Shaping the World: The Legends System
The initial design team (Fel Barros, Guilherme Goulart and myself) spent a lot of time working out just how we wanted to implement the mechanics of a living world for Trudvang Legends. Where the choices made by heroes in one story have lasting effects on future stories, and the combination of stories played and choices made creates a rich unique tapestry that makes each game feel very different.
As the Legends system (our fancy name for the storytelling engine behind the game) took shape, it became clear that our perspective on the living world is from three angles: The Story book, The Boards, and Events.
The Book of Sagas
When you sit down to play a session of Trudvang Legends, the first thing you do is choose a story from the Storybook. At the beginning, you will only have one story to choose from, but achieving a heroic ending to that story will unlock others … and each story, depending on the choices you make, has the potential to branch into multiple others.
Once you’ve chosen which story to play, you open the book to that story’s first page and are given your set up instructions and relevant lore text. It’s of vital importance to pay attention to the lore, as it is by design loaded with hints and foreshadowing. It’s one of my favourite features of the game; reading the story really does help you to navigate through difficult choices. Do note, however, that we did throw in a few red herrings here and there, to keep you on your toes!
We’ll go into more detail about the story book and how to use it in a future diary.
Perhaps the key feature that distinguishes this game are the boards and the pockets. They are central in making the game come to life, allowing players to feel the consequences of stories they played in the past, along with the agency to change them when needed.
Trudvang features two modifiable boards: the Map and the Storyboard. The Map is a gorgeous, four-fold representation of the provinces key to our saga, separated into regions. The two-fold Storyboard sits beside the Map, representing the bestiary (stats for the monsters of Trudvang), Stories (spaces for world-spanning events) and the turn sequence of the game itself. Several of the Map regions and every slot on the Storyboard have pockets built into them, each capable of fitting one square card.
During the course of the game, whenever a player takes a world-changing decision (like uncovering an ancient Fountain of Life on the map), or an epic consequence of player’s actions (such as a legendary story event, global evolution of monsters in the bestiary, or even a change in the very nature of the game turns) takes place, players will slide an appropriate card into the slot and change the world forever.
The possibilities here are mythic, and endless: You could, for example, win the favour of a famous Dwarven king who gives you favour with his people. Maybe you destroy so many Draugr (fierce undead from the north) in a mythic story battle that a special event changes the stats of all future Draugr to reflect this. You could rebuild a lost mining city in the mountains, giving you the ability to trade in items for experience, but at a future time this city could be invaded and destroyed by rampaging monsters, causing you to lose it forever!
Events go hand in hand with the board to create long lasting story effects. During the course of play, you will encounter story-specific points of interest on the map, which correspond to specific cards from the story deck (Trudvang contains well over a hundred of these). These cards are two-sided, and when you interact with them, they trigger a unique event that challenges, rewards or even harms the heroes (use lore-based clues in the book and the cards themselves to navigate!).
Events can often end up slotting into the world board and remain there, changing the very nature of the game for all future stories. A big part of this game’s mystery and enjoyment is that while you are playing out a current story, you must constantly deal with the echoes of the past, working to keep the world in a state of harmony and possibly working to undo the catastrophic events from a previous saga.
Trudvang Legends is such an epic game that world-changing events is only of its key features. Join us next week when we go in further depth about your characters, the Heroes.
By Eric M. Lang
Read Trudvang Legends Design Diary Part 1 here