I had created up a deck of cards for players to draw from as their characters sought to make their way toward the Fields of Aaru, but certain elements of the cards didn't quite feel right. I wasn't sure what was missing about them, or what was off, but something just didn't gel with the ideas I had for the wider game.
I think this may have simply been due to too many component mechanisms, not knowing fully how they interacted with one another, but instinctively knowing that certain gears in the overall machine didn't mesh. Drawing out the map has helped.
As an example, I had a "Sandstorm" card. If this card was drawn when arriving at a location, all of the paths between locations (except for the one just arrived on) would be blocked by the storm...basically turning this location into a dead end and requiring a character to find a different path to continue their journey. Once the map had been drawn up, I realised that this really wasn't going to work. It was going to be more of an inconvenience than I thought, and this card might very well be the one that condemns characters to oblivion more than any other. The card itself doesn't seem that treacherous, and the board layout doesn't seem dangerous, but the combination of the components renders it deadly. Out of the 52 cards in the deck, I'd even included four of these because I thought it was thematically interesting enough to have it appear more often than many of the other potential encounters.
Similarly, I had devised a few cards that were simply designed as obstacles to potentially slow characters down in their journey, without any real story benefits. I really think that this sort of game needs to enhance the potential for storytelling, so most of the cards will now prompt a story ele,ent in some way, and any card that induces a penalty should most certainly add quite a bit of narrative into the flow.
These are just some of my current thoughts.
The whole project needs a name as well, but I'm sure that will come when the moment is right.