Tuesday, November 12, 2013

System Shopped: The Storm Rises - Forbidden Desert

The Storm Rises
System Shopped: Forbidden Desert
by Tobie Abad

One of our favorite board games is the Forbidden Desert by GameWright.  In this game, the players have crashed into a desert and cooperatively have to find the parts of the airship that are buried in the desert.  But there are dangers in this desert.  The sand can bury the whole group, defeating them.  The need for water can overwhelm them, their thirst finally killing them.  And finally, the storm itself may rise higher and higher until it becomes so strong the players have no hope of surviving.  This was exemplified by The Storm Picks Up card and the Storm Meter in the game.

For us, we can call it, The Storm Rises.

Now let's talk about adding that thrill to your games.  Here are a few ways to do so:

I. The Storm Rises
At the start of the game session, take a small container and place it prominently in front of you.  Be sure to do this so the players notice.  Then start your game.  Don't concern yourself with any questions they may ask about it.  Don't explain what the container is for.  But as you run the game, each time the players fail a dice roll, throw in a token/die into the container.  As they continue to make sure errors, add more tokens/dice.  Every now and then, check how many have been added and respond with a "Hmm..." or "Tsk tsk.."

The storm rises.  The players feel something is up.  Worry grows.  Fear begins to set in.  And you never had to tell them to think that.

II. The Rising Escalation of Danger
Another way to approach this is to have a single die set on the table in front of you.  As the players go through the story, adjust the die up one face.  This rising tide of danger should match the pace of the story.  Why?  This rising tide of threat will represent the bonus that all opposing rolls will get against the player, specifically for all appropriate combat rolls.  This will represent the oppressive surge of dramatic force that makes the heroes feel that everything is against them.

III. The Battle Should End Soon
Perhaps instead of giving opponents bonuses to their rolls, you can instead make the bonus an adjustment to all damage rolls that they make.  So while the enemies are not "suddenly getting better," the stakes of the battle are more and more felt as a lucky break on the opponent's side can spell a deadly wound upon the hero!   Perhaps just to keep this from going out of hand, reset the counter back to zero the moment the extra damage is inflicted.  And don't forget this can apply as extra damage the heroes inflict upon the enemies too.

IV. The Timer
I've been running Jared Sorenson's Lacuna with a real-time rule which wasn't really specified in the book.  All game sessions for Lacuna have been having a 3-hour time limit, which really helps give the game a tension that doesn't exist in other games.   Perhaps your Storm Meter can instead be five minute reductions of this time table each time they are triggered.   This might be a tad harder to pull off for most games which are grounded in reality, but for fantasy games (or surreal ones like Lacuna) this can easily make sense in an in-game way.

V. An Actual Storm
Lastly, you can have an actual storm battering upon the setting as the story progresses.  Regardless of the timeline of your game, a rising storm can have numerous consequences that are sure to complicate and challenge your gamers.   Look into the hazards brought into play by strong winds, torrential rains, and rising floods.  Consider the complications of power outages, overflowing rivers, and improperly maintained sewers.  Remember to take into account the problems of limited visibility, the lack of access to food and water, and even the greater possibility of infection.  

Storms are not limited to wind and rain, either.  Think of the grand danger posed by a terrible lightning storm as it ignites dry woods and shuts down power plants.  Imagine the terrifying affair of a sandstorm that blows winds strong enough to cause the swirling sand to strip flesh from bone.

In the Forbidden Desert, when the storm rises it is no joke.
Why not add that to your games as well for a new experience your players won't soon forget.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...