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Submitted by SuperSayu on Sat, 01/23/2016 - 17:01

What follows are notes on a concept tabletop game utilizing themes from another project concept, the ToTu tower/tunnel defense game. This game could be summarized as a tabletop tile-building game in the vein of a two-player Dungeon Keeper-style building and defense game.

Section 1 - The Board

The board in ToTu-TTG would I imagine be a tile building game similar to what is described in the SS13 tabletop concept previously. Specifically, there are necessarily two maps; one "surface" and one "underground" map.

The Surface map is a square grid on which building tiles are placed, with minimum one tile clearance for streets and walkways. During combat rounds, buildings can only be entered as marked on their tile, and choke points are established by town guards and towers. Combat will be discussed further in another section; suffice it to say that the goal of organizing the Surface town is to limit access to buildings by making all traffic pass by town guards or towers. One particular building of note is the "Farm" which can be invaded from almost any direction, and which generates and stores food; since it is so porous it is hard to defend and therefore frequently raided.

The underground map starts with one "entrance" tunnel and one "Room" and is subsequently developed with additional tunnels and rooms. All tunnels and rooms must connect to the entrance by some means, although certain traps can disguise this. The tunnels are 1 space wide; rooms are larger, for example 2x2, 3x3, 2x4, etc. Trap tokens may be permanently added to the map during game building, or they may be added when an adventuring party encounters an empty space. The underground map is frequently low on space and so resources may be piled up in rooms or hallways if they have low value to the player.

Section 2 - The goal

The game is judged based on victory points. The rules for victory points may be decided once in the rules, or there may be different objectives selected randomly, eg, draw a card that determines your win conditions.

The two sides are always in opposition. The Surface player ("Humans") grows food and creates skilled laborers, but lack minerals, animals, and magic. The Underground player ("Monsters") mines metals and can naturally create artifacts and monsters, however, they lack food and laborers. Both sides accomplish their objectives by raiding the opponent and taking their stuff, and both attempt to prevent the other from doing the same. In the case of stolen creatures ("Slaves"), these can be stolen back and forth, and creatures kept as slaves will perform poorly until they die. Some events (drawn randomly as cards) may make slaves more productive or longer lasting, or the opposite

Note that the game concept explicitly accepts that both sides could get along, but the setting takes as a given that they will not. The philosophy behind this can be elaborated upon, but suffice it to say "That's just how it is."

Section 3 - The People

Categorically, there are three types of units on each side: Soldiers, Civilians and Citizens. Soldiers are military units including adventurers, raiding parties, town guards, and guard monsters. Civilians are standard pieces added to the board to show production levels for buildings and rooms; they can be killed but not captured. Citizens are specialists, eg, "The Smith", "The Baker", "The Mayor", "Hellhound", "Harpy", etc. Citizens have combat stats, Citizen stats, and Slave stats. The first are used when a raid attempts to capture or kill them; the second is used when they willingly work with a side and are assigned as labor; and the last is used when they are held captive by a side and assigned as labor. Citizens may be send adventuring as well as being defensive, but beware that they can be captured or killed by defenders.

Additionally, Citizens come in male and female and (discounting monsters) can fall in love. They can also accept their position as slaves (in particular Monsters) and become Pets, which are treated as Citizens instead of Slaves; a Pet who is recaptured by their original side is treated as a Slave. Citizens in love gain +1 as long as their love is still in their settlement and -1 if they are captured or killed, or some mechanically similar bonus/penalty. Love events are random and are mixed in with daily event cards.

Citizens are created in response to daily event cards. The card may specify, or else the player selects a building of theirs which has an unfilled Citizen spot, and promotes a Civilian into the role. If the Citizen has no building to support them, they cannot provide Citizen bonuses (eg a smith without a smithy).

The population that a side has is directly related to the amount of food they have. Slaves and pets count only half a portion of food compared to normal creatures. Food like other resources must be present on the map at the start of the turn to count towards creating new civilians or feeding the current population. Monster races and Surface races reproduce at different rates, and starve at different rates, but both are strictly limited by their food supply.

Section 4 - Adventures and Raids

4.1 - Adventuring

Surface units must file single-file into the entrance of the tunnel, except as noted in character specials (eg guard dog may share a space). The party marches forward until they encounter a trap token, fork in the tunnel, resource token, or room. Adventurers (Citizens or stock adventurers) that encounter a trap or monster must face some skill challenge; failing may mean death or capture. However, some adventurer types alter the rules; for example, and Archer may shoot past units allowing it to handle Monsters from the second or third row. If the party enters a room, they may spread out, and they may use that time to reorganize their party.

