Bloodwork: Emergent System Design

Boom here’s a banner.

The original run of this was about what the card needed on it and now we’re looking at what the card doesn’t need on it. I want to see what I can do with the structure so the card face can be minimised. If they don’t need numbers on the cards, if I don’t need the thrall back… what do I need? What do I get?

I could pare the original design down to literally nothing. Cards just as unique signifiers, and then have them serve as storage for other relationship signifiers. But that’s boring. What I want is for the cards to demonstrate a space for a unique mechanism for each card, but for what I represent on my turn being complex enough for me to handle it, but not so complex that you need to track everything from your side of the table.

To make the game potentially include a deck builder, hand builder, or stream builder, then I need to give up on unique card backs. In the original design, young vampires were represented by one deck of cards with ‘thrall’ on the card back. This design was how the vampires did not consider anyone who wasn’t a vampire remarkable at all, they were just generic meat bags. I liked this idea because it meant that different factions could relate to young vampires differently; some old ones would never turn young vampires, some young ones would have a skill in recruiting them, and maybe there were factions who had a choice about feeding them into a wood chipper for a burst of quality.

But now, I want things to be more modular for each player type to satisfy different kinds of Vampire covens.

Thralls and Blood are now tokens. Blood is a currency you can track over the course of the game, and use to pay for purchases on the marketplace. Blood can also be spent to do things – winning and losing fights. Thralls are a token too, and mostly, vampires can spend vampires

Here’s a thought though: Should the dice rolling be limited to some specific factions? This removes the dice draft from the game but it frees up some designs from being beholden to the dice. This has pros and cons; dice occupy a lot of space in the box, is it too indulgent for them to be alone in the box for one or two factions? Hang on: if I choose to keep the dice isolated to one subset, then ‘according to the dice’ has a particular value to it.

Here’s an idea pursuing this space: Old Vampires Use The Dice, new vampires don’t. Old Vampires include the Crypto Currency types (which also relates to the way that crypto is a new system instilled with old VC money), the multi-level marketers (showing that it’s an existing privilege system being rebuilt), and the Vampire Cops (to tie into the ‘blue bloods’ ideas). Old Vampires are all dealing with one another by drafting dice with one another, but that means they feel fundamentally different to the young gangs of Vampires.

The three ways Old Vampires work:

  • The Cryptogoons start the game with six markers, numbered one to six. When you buy a card as a Crypto Goon, it goes into a deck of cards you have that shuffles. At the end of each round, you assign a card from your deck to one of your six markers, indicating that that’s where the server farm is set up and how they’re feeding it (by draining from the people who buy in). Thrall tokens collect at each number, and you can stack cards on a number or not. Note that if your number is attacked, you lose everything there, no defense, just smackaroo, but you’re decentralised, so you only lose one vampire wholly and the rest go back into your deck to come out later. You’re persistent, and you have to constantly consume thralls to expand, which means you’re always recruiting thralls. Thralls generate blood for you, and make each node on your network better.
  • The Pyramid start the game with a central card that has slots 2, 3, 4, and 5 on it. When you add a card to your collection you can add it into these slots. When you have each slot filled, you can add to a row above, offset by one, starting your new order – now they count 1-5, or 2-6. Your third and final row sits atop that and gets value from 1-6. The Pyramid has cascading effects – whenever a number triggers, you can trigger cards below it afterwards, too, meaning your lower cards get you a lot of value over time. You can turn thralls into Vampires or Blood, freely.
  • The Blue Bloods deal out a line of cards, 1-6. Each turn, a card from your line gets pushed off the end and goes onto the bottom of your deck. This is meant to represent the way that city central authority loops over and over, the way that police forces are often revolving doors of the same kinds of people taking over the same kinds of jobs and nothing much changes because priorities are largely the same. The Blue Bloods have the most thralls, and maybe can’t even use Blood tokens because they just have too much human capital (feeding on prisoners, homeless people, and people who aren’t meaningfully offending). Also, they can probably do Violence very safely. Note that you don’t shuffle your deck: you can choose what order things go on the bottom of your deck, representing control and corruption.
  • The Cult. Cultists get to add cards to their numbers 1-6. Once you have six cards, though, any time you roll a number, you have to discard one of your cultists. This means you’re constantly recruiting. Any time you roll a blank number, your cult collapses, and all of your cards get discarded, shuffled, and you restart. Very mercurial but constantly evolving.

The three Young vampire groups all use the same cards, but don’t use dice. These are the ones I’m not super certain about, but I do like the symmetry of the different numbers.

  • Deck-builder: Your cards go into a deck and you draw a number of cards each turn. You can spend currency these cards generate to get other abilities, like drawing cards, generating violence or protecting yourself or resources. At the end of your turn, the cards are thrown into the bin, but those cards are vulnerable to violence. So you can spend resources to put cards directly on the bottom of your deck.
  • Line-Builder: Your cards go in a line. You have a token that lives on your line. When you add a card to your line, you activate the token and it goes across the line all the way to an end. This means the best way to do things can feel like going back and forth constantly.
  • Hand-Builder: Every turn, you add a vampire in front of you. It triggers itself, and the vampires next to where it gets placed. But when you run out of vampires you have to pick them all up.