Friday, 6 May 2011

Growing a tabletop (1)

I've been pondering yesterday's idea, whether the landscape itself could be the subject of a tabletop game. I can suggest two ways of going about it.

The first would be to work in geological time and see a landscape begin primordial, maybe even as coalescing particles, time perhaps compressing as life appears. In this take, the players could be highly advanced 'geovolvers', or masters of the multiverse, exploring the various possibilities.

The second way is a more recognisable one, but could go bolder. In this approach the timescales would be historical, or rather ahistorical, with the players taking on the roles of ageless elementals or spirits less limited by the directionality of time. They would shape a realm for pleasure, or spite, or in ennui, or for their own unfathomable reasons, and the results would ripple out through the polycosmos. There's a lot of potential in this I think for patterns of diceplay, and playing other games simultaneously, as the landscape shifts.

The main issue with both is how to represent a changing landscape on the tabletop, without endless amounts of scenery. There's innovation in here somewhere, I feel sure.


The Angry Lurker said...

Having smaller boards with different layouts like desert or barren to lush vegetation, they simply move to the next board without interrupting the flow of the game/scenery.

Porky said...

That makes sense, especially if the realm is small. If it's very small, for example a cluster of trees and bushes or line of cliffs, a single board could be divided up. Any more complex changes than are physically shown on the terrain pieces could be marked using counters.

For really opening the doors of the imagination I was thinking of a use of virtual space, more like the idea in Into the depths!, which would allow anything and everything to be represented.

The lack of actual terrain though would take away a part of the attraction, so some fusion of a physical and virtual approach would seem a good way to go.

Colonel Kane said...

Somewhat prosaic compared to your ideas, Porky, but in GWs 'Scouring of the Shire' supplement for the LotR game, there was a scenario which featured the little guys moving through the woods, with the other player controlling the trees instead of any specific miniatures, which was extremely fun as you didn't know which trees were 'enemies' and which were just normal trees :-)

Porky said...

That does sound cool, a good way of getting a claustrophobic 'they're alive' feel, a sense of the landscape closing in. It's too early to rule specific mechanisms in or out, but I imagine some kind of terrain movement would be a natural part.