Yesterday I had the chance to demo my Thornwatch game for some friends from Cryptozoic. In case you don’t know, these are the guys who make the World of Warcraft TCG, our Penny Arcade deck building games and are also responsible for the totally fucking amazing Lookouts comic book. Cryptozoic makes a lot of great games and I figured if I really wanted to know if Thornwatch had potential, I needed to show it to some professional game makers.
To say that I was nervous was an understatement. I ran them all through a simple encounter against some vampires. As I’ve mentioned before Thornwatch is a card based game. Each character has a deck and a hand of cards that they play their powers from. Each card in their deck is associated with a skill type. There are six types of skills in Thornwatch and each character is a combination of two usually. In the Thornwatch the skills are:
You know the songs and ways of the secret Gods. You have walked alongside the invisible spirits who shape the Eyrewood and you can call upon them to help or harm. You can communicate with the denizens of the wood and sense the motives of beast and human with incredible clarity.
All your life you have been drawn to the study of books and scrolls. You have cultivated a sharp mind and you wield it like a blade. Ancient Puzzles and devious riddles unravel under your gaze. You are perceptive and mindful of your surroundings and no detail escapes your scrutiny.
You value physical prowess above all else. You have spent your life pushing yourself to peak condition and it shows. You may carry a sword but your body is the true weapon. Your strength is a tool that you can use to aid your allies or punish and intimidate your enemies.
You rely on an internal strength that manifests itself as a steadfast determination to succeed. You have pushed yourself the breaking point and then found new reservoirs of power beyond. Your vigilance and discipline in the face of danger makes you an inspiration to your allies on the battlefield.
You are nimble and quick. You have astounding control over your own body and you know its capabilities. You recognize that when pushed, it is the hard bow that breaks and so you bend. You are invisible when you wish to be and a master at getting into things and places closed off to others.
You may be beaten and broken but like the great trees of the Eyrewood you have sent your roots deep and so you are not easily felled. You draw on a well of life that grants you a seemingly endless resilience and ability to survive.
When one of these vampires would bite you I would take a random card from your hand and it would act as a buff for that vampire. So for example, when I bit the Fighter I drew a vitality card from his hand and the vampire gained 5 health. I took a dexterity card from the Rogue and now the vampire could move again after it attacked. It was a really fun mechanic and resulted in some great moments at the table. “Please don’t let it bite the fucking wizard!”
Strength: The Vampire’s attacks deal +2 WOUNDS
Vitality: The Vampire gains 5 Health
Spirit: The Vampire’s + to hit is increased by 1
Dexterity: The Vampire may move after their attack
Will:The Vampire’s defense is increased by 1
Mind:The vampire may attack twice per turn
In Thornwatch enemies deal wound cards that get shuffled into your deck and since they cannot be discarded begin to build up in your hand. When a vampire picked a wound card from a player the vampire was healed and the wound card went back to the player. They could also smell blood so I let them teleport to any player who had a wound in their hand. When a player hit a vampire they could choose to either deal damage or strip off one of the vampire’s buff cards. It made for some fun choices and I could not have been happier with the way they worked.
The guys from Cryptozoic really seemed to enjoy the game and after is was over we had a great talk about the current mechanics and stuff I want to do but have not implemented yet . The main thing is that they thought what I had so far was “awesome” and they want to help me make it even better. So the good news is that this just got a whole lot closer to being something you’ll actually be able to buy in a store!