Managing time in a game

Today I rediscovered a game I began to make over a weekend five months ago, which I had promptly forgotten about. The elevator pitch is a two player chose your own adventure style RPG, and tabletop game where the two players (or one, if you’re lonely enough) choose from a stack of options available to them and follow the adventure. Along the way there’s some combat and finding treasure to improve your character.

I printed the 14 pages of game I have so far because seeing your creation printed out is very rewarding, and looks great! Also, it’s easier to read and edit.

One of the mechanics I had written about was the idea of “turns”.

Each turn consists of three actions for each player. These can be spent in any order [and it’s possible] to be many turns ahead of the player you’re playing with. That’s okay, as no one is counting turns.

It goes on to mention that somethings do not use up an action, but other things do depending on the circumstance.

If I remember properly, what I wanted was two fold: a way of tracking time, and a way to have events trigger (“you’re poisoned for three turns”). It’s incredibly clumsy though. Players will have to track how many actions they used each round. In the best case they have tokens and in the worst case they just use their fingers. Additional tokens are expensive, especially when you can do without them. The entire game will be full of “oh, I forgot to count my turns!” The mechanic is too complicated.

I had also added the concept of a day and night cycle. When you pass from one part of the map to another, to show the distance travelled the card would read “flip over your day-night token”. Different actions are possible during the day than are during the night. Vampires get a strength penalty during the day, but not the night. There’s a better chance to spot the highwaymen during the day than travelling at night. I like this mechanic a bunch.

The solution here, I think, is to make more of a use of the day-night cycle. Instead of “you’re poisoned for the next three turns,” the card would read “you’re poisoned until the morning”. It doesn’t change the game very much, but definitely clears up the rules.

Lesson learnt: if you’re writing hundreds of words trying to explain a rule, maybe throw it away and see what you can do without it.