Day 7 Update - Designer Post: Tiny Little Stories
Today's post is written by designer Kevin Wilson and details The Stygian Society room cards.
One of the things I wanted to do with Stygian Society was to make every room that the players enter into a set piece or a micro-story. Sometimes this is done through a progression of events, other times it’s through an implied background, but it always centers around the room cards.
Each room has a sheet that lists all of its relevant information for the players. As an example, let’s look at the room sheet that Rahdo used in his video – Run and Gun.
This is one of the ‘lower floor’ rooms that the players will encounter on floors 1-2 (floor 3 is the mini-boss), so it’s easier than the upper floor rooms. Upper floor rooms are encountered on floors 4-5 (and finally, of course, the wizard is on floor 6).
Firstly, the sheet shows which monsters are in the room, as well as which rank (front or back) each monster is in. This room contains 3 slashers in the front rank protecting a cannoneer in the back rank.
The rear rank is somewhat protected from the more damaging attacks that the heroes can unleash, while the cannoneer itself is normally quite resistant to melee damage. As for the slashers, they’re not too tough, but they can shred the heroes badly if allowed to attack in larger groups.
Next up is the peril cube section of the room card. This section basically tells the players which “enemy” cubes are dropped into the tower each turn, and it also says what to do with the cubes in the event that there’s a color of an enemy cube that doesn’t have a monster type there to use it. Usually, as on the Run and Gun card, cubes not usable by the monsters wind up increasing the peril instead.
After that is what I consider to be the most important part of the room card, as this is where I was able to tell stories and adjust things on the fly – the peril events. Peril represents the passage of time in the room, and the longer the heroes take to defeat the room, the worse things get for them. If they take too long, every room has a loss condition (usually at 20 peril). So, have a look at the peril events for Run and Gun and see the story I’m telling there.
The cannoneer has been hurt badly recently (0 peril), presumably by a previous group that met their end here, but while it is temporarily vulnerable to melee attacks, the cannoneer is shielded by the slashers as its wound begins to quickly heal (4 and 12 peril), and more slashers will soon arrive (8 peril) to reinforce the room. In the meantime, it sits in the back row, charging up its cannon blast (which is extremely likely to fire off at 16 peril if the cannoneer hasn’t been defeated by then). And woe betides the heroes if they’re still fighting when the peril reaches 20, as that results in an automatic loss as the denizens of the room overwhelm them.
So, the heroes can focus on the cannoneer right away, hoping to kill it before it heals, or they can quickly reduce the number of slashers first, hoping to avoid an early painful attack from them while the cannoneer slowly charges its attack. They can try to move the cannoneer to the front rank (if they have a skill that does so) so that all of the heroes can focus on it, they can let the ranged heroes in the group attack it while the melee heroes deal with the slashers, or they can all work to defeat the slashers, after which the cannoneer will naturally “fall forward” into the front rank. A lot will depend on which skills they have at their disposal and which (if any) magic items they’ve acquired so far.
Lastly, should the heroes defeat the room, it shows that there is a treasure chest for them to loot if they dare. However, the higher the peril has reached, the more dangerous it is to open chests, as the tower’s defenses grow stronger the longer the heroes linger in one place, and a deadly trap could be lurking.
So as you can see, with this structure and a decent selection of different monsters, it’s possible to create a wide variety of challenges for the players and tell a lot of unique micro-stories for them to experience.
Let us know in the comment section if this is the kind of post you like. We have other ideas, like a breakdown of hero skills.