Any adventurer who encounters a resource token may immediately flee the dungeon and return it to the village, and the adventurers may leave as a party at any time. Traps that have been passed or bypassed are not triggered by units that flee; neither can the Underground player use the opportunity of a fleeing opponent to add a new trap. However, if the Underground player adds a trap prior to someone retreating, the next character to retreat (or the last player in marching order if the party flees) must deal with it. Adventurers may only claim as many additional resources as can fit in the Village; if they return with more they will have to discard extras.

When adventurers encounter a room, they may also kill Civilians attached to that room; the first adventurer to enter determines how many of the Civilians are killed and how many flee. If there are non-resource specials to the room, eg, it is a library, the party may make one attempt to get a new resource out of it, eg, a new magic artifact.

The defender, in addition to playing traps, may play event cards. They may play an event only when the adventurers advance into an empty square, and not more frequently than once in every (lets say Five) turns. These events are cards, and the player will have a hand of cards available to them; they may include playing new monsters or new traps into the hallway, forcing the adventurers to change marching order, moving Civilians or Citizens around the map, moving resources, etc. Some events can only be played during combat, eg, +1 vs ranged weapons, or +1 to attempts to capture a creature.

The adventurers also have a hand of event cards, and can also use their magical artifacts, which have fixed abilities. Artifacts stay with a character until that character dies; if another character advances onto the space they can claim it, or the defender claims it at the end of the adventure. Adventurers do not get additional event cards unless they pick something up from a room; when they run out, or if no combat bonuses remain, the adventurers may feel obliged to retreat.

4.2 Raids

Monsters must raid the village for food, and they can obtain manufactured goods and slaves as part of the raid. The adventuring party is a mix of stock raiders and Citizens, usually monsters such as Hellhounds, Warlocks, Harpies, etc. Monsters that kill people are exempt from needing to be fed next turn if they immediately retreat to eat their victim.

The Surface group has fewer ways to attack intruders and instead is able to move soldiers and citizens every turn. The Surface group may not move any units until after they win their first combat; all other deaths are assumed to be undetected. Raids should never completely destroy a city; remember that the side has other victory conditions and they may need the Surface village to continue functioning so that they can steal other resources later. In general, their priorities are to feed monsters and if able steal a few valuable things, possibly citizens.

Note that raids have a high chance of killing raiders; however, any excess food that is returned will contribute immediately to the population next turn. More valuable monsters should be protected, but standard raiders can be replaced almost every turn.

Section 5 - Endgame

I would like it if both sides could stay roughly equal for most of the game, but this is a goal, not a mechanic. In principle, neither side can succeed too fast if the other is suffering; Humans need minerals raided from the underground, and Monsters need food generated on the farms, but both of those resources only advance if the other side can dedicate resources to it. When both sides can dedicate enough resources to producing more, then both sides advance.

The endgame should be thematic to each side--Monsters are trying to recruit some big terrible evil, or else create a large city of monsters based on raiding the surface village. Humans are trying to create a large civilization, which requires resources and structures they do not have at the beginning of the game. Both sides ostensibly want the other to go away, but both benefit from the other's opposition, but only to a point.

It may also be that the endgame of either side is when they are finally able to reach a point of self-sufficiency, at a certain point of their development. If this is the case, it will need to be clear to both players how close they are to achieving this goal so that it does not become a sleeper victory apropos of nothing

Section 6 - Notes

I would really like to do a larger strategy simulation game on a similar model, on a computer or game platform. It would include more tower defense elements, fog of war, and additional pieces to the simulation such as trading from outside cultures. (This is the core ToTu concept)

The Civilian/Citizen dynamic is meant both to model more interesting units and also to give the players something limited enough in scope to empathize with; they may not worry about the loss of five blank-faced civilians, but if the Farmer's Wife is captured, this not only reduces the output of farms, but is a face that is constantly staring back at them from deep in the enemy dungeons, pushing them to attempt to recapture them before they die or are turned.

There is also the possibility that the narrative surrounding characters' relationships as they are captured, killed, etc, may become as interesting to some players as the game itself, eg, the Farmer's Wife is captured by the Warlock and forced to work as his apprentice, after several turns she turns, accepting her slavery, but is shortly recaptured; she no longer feels at home in the village, but the Farmer still loves her and will not let her return to the monster caves. The Warlock returns and recaptures her, leading to a feud over many turns where she is captured and recaptured. While part of the Monster village, she and the Warlock fall in love. Eventually, one turn while she is a Slave her luck runs out and she dies, leading to one heartbreak in each village.

The possibility of such intrigue and pseudo-drama is fascinating and I like the idea that a game could generate it.