Sunday, June 5, 2011

D&D the CCG: Refigured

I'll have another couple posts concerning 4E meets AD&D over the course of the next week, but this afternoon I wanted to give an update on my little D&D the CCG project that I've been pondering for the last few months.


Yup, I had a bit of an epiphany the other day, and realized that I was generally going about things all wrong. Attempting to fit WotC's 4E ruleset onto cards works in certain situations, as part of a 4E game, but you can't do it all.

See, the whole point, really, of having the cards is ease of use. No more lugging around a ton of books, no more looking up rules in said books, etc. It wants to be easily portable, so you can sit down with some friends for an hour (like at lunch, perhaps?) and have a good bit of D&D right there. So you want a simple core mechanic, with simple rules right there on the cards for everything your character can do. I've take a liberal amount of inspiration from both 4E and the OSR as I have cobbled this all together, and have made significant progress over the past 5 days or so on how it should all work. Hopefully I'll be able to begin some playtesting on my family pretty soon.


It's basically a D10 system. Characters have your standard D&D stats (STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA), each of which is rolled for randomly on a D10. Choice of race from among human, half elf, elf, dwarf, halfling, gnome, and half-orc, and all of them except humans and half-elves get choices for a boost and a penalty to their stats (example: Elf +2 Dex or Int, -2 Con or Str). Any action a character takes in a game boils down to a D10 roll, plus the relevant Statistic, plus any conditional modifiers (based on cards in hand), and attempting to beat a target number. For example, my big dumb fighter with a STR of 9 and an INT of 2 wants to hit the orc. Roll d10, add 9 for STR, add 2 for training with his sword, and try to beat the Orcs AC of 14. In this example, he'll score a hit 80% of the time. However, if he's trying use his wits, he's pretty much going to have to roll a 10 to accomplish anything of even average difficulty. 

I will not include a whole ton of tactical combat rules. We're going old-school, abstract, use your words and your mind to visualize the situation here. Cinematic descriptions are way better than counting squares. 

Playtest, Anyone?

I should have some basic play-test cards ready by this evening, as I have already gotten most of my chores done for the day. If anyone is interested in playtesting this, I would be more than happy to make available what I have. 

Also, just as a little note, I've started using to get this whole thing organized and OH MY GOD IT'S AWESOME.  I've only used it for taking notes so far and it's been a huge help for tracking thoughts and putting things together. 


  1. If you're interested in a role-playing game presented in a deck of cards format, you might be interested in the Compact Heroes Kickstarter project. It's already funded (I'm a backer), so if you want a deck of their cards you can get one.

  2. That looks very cool, and I will have to pick up a set or two! Thanks! I am very much enjoying the mental exercise in developing my own "home" game. Mostly its for my kids. The 4e RAW are just too much for them (and they can't be trusted w my books!)

  3. For an hour-long game, you are still on a complicated route. You need simple stats, like Attack, Defense, Spell power, wounds and corresponding number to beat. Fighter with Attack +3/damage 2 (longsword) and roll of d6 or d10 has to hit orc with Defense 7. Adding stats will only complicate things without real benefit. Adding a lot of different feats will leave the game different every time thus still interesting. Think Warhammer Quest, Runebound and Heroscape. I am thinking the same thing as you. Still, never played 4e. Too fiddly.

  4. Zoki: thanks for the comment! I'm not looking to build a simple hour-long single adventure type game, but a proper RPG that would ideally be suitable for Campaign type play, with experience and levels. The idea is that the whole thing can be carried in a pocket and ready to go at the drop of a hat. No lugging around tomes full of rules and looking shit up all the time, or having to spend a half hour just getting set up to play. Like any fantasy RPG, I want there to be more than just killing monsters. NPCs, intrigue, mystery, exploration, etc should all be easy to do with the system and the cards.

  5. I think that it is impossible mission. The best parts of my RPG experience are, for example, last stand at some lone fortress, dark mansions in the forest, encounters without your full equipment.. the is no way you could simulate that with cards. You just need a DM in this matters. What I would like is quick but as deep as you can get fix of RPGlike experience. I dunno how much deep intrigue and exploration you can put in cards - for example, I have a quest to bring healing herb from forest and a water from mountains to heal plague. Also, there would be a few levels. Alternative is something like Warhammer Quest, with 10 levels where later ones are spanned across few sessions, but that games tend to water down over time. We just played too rarely to grew attached to characters. And you would need years to build a whole card system for that.
    In effect, you dont need tomes full of rules. Just imagination and DM ruling. Everything else is a chore :)

  6. @Zoki: Ahh, I see where the confusion is here. I did not make it clear that my little card-based RPG does, in fact, require one of the players to be the DM and control monsters, NPCs, hand out treasure, etc.

    However, for an hour or so, DM-less RPG-like game, I highly recommend the D&D Adventure System games Castle Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashardalon. I have numerous posts on this blog about these games. Thanks again for the comments!

  7. Well, that's completely different thing :) I am aware of those systems but system guided DM doesnt work for me. Please, publish progress of your work, it looks interesting :)