Video game concept using OSRIC: “The Laye of the Landes”
Written by M. A. Packer
Utilizes the Big Book of Randomness, also written by M. A. Packer
Game follows the OSRIC game rules as closely as possible, but rather than turn-based, the game is live. Game is Elder Scrolls-esque with first person perspective. Character attacks and jumps somewhat to maneuver around the terrain to fight monsters. To cast spells, the player scrolls through their list and uses the secondary attack to cast them. For example, if on a PC, mouse button 1 is regular attack and mouse button 2 is spells. No blocking with shield: having a shield equipped simply applies the bonus to frontal and side AC. Each time you attack, the dice is rolled at the top and compared against your to-hit matrix to determine if damage is dealt. Note that this game will follow the OSRIC rules as exactly as possible, meaning it will be an exceedingly hard game. It also uses permadeath, meaning if your character dies you either need to pay gold to resurrect it (a number of times equal to its constitution score) or you need to reroll it. Note that if a new character is rerolled the old one’s body remains out in the world where it died and the map’s fog of war is reset.
Game takes place on a randomized island (fully randomized from the start with terrain placement, such as mountains, hills, valleys, rivers, forests, swamps, etc. The player arrives on the docks of a fully rendered town (everything has a randomized name). Everything is clouded over by the fog of war, except for the first town and the path of the ship that brought it there.
Map is gridded off with each grid being roughly 10x10 acres in size. A fog of war is in place where the whole map is covered in haze and invisible on the map icon or on the map screen until a grid is entered, which clears that segment of the haze. Each time the character explores a new map grid it gains 50XP
Each time the PC enters a new square a random monster is generated at a random point within the grid. At this point the player character gains a bonus where the monster is unaware of the PC’s presence for a number of seconds equal to DEX and racial adjustments to surprise. If the monster is too powerful the PC has a chance to escape by simply leaving the map grid. Whenever the player transitions, the monster on the previous grid, if alive, is erased and a new one for the current grid is generated. Random items are placed on each grid as well, typically based on the monster(s) encountered. Note that the game makes full use of the money system, coppers, silver, etc. Found magic items are unidentified.
Random dungeons and castles are fully rendered, but when entered a new mini map is opened for them. These are more dangerous than the wilderness encounters as there are far more encounters based on each room the player enters. Dungeons are simple affairs with very little variation except for furnishings. No platforming or intense puzzles, except for locked doors or switches needed to open doors, etc. These use full lair treasure when completed, as well as 100xp.
After every twenty squares explored (the island and ocean surrounding it are comprised from a massive grid of 200x200 squares) a plot event occurs, which can be anything from the appearance of a dragon to the building of a castle belonging to an orcish army, usually erasing a prerendered square that hasn’t been discovered yet and replacing it with the important plot event. For example, an unexplored square becomes the location of an orc fort, or a dragon’s lair. When the whole map is explored one major campaign event occurs in which the original town the player arrived in is destroyed and made into a portal into the hells where the player explores a 20x20 tile segment of the hells. Encounters in the hells are made up of much more powerful monsters and the player may come and go from this place by simply retreating through the portal back to their original world. In one of these squares the player will fight an arch demon, upon which time the game is officially over and the character is written into the scrolls of honor, which may be drawn upon when the player starts a new campaign, essentially allowing the character to start a new world with their maxed out, saved character! It should also be noted that every time the player defeats or completes a plot event, they are given two points to apply to their abilities! They may only place one point into a single ability.
An option for the player is to find a part of the map that is ideal for settlement: these areas are grid spaces with mines and forests that can be drawn upon for income, either by the player itself or by hired hands. Here the player can build a full on town or a big mansion, one wall or one structure at a time! These buildings may be ruined by siege engines or powerful monsters and the hired hands may also be killed by monsters.
As stated above, there are resource caches scattered around, which a character may spend a “day” harvesting. Each time they harvest there is a chance of being attacked by a monster encounter. When hirelings populate the players’s town they produce a surplus of gold every 24 hours of gameplay, which the player may spend on whatever he or she wants!
