Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Writing in Other Places: My Forbidden Island review and a twisted map for your RPGs

Sometimes I write reviews or little posts for my wife's blog, Baby Toolkit: parenting gone geek. I wanted to point out my full review the excellent cooperative board game, Forbidden Island, that just got posted today. If you have a moment, please check out All Together Now: Tangling with Gamewright's Forbidden Island. As I like to put a bit of a role playing twist on things on this site, I had an idea for using the basic structure of Forbidden Island to make up a devilish trap or dungeon in a fantasy or high adventure RPG game.

The basic components of Forbidden Island include twenty four double sided island tiles. A deck of Flood cards which illustrate one of the island tiles each. A deck of Treasure cards containing cards representing the four treasures on the island, a couple of useful item cards that might be useful to the adventurers, and a couple of Waters Rise! cards that make matters worse.

You see the Water's Rise! cards cause the marker on the Water Meter to go up one tick mark. The Water Meter is divided into a number of sections and each section denotes how many Flood cards are drawn after each player's turn. After a couple of ticks have been marked off due to the drawing of Water's Rise! cards, the players must draw, and flood or sink, more and more tiles at a time.

To apply this back to RPGs, a GM could design an entire dungeon, or a single room that works on a similar principle and the players would have to play against the game's mechanics in order to defeat the challenge. I like the room idea the best as it lends itself to being repeatable. Let's say the adventurers hit the room first and they start at the easiest water level. There's still some challenge in beating the room, but they are more likely than not to win. Now say that they have to hit the room again (or another random room like it), but this time the difficulty level is set much higher; the marker on the Water Meter is placed higher up. Just watch them sweat it before even starting, especially if they just barely bested the challenge on the easier setting.

And if you don't like the cross layout, you could place the tiles in any configuration that makes sense. See the link at the bottom of my review for some European edition and fan created alternate tile layouts for the Forbidden Island game. You could include any game rules in the RPG system of your choice to define moves, number of actions, special powers and so forth and how they will interact with the basic mechanics of this mini game within our RPG session. To make it more difficult, throw in monsters or other challenges that work with the mechanics and against the party.  For the most part, though, this is one of those game master puzzles that you could just surprise them with and see how they handle it.

Also, I should note that the Water hazard could be anything. It could be lava or a sucking void. It doesn't really matter as long as the game mechanics and the danger to the characters are spelled out for the players.

I think it would be fun? What do you guys think? Are you a GM or have you had a GM that has employed real puzzles as some form of simulation, challenge or distraction during your RPG sessions?

Let me know in the comments below.

** Storied Adventures likes to take inspiration from whichever sources it finds, be they board games, RPGs or books of all sorts. It is usually a board and table top gaming blog that is written by a guy who loves board games and is returning to RPGs after a 20 year absence. I am attached to my wife's Amazon affiliate account, so purchases made through any Amazon links support the ongoing blogging efforts of Storied Adventures (many thanks!)

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