these are often used in board games to good effect, and were also featured in the Fallout computer games. I’m not aware of any RPG games that utilize them to heavy effect, but perhaps some intrepid reader will prove me wrong. (D&D doesn’t count. You need more potential actions than that.)
In an action point, or AP, system, you have a number of AP per turn. You can spend these to do things. For example, in the boardgame Tikal, your AP can be used to place guys on the map, move your guys, or do actions with your guys, like dig up pyramids or claim artifacts. In Fallout, you usually use your AP to move, shoot, reload, or use healing items. Even the Doom boardgame and D&D have a primitive AP use- do you move twice, attack twice, or move and attack?
The key with action points is that you need to not have enough of them. You always need to be in a position where you’d like to be able to do just slightly more than you have the points for; this puts you in a position where there is a choice, and hard choices are the root of good games. If you have 7 AP, and there’s only 7 AP of stuff you want to do, you can just stroll along. If there’s 10, the game is golden, and you have to sweat. If there’s only 5 or 6 AP of stuff you want to do, that’s pretty bad. The idea here is that the game rules, not just the game situations, force tactical decisions on the players.