Aquamarine Engine

From Cramulus

The Aquamarine Engine is a live boffer combat game being developed by Cram and friends.


Contents

Overview

The game product will have two components

  • a single-sheed PDF which functions both as a character sheet and rule book
  • a longer document which explains how to run a tournament / combat scenarios and gives advice on running them

The model: anybody can download the rules and start a tournament arena in their hometown.

The designers will capitalize off the game by selling merchandise, and providing a website where registered players can be ranked.

Combat takes place with padded boffer weapons. There are a variety of scenarios for tournaments, but squad-based combat is primary format. The outcome of each bout will give players a boon or buff for the next bout. Over time they will advance their characters, but not so far that it gives them an extreme advantage over other players.


RPG Elements

Players will build a "character" in the sense that they will pick a class, skills and choose a weapon style. They may rewrite their character sheet at each tournament, giving each player the flexibility to try different classes and combat roles.

Skills are categorized to assign players into one of several combat niches, borrowing from D&D's combat roles. (blocking, striking, controlling, and support styles) These roles are tied to weapon styles - for example, the two sword style is for the traditional rogue, focusing on flanking and dealing large damage in a short time. Quarterstaff users will have access to packet attacks.

Players are encouraged to attend tourneys in costume but it is not required. Teams receive bonuses for attending in matching costumes. Costumes do not have to be period costumes, they can be silly or tongue-in-cheek. Team concepts such as "star wars", "harry potter", "zombies", and "robots" are all acceptable. An entire team composed of people in darth vader outfits is fine too. Despite the fact that there is no specific genre for tournaments, combat roles and skills (like the weapons being used) borrow from traditional fantasy RPG tropes.

When a character wins a bout, he may pick an additional skill for the next bout only. Likewise if he dies during a bout, he'll be down one HP for the next bout.

Character advancement is capped. After a certain point, additional victories provide you with nothing but status ("levels") and ranking on the game's website.

The ranking on the website is not necessarily a good measure of player skill. Tournaments can take place anywhere in the country, and may involve varying levels of fighting skill. Characters don't vary too much in terms of statistical power because We want to avoid a NERO Texas-esque situation where pockets of players grow excessively "high level" because they are able to run events for each other and therebyregulate their own speed of advancement.

Fighting skill, strategy, and teamwork are the primary factors in winning a bout. Your character's "power level" will escalate until he levels up (by winning 5 tournaments), and then will go back to where it started.

Generating a Character

The character sheet will look something like this

 -----------------------------------------------------------
| Name, OOG info, Stars                                     |
 -----------------------------------------------------------
| Pre-game skills                                           |
|                                                           |
|                                                           |
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| Tournament Skills                                         |
|                                                           |
|                                                           |
|                                                           |
|                                                           |
|                                                           |
|                                                           |
|                                                           |
|                                                           |
|                                                           |
 -----------------------------------------------------------
| Post Game Skills                                          |
|                                                           |
|                                                           |
|                                                           |
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  • revision - on second thought, the pre and post game skills should just be incorporated into the skill columns. They should all occur on the same rows.

The skills are arranged into columns which look something like this

 -------------------------------------------------------------
| Sword & Board  | Bow       | Staff    | 2 swords  | Mace    |         
|________________|___________|__________|___________|_________|
| Skill 1        | Skill 1   | Skill 1  | Skill 1   | Skill 1 |
|________________|___________|__________|___________|_________|
| Skill 2        | Skill 2   | Skill 2  | Skill 2   | Skill 2 |
|________________|___________|__________|___________|_________|
| Skill 3        | Skill 3   | Skill 3  | Skill 3   | Skill 3 |
|________________|___________|__________|___________|_________|
| Skill 4        | Skill 4   | Skill 4  | Skill 4   | Skill 4 |
|________________|___________|__________|___________|_________|
| Skill 5        | Skill 5   | Skill 5  | Skill 5   | Skill 5 |
|________________|___________|__________|___________|_________|
                            

At first, a character will only be able to pick a weapon skill. Once he wins a tourney (i.e. ends the tournament with more bouts won than lost), he unlocks the skill beneath it. When he wins a tourney using that skill, he unlocks the skill beneath that. A player may only unlock one skill per tournament.

