Saturday, December 22, 2018

Weird Civ-Building, Part 1: Rules Skeleton

This is the basic rules skeleton for a westmarches-style civ-building game, inspired by games like Dwarf Fortress, Endless Legend, and Caves of Qud. I've tried to leave setting-specific elements out for now. Future posts will look into the various subsections in detail and delve more into the setting.

The goals of this game are to:
-Emphasize and reward player creativity.
-Create interesting player-driven group-wide objectives .
-Turn emergent narratives that happen during play into lasting progression.
-Have the players' deeds and decisions have a tangible and lasting effect on the world.

Game will use Into the Odd rules for stats, hp. If players have low stats/hp, they roll on hidden tables for beneficial mutations, psionic powers, tech grafts, etc. Every expedition survived gives a character 1 HP and lets them test one stat to try and improve it.
Characters will change constantly by being exposed to the world's weirdness, aka mutations, insanities, curses, etc.

-Tales/songs about your civ's deeds act as one-use spells, with effects based on the subject matter. Can be inscribed in scrolls/tablets/books. One tale per deed, one use per spell. (important deeds are, therefore, treated as a resource of sorts) [Future: tales as tattoos to create lasting effects?]
-Characters engrave artwork into items to "enchant" them with effects based on subject matter and materials used. Must use expensive/powerful materials to do this.
-Characters can create their own religion based on certain tenets(war, harvest, death, etc.) to perform miracles with power based on the amount of believers, and effects based on the religion's tenets.
-Characters can reverse engineer a piece of technology to gain "research points" towards discovering how to make/use it.
-Characters can train or convince npcs to become hirelings, and later on in the game, organize them into military units.
-Build, upgrade, or repair a facility in the base. Usually requires lots of expensive resources.

These things are done back at base between adventures. Each character can do one of these things per (units of time), but if the player makes a session report or fanart out of game, it counts as their character being able to make an extra thing in-game.
Therefore, once per (unit of time), a character can:
-Record/memorize a tale(spell)
-Craft a major item
-Engrave/enchant an item with magic artwork
-Convert an NPC to a religion
-Prepare a miracle(spell)
-Reverse-engineer a piece of technology
-Train an NPC to become a hireling
-Build/upgrade/repair base facility

Once per (unit of time), the Civ can organize an Expedition (adventure session). It should be up to the players to figure out what the goal is.
Some adventure seeds to help give players ideas:
-Explore a new area
-Search for a rare/useful resource
-Make a diplomatic mission to or for another Civ
-Attack/pillage/make war with a group
-Open a trade route
-Assist a group in distress
These are just suggestions, it can feasibly be anything they want to do.

Have cultural tenets, wants, and needs. Have certain goods to trade and services to provide, value certain trade goods over others. Have existing emnities/alliances with each other; befriending one may earn you additional allies and enemies. Each makes a useful ally or a terrifying foe, each in different ways.
-At a certain level of friendship, they will send migrants over to your Civ (functionally meaning your players can now create new characters as members of that Civ, aka unlockable races)

Friendly civs may send merchant caravans to trade with you, providing opportunities to get rare or exotic materials. There is no universal system of currency, so it's all bartering. Each civ has its own value system and finds different materials valuable.
-Wandering skalds will trade tales from far off lands (foreign spells) for tales of your civ.
-Mercenaries for hire will occasionally show up.


Rules for religion are based on Type1Ninja's Cleric class from the GLOG Trenchcoat Edition.
-Religions are founded on tenets, single words that sum up the themes (kind of like spheres of influence from dnd).
-Every (unit of time), a religion gains a number of faith points based on the amount of worshippers (subject to diminishing returns). These faith points are then evenly distributed between the faith's leaders (PCs).
-To perform a miracle, a PC spends faith points, invokes one tenet for each faith point spent, and the DM determines the result of the miracle depending on the tenets invoked. So more faith points spent = more tenets invoked = more control over the miracle's outcome.
-Players can "level up" their religion by adding more tenets and increasing their number of followers.
-Your religion will compete with rival religions from other civs for followers.


-Players can recruit NPCs as hirelings, and then form those hirelings into military units, using Type1Ninja's squad rules (group all hirelings into a squad, shared hp pool and morale score, only one action needed to command them all, hits past 0 hp target a random squadmate who has 3-in-6 chance to die).
-Hirelings progress (though slower than players), and players can take over a favorite hireling if their character dies rather than starting a new character.
-Squads can progress as well, can be equipped, and can be given banners, sigils, etc. to solidify their identity and improve morale. The more identity/history a squad has, the more effective they will be.

In true westmarches fashion, the home base is a place that cannot be threatened by outside forces. In this case, it is a metallic facility where characters emerge from cloning pods and reach the outside world through a teleporter that is connected to a ruined temple (the starting zone). At the end of each session, characters are teleported back to the home base.

The home base starts with these facilities and features:
-Birthing room: new characters emerge from the cloning pods.
-Teleporter room: characters can warp to the ruined temple.
-Crafting room: Some previous inhabitants built primitive furnaces, kilns, and other rudimentary crafting stations.
-Living room: Some previous inhabitants built places to eat and sleep. Mysterious machines built into the wall provide food and water; starving is no concern.

These obstacles provide metroidvania checkpoints between players and other advanced facilities/features:
-Barricaded door: blocks off access to another room. Ominous noises heard on the other side; whoever barricaded this did so for good reason.
-Welded-shut door: blocks off access to another room. Requires metallurgy, explosives, or melting magic to bypass.
-Malfunctioning door: blocks off access to another room. High-security, requires some kind of technological answer or expertise to bypass.

-The world gets weirder the further the players stray from the starting zone. Therefore the world will have a conceptual difficulty curve, rather than numeric. However, the more conceptually weird the area is, the cooler/more fun the loot will be.

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