Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Section 27

    I figured while I work on the latest update I'd give you all something to play with. A while back I got it into my head to design a game that would combine the fun of Magic along with the roleplaying of Dungeons and Dragons. I've always liked the deckbuilding and tactical play of Magic, and there's a certain ability to roleplay with it. Even if you don't literally pretend to be a planeswalker (and I've never met anyone who did), playstyles change to match a deck, the choices of spells give a deck a certain tone, and so on.
    Similarly, Dungeons and Dragons has a large tactical element to it. Even if you aren't using a grid and minis to make it into a kind of multiplayer skirmish game, there is the careful spending of actions and resources like spells and limited-use items and abilities. While I don't think many people play Dungeons and Dragons in a competitive way, it could certainly be done.
    Combining the two should be, in theory, fairly simple, right? But it's not quite true. Magic's core mechanics just don't, for obvious reasons, work well in a game that's designed to have much continuity. There are ways to make it work - if you don't mind having your great and mighty wizard need to rebuild resources every single time they get into a fight. Or you could have them gain their resource base more slowly, which also serves as a leveling mechanic.
    I went through a few revisions on how to do things. I probably poked around with the project I was just calling 'CCGRPG' (Collectible Card Game Role Playing Game) for a couple of months before I got down to it and really got it together. Skills could be treated as resources, with different levels of ability unlocking new cards to play with in your deck.
    Deck size, hit points, hand size, these were all things that could be used as stats. I eventually put together the full game and put one of my own settings into it, a world I created for Dungeons and Dragons way back in the day. I updated it to be a bit more modern and, um, good.
    The setting turned into a kind of cold war fantasy world. The forces of good and evil ended up signing a treaty and forming a world government that's something like the UN - a lot of arguing and complaining, occasional assassination attempts that are denied by everyone, and a mixed military force.
    This military force includes the titular Section 27, which is a kind of special operations group, troubleshooters and spies that are given overarching authority (when people will actually respect it) and sent on missions to save the world or die trying. Depending on the government, it's either the best respected post or a punishment detail. And because of that, the people who can be found serving in Section 27 are a motley crew of criminals and patriots, all of them with extraordinary skill and something to offer.
    In Section 27, you play as one of its brave agents and go out to fight cults, criminals, and people trying to restart the cold war that has driven the world into a winter of distrust. You build a character that has both a character sheet and a deck of cards. There are no dice, and the elements of chance are in the hands of the players. It's a very tactical game, emphasizing playing both with and against the GM.
    Here's a link to the game. I never complied it into a PDF, nor have I ever had a chance to playtest it. Unfortunately, it's a bit hard to play custom card games over the internet.

    I do wish I had been able to playtest it. It's still one of my favorite projects I've worked on. I've also taken a lot of lessons from building it as a game. It's sufficiently different from most other games that I learned a bit about myself and the things I like about games.

1 comment:

  1. If you could get someone to build you a "virtual deck" program, similar to the netbased dice rollers, it shouldn't be any harder than playing a dice based game over the net