This is a post about the design and development of a currently unnamed Shipwreck Game. You can see the other Blog posts at the Index for the Game.
The Starting Deck
The game starts with a deck of 36 cards. The cards are blank initially, save for labels in two opposite corners, with the numbers 1 through 6 for each of 6 suits. These numbers and suits can be used for randomisation. By discarding from the deck, and referring to tables, a player can resolve questions as they come up. What is the terrain like? What does the Player find? etc.
The 6 suits used by R. Winder in the games Deep Future, and his current game, Haiku Journey are Sun, Moon, Skull, Heart, Hand & Foot. He uses them thematically. Sun for Power, Foot for movement, Hand for combat, etc, and players need to discard a card of the correct suit to complete an action. When co-opting his game mechanics for my Shipwreck game, I thought I should use suits that represent 6 human traits, that Players might need to survive on a desert island. I am currently thinking there should be 3 physical traits represented by geographic shapes, and 3 mental traits, represented by easy to draw symbols.
- Square – Strength
- Triangle – Dexterity
- Circle – Speed
- Star (*) – Tenacity (Stamina or Patience)
- Percent (%) – Perception
- Question (?) – Intelligence
Using the Suits of the Deck
As you explore the Island, you will be presented with opportunities, and obstacles, that will require those human traits to take advantage of, or overcome. As an example, you might come across a tree that has fruit growing near the top of it, and you might be given Challenge: Climb the tree to collect the fruit. 3Δ/-1H+1N. This means you need to discard cards from your hand, that have a total of 3 or more, and at least one of them has the suit for Dexterity. If you can do so, you will be successful in the Challenge, and get the reward, in this case, fruit, which will increase your Nutrition Track by 1. Although the exertion of climbing the tree, will decrease your Hydration Track by 1.
Altering the Deck
However, a Make as You Play game, fills the blank components during the course of the game. The Map gets filled out as you explore the Island, and I think the cards could come to represent Items, found and constructed, and Skills that you learn by completing Challenges. With the example above, if you complete the Challenge successfully, you get to draw a blank card from the Deck (discard and draw again if the first card(s) you draw are not blank) to create the Skill Card, Climbing.
This card gets added to the Players hand, and can now be used for its number and suit, but also for an automatic pass, to climb a small tree.
Repetition improves your ability to perform a task, and it seemed like a good way to represent this concept was with 3 boxes on a Skill card, and marking them with an X each time you use the card to complete a task. Once you have used the card 3 times, you will have achieved a proficiency that will give you a bonus, like being able to perform the task without the penalty of losing a Hydration.
The other bonus I want to add to cards is inspired by the Superpower Ability in Marvel Legendary. In that game you get a bonus if you have previously played a card of a specific Class (or in our case, Suit). This develops Skills with extra modifiers, to make them more powerful. To continue our example, now that you have a little bit of confidence in tree climbing, you might come across a small rock face you need to ascend in order to get where you want to go. Challenge: Ascend Rock face to move into neighbouring space. 5Δ%/-2H. This means you need Perception (to find the hand and foot holds) as well as Dexterity, with a total value of 5 to Climb a Rock face, and your Hydration Tracker will decrease 2 steps. However, if you use your Climbing card, and have a Dexterity card in your hand to discard at the same time, you get to add a Modifier to your Climbing Card so that you only lose 1 step on your Hydration Tracker.
And more modifiers can be added to your cards, to be used in combinations, so you can use your Skill in different ways. And while most of these modifiers will be discarded cards to simulate human traits, some of them can be Items. The T is referring to the Time Tracker, meaning more of the day is used up on this action.
Item cards can be things you find, or things you make. The Rope seen as a modifier on the Climbing card might be something found washed ashore, or perhaps made by braiding some vines together. Either way, once you have an Item card, it can be used in one of two ways. It can be discarded from your hand, to help with the completion of a Task, or it can be played semi-permanently in front of you to have some ongoing utility.
A Bucket has a capacity, in this case, enough water to increase your Hydration Tracker 4 steps, and the amount of water in the bucket can be tracked by placing, and removing cubes from the card.
So that’s a basic description of how you add content to your deck. The Legacy aspect of the game means that once you have these items and skills, you get to take advantage of them in future games. This will be important as the challenges you will face will increase as you progress into the Campaign.