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MetaSeed: A Worldbuilding and Game Design project

fantasy worldbuilding tabletop game

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KraKonFOUR #1 Posted 09 April 2016 - 04:53 PM

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Hello and Welcome to MetaSeed.

 

Here, I will track my progress through the development of MetaSeed. It is a worldbuilding project, integrated into a game design effort.

 

About the world:

 

Earth. 1 million years have passed since the first human civilization collapsed. From the radioactive, polluted and ruined remains of the world, life has sprung again, forming five factions. With it appears magic, a force known differently to each race, yet equally devastating. The Vroz, an ancient and predatorial species, was summoned by the devastating energies of humanity's wars. They draw ever nearer, and promise to consume all life of Earth.

 

Today, they war.

 

Tomorrow, they face destruction.

 

The game:

 

A tabletop wargame, to be played with cards. It is free and easy to play, with an emphasis on customizability, metagaming and player freedom. Each player designs their own units, drawn from a mixture of the different factions with a playstyle in mind. On the field, the rules are streamlined and effective: combat promises to be fast-paced and rewards tactical thinking. An innovative turn system keeps all players occupied.

 

Themes:

 

A rational, internally consistent approach to worldbuilding. The different factions are brutal and flawed, but never mad. The magic system does not dismiss the links between cause and effect, and is in fact a veil over scientific concepts familiar to each player. In some ways, a sensible Warhammer, in other ways an elaborate chess game.

 

Objective:

 

A fun game where players can express their creativity, and an interesting world from which can be drawn momentous battles and fascinating characters.


Edited by KraKonFOUR, 09 April 2016 - 05:54 PM.


KraKonFOUR #2 Posted 09 April 2016 - 05:35 PM

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The setting should be vaguely familiar to you, reader. The Asian plains, the European mountains, the deserts of Africa... they are all still here. But, you and your people, you've been long gone.

Some time in the distant past, life crawled out of the primordial ocean and slowly evolved, naked and without magic, into the Firstborn
The first people to rise from the mud are now called the Firstborn, or the Elves. They called themselves Humans, and soon mastered the use of MetaSeed, which they called nuclear technology. The pinnacle of their achievement was the Cornucopia: strange-matter catalyzed conversion of light elements into radioactive fuels, such as uranium or plutonium. With this, they managed to turn energy into a free resource.

 

The Elves approached post-scarcity, where they would no longer be tied to worldy needs. However, the new technologies amplified the divide between nations, instead of closing the gap and unifying humanity. Wars broke out, and the ability to replace losses quickly with matter control justified the widespread, tactical use of nuclear weaponry. Eventually, the Earth was being torn apart by unfathomable weapons, which burnt the Earth and broadcast the wars into space.

 

To survive the conflict, nanomachinery that absorbed radioactivity as an energy source and repaired tissue damage in its hosts was released into the wild.

 

It is the latter which drove life to rise again in the post-apocalyptic, lethally radioactive wasteland that the Elves left behind.

Who are the new races?

Nautilids - Canada/Alaska/Atlantic Shores. Humanoid sharks, eels, crabs, with pincers, tentacles and gills. They prey on merchant ships and haunt the nightmares of fishermen. They roam the open seas on monstrous mounts, and they follow their Fertile Queen blindly. However, their incursions are becoming more frequent, each time moving deeper into land. Some say a dormant power, dwelling even deeper than the Nautilids, has awaken and is driving them out of the seas...

Saurians - European Forests/South America/Central africa. Dwellers of swamps, jungles and humid forests, this race awakened before Man. They resemble crocodiles with elongated limbs, frogs walking upright, geckoes with human eyes... they are the peak of the food chain. They have rudimentary tools, with which they build lethal traps to protect their forests and the wonders rumored to be hidden within. The lucky explorers die in spike pits or are riddled with poisoned arrows. The unlucky ones are captured and put to use as sacrifices in elaborate rituals to please the Howling God. Their screams echo throughout the night, and the next morning, villagers are raided and women and children poached by scaled warriors that move through the undergrowth with supernatural speed, shooting arrows and hunting with spears and nets. If it were not for the inter-tribal warfare that ravages their population, they would conquer the world in short order.

Ashra - Central Asia/North Africa. In the dry plains east of the Stone Empire, hordes of demons roam. Deadly archers on horseback, impressive tacticians on the fields of battle, these nomads only resemble humans from afar. Under their armor, they have jaws built for rending flesh, claws for slicing open their victims and bright red skin. They utter chants of dark magic that frenzies their warriors. The raids are announced by a shadow assassin, a mere cloud and knife, slitting the throat of a senior commander or leader, to be found dead next to his relatives in the morning. The intelligence and skill of these creatures is evident, but instead of building cities, they tear down others. Some say this is the work of the Centaur King's prophecies, himself the creation of a Sorceror's Cabal privy to knowledge forbidden to humans.