When checking in at the tourney, a player will select up to three skills he has access to from the column under the weapon style he's chosen for that day. (you can't select from other columns. So if you picked Fighter for the day, you can't pick up rogue skills... but you can just be a rogue in the next tourney)

Players have 5 hit points, but if you died during the last Resolution phase you played, you only have 4 hit points.


Once you have every skill in a column, you earn a level in that "class" and that column resets. This means that at any given point, "low level" fighters may in fact have more skills than "high level" fighters.


Weapon Styles

  • 2H Weapon - "Barbarian" - a melee striker
  • Sword & Board - "Fighter" - a defensive melee role. You get parries to use on others.
  • Longsword / Shortsword - "Rogue" - "striker" gets abilities to use when an enemy is in a certain state. (ie the fighter knocks you down, then the rogue assassinates you)
  • Staff - "Mage" - packet attacks, status effects, and zones. This is the ranged / controller role
  • Short Bow & Long Sword - "Ranger" - Ranged and melee attacks. You're more dangerous when you're in a certain spot.
  • Long Bow / Rifle - "Archer/Sniper" - dedicated ranged striker. Ranger's zone-based offensive abilities, with barbarian's weapon strike abilities at range, but without the mage's controller effects or the ranger's melee.
  • Mace - "Healer" - you can buff, heal, and remove status effects
  • Armor - "Paladin/Cyborg" - a self-defensive role. You get expendable defense skills vs ranged or melee, depending on the type of armor your wear. Maybe buy up to +2 HP?
  • Banner - "Herald/Cleric" - party buffs and effect removal, but limited or no offensive ability.


Skills

Skills either grant a character one card to enter into the pre- or post-game decks, or provide a single-use ability to use during the bout. 2H = 2 handed weapon; 2W = 2 weapons; SH = shield; MA = mace; ST = staff; B/W = bow/weapon; LB = long bow; BA = banner; AR = armor

  • Berserker 1 (2H) - You may call 2 damage with your very first melee strike of the bout.
    • Berserker 2-5 (2H level 2-5) - Each level of berserker allows you to call 2 damage for one additional strike at the beginning of the bout. So with berserker 2 you call 2 damage for your first two strikes of the bout.
  • Vengeance 1 (2H) - Once per bout, you may call out, "I mark you with vengeance," and throw a packet immediately after an opponent damages you. You may then strike the marked target once for 2 damage.
    • Vengeance 2-5 (2H level 2-5) - Each level of vengeance allows you to call 2 damage for one additional strike against the marked target.
  • Hatred 1 (2H) - Once per bout you may call out "I mark you with hatred," and throw a packet. You may then strike the marked target once for 2 damage.
    • Hatred 2-5 (2H level 2-5) - Each level of hatred allows you to call 2 damage for one additional strike against the marked target, as long as you do not attack any other opponent until all strikes are used.
  • Batter Shield (2H) - Once per bout, you may call out, "Batter shield," and strike an opponent's shield. Your opponent must hold his shield behind his back for five seconds, and you must hold the tip of your weapon against the ground for three seconds (the momentum of your over-balanced strike - also a balancing factor.)
    • Improved Recovery (2H level 2, Batter Shield) - When you use your batter shield skill, you may immediately call out, "recover" and wield your weapon as normal, instead of holding it against the ground.


