By the time you read this, I will have created a “Runebound Tales – Questing” topic at Board Game Geek in the “variants” subforum of Runebound 2E. A link is presented at the end of this article, as maintained in other ongoing projects.
I hope everyone can get involved from the start, so share this with other RB2E players who might be interested. Involvement will determine if this project continues in the long run, as I do not wish to burn time on something no one will use. So let us begin…
There is a lot to cover for development of this proposed new deck in the Runebound Tales series. Do not let this overwhelm you into giving up. Your help is needed, so… skim the content herein, pick a detail or two that interests you most, and later branch out to other details as (hopefully) our conversation grows.
If all proceeds accordingly, final choices for this project will be kept in an online document accessible to everyone. This will keep the forum topic from being overloaded with accessory content. We start off with two superficial and fanciful issues to get us in the mood.
Deck Title and Back
I want feedback on this deck’s official title. If it is fine as stated, then that is that; if you have other notions, do share!
For the card back, some possibilities are in the new development gallery. Note that the template looks like the Runebound Tales: In the Wild deck; this is intentional. This template was originally development for rules cards I created for Judd Jensen’s Cities of Adventure, specifically the sub-set applicable to the core game.
Different templates were created for each set of cards related to each big box expansion. Likewise, all RT decks related to the core game will use this tan stone template. As to the illustration(s)…
Figures and/or backgrounds can be mixed and matched—or not—and the same for alternatives that you suggest. Yes, they need tweaking, for they are coming out too dark. I have even thought that a mix of different back illustrations throughout the deck might be fun, but that is a bit of a wild notion.
Be aware that (aside from game iconography I re-created from scratch), I will not use other graphics / art from the commercial products for the game.
Icons on card back samples have little meaning as yet and may change. These are placeholders representing a possible range of quest “types” akin to (but differing from) those found in Sands of Al-Kalim. More on quest types later herein. The three “attribute” icons (in gold) might be removed in place of up to 7 different quest type icons for this deck.
Card Design & Size
If should be obvious by the card back art that (unlike quests in SoAK) these cards will be one-sided. I never liked having to rig ways to draw “randomly” from so many quest types in SoAK without seeing something about the quest on top.
In using one card side, space for quest instructions and reward might get tight. Front side illustrations might be minimal or none. There are other standardized card sizes available through the P.O.D.s that I use, such as Tarot (2.75” x 4.75”) and Square (3.5” x 3.5”) and Jumbo (3.5” x 5.5”). Some have matching “tuck box” sizes and those will be favored above others if needed.
I know people can get fussy about cards being all the same size in a game. I can be that way, too, but the necessities of play come first. We will stick to Poker sized cards, if at all possible… and even that differs from the Bridge sized cards used in RB2E.
These are about “how” quests are accessed during play. As yet, there are no examples of individual quest instructions, as those will vary widely and we will address them after we determine the greater architecture of this expansion as a whole.
Remember that we are not creating a “variant” where quests are (part of) an endgame. This deck is to be an addition to play of the core game and its variants; the possibility of a quest-based variant is extra and something for later.
In SoAK, you draw a quest anywhere outside of a city (settlement) if  you do not have an incomplete quest and  nothing else happens during your turn. There are other conditions as well that need not be reiterated.
I would prefer the one incomplete quest rule to be used for this deck so that players can have only one to work on at any time. More is needed for this open-ended addition used in all modes of play. Some options to consider might be…
In the Cities:
If you take no other action (heal, market, etc.), you may (do something, roll something, use a skill, etc.) to seek out rumors, gossip, etc. while in a city. If successful (at whatever), draw a quest card. Possible modifiers might include spending gold on bribes, etc.
Before Engaging a Challenge:
State your intention to “subdue” instead of kill; if so, you may not use Before Combat options. When the Challenge is subdued, you gain experience and any non-gold reward; you do not gain gold listed when you subdue a Challenge.
