|A Dungeon Master prepares|
To paraphrase the idea from the previous article, a boardgame is the simplest way to see how a particular set of rules translates into a player experience. When you can relate that experience to a different kind of real-world situation, you have the potential to use an existing ruleset to create choice and tension within the game.
Many board games have themes, which informs their design choices. In Monopoly, you can buy and sell property because it's a game about Real Estate. In Chess, you capture pieces because it is a war game. And in D&D, you get a massive combat system because the game is about fighting against monsters and evil creatures.
But when you aren't fighting a foe that is about equal to the power level of the party, the combat system of D&D tends to fall apart. That's why we can use other games to create systems that replicate non-fighting decisions, or situations where the fighting would be unfairly easy or difficult.
How to Use This Guide
|Want to play a game?|
But remember, rules create a play experience. You don't have to use all of the rules of another game, but taking some of them and repurposing the rules to mesh with D&D rules can give you that play experience without changing the game.
Here are some ways to meld the game rules of another game into D&D:
- If the game has a random element (dice, card draws, etc) replace it with a d20 roll on a preset table
- If players have life totals, stats, or resources, replace them with D&D numbers: HP, skills, gold, etc.
- If the game uses a game board, either convert it to 5 inch squares, hexes, or find a way to remove the elements of the rules that require a board
- If the game requires turns or rounds, decide if it is compatible with initiative
|Talk about uneven distribution of craftsmanship|
- Chess: two equal sized armies, units of unequal power and importance, no change in power of different areas, emphasis on planning and threat
- Battleship: two equal sized armies, working with limited information, reducing options based on known information
- Stratego: two equal sized armies, units of unequal power and importance, no change in power of different areas, working with limited information, emphasis on discovery and tracking losses
- Risk: multiple armies of different sizes, units of approximately equal power, areas of unequal power and importance, heavy emphasis on positioning
- Warhammer: two or more armies of approximately equal power, units of unequal power, focus on strategic positioning and utilizing unit abilities
Resource Gathering Games
|I swear to Pharoh if you lay down another road this friendship is over|
- Monopoly: use a given resource (money) to leverage areas of the board (properties) against your opponents
- Settlers of Catan: use a random resource (goods) to leverage areas of the board (hexes) against your opponents
- 7 Wonders/Dominion: gather resources, the choice of which denies that resource to your opponents, the resources themselves don't impact much of the game until the very end
- Poker: the quality of the resources is varied (by card suit/number), and their impact on the game is dependant on the total set of resources rather than just having the most of something
|I don't remember there being lightning in Chess...|
The other important point in these games is that there is a finish line with a timer: you must reach it before someone else does. That element of urgency should not be forgotten.
- Chutes and Ladders: The simplest of these types of games, rewards are moving ahead and punishments are falling behind
- Candyland: introduces a few more challenges, also, a different choice: you can take one of two paths, each with its own dangers
- Life: not only does this game have multiple paths and potential setbacks, but it introduces an extra element: You only win if you've gathered enough of a resource by the end
- Sorry: encourages inter-player combat while keeping the goal of reaching a finish line
- Quelf/Trivial Pursuit: Every space on the board requires a challenge with its own reward or punishment.
|How many images of weird chess landscapes are on the internet?|
- Hide and Seek: the basis for every stealth check in D&D. Try using rules variants to mix things up
- Clue: part of this game is that the killer doesn't know they did it until the end. That's not as great in D&D, but limiting resources and clues is awesome.
- Pictionary/Charades/20 Questions: fairly straightforward. Giving the players 20 questions for a major interrogation would be a good way to use this.
- Mastermind: Uses limited resources and truthful confirmation to allow guessing. Might be good for a long-term mystery
- Apples to Apples/Card Against Humanity: use it as a series of one-upper stories, maybe to spread a rumor
- Never Have I Ever: instant scene where the characters get to learn about each other
- Werewolf/Mafia: good for a one-shot, or a game where the players have to deal with doppelgangers
- Spin the Bottle: I don't recommend it
|Rule #75: Don't tell the players that you're gambling with their lives|
A solved game has a single ideal strategy. Tic Tac Toe is the most common example, but many games have ideal strategies, or close enough that someone who knows the game can always defeat someone who doesn't.
- Connect Four
- Chopsticks (a finger game)
- Small boards of Go and Reversi
We want to create and use rulesets that give the player choice in D&D. There needs to be multiple viable choices that can easily lead to victory or defeat. That's another reason why you shouldn't just whip out the Monopoly board during your session.
In the end, no board game is quite like D&D, and it's good to keep that in mind, even as you pilfer parts of rulesets to use for your games.
|Or you could just quit D&D and play the best game of all time|