Consolidated to a new blog!

Been a while! Echo Death is still near the top of my “design TODO list” as I love the theme and mechanics. Time just happens to fly, I got distracted with a light RPG with friends, and all those other usual excuses.

But the point of this post is to draw attention to a slight reorganization of my content. I’m combining a lot of my individual game blogs into a single place, so that they’re easier to update. So if you want to see more of Echo Death, or other games I wrote, visit
http://horizongamesblog.wordpress.com/echo-death/
Thanks for your interest.

(And yes I know it’s hilarious to basically move this blog when I only have one other post. Makes more sense for some of my older games, I swear!)

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All about my game idea

Hi there stranger. I’ve had the idea for a diceless tabletop game for about a year now. Just sort of ruminating at the back of my brain. I finally got around to jotting down some simple mechanics, playtesting once, and choosing a name. This blog will be dedicated to growing the kernel of that game into a full fledged system that is fun to play, thematic, unique, and interesting.

Download the super early version Echo Death rules (PDF)

So a bit of history about the game idea. I made Dinosaur Cowboys in the past, which is a more traditional skirmish game with half a dozen miniatures on each side, D12s, measuring range, etc. And then a year ago (almost exactly) I made a post detailing some game design thoughts. One of which was for a “Hackers” game.

The core concept is a diceless wargame, which is a new realm for me. My initial playtest was promising in that you spend 90% of the turn planning, and 10% executing. I feel like a traditional wargame with dice is 50/50, since the actual physical act of rolling dice, figuring out attack odds, etc. takes some time. Besides diceless I knew I wanted the theme to be computer related. I’m torn between 1980s style with the word “cyber” everywhere, or a twist on modern style, or a futuristic sci-fi style.

The game is meant to be played in a 1vs1 situation with two players. Each player gets 10 “Nodes”, which represent physical hardware devices in the real world (like cellphones, server farms, etc.). Then a virtual “Grid” is overlayed and battle commences between these Nodes. I sort of imagined the actual finished game to have a stylized printed map of a city from Google Maps with a square grid on it.
The Nodes are neat because unlike a normal soldier they are complete blank slates. They have the exact same stats and no defining characteristics. The Nodes are basically channels and endpoints in which you, the Hacker guy, unleash your programs. What this means in game terms is when you use a Program (like Nuke 2.0) you can “cast” it from any Node, instead of the Node itself being the only one to have that power.

So yeah a bunch of Nodes placed around a square grid, with alternating turns of spending Instructions (there is a lot of custom terminology in this game that relates to real world computers). Instructions can be spent freely, so if you wanna spend 10 to just move a bunch, you can. Or if you’re in a great position you can just attack with Programs.

Most conflict is simply resolved as Offense minus Defense = Hard Drives destroyed. But some cases call for more input, which is where the Hack Deck comes in. This is a suit of standard playing cards that each player gets of 1-10. When Hacking against each other the players secretly “bid” and whoever has the higher number wins. This will hopefully result in a lot of bluffing as you use scary Programs to get your opponent to burn their high cards, then come in with the really important stuff once their hand is decimated.

There is a lot of other info to the game, like Programs being Instant Commands (basically run once on an enemy or ally) or Ongoing Tasks (buffs/debuffs that stick and maintain). Once per game you can call a “Disconnect” to interrupt whatever the enemy is doing. Deployment doesn’t use the standard “line up on opposite map edges” but instead lets you place Nodes wherever you want, so action happens right away and often in an unpredictable manner.

Anyway stay tuned as I really start to dig into the rules. For now you can take a preliminary look at the document that was once fantasy spellcasters against each other (still some left over copy-paste), then renamed to a generic “Hackers”, before finally getting a bit more formatting and being called Echo Death. I’m thinking of going for an old tech manual theme with wide margins around single column typewriter style text.

Download the super early version Echo Death rules (PDF)

Oh and most importantly all tech/cyberspace stuff is purple in this game. Green has been overdone for that kind of thing :) The game itself will always be free, in case that wasn’t obvious.

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