You may then Test Diplomacy vs. the Challenge’s Spirit; if successful, roll 2D10 below the Challenge’s Mind to draw a quest. Regardless of the outcome, a “subdued” Challenge is placed on the Undefeated Track. NOTE: Any Challenge already on the Undefeated Track may not be “subdued.”
After Defeating (Killing) a Challenge:
Discard one or more exp. points gained to draw 1 quest plus 1 more per point discarded. Choose 1 quest or none. A bit hinky and I am uncertain if this is a good idea, but grabbing quests after Challenges should not be free or easy; that would merely compound rewards and pander to those looking for quicker power-ups and wins. There are more efficient ways to feed that latter petty desire than my doing all this work.
Gold gained from a defeated Challenge should never be forfeited to draw a quest; there is no one left to “pay” for information once a Challenge has been defeated (killed).
Special Cards in other Runebound Tales decks:
Cards might be added to other RT decks to trigger drawing a quest. So far, only the In the Wild deck is available, but with the coming 4 Pack Expansion Deck, a few quest “trigger” cards might be added as optional. If the In the Settlements deck is ever started / completed, the same could be added directly to that deck’s multiple encounter cards… optional for if and when the Quest deck is also used.
NOTE: I prefer that RT decks be autonomous add-ons for the game that can be used or not without culling and special setup. For this particular deck, I might make an exception; any “quest” related cards in other RT decks (when the quest deck is not used for a game) could simple be discarded for an immediate re-draw.
Feel free to make other suggestions that come to mind. Likewise share any thoughts or options about any of the above. And more than one method for gaining a quest can be made standard to this deck.
Quest Starting Point (Optional)
In most cases, the quest would start immediately where drawn. A few with special benefits / themes might require first reaching a designated starting space before proceeding to the quest’s primary destination. A starting space might be the nearest city, the nearest adventure space of specified color, the nearest space of a specified terrain type, etc. This would be a feature of limited and specific use on only some quests of particular theme/storyline, etc.
Quest Time Limit (Optional)
As with Starting Point, this might occur in only a few cases. A “rescue” quest might have to be completed in a certain number of turns or be discarded. Possibly there are consequences to the game and/or player for failure or immediate discard. A few such quests might require acceptance and cannot be discarded.
Quest End Point (Optional)
Again, a rare detail, and a space to reach after completing the instructions on the quest card at that quest’s listed destination. The only example would be again something like a “rescue” where the captive must be returned safely to a particular location. This might pop up in “Honors” quests, a quest type mentioned later herein.
Quest Primary Destination (Required)
Named/labeled destinations on the board will not be used (as is the case in SoAK). Instead, terrain space references will be used so that the deck might work with more than just the core game board. Two other big box boards are “temperate” zone regions like the core board. There are two ways the destinations can be designated:
- by specified terrain references on the quest card as the target location, or
- by a specified number of terrain clue cards (as part of a separate deck or a sub-deck of this expansion) for terrains that must surround a designated target space.
Specified Terrain References
Needed terrains around the destination are depicted on the card. Those terrains may be on any side of the target destination when referenced on the board and not as shown on the card. The number of such needed surrounding terrains will be gauged against the benefit level for the completed the quest.
In some cases, the primary destination space may also have a designated terrain; in other cases it may be a a wild space that can be any terrain… so long as the surrounding terrains are next to it.
Clue Cards (Optional)
A target terrain space or wild space is listed on the quest card along with the number of other terrains that must surround it. Creating the pattern of needed other terrains would be based on acquiring and building up terrain “clue” cards. Once the player has enough cards for the needed surrounding terrains and has located a space on the board with such terrains around it…
The player (character) proceeds to the primary destination space, plays and discards the needed clue cards (and all other clue cards as well). The player then attempts to complete the quest’s other instructions.
NOTE: Additional clue cards held but not applicable to the primary destination must be discarded as well. Clues drawn in completing one quest may not be retained to apply to a later different quest.
