Waypoint Tabletop Game Design Thread! (No Experience Needed ;3)

Guys. It’s time for some game theory.

And also game design generally! Talk about the games you are writing, the games you want to write, the games you love and try to emulate, the games that influenced you.

Talk about how games work. Talk about why games work. Talk about who games work for.

Just talk about games, man!

Also we have a compendium of games written by waypointers! Feel free to add your game on there, and maybe we will play them and give you feedback :3


So I’m curious to learn if anyone else has designed with Tumult Hype. I’ve done some point and click adventure stuff with it (for which it is a terrific, under-used tool) but I know there is quite it bit more it is capable of

I have a card game idea, but it’s slowly turning into “I want to do everything and anything”.

But I just want to see an RPG of any kind take advantage of putting five rings on one hand. Ten rings. Each finger. Why haven’t we gone there yet?

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Initially misread this as desire for an RPG which focuses SOLEY on putting five rings on each hand. And I am going to continue to misread it as such, because that is a fascinating proposition.


I’m busy re-building (mostly from scratch) a system I wrote as a university project last year. It’s a little different to anything I’ve written before, but mostly because I’m using playing cards instead of dice, which makes it a fun little design experiment.

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The only limit is what you can dream.

I really like cards, for roleplaying games and non-roleplaying games. I feel like there’s a deep connection to competitive card games that can let you use cards to do interesting things. What is your card game idea?

I attempted to make a Mass Effect RPG at one point, but it didn’t go very well. Too literal of an interpretation, mostly - it was turning into more of a miniature wargame, with cover and range statistics and things like that. Most of the things I love about Mass Effect are a bit hard to mechanize!

So instead I’ve been trying to expand my tabletop horizons as much as possible and maybe I’ll take another shot at a more flexible version in the future.

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I actually considered making it about just obtaining these rings, but when I started writing out what they’d be, I ended up making some so terrible - in a funny way, I think - that I ditched the idea to make a bullet point in a feature list.


What challenges do you think using cards give you specifically? I recently wrote an extremely rules-lite card based rpg and there was definitely a lot of thought I had to put into how the game worked because of it.

I’m deep into playing Fantasy Flight Games stuff, mostly because I’ve surrounded myself in Magic and Pokemon for a majority of my life, that the idea of using a card game to actually, y’know, play actual games that don’t revolve around killing each other is fascinating to me. Something along the lines of a campaign-card game, similar to Arkham Horror.

My only issue right now, is making something vastly different to FFG, without looking like I’ve just played a bunch of FFG stuff!

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In the way I’m using them, I think my primary issue is making the format feel important. Unless you make good use of the differences between cards and dice, it’s just going to feel like a needless difference. I’m tackling that mostly by keeping suits integral to a few elements of the game (characters, skills, and so on all associate with one suit) and making sure there are interesting mechanics tied to face cards.

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Can you describe what makes a Fantasy Flight Game feel like a fantasy flight game? I don’t have a lot of experience with them so I’d be interested to hear.

I think that’s fair! I’ve seen lots of games that use standard playing cards as just another random number generating mechanic, and there is definitely novelty there. But there are also really fun and interesting things you can do with the cards themselves.

Are cards a resource that players have and spend, or do they have another function in your game? If you want to talk about your game, I’d be really interested in hearing more about it (if not that’s fair too!)

Whereas like Magic or Pokemon are Trading Card Games, with an air of randomness and a lot of purchasing, FFG card games are LCG or Living Card Games. This allows like each game they put out to ditch randomness and provide players with everything they need in each expansion, so no one is at a “disadvantage” if they decide to get into the game.

They also tend to do away with generic sets of card game rules and usually come with a greater goal than “killing” or “knocking out” the other player. In Netrunner, you want to earn the most points, but there’s still the option of dealing typical damage values. There’s a world they build or build onto with their card games too, which is always neat.

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I’m using them as kind of a half-way point between a random number and a resource, actually. You have a hand of cards, which are played to determine the results of actions instead of rolling a dice (or drawing a card from a deck, like a few other systems do IIRC). Face cards are used to introduce new elements to scenes and make performing actions easier/harder.

While this obviously loses out on the initial mystery of whether something will succeed or not based on a dice roll, you might play a card high enough to succeed (or low enough to fail) and have your result then changed by someone else using a face card in response. Additionally, to encourage people to fail rather than just holding onto low cards forever, you don’t refill your hand with new cards until you play a failure. In my experience, people are really quick to describe and make their successes interesting, in and out of combat, but they tend to let failures just roll by. My intent is that, knowing when they’re going to fail (and rewarded for doing so with new opportunities), players are more likely to think about and embellish on their failures.

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I’m something of an amateur dabbler. I’ve hand-printed one copy of a card game I still tweak every couple times I play it.

The game is “Imperial Intrigue: Regicide”, and it is based on the tarot deck–the face cards and major arcana are “Notables” who I’ve designed characters and rules for, and 1-10 in every suit are “Vassals” that you can play on the Notables to make them worth more power. The premise is that the Empress has just been assassinated and you control a faction of Notables trying to rise to control of the Empire, install your own candidate for the throne, and if possible pass the buck for having actually committed the assassination to your rival factions (ie, players).

I really don’t have an online version, and there are some deep structural issues I’ve identified that I’m playing around with to try to streamline, but it is a fun exploratory learning experience!

Then since I’d already created these characters and this world (already cribbing from an abortive novel idea’s outline), I figured… I might as well use the setting for the basis of my new Dungeon World campaign with friends! So that is its own bucket of “well, instead of elves, dwarfs and orcs we have lizard, frog, beetle and bird races,” etc. Annnd… I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to throw together a setting handbook for that, so other people could take a look at the world and races and custom classes, etc, and see if it interested them.

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I love it! I think the focus on failure can be super useful. Making failures complicate or escalate situations in play is absolutely my favorite thing that Apocalypse World and PbtA games do.

Is your game interested in inter-player conflict? In the sense of like, players being able to spend face cards to negatively influence other players’ outcomes?

So, I had an idea recently, what if there was a system where you got more perks when you levelled up based on how rough your recent experiences had been? granted maybe this is just me trying to reinvent Dungeon World’s xp for failed rolls system. and indeed it was that system and Hella Varal’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day on the recent FatT that inspired it. but in my heart I feel that there is a fundamental difference between levelling up faster and levelling up Better.

relatedly also like the idea of tying level up perks to what has been happening narratively,w it never made sense that crawling around in a dungeon for a few weeks could make me better at swimming and teach me how to play the mandolin.


For rpgs specifically, there’s a lot of really interesting reading to find if you go through the archives at Anyway. That’s Vincent Baker’s blog, he’s the designer of Apocalypse World, Dogs in the Vineyard, and a bunch of others.
Don’t take it as gospel - in more recentish posts he’s made a point to acknowledge that a lot of the older ideas are kind of out of date theory-wrestling, but it’s a really cool and useful deep dive into a great designer’s evolving thinking over the past ten or so years!


Been playing a bit of codenames and Eldritch Horror lately. I’ve been thinking about ways you could design other games based around limited communication between leaders and their team, anyone have any examples of games that do this well?

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