09 March, 2016

Character as a deck of cards

A few designers have experimented with the concept of using a deck of cards to describe a character. Where different cards might be used to reflect different things that had been learnt along a character's journey, perhaps exhausted (or flipped-over) when they are used, perhaps drawing a hand of cards as the abilities that a character might see as potential strategies in the current situation, or maybe using the complete deck to simulate hit points (with the deck gradually eaten away as damage is taken).

There are so many options for cards, and over the years here on the blog I've explored quite a few of them. So it's hardly a surprise that I'm considering this option for my "mysterious lands/magical post-apocalypse" game idea. As I think about it more, this game is turning into a spiritual successor to "Voidstone Chronicles", and may indeed be adapted into a second edition of that game. There are certainly a few elements from that game idea that I could easily pull across, such as the encumbrance system, as well as certain elements that I could leave behind in the conversion.

I can still feel the potential here for an "8-bit" style of game, simple combat, logical puzzles, crazy monsters, set-items (with each accumulating power as more of the set is collected), mysterious NPCs selling arcane wares.

This also helps to eliminate one of the problems I've been facing with special abilities in the game. As characters accumulate unique talents, I can simply write each of those talents on a single card. Instead of forcing players to search through dozens of pages of a book, each containing a half-dozen or more powers, they might only need to search through the half dozen cards in their hand. Such cards could easily include elemental affinities for the powers, skills and talents that make the ability easier to accomplish, as well as a range of effects that might be achieved depending on the difficulty die rolled for the attempt.

Certain cultures, genetic heritages, and apprenticeships might offer automatic cards, and a limited range of basic cards for starting characters to choose from.

The aim here is to make the system as approachable as possible.

More thought required, and any input appreciated.
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