Pixilated graphics, akin to the old SSI games, but with a little more definition and more frames per second, etc. Multiple head sprites for PCs and NPCs, Small and Medium body types with different sets of armor and clothing. Each set of armor has 5 representations (for each + category of +1 to +5). Same with weapons and helms. Everything is drawn to look historically accurate, like in the olden days of video games. No spiky, big-shoulder armor or oversized weapons. And every weapon will be included. Sprites will only be animated front to back, no side to side, and the sprites always face the camera (or face away as the case may be). For each race there are two genders, and each gender for each race has ten preset faces to choose from. Each face will either smile when a new level is attained, grimace when damage is taken, turn black when dead or simply look unamused. The character’s face appears at the bottom middle of the screen and possibly shows status, like the old DOOM games used to. To the left of the face the player sees HP and on the right of the face is the yellow XP tracker. When the menu is opened everything drops down on an unfurled banner.
Works best with stock sound, little voice acting, but use recordings of people screaming and such for combat. Maybe tiny catch dialogues whenever NPCs are clicked on. Male and female death sounds, monster hurt and death sounds (bugs, beasts, machines, slimes, dragons, giants), etc. In regards to music, would be incredible if in the default town it played a goodly assortment of medieval music (similar but not limited to Tom of Bedlam). Out in the wilderness have at least three long exploration tracks, ten short battle songs for monsters and one epic boss fight song for strong enemies (something with a kick ass electric guitar). Also some looped hell planes music (eerie sounds and whatnot) and one final boss song akin to Dragon Quest 8 and then pleasant credits music.
Example Narrative of Gameplay
Chuck loads his game from his desktop or console menue. The game loads, showing the company(s) that went into making the damn thing. Medieval pub music plays in the background as the menu screen opens, depicting a checkered banner in front of a view of the ocean from the deck of a ship with a nondescript island on the horizon. Smoke is rising form points on the island and there are vague dragon shapes flying in the distance.
The checkered banner uses medieval-looking symbols that allow the following options: start new game, load olde game, view scrolls of honor, view tutorial text, OSRIC’s web page and exit game. When each shape is clicked they either flare up with flames and the banner burns up as the game generates itself. As the game loads you see examples of random mini maps, monster sprites or character sprites.
Chuck selects new game, causing the banner to burn up and the load screen to commence. He sees the inside of a dark cell and reads a dialogue scroll on the bottom of the screen. An old man appears in the cell and asks the character to please stand up. At this point the screen turns black and a cup containing three d6 dice appears with the number 6 beneath it (this indicates how many times the character needs to roll). When he clicks on the cup with dice, his strength score appears. The second time he clicks on the cup, his dexterity score appears, and so on until he rolls all 6 and he sees all 6 of his abilities. After he rolls this a scroll rolls down, showing the possible race and class options available to him. He has decent enough skills for an elven thief, so he picks that. He is then shown a selection of ten male and ten female heads he can choose from. Had he not liked it, he could have started over with the reroll icon at the bottom middle of the screen, but for the purpose of this narrative he has selected a thief. His HD health is maxed out for the first level, but for each level afterwards it is rolled and when he levels up his game is saved, forcing him to keep whatever is rolled afterwards (I said this was going to be a hard game). The old man asks him what his name is and a long band of parchment unrolls with a pen icon indicating where each letter will be typed. Upon completion the old man will explain that Chuck’s character has been called to set off and help settle a new island that has been discovered across the sea.
Chuck is shown a flash animation cut scene of the longship he’s on. He is holding a map, and the island drawn on the map represents the random type of island rolled for his entirely, fully randomized world! The screen goes black as the world is built, possibly showing more stock images, and then the first person game is presented with Chuck standing in front of the docks. A dialogue banner explains how the ships all landed and Chuck spent the last year in building the town, but the day to day hustle and bustle of life isn’t suitable for him, so he now has the opportunity to take the money he’s saved from his labors and pursue other goals. At this point the dialogue box closes and a small icon appears above his character’s head. The head icon smiles because the icon shows a bag of gold and a number indicating his rolled starting wealth. Beside the head are his HP bar and XP bar.
When Chuck rolls his mouse wheel he sees text at the bottom of the screen saying he doesn’t know any spells and doesn’t own any wands, staves, rods or scrolls. When Chuck presses the spacebar his character jumps and when he presses the A, S, W, and D keys, his character moves about without turning. When he shifts the mouse the screen rotates in the direction he moves it. When he approaches an NPC or any other object that can be interacted with he sees an icon appear above it, saying “F”, meaning when he presses the F key he is able to interact. For example, he finds a locked box behind a tent and when he presses F it rolls to see if he successfully picks the lock. It fails, meaning he will have to wait until he levels up to try again.
