In my New Year’s post, I teased two new projects, one of which is a game with the working title of “Dwarf King”, so what is it? Well – one of the things I have been wanting to do, is to reuse the choose-your-own adventure/RPG system I’ve built in other projects, and “Dwarf King” is the first attempt to do so. As in “Pirates and Traders”, you as the player will generate a character with three stats, multiple skills (though only 9 – I’ve streamlined the system further compared to the one in P&T), and buy, sell and craft items. The setting, however, is a fantasy world, your resources workers and soldiers, and your enemies goblins, men, and elves.
In “Dwarf King”, you play a young Dwarf Prince (or Princess) forced to take the crown after the fall of their ancestral home. Assisted by a motley collection of nobles, warriors, and artificers, you will lead the remnants of your people south over the mountains to try and found a new Dwarf Hall, recover the prosperity of your people, and maybe even in time strike back at your foe.
It will not be easy, of course. In addition to the ever-present threat of the Goblins menace that wiped out your home and family, the player will have to contend with the dangers of an unexplored new country and the other races that live in it. The game itself mixes strategy game mechanics with role-playing. The strategy gameplay allows you to allocate your scarce resources; determining the balance of warriors, craft-dwarves and peasants in your kingdom, buying and selling resources, and constructing buildings and fortifications. You will also need to conduct diplomacy and try to forge alliances against the ever-present goblin threat. The role-playing segments allow you to take your character out on adventures: exploring the land, raiding with a small party of warriors, or waging all out war with the entire fyrd of your Dwarfheald. The non-combat sections play out as small Choose-Your-Own-Adventures, with the player’s skills, reputation, and the history of your Kingdom having a significant impact on the result. Combat is intended to be resolved using the Small Battles system. As a player, you will have multiple ways to meet the existential threat to your people, whether you chose the path of a builder and diplomat or as a general and warrior.
Unlike with my previous projects, for “Dwarf King” I will be focusing almost exclusively on the game design and development, and leaving the creative writing to someone else. My partner in this project, and the main writer for “Dwarf King”, is Ashton Saylor. Ashton is a gamebook writer, and a winner of the Windhammer Prize merit award for three consecutive years (2010 – 2012). The story of “Dwarf King” is loosely based on his gamebook “Peledgathol – the Last Fortress“, expanded and extended to take full advantage of dynamic story-telling possible in the digital format. This is an exciting challenge for us both, as we explore the story-telling potential of narrative strategy games.
“Dwarf King” is a big project, but as with “Pirates and Traders”, the plan is to start small and – with your help and support – develop the project to its full potential. I have other projects planned as well for the Story Engine, and in the long-term perspective, I hope to take the mechanisms and ideas developed here to implement other ideas that share some of the same features; perhaps even a bigger and better “Pirates and Traders” sometime in the future.