Adventure Capital

I made a tweet about a game idea. I followed up with a Facebook post with some more words, since it can have more words. To wit 1

Game idea: Adventure Capital. You’re a nobleman in Greyhawk who invests in parties who go dungeon bashing. Mold your party, earn GP %s. I tried to make it more like VC funding, but it turns out I’d rather gouge out my brain that play that. Maybe more like the Football Manager type games, and maybe that seems more obvious if it were to be multiplayer.

The seed of that idea has several roots. The first is a little mobile phone game called Game Dev Story, a management simulation game themed as a video game development company. I played it for a bit after a friend recommended it. It was fun, I obsessed for a few weeks (as I am sure he knew I would and likely that was part of the reason he told me about it because he thought that would be funny), and I doubt I’ve played it since 2011. At the same time, I was noticing the Grognard movement in D&D and tangentially the proliferation of micro rule sets based on OD&D. I started thinking about what kind of rule set I would create, started creating a rule set, and finally started coding it as an engine because that would be the only way I could play test mechanics. At some stage the concepts cross pollinated. Possibly with a healthy mix of memories of the football manager games I recall seeing magazine ads for in the mid to late 1980s.

The idea has been in the back of my head for a few years now, and every now and then I’ll drag it out and dust it off and have a think about what it might look like. There would be Adventurers, obviously, and then a few bags to put them in: free agents, adventurers employed by the player, and not employed by the player. Sufficiently advanced game play would mean the player has hired more adventurers than can be placed in a single party, so a player could have many simultaneous parties with adventurers, in divisions like a sports manager game. The adventurers not hired by the player would be variously hanging around the proverbial tavern and also in rival adveturing parties competing for the same loot. Perhaps that would entail that there are rival capitalists that may be interacted with by the player.

There would be dungeons into which the adventurers to be sent to pillage, since the conceit of the game is that the player is investing in adventurers to reap a profit. There would be no direct control of what they do in the dungeon. The player shouldn’t even get updates on progress, they either come back with a full report on what happened, or just don’t come back at all. Perhaps rumours if the expedition takes long enough, of death or hints of activity. There should be a sense of the tyranny of distance. When the party does come back, they come laden with loot but also reports that provide flavour to how the party performed.

Obviously the adventurers should have statistics have some variety. Not D&D stats. I already think there are too many stats in D&D just looking at the Big Six2 and then you have HPs and AC and oh my god! Reduce it to maybe Tanking, Protection, Exploration, and Leadership. There should be something to represent magic use as well. Possibly stealth as well, although that could arguably be lumped in with Exploration. I think there should be more things to rate then character slots in a party, and four feels like the right number for that. Six stats? Seven? Eight feels too many. Game Dev Story had four roles and four stats, but to mix it up and encourage multi-skilled employees it has a Fatigue mechanic, so you can’t just use the same employee over and over to defeat challenges they have been supercharged for. This game would have health and after expeditions to dungeons perhaps some adventurers will need to rest up and heal. Particularly if they have been killed and brought back to life, which is defintely a mechanic which must exist. Football management games would have the player roster turning over due to some players being sacked and some players being poached by rival teams. A dungeon bash management sim should have the adventurer roster turn over due to some players being gnawed by a illithid.

Dungeons should then be a series of challenges that are defeated by the ratings the party brings with it and are rewarded with gold and enchanted items. The usual loot. And some sort of experience point system allowing the characters to be improved. Maybe you just abstract that out as spending the gold you earn from the party. Going back to Game Dev Story as an example, Research is earned during the game dev phase that can later be spent on training and leveling up your employees. The money earned from game sales are used to finance the next game, and unlocking new game dev options. I do think the gold earned from dungeons should be used to finance something unrelated to the adventurer-party-expedition mechanic. I’m just unsure what that would be.

Most importantly, there has to be an end game. I have an aversion to games that do not have a goal to reach. Traditionally those goals were finishing all the levels, or winning the race, defeating your opponent, or getting to Alpha Centauri. I never did complete Game Dev Story, but with the sports manager games there is at minimum the sense of constant renewal of the game through the turning of the seasons. You may have won the FA Cup in one season, but next season you have to start again, and probably not with the same roster of players as some leave for other teams. What I am looking for though is a victory condition, even if only have vague ideas of exactly what that might look like. A Big Bad that your party ultimately discovers as the guiding force behind all the dungeons they have cleared out, the capitalist behind it all in negative to the player?

I think it would be a fun game to play once or twice, if it could be executed well. I don’t make the mistake of believing I could create this myself. Not from a software development perspective, but in terms of game design. Game design is a skill just like any other kind of design and not one I have had any occasion to acquire. So even as I have written this, I know it will never leave the confines of my own system even were it ever actually created. But there you are, an idea for a game I have had bouncing around my skull for a few years.

  1. I gave up on trying to embed a Facebook post. Facebook claims it can be done, but it seems to be another stop on Facebooks long running streak in badly executing poorly designed ideas.

  2. WIS should be dropped, and Clerics should use CHA as their Prim Requisite. Although, the prime requisite rule should also be dropped.

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