Black Kingdoms - Russia/East Europe. In these cold lands, the pollution of ancient wars persists, and so the MetaSeed is strong. Early men were cursed by the combined presence of the pollution and the harsh winters. They degraded into ghouls that preyed on their families after death. Corpses withered but never decayed, sometimes springing to life with otherworldly hunger. Vampires are the brave souls that hunted for power in the magical wastes and returned, their noble hearts turned black by the curse of immortality. Their life was now sustained by consuming the blood of the living. Together, they destroyed the Republic and formed the Black Kingdoms on its remains. Each Kingdom has its Vampire King- a being centuries old, transcending mortality and humanity, always desperate for blood. They war as much between themselves as with the Stone Empire.

Free Realms - South Europe/Arabian Peninsula. A diverse tapestry of tribes, nations and republics that fight for a democratic, cosmopolitan way of life. They make their living braving the seas and deserts to trade between themselves and the Stone Empire. Disputes are settled by both sides hiring mercenaries from the Stone Empire. This flow of gold back to the Empire is said the be the sole reason why the Empire's ports open up for them. Others say it is the education of their mages and their control of the sea lanes that keep the Empire from mounting a full offensive. While a citizen might enjoy freedom and rights found nowhere else, there are dark corners in the Free Realms. Greed has pushed some into piracy and dealings with Man's enemies. Others delve into the dark arts, either in a quest for power or forbidden knowledge. Many a mage has been caught smuggling black tomes from the North and trying to recreate the blood magics of the Vampires...

Stone Empire - Central Europe/West Europe. The once greatest civilization of men. A thousand years ago, they expanded from their birthplace on the European shores as the Republic, growing tall and powerful as they reclaimed land and forest from the wilderness. Any non-humans they encountered, they crushed. They discovered the use of magic through technology, fuelling their research and building undefeated armies with it. When the Republic crumbled, its population fled into the mountains, where they burrowed and starved for generations. A hundred years later, they crept out of the holes a different people. Each step forward was behind a fortress. Each farm was ringed with defensive walls, each road dotted with watch-posts and each hill topped by a tower. The paranoid, pessimistic rulers murdered each other over the newly acquired scraps of land, and the survivors formed an iron-fisted Empire. Driven by magic, armies grew once more. To feed their people, the Stone Empire trades manpower and mercenaries for food and skills. To control them, there is an oppressive monotheistic religion and a personality cult around the Holy Emperor. Many fear the Empire returning to the deviancy of the Republic.

The Vroz - Outer space. Drawn by the gamma ray energies emitted by the Elves' final wars, they launched an expedition from hundreds of lightyears away. This predatory alien species was born to instill fear in the rest of the galaxy. However, their voyage across the void has defanged them. Cosmic rays, decay and biological deviations as the generations grew and died after a short and miserable life inside the closed spaceship has reduced them to a fraction of the ability of their ancestors. Today, they approach from the edge of the solar system, sending forward scout forces in dropships to sample the local biosphere and prepare appropriate weapons for their subjugation.

What about the game?

Well, I'll keep this brief, as I'll go into detail about it in later posts. The core concept is that each player has a total number of points for an army, and a certain number of spells.

These points are divided freely between a number of units of the player's choosing. An 'army deck' for a 1000 point game can consist of 250 units of 4 points each, up to 10 units of 100 points each. Regular units can reach 40 points. 'Skill' units can reach 75 points. Heroes are a fixed 100 points.

The individual unit's points are distributed into Attack, Defense, Hitpoints and Speed, with Skills (up to 2 per unit or 3 in a hero) having fixed costs. They can be specialized into three movement categories and 4 unit types. They are also divided by faction, with each race providing bonuses and maluses, and faction skills providing intersting playstyles.

 

The units, once designed and the points distributed, are assembled into regiments. An army can have a maximum of 10 regiments. There will be more details later, but a regiment acts as one 'super-unit' in combat.

Regiments have a movement range dependent on the speed stat of their slowest unit. They are played in order of speed. For example, a regiment of 8 units with 10 speed will be played before a regiment with 7 units at 11 speed and 1 unit at 5 speed. This keeps a back and forth between players.

Combat involves a Movement, Shooting, Melee and Damage phase. When attacking or defending, Regiments use the sum total of their units' Attack and Defense. Flanking gives a bonus to Attack power.

After the fastest regiment has had its turn, the next fastest regiment gets to play, even if it is the opponent's regiment. If there is a wide distribution of speeds, the regiments will be played back and forth between players, so there are no distinct 'turns' where one player crosses their arms for half an hour.