Chuck sees several booths set up beside timber and stone buildings in the town square (the town has a randomized name). Each booth has a wooden sign signifying a goods store (to buy camping gear and food, which you will need to survive in the wilderness), a magic school (to learn spells and buy scrolls, a potion shop (to buy potions), an Inn (to recover double health during the night), a blacksmith (to buy weapons and armor), and a church shrine (to remove curses and magically heal). All about are happy, double-frame sprites of peasants standing by booths and chatting. Behind every booth is a double frame merchant with an appropriate appearance. There is also a PUB booth where Chuck can hire on hirelings (which we will discuss later). There is also a stable for buying a horse and the docks
Chuck purchases the equipment he can afford (while purchasing it he clearly sees the weapon and its stats as well as the cost). The game has just about every possible weapon in the OSRIC system. Knives and pole-arms are animated with three sprites showing stab attacks while swords, axes and maces are swung. The sprites do not show the hands of the wielder, just a full on attack animation with a little embellishment. As stated before, each weapon has a different appearance, from normal to +1, to +2, +3 and so forth. Each + after +1 makes the weapon look more ornate, but still within the confines of real historic design. If time isn’t an issue, Japanese weapons and armor may also be included, or else included as an expansion set, in which case Indian and Chinese sets are available.
With his possessions sorted out, Chuck presses the Escape key and opens the main menu, which has the option to quit the game screen as well as the configuration screen. Configuration allows him to change key functions for his keyboard or controller. The game auto saves progress every ten minutes and every time the PC enters a new square or enters/leaves a dungeon, but exiting will save the file as well. The game also auto saves the moment Chuck levels up. Sorry. Whenever a game is escaped, it saves the PC right in the middle of their current square on the main map and when they load the game they begin right at the center again. Not to worry: there are no monsters when you load the game. Chuck, not wanting to exit the game yet, hits the X in the upper right corner of the Exit Game menu (hitting Escape again also closes this). He then presses F1, opening his main map. There is a mini map in the upper right corner, but this is not detailed and simply shows Chuck’s position on the map relative to other important locations, like the beginning town, which will be an important landmark throughout the game. There is no fast travel in the game, but opening the main map shows greater details on each square in the grid. Foggy squares hide all details and represent the places Chuck hasn’t visited yet.
Chuck can either hit the X in the upper right corner of the main map, press Escape to close it, or simply hit F2 to open the next window, which shows his inventory. He is able to select and drag items from his inventory and place them onto his thief’s body, equipping them. Had Chuck been able to purchase a horse he would have an extra column of inventory with an image of saddle bags above it. If he had purchased a wagon, this would be hitched to the horse and would have a greatly expanded inventory with almost no weight max! Chuck notices that his character’s carrying capacity is limited based on his Strength score, so he notes not to carry too much or else his movement rate will decrease. Movement rate is based on race, so he is able to move something like 12 feet per second as an elf, etc. F3 shows a spell book and prepared spells. It also shows magical items, like potions, scrolls, rods, staves and wands, etc. that the character currently has. These items may all be placed into the prepared magic column, which can be shifted through with the mouse wheel.
Finally Chuck leaves town after placing his equipment. He places a dagger in each hand, lowering his chance to hit, but granting him two attacks every time he hits the attack button. There is a delay of about two seconds each time. If he were to cast a spell it would take a number of seconds equal to the spell level to cast, from the moment he hit his Mouse 2 button and if he were to be hit before the spell was cast it would make the spell fizzle and waste.
The town and the world are connected, requiring no loading time. He just steps out of the front gates and enters the first unexplored square. The moment he does so, its details become visible on the main map screen and when he clicks on it with his mouse, or selects it with the direction keys, a small scroll unfurls, providing information like the randomly generated name for the square and important sites. Chuck wanders around and comes across a randomly generated group of goblins. Since his Dexterity provides a bonus of +1 to surprise them, he has one second to approach them and perform a backstab, granting him +4 to hit! Any other class would gain at least a +2. When the goblins become visible they secretly roll a reaction as well. If their surprise roll lands on a 1, they are surprised for 1 additional second, and if they land on a 2, they are surprised for 2 additional seconds! But if they land on a 6 they are not surprised and immediately turn around to fight poor Chuck.
