Board Game Design Diary – Building a Level Part 1
So when building characters, the whole thing was pretty easy, the game is going to get you up and running pretty fast. For building the level, there is a whole lot more going on. I didn’t think that I was going to demonstrate how I was going to build the first level, but turns out that I am, because I want to kind of demonstrate who I want the first floor or level of the game to help you get into how the game works.
Building a Level Part 1
So the first level is going to be a bit different than every other level. In those you’re going to be able to start in immediately doing whatever you want. And I do want you to be able to do that mainly on the first level, but I also want to help players along with knowing how to play the game, so I want to kind of create some of a walkthrough or how to play within the first level.
The first level is going to have basically everything that a normal level would have. You will have NPC’s and PC’s to interact with, you will have quests, floor events, the guild and monsters, and you’ll have a shop to go to.
That’s probably the first difference is that you won’t have several different shops to go to, you will have a single bazaar that you will go to and you will go to it on your first turn. The first floor event you flip over, before you decide where you’ll go will direct everyone to go shopping. Why do that? Because you don’t start with armor, weapons, etc. It will take you through the shopping experience, let you spend your money and explain how skills work and weapons work. When you talk to the shopkeeper they are going to explain and give examples of the cards and how they work so that you aren’t having to spend as much time in the rule book learning that. That stuff will be in the rule book for refresher, but it won’t be something you need to read to get started.
The next day you’ll flip a new event and it’ll send you fall out to go fight a monster. This is going to give a chance to show how the monsters work and show one of the key mechanics for a level as you draw a hand of modifier cards and use them. This also will show off how XP is gained and tracked as the players defeat the monsters and get rewards. This should be a fairly boring but quick event for everyone to go through, but it’s also important because besides maybe a few PC and NPC actions as well as the shopping, you’ll be given the option to use modifiers on almost everything and to learn how they’ll be removed from your deck for the boss battle and how you can manipulate that.
The third level event is going to kick off the game proper. It’s going to be a level event that everyone has to go to and deal with. This is where the whole game will kick off. There probably will be some thing that you’ll spend a card on, but I don’t really want to spoil any story ideas right now. But most likely this event will lead to some quests or paths that can be opened up in the game.
Then for the rest of the level, another as many rounds as you want, there really won’t be any negatives, creatures will run out so you can’t grind character levels on level one, NPC’s and PC’s will run out eventually, but from that point you’ll be able to go and do quests, fight monsters, research, whatever it is. Also from this point on, there won’t likely be another set of level events that require all players to do something. It might be a very rare occasion where a player is needed to go to a level event, but that would only be if they don’t want to send a guild marker there, or they can’t because the guild is too small.
Once the players have decided they’ve done everything that they need, the boss monster will be up for them to fight. And I again want to do some of a tutorial for this. That means that this is probably going to be a smaller map, just to fit some text onto the page. I’ve talked about how the boss monsters and boss battles will work, but the first boss battle is going to lay out those details as well as how turn order works. Don’t worry, there will be cheat sheet cards that explain how both the levels and the combat works that will have this information as well, but I want to be able to go into more detail and lay out kind of that first monster turn and what is going to happen as well as how some of the combat will work for the players. I don’t with it, however, want to tell the players what they have to do, no play this card as the optimal play or attack this way as the optimal way.
Finally, just to recap some of the layout of how this will all be set-up. This will be in a book, there probably will be a page of intro story that can be read at the very beginning and how to use the book/mark where you are at, that sort of thing, but general layout will be, on the left page, you’ll have spots for all the actions that you can take. For the quests, monsters, NPC’s, etc. Most won’t be limited as to how many people can go there, but sometimes they might be, in particular for something like the monsters, the quests, or the level events there might be a limit, otherwise people can go to the same spot if they want. With this there will also be spots to put down the cards for the level. That might be the level events, it might be cards that you have unlocked as new quests, it might be a list of the NPC’s or PC’s whom you can talk to, or it might be the monsters that you could fight. These are generally going to be small cards, think like the modifier and item card size from Gloomhaven if you are familiar with that game. They aren’t meant to have a ton of information on them, they are meant to drive you to the story book or adventure book in the game. Then on the right page you’ll have the map for the boss battle. It’s going to also help you know what type of level it is, there will be artwork throughout the levels as well, but this will be generally a large spot to highlight that.
The next part of the level design will start to dive into samples of how quests, level events, NPC and PC interactions and more might go.