Daily Design: Day 37

Daily Design is a series of game concepts devised daily through all of 2016. These are just basic concepts, designed based on three randomly generated words. Today, they are;

Beefcake, Hesitation and Cyclical. 

As such, the game I’ve designed today is…

Shopworn Palooka

Shopworn Palooka is a turn-based RPG roguelike, in which you issue no commands during combat. Rather than being the hero of the story, you play as his or her trainer by making decisions about their regime.

As the lead trainer of the kingdom’s military, it’s down to you to train new heroes. At the outset of the game a hero is randomly generated, including their race, gender, class and equipment (though all starting equipment is relatively awful).

From here, you have to decide on their regime. They have Health and Stamina that have to be taken into consideration – certain training will reduce one, the other or both. If Stamina reaches zero the hero suffers severe stat penalties and can’t train until their Stamina rejuvenates to full, which is done by spending time resting rather than training. If their Health reaches zero at any point, that hero is permanently dead, though Health can also be recovered by resting.

Time is broken down into days, with each action taking up 12 hours (or half a day). Heroes will suffer severe penalties to Stamina for consecutive training sessions, but will also receive a massive boost to whatever stat they’re focusing on.

For example, if you have a warrior hero, it may be in your best interest to have them do Strength training for three or four consecutive sessions, resulting in a big Stamina loss but also a huge boost to Strength, which increases their physical damage. However, this would mean that their stats would take a big hit until they were fully rested, essentially rendering all that training moot until their Stamina was at maximum again.

The issue with over-training your characters comes in the form of ‘The Dead March’, a seemingly unstoppable army of the undead that’s constantly marching closer to your kingdom. Heroes can be sent out at any time to intercept The Dead March, slowing their progress or even pushing them back.

While on a mission, hero combat is automatic and the player simply watches. It works like a traditional turn-based RPG only much faster, with battles ending in 10 seconds or less. Heroes will use whatever skills are available to them, and have no resource restrictions such as ‘mana’ or ‘skill points’. However, combat will drain their Stamina, and being hit will obviously drain their Health.

After a successful mission, Heroes return with loot that can be used either as gear to increase the stats of your hero (but is also lost if the hero dies), or to permanently improve the kingdom by building new structures. For example, if the monastery is built, the Paladin class becomes available for melee heroes that reach a certain level of strength.

If left unchecked for too long, however, The Dead March will arrive at your kingdom and attack. This results in a forced (and difficult) mission for your current hero. If they fail, not only is your hero killed but a certain amount of buildings can be destroyed based on your performance. Intercepting the enemy is key, even if it means potentially sacrificing a hero you love.

If you manage to push The Dead March back to their kingdom completely, a final (and very difficult) mission can be undertaken to destroy them entirely. Of course, that just unlocks the next difficulty level!

Shopworn Palooka was inspired largely by a sequence in Breath of Fire 3 where the party trains a character named Beyd, by fighting him in traditional turn-based combat. I remember loving this sequence (even if it wasn’t really that great) and for whatever reason thought of it again while I was coming up with ideas for today.

That’s it! Thanks for reading. I’ll be back again tomorrow with another quick design.

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