Print and Play: Adventure Town, Pt 1

I saw this one winning the poll ahead of time so there’s been a bit of work on this idea from the getgo.

So! The idea as outlined on my Patreon was to work on a roll and write game modelled on a town, which I found super interesting! I haven’t done anything like this before, and while I wrote about Roll and Write, I hadn’t explored it.

Let’s start with some basic ideas. Just throwing some ideas out there that may or may not need stating. This is kind of a representation of the scribbling I do in my notebook.

  • The game is tenatively called ‘Adventure Town’
  • It wants to represent a place
    • a town
    • this implies some flow of population over time
    • this means we need a passage of time
  • the place wants to grow
  • minimal arrests – keep players paying attention on other players’ turn
  • easy to print-and-play
    • single-faced cards so it can be sleeved easily
      • not many so there isn’t a lot of need for preparation
      • shuffling should be rare then
    • minimal exotic components
      • dice are okay, but 6-sided are best
      • no need for digital devices
    • small number of components, maybe one major component per player
  • make something that translates nicely to a fancy version

Okay, so that’s a pretty good field. With that in mind I scribbled out some ideas in my bullet journal, to get the most rudimentary ideas out. Some of them you may notice are a bit … silly. Like, just a drawing of a dice, a drawing of a grid – but it’s that folded set up in the upper-right that stands out to me.

This idea, where you fold up the player board so it can have a public and private face, really excited me so I went and worked on an example:

This is just a simple board based on dividing an A4 sheet into 3 sections vertically. I like this because the verticality of a sheet is really big: A player with a full A4 sheet to track needs a lot of space on the table in front of them. If you turn it sideways you get a different effect, but if you can keep the player’s focus on a small space in front of them, you don’t risk overwhelming them with space.

So I printed this off and scribbled on it to make sure I had my orientations right, which resulted in this:

Here’s another detail this prototype taught me: Dimensions. My thought at first was that each segment should be 33% of the page. Kind of not. The public information space wants to be the smallest, because it fits in the middle and it doesn’t matter if its bottom edge isn’t flush. So instead, I plan going forward to make that section 30% of the page, and the remaining two segments 35%. This should make the folding easier and less precise.

So there’s one lesson: There’s some room to be forgiving with material objects.

This lets us make the player sheets serve as a sort of randomised object but not in a way that players need to be able to keep ambiguous long. The private space can include information like a hidden role, which doesn’t change after the game starts, that the player can check and take notes on.

In the fancy printed version of the game, this might be left up to cards, to take up less space in the box. With that in mind, I then did some quick fiddling to try and feel how much space I had to play with:

These additions are to make the whole thing feel a bit more peopled. If there’s going to be background detail (and I don’t know if I will, depends on art availability), then I want to make sure I know how it affects player experience.

 This black and white version of the sheet is here to make sure that the sheets still look okay and aren’t confusing without colour to differentiate lines. Most people aren’t going to print a sheet on a colour sheet unless they have to, and this is another way to make it easier.

This is our exploration so far of the material space of a character sheet. We’ll have more as the weeks go on, and we’ll talk about solving other problems like player attention and the feeling of growth.

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