Design Diaries Table Top

Board Game Design Diary – The Guilds

Yesterday I talked about the bosses but that is only one part of a level. The other part of the level is basically a longer story and preparation phase for that boss battle. But before I can talk about that, I think we need to talk about guilds. If you’ve missed any of the previous parts, you can find them below.

The Premise

The Characters

The Bosses

The Guilds

Let’s talk about what a guild is, it isn’t a concept that shows up that often in a board game. But in an MMORPG, that’s generally the people who are partied together in a group and share loot, money, tips, and things like that. But as compared to a small group of friends you might play with, a guild is generally going to be larger so that you have more resources to share amongst each other.

The idea of this large group can be tricky to do in board games or even an RPG. The issue with it is that you have so many faceless characters that you don’t have that much of an investment in controlling nameless and faceless characters, they are a bit more cannon fodder than anything else. And in this case, that means in game that you’re killing people, generally not one of those things that you’d want to actually do, so having a guild is going to need to have some weight and some advantage to the group.

I want people to be worried about maintaining their guild for several reasons and we’ll get into some of those when we talk about the levels and what you do on the them. Your guild, based off of many people you have in it, is going to be able to help you on the levels. I’ve talked about it with the boss battles and how you’d need to balance between having too many people protecting you, tiring them out, stressing them out, and putting them in danger too much and having people leave the guild that way, as compared to having too few and having people die, plus then people leave the guild because people are dying.

Image Source: D&D Beyond

I think that death is a key concept here and those leaving or joining the guild. If you have enough people die, you will be fighting an uphill battle getting people to your guild and keeping people in your guild. It might be worth it for the late push to risk more, but early game, you could be fighting a battle making sure that you are spending enough time recruiting guild members to offset those leaving because you’d demonstrated that you’re willing to risk people’s lives needlessly, when you go into a boss battle or go through a level battle or quest. So, if you have too many die, you will always be dealing with a steady stream of guild members leaving.

Another thing that I’m considering with guild members is how to use them on the levels between bosses. I think that they will be a communal resource that players will be able to decide on how to use them. Maybe a player is going on a difficult quest, they can take guild members along with them to help mitigate some of the challenges. Or the players could send out guild members to recruit on a level, do a quest on their own, shop for gear, anything that the players can do, but for the guild members instead. I’m thinking something along the lines of, every ten guild members you have, you can assign them one action per round on a level. So if you have thirty people, you got an extra three actions, if you have twenty-nine, you have an extra two.

To go with that, and to get into levels just a little bit, but mainly as it pertains to guilds. Some levels are just going to be nice, or look like a good spot to stop while others push on ahead. You are going to have a few people leave the guild on those levels. Or maybe the level looks very dangerous, and sending out guild members to do anything on that level without them being paired with someone else will cause you to lose a guild member. So it won’t just be a situation where you can always send off guild members to do jobs for you and expect to see the numbers grow and not shrink.

The guild is also going to be a timer on the levels as well. There will be a limit to how long you can stay on a level, let’s say in this example that you can stay on a level ten rounds doing actions each round. So you might shop, you might quest which will take four rounds, you might research the level boss for another round. Now you’ve spent six rounds. You can spend another four rounds, so a total of ten on that level if you want, or maybe as many rounds as you want, but after four more rounds you’ll run out of event cards for that level, more on that in levels, but every round you stay after five, you start to lose more and more guild members. Some get used to it and settle down, some might be discontent about not pushing ahead and trying to get back to the real world. So maybe there is an awesome quest that you really want to do because you know the reward is going to be a skill, and you need another skill to feel comfortable fighting the boss, but it’s going to cost you guild members, and you might then run into an issue with not having enough or using a large enough percentage to fight the boss that you’ll lose some more. So do you push into that quest, get that skill, have guild members leave, and then have to spend most of the next floor recruiting again, or do you push ahead and hope that you get a similar event on the next floor?

Obviously there is a bunch of the fine details to be worked out here. I do think there will be a cap on guild size, which feels like something that is fairly standard in games, because otherwise you could just recruit early on until you have a massive number and just kind of run with it. So I want the pressure of that to be part of what players have to think about through the game. This is something that I feel like good cooperative games do, I want players to have to think about which 5-8 things they really want to do and have a few that they won’t be able to get to even though they’d be good as well.

What do you think of Guilds? Do you think that it will be too much to handle in the game, do you think it’ll be a good type of pressure for the game?

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