NOTE: When and where clue cards can be drawn needs some discussion. Those who have played The Frozen Wastes might offer some perspective on this, as I have not played that big box as yet.
Failing a Quest
Once the quest destination is reached, failing to complete the instructions for that location might require:
- Retrying again on your next turn;
- Leaving and returning to the destination before trying again;
- Acquiring new clue cards (if used) to seek a new destination; or
- Discarding the quest (and/or suffering any effects of failure in a few cases).
Standards much be chosen for the default, but any of these might also pop up as a special circumstance on individual quests. Some variety is always nice within reason.
Quest Type and Difficulty
I imagine 6 quests to start for each of 6 (possibly 7) types. The 6 quest within each type are further broken down by comparative strength of benefits (and thereby difficulty): 1 high, 2 medium, 3 low.
The 6 (or 7) Types
The 5 quest types from SoAK (Artifacts, Allies, Locations, Runes, Mounts) can be used as a model for some quests and quest types in this deck, though different (original) icons will be used. Of the SoAK quest types, the benefit type gained in the end often varies within some types; the quest deck might need something more standardized for its types.
ASIDE: I have severe misgivings about the “Mount” category in SoAK; it is glitchy at best. RB2E mechanics are not innately designed for the use of mounts. In a game where the main character may have followers (and not always just “Allies”), such would not have a matching mount.
The “Mount” style quest reward is Swiss cheese on the mechanics side… full of gaping holes as well as punching holes in game continuity. This needs a fix rather than being glossed over if Mounts are to be part of the quest deck.
For the two additional quest types proposed in this deck, one would lean on what true “quests” are traditionally about—transformation rather than treasure. The other one would be about how a character is transformed in the eyes of the community in being honored for accomplishments meaningful to them and not the hero.
One obvious example of Transformations is keeping the completed quest card as if it were an experience token. Yes, the card should be kept instead of discarded in favor of a token. Otherwise the same quest keeps coming up again; each Transformation should happen only once in a game session.
OPTION: In the previous notion of 6 quests for each quest type, I suggest that a Spirit boost be the one “advanced” reward; Mind and Body would be the two “intermediate” rewards; the three easy rewards would be a +2 boost to all skills related to one of the three attributes. You can tell me what you think during discussion in the forum topic.
For Honors, I have not thought much about their rewards. These must be associated to a civilized location where reputation has an influence. Perhaps free/discounted healing in one city; the option to draw two additional Market cards in another city and choose one when adding to its market deck; and so on.
In a few cases, failing an Honors quest might have permanent negative effects upon a character at the said location. The card might be kept and marked with a Wound token to show it is a Disgrace instead of an Honor.
Suggestions are welcome (and encouraged) to help build the 3 tiers for 6 quest in each of the 7 types.
About the Clue Cards Option…
If such are used—which I favor for wider variety in play and quest adaption to some big box expansion boards—they might be seen by some as troublesome. The quest expansion / add-on deck is intended foremost for P.O.D. production (with downloadable PDF version as secondary). Terrain-based clue cards would have to take up part of the 54 card count if included as a separate type of card. There would have to be enough clue cards to make the questing system work for multiple players at the same time.
NOTE: The art for the clue card back might match that of the quest card art… or not.
7 quest types with 6 possible quests each, plus at least 2 Rules cards, equals 44 cards used so far. That leaves only 10 cards for clue cards. Not quite enough, is it?
First, about 30% of clue cards would have two terrains; one or both could be played/discarded to reach a quest’s primary destination. Second, perhaps not all quest types need 6 quests in this starter deck; that might gain a few more slots for clue cards.
Let me present four notions for the use of separate clue cards that might overcome the card count problem in different ways.
1. Cutting the Cards.
The Poker Size cards I prefer are 2.5” x 3.5”. If each clue card included were actually two printed smaller cards, each clue card could then be cut in half to create two USA-mini sized cards at 1.75” x 2.5”. That would make 20 clue cards.
Downside: Some players will dislike “cutting” production quality cards just purchased.