After all regiments have been moved, the opposite player can use a spell card. The number of spell cards available to each player is determined at the start of the game. The spells a player can start with depends on the composition of their army. A 100% undead army can use the most powerful faction spells, while an army with 10% of each race has to contend with generic spells.

To sum it up:

Free movement turn-based tactical wargame, with unit cards freely created by the player and assembled into regiments. It can be played with a deck of playing cards, a notebook and a ruler at the bare minimum.



KraKonFOUR #3 Posted 10 April 2016 - 10:40 AM

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Anyone interested?

KraKonFOUR #4 Posted 10 April 2016 - 03:19 PM

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An introduction to all factions:

 

Nautilids:

Masters of the Sea. Spawned on the coasts of America, they multiplied and moved deeper into the oceans. They are divided into clans, each led by a Fertile Queen. From her are born myriad hybrids of sharks, eels, octupii and various other humanoid nightmares. They enslaved the ocean's largest and most fearesome predators and used them as military forces to guarantee their power above and below the waves. However, their reign has been cut short. An even more ancient force has awakened in the darkest depths of the ocean, and it terrifies them. Today, they recklessly raid the Empire's shores and the Saurian's river banks, hoping to establish a foothold on land. Pushed forward by their Queen, they drive deeper and deeper into the land, trying to carve out a new domain for themselves...

 

Saurians:

The oldest and most powerful faction. Crocodilian, amphibian and other lizards that walk upright roam the forests and jungles of the world. They are self-proclaimed guardians of nature, and do not take well to human incursions. They retaliate with frequent raids, each time abducting victims to sacrifice in elaborate rituals to the Howling God. Retaliation is met with overwhelming force, and the battlefields are left poisoned and devoid of all warm-blooded life. If it were not for the generations of inter-tribal warfare, they could conquer the world in short order.

 

Ashra:

The scourge of the plains. These nomadic hordes lay waste to the Asian plains and the African Savannah. Their skin is red and orange, and their short stature is marred by demonic features. They used to belong to a sophisticated civilization in India, rich in culture, open to trade and thirsty for knowledge... until they were driven mad by their discoveries. The Ashra's ancestors demolished their own cities, burned their works of art and rode out onto the plains, now led by a Cabal of Sorcerors and a Centaur King. Each generation is raised to become fanatical warriors and silent assassins, with children willingly given up at the Sorcerors' request. Each year, the young as sent off on suicidal raids, but the lands they invade are burn down only to be abandoned in an uncomprehensible quest for destruction.

 

Black Kingdoms:

Long ago, Man's greatest achievement was the Republic, that spanned the entirety of Europe. It grew decadent over time, and young nobles ventured into the Northern wastelands in search of magical power. In the snow, they found what they were looking for. Immortality! But the cost was their humanity. Every year of their life from there-on would be at the cost of an innocent's blood. When they returned to the Republic, they grew rich and powerful, and infiltrated the highest spheres of power. In one night, they decapitated the Republic and revealed themselves as the Vampires. Today, the Black Kingdoms occupy the magnificent capital of the Republic. Each is centered on a Vampire King, centuries old, and is populated by hordes of undead ghouls.

 

Stone Empire:

Following the collapse of the Republic, men fled to the mountains in Western Europe. They burrowed inside, and starved in hiding for decades. When they re-emerged, they were changed. Harder, colder and united by the Holy Goddess. The rulers murdered each other over the newly acquired land and soon, an Emperor emerged. He rules the population with an iron fist, and kept in power by a totalitarian, theological state with frequent purges, public hangings and religious inquisitions. Paranoid and determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past, every farm has a wall, every road has a watchtower and every mountain is defended by a fortress, lending the name of 'Stone Empire'.

 

Free Realms:

Few men dared brave the seas and deserts to escape southwards from the Vampires and the Ashra. Today, their children form the Free Realms, an amalgam of republics, nation-states, tribes and clans that ring the Inner Sea. They have been joined since then by Stone Empire refugees and sometimes even non-humans... Although all enjoy freedom and can avoid persecution of their home state, the Free Realms does have some dark corners. Some, pushed by greed, turn to piracy, others, seeking power, dabble in the dark arts...

 

Vroz:

Long ago, a predatory alien race detected the explosion of energy released by the wars of the first humans. They sent an expeditionary force, intent on subjugating this new world and add it to the list of their countless victims. However, the interstellar voyage took its toll. Radiation sickness, malfunctions and in-breeding has left the Vroz as only a shadow of their former selves. With their objective in sight, they are only able to send off small portions of their number down to Earth. These creatures blindly obey their extraterrestrial masters, and try to pave the way for a full invasion. Despite their failings, the Vroz can still field unfathomable technologies and power enough to wipe out all life on Earth. Only by uniting human and non-human can they be beaten, but that is the least likely of outcomes...






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