  • Disarm (2W) - Once per bout, you may call out, "disarm," and strike an opponent's weapon (not shield.) If your strike successfully hits an opponent's weapon, the opponent must hold that weapon behind their back for five seconds.
  • Maim (2W) - Once per bout, you may call out "maim," and strike an opponent who is holding a weapon or shield behind his back. The opponent must now hold the maimed arm behind his back for the rest of the bout. A mace or banner skill removes this.
  • Opportunist (2W) - Once per bout, you may strike any marked opponent for 2 damage.
  • Back Stab (2W) - Once per bout, may may strike an opponent you are standing behind for 2 damage.
  • Trip (2W) - Once per bout, you may call out "trip," and strike an opponent on the leg. The tripped target must drop to one knee on the struck leg for five seconds.
    • Hamstring (2W level 2) - Once per bout, you may call out "hamstring," and strike any marked opponent. The hamstrung target must drop to one knee (target's choice) for five seconds.
      • Cripple (2W level 3) - Once per bout, you may call out "cripple," and strike any hamstrung or tripped opponent. The crippled target must remain on one knee for the rest of the bout.
  • Pounce (2 W) - Once per bout, you may strike an opponent who is on one knee for 2 damage.


  • Guardian 1 (SH) - Once per bout, you may call out, "parry," and tap your ally with your weapon immediately after the ally is hit by an opponent.
    • Guardian 2 (SH) - You may parry for an ally twice per bout by calling out, "parry" and tapping him with your weapon.
    • Guardian 3 (SH) [Pre-game Card] - You place a 10' guardian zone on the field. Once per bout, you may parry for any ally standing within the zone by calling out, "parry <ally's character name>"
    • Guardian 4 (SH) [Pre-game Card] - You may parry for an ally within the guardian zone twice per bout.
    • Guardian 5 (SH) [Pre-game Card] - You may parry for each of your allies once per bout if they are standing within the guardian zone.
  • Warding (SH) - Once per bout, you may call out, "I mark you with warding," and throw a packet immediately after an opponent damages one of your allies. You may then call, "warding parry," immediately after the next time the marked target hits any of your allies to parry the strike.


  • Bandage (MA)
    • Potion (MA level 2)
      • Healing Hands (MA level 3)
        • Raise Dead (MA level 4)
          • Resurrection (MA level 5)

The Bout

A bout (one match within a tournament) consists of three phases: a set up phase (in which players jockey for starting position and determine field effects), a combat phase (the actual fighting), and a resolution phase (to see who survived the bout).


Pre Game Phase

This phase determines where within the arena players start, and what effects are on the ground to begin. Players that can define zones must supply streamers, rope, or other ways of demarcating zones.

Every participant gets a Starting Placement card. Every player with a pre-game phase skill gets a card for that skill. All the cards are shuffled together, and the referee turns them over one by one.

For example, maybe your card comes up first. You pick a spot on one side of the field and stand there. The next card that's drawn allows a teammate to place himself next to you. The next card is the enemy warrior - he picks a spot on the other side of the field. Then the enemy wizard's LAVA PIT spell comes up. He draws a 10' big circle on the ground around where you and your ally are standing. Now you'll take a point of damage when the match begins (for starting in lava) and must quickly scurry to a new position.

Some examples of cards played during this phase

  • Healing font - once per match you can step in the healing zone to receive 2 pts of healing
  • Resurection font - once per match, a healer can drag a body into this zone to bring him back to life with 2 HP
  • Hiding Spot - a ranger's arrows do 2 points of damage while he is kneeling in a hiding spot.
  • Wall of Force - the wizard draws a line on the ground which cannot be crossed.
  • Crit Zone - a fighter standing in his own crit zone may swing for 2 damage.
  • Curse Zone - a wizard may throw his packets for 2 damage (instead of 1) if the target is standing inside a curse zone
  • Arcane Nexus - a wizard's packets do 2 damage (instead of one) if he stands within a nexus.
  • Ambush - this card is not shuffled with the others. It is always played last and allows a rogue to position himself anywhere in the arena.

The intent of these zones is to create terrain on the battlefield which will modify the way the game is played. Tournaments may be largely influenced by the strategy and luck of the draw prior to combat. In this way, a strategic team may trump good fighters.


Tournament Phase

This is the actual match. A referree will signal when the match begins, and then all combatants fight until only one team is left standing.