Upside: Without the need to create/package/ship separate cards, this is the quickest—and cheapest—way to create more clue cards with a 56 card deck for P.O.D. production.
2. Card Zones by Quest Type
With only 10 cards the same size as the quest cards, some part of the clue cards might be “zoned.” A main terrain “clue” would be applicable to any quest, while the other zones (optional clues) could only be used for certain types of quests. Zone clues might or might not be allowed to be used in conjunction with the card’s main clue terrain(s). This would allow a limited number of cards to present extra clues that are conditional.
Downside: The increased number of terrain clues on so few cards would mean that (1) quest destinations might be achieved too quickly some players with a quest and clues while (2) other players might still be slowed down with too few clue cards available. Quests of “easy” conditions are too likely be finished in one (or two) clue draws at most. At the same time, the count of actual, physical cards to draw is still limited.
Upside: the increased number of clues might make 10+ cards at matching size work a bit better… so long as clue cards are not easily gained and used / discarded expediently.
NOTE: “Clues by Quest Type” might still be used for variety on some cards in any of the follow 2 clue card options.
3. Increased Deck Size
The P.O.D. operations I work with (primarily The Game Crafter) offer packaged, tuck-boxed decks of standardized counts above 54. The next step up is 72. If all quest types had 6 quests, and we have rules in 2 cards, then there would be 28 cards left for “clues”… or extra rules… or “variant” instructions, etc.
Downside: a deck of greater card count will cost more though not too much more. And still, most clue based cards in commercial games are not this large.
Upside: This is perhaps the cleanest way to increase clue card count… if rather large clue cards are acceptable.
4. Separate Clue Deck
The minimum count for any deck is 36 cards, and there is a tuckbox for this size. Clue cards might be created as a totally separate product.
Downside: Obviously the cost.
Upside: No limits on what can be done on the cards, though I am not certain what other uses there might be for such a deck to justify purchasing one.
5. USA Mini (1.75” x 2.5”) Cards
A USA Mini is exactly half the size (turned sideways) of Poker sized cards suggested for this deck. (Euro-Minis are not available at the P.O.D. outfits I work with.) This of course means a separate deck for the clue cards, and thereby a minimum count of at least 36 cards.
Downside: No tuckboxes are available for mini cards; they must be bagged or shrink wrapped. Since there would be two separate decks, which are separate components, most P.O.D.s require an additional larger box to contain both in one package. Mini-cards are not usually sold as a product unto themselves.
Upside: mini cards for clues are usually preferred for iconic cards. They take up less space in the player’s area and are more easily organized therein.
6. Clue Tokens
NOTE: This option is out of the question, though I know some might have thought of it during this read. Tokens from a P.O.D. come in punch sheets that would increase the size (and cost) of a box for both the tokens and the quest deck.
ASIDE: Tokens are (too) often used by game companies as “glitz” to make players think they are getting more value (for more money) in getting more “stuff.” I am sick of tokens, as some know by my work with “token dice” to replace them in varied games. I even have token dice for money / gold / coins, the most common type of token. No more tokens, please!
When and Where to Draw Clues
If the clue card option is used, conditions for drawing one have to be established. Some of you who have played The Frozen Wastes might bring the rest of us up to speed on how / when / where those are drawn, the strengths and weaknesses in implementation, and any “house” rules applied that you have encountered. I personally think clue cards should not be drawn whenever / wherever. So we need to talk about this if the clue cards are included.
Note that clue cards might have other uses for the future in the Runebound Tales series or even other add-ons for the game. So do not think they are just for this one expansion and thereby useless otherwise.
Likely this article is longer than most of you really wanted to read right now. It does put out a lot of food for thought. So it is time to pick out one or two details that seem most important to you for a start… and then go over to the new discussion topic and let all of us hear from you!
Again, whether this project proceeds or not depends on interest shown in its development. I hope to see you over at the forum, and I will return here as well soon enough.
LINKS OF IMPORTANCE