Hello again Mercenaries!
It’s that time of the month when I talk about the behind the scenes aspects of the Gloomhaven RPG. Today I’m going to talk a bit about the core of the game rules, the modifier deck, and answer some questions while I’m at it.
I have seen a couple of questions about the physical components of the game and how that impacts the gameplay and design. The Gloomhaven RPG will be using several card decks for play. The first and foremost deck is the Ability Cards which act as both your character’s stamina and a bulk of the actions they can take during combat. The second most important deck is the modifier deck. Both these decks are unique to Gloomhaven and honestly, I think they are so well-designed that we have no need to figure out a way to do away with them. So how do we handle folks who can’t afford to get these physical components on top of the core rulebook?
The first answer is that we’ll be making PDFs of the cards available for people to download. These will be printer friendly, and folks can cut them out, or just use Ability cards on a sheet and pencil in when they are discarded, lost, or active. Folks can easily print the modifier deck, cut the cards out, and paste them onto index cards, playing cards, or even just use the pieces of paper. Or they could make their own modifier deck with cardstock and markers, we’re cool no matter how you do it
Some of you might think that this is a step we could bypass by figuring out a way to not use the modifier deck at all. I did consider dice, and came up with a workable system using Fudge dice (the d6s used by FATE systems). This was fine until a character got a perk that would change out a card in their modifier deck. I could have come up with a way to change up how we did that kind of advancement. Maybe with special abilities that let you roll the dice again to add to the first result to mimic the rolling function and a reusable ability to add an element or condition to an action. But overall, that would be a lot of work to modify a system that, in my humble opinion, already works rather nicely. So we decided to keep the elegant card system and ensure that they will be easily accessible to players who can’t afford to buy the physical products. Of course, we’ll still have some beautifully printed card packs that come bundled with the core rulebook or to purchase separately if you like having the glitzy version.
If you're in PAX Unplugged this weekend - don't forget our RPG Livestream with Penny Arcade and Gloom Mastered by Alexander Theoharis!
There were some other questions about what system we’re using for the non-combat section of the game. We opted for a system that uses the same modifier deck for a reason. We want all the rules about how you take actions in the game to be the same across all areas of play. You say what you’re going to do, you flip a card to add its number to your base. That’s the most basic part of the system and we want to preserve that mechanic across all parts of play. If we tried for a different system for combat and non-combat, we would run into all sorts of issues with confusion and limited actions during combat. Right now, with using the same basic system for all aspects of the game, we can have non-combat style actions in the middle of combat and have them flow seamlessly. For example, in the middle of combat, I could try to intimidate the cultists who sprang a trap on my mercenary group. While my Spellweaver doesn’t have an intimidation Ability Card, I can still choose to take that action, flip a modifier card to add to my character’s Influence Attribute score and compare it to the enemies’s influence check. If successful, I might get Advantage over them, or if I beat them by enough, they may just stand down. It would be hard to get that kind of smooth action if we used two different systems.
I’ve given you a tiny sneak peek into our Attributes, so I’ll go ahead and give you all of them so you can mull over what kinds of actions you’d take using each: Athletics, Finesse, Focus, Influence, and Knowledge.
Next month, I’ll cover the Attributes in more detail, along with the way you make checks, how you may get modifiers to those checks, and some standard difficulties.
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