There are several tournament styles, including:

  • Tag Team
  • 2 on 2
  • 3 on 3
  • 4 on 4
  • 3 on 3 on 3, etc
  • Monster - a party squares off against 2 or 3 monsters with predetermined stats/skills. Certain monsters will only be "available" after you have earned a certain number of stars. Teams compete by both facing the same monster and trying to beat him in quicker time or with less casualties
  • Capture the Flag - two teams face off to retrieve an object from the other's territory. This involves resurrection points which you may walk back to after you die.
  • other sport-style events like boffer soccer or Defend the Castle
  • Boss Fight - each side has a "boss" that acts as the victory condition. Teams must decide how to split into offense and defense, to keep their own boss up while trying to down the enemy's boss. Boss is either a regular PC or an NPC with special stats.
  • Spawn Point - each side has a portal or other spawn point that constantly generates "minions." Minions have limited weapon style and only one HP. Destroying the spawn point isn't a victory condition itself, but may make defeating the enemy team easier.
  • Extreme Puzzle Solving - Each team is given a physical or mental puzzle. (Mental puzzle generally = riddle.) Pieces of the puzzle or riddle are spread evenly across the game field. PCs must fight to get their own pieces and prevent the enemy from getting theirs, and then assemble the puzzle or solve the riddle while fighting off their opponent.

Post Game Phase

Much like the pre-game phase, the post-game phase involves drawing cards in random order to determine the outcome of combat. Every character also has a card called "bleed out" which they contribute to the deck.

Any player with a post-game card may submit it during the pre-game phase. The referree holds this deck until the match is over. At this point, everybody freezes and the ref begins drawing cards. The ref only draws half the cards in the deck (therefore some players will not act in the post-game phase).

Some examples of cards played during this phase

  • Execute - you can use this to kill a disabled character within 10 feet of you.
  • Heal - you can bring one character back from unconsciousness
  • Resurrect - you can bring one character back from the dead
  • Bleed Out - if you are disabled and your Bleed Out card comes up, you "die" and will be down by one hit point in the next bout.
  • Possum - Unless someone has already executed you, you actually survive the match. This has no effect if you were standing at the end of the match.
  • Final blow - you do 1 point of damage to someone within ten feet of you. This can, in rare events, result in a stalemate.
  • Outside Interference - a player from your team who was not in the battle comes in and uses 1 skill on an enemy character within 10 feet of you. That character begins the next bout under the effect of the skill.


End States

At the end of the match, players will be in one of four states:

  • Conscious - You won the match and were standing at the end. If your team won the bout, you get to pick a fourth skill for the next bout only
  • Unconsciousness - You may have won or lost the match but were unconscious at the end of the bout. You did not die in the resolution phase.
  • Dead - Someone executed you during resolution. You start with 4 instead of 5 hit points in the next bout only


Badges

players earn Badges for certain achievements. These give you bragging rights, but confer no additional game bonuses. For example:

  • Last Man Standing - you're the only survivor of the bout
  • Streak - "Won" 3 tournaments in a row (more victories than failures at that tourney)
  • On Fire - Won 5 bouts in a row
  • Uninjured - you ended a bout with no damage
  • Journeyman - level 2 in all classes
  • Veteran - level 5 in all classes
  • Death Prone - you died in three bouts in a row

Possible Implementations

Tournament Hosts must have access to a video camera. Each bout has several sections which are filmed. This footage will create a loose story arc generated by improvisation. Here is the storyboard for any given bout:

  1. Opening shot: focus on the referree, standing in front of the audience. He says the name of the game, the date, and names the two sides.
  2. Broad shot of the first team. Each person says their name. The team spokesman gets 2 minutes to taunt the other team. This should be a monologue similar to what's seen in professional wrestling.
  3. Same thing with the second team
  4. The referee explains to both teams what the rules of this engagment are
  5. the next shot is 10 seconds before the match begins. All the fighting is recorded.
  6. the next shot surveys the battlefield with the winners cheering and the losers lying on the ground injured.
  7. (optional) Each team can say a few words for the camera in closing

The bonus of this game format is that playing the game generates marketing for the game. Every filmed tournament will be on youtube, and all participants will be linking their friends and family to it.

"Official" matches, with entry fees and prizes, will take place at game conventions, at game stores, and other semi-public venues.

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