16 July, 2016


Familiar is designed to be a pretty simple game. Something that kids could play, something to introduce non-gamers to the concepts of collaborative storytelling.

Technically, a lot of my game design work is developed in that area, each approaching it from a different set of parameters, each using their mechanisms to focus thought patterns in different ways to produce different play experiences.

Generally "Familiar" worked on the idea that a die roll might give a varying degree of result, fail, partial success, full success, and possibly a higher degree of success (multiple successes from a single roll). Once the roll had been made, a player could spend their characters traits to bump up the results, to ensure they succeed on the tasks that are important to them.

Traits are more important and more significant than dice in this game, maybe...they work differently to dice. Dice can be used over and over, traits are spent and exhausted for the remainder of the scene.

In the last iteration of the rules, the numbers were all over the place. This time I've streamlined it to multiples of two, because the variability of results fits a nice spread. If a player attempts something with a difficulty die equal to the attribute die, there is always a better than 50% chance of success. Having an attribute die score less than the difficulty die with a difference of 2 or more (and thus earning a "fail" result), is far less likely. When I ran the numbers with one point differences, they were too small to have a noticeable impact. If I were writing a more nuanced game, I might go with the single point variance, but not for this one.

Looking at the flipside, the smallest die being used is the d4...so a 3 point variance would take a minimal roll of 1, and convert it into a maximal result for that die (a 4).

This is a game where success might not be guaranteed, but as long as you are careful then successes are more likely than not. Even before traits add their effect into the mix.

I'm also thinking I can tie this game into the landscape series that I was working on at the beginning of the year. In this way, each of the mysterious lands might be places of origin for the familiars, hidden in the realms of spirit and dream, but interconnected with our own world...the world in which the familiars' tales unfold.  
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