Chuck attacks them with his two daggers, missing much of the time due to the penalties, but he manages to kill them all, but not without dropping dangerously low in health. He decides to go back to town, after searching the grid. The boundaries are marked on the terrain with glowing lines and he eventually finds a monster loot chest, which he opens and finds some mixed coins and random objects, which he can take back to town and sell for half value. Doing so, he also stops by the shrine and gets himself magically healed. Now, ripped to go, he returns to the wilderness and encounters a band of kobolds. This first terrain segment outside the town’s entrance is an easy area where Chuck can fight weak monsters and level up slowly. Once he steps outside this first wilderness square things get very dicey very fast as the game then generates fully random monsters based on the terrain. This means, beyond the first wilderness square he could encounter more goblins, orcs, Ankhegs, Bulettes or even young dragons and giants! For this reason Chuck would probably be well advised to continue fighting monsters within this first wilderness square until he gains a couple of levels, even if it is slow. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry! But Chuck doesn’t take this under advisement and decides he’s tough enough at level 2 to enter the next wilderness square.
He runs past the goblins that have appeared and enters new terrain, which turns out to be a forested square. The goblins behind him deconstruct and an ogre appears. He is laid flat in one hit. But that’s not quite the end for poor Chuck’s elven thief. A black screen appears and a kindly cleric approaches his body and says “it seems this young man has enough gold to afford a resurrection. Shall we give it a try?” A box for yes and a box for no appears. Chuck hits “yes” and the dice roll against his resurrection survival chance. He succeeds, so he doesn’t need to make a new character. The game auto saves and he appears back on the last square at full health, but when he looks at his character sheet he sees a -1 next to his constitution score, meaning he has one fewer opportunity to be resurrected. He’s okay with this because he’s learned his lesson. Oh yes, and I forgot to mention that each time Chuck enters an unexplored square he gains 50xp! Now, if he wanted to he could totally just run a marathon over the whole island and level up a couple of times by running away from monsters, and that is definitely a viable option! But for every twenty squares he discovers a plot event occurs, meaning a new enemy presence will appear on the island and these are always bad. There could be a castle full of powerful orcs or one mondo deadly dragon, or something else horrible, and should he run into that before he’s prepared himself sufficiently, it could very well be game over!
Over the course of the next few weeks, Chuck level grinds, gathers treasure and discovers that he has enough loot to buy a boat! While on a boat, every time Chuck enters an ocean square, aquatic monsters have a chance to flop right onto the deck and attack him! Also, since Chuck has entered level 10, he starts attracting cohorts to follow him around! Whenever monsters attack Chuck, sprites resembling dark versions of himself pop out and attack the enemy, randomly using any spells they may have randomly prepared and whatnot! This could be a hazard, however, and if Chuck thinks they’re cramping his style, he can press F4 to open his cohort screen where he can play around with their AI script or dismiss them! He also has the option to buy new cohorts if the old ones die. Cohorts gain their own share of the XP as well, which means the more cohorts Chuck has the slower he levels up. Rats. But this is okay, because it also means he can take on tougher and tougher monsters. Oh, and by the way, those shiny magic items he isn’t using? Rather than sell them he can press F4 and drag them from his inventory bar, which is just to the side of the cohort screen. Whenever he gives an item to a cohort, if it’s better than what they currently have they will sell the old one and give you half the money they made from it and equip the item you gave them. If the item they have is better they will simply refuse it. So just imagine! You could have as many as 12 cohorts with you, each with +3 long swords and +3 armor, leveling up with you! And don’t worry about slower levels being gained, since combat goes way faster with more characters attacking every 2 seconds each.
Now that Chuck has an army of cohorts, he decides to fully explore the map and take on whatever challenges face him. During his expedition, Chuck and friends discover a new tile that the main map says is perfect for settlement! Now Chuck can get neck-deep in customization, because when he stands at the center of this map, where a great oaken pole stands, he can interact with it, allowing him to open a new screen that shows the area all gridded out for construction! A courier appears and offers his services in a dialog box, which are basically buying options! Chuck can hire a bunch of different hirelings, which each produce resources that they use for themselves and each other, but also a surplus that allows Chuck to build the crap out of his settlement. He can set up farms for farmers, metal shops for blacksmiths, quarries for masons, etc. etc. He can also build himself a fully rendered tent, cottage, house, castle or freaking manner house that he can then decorate one room, one floor at a time with fancy furniture. Marriage isn’t available though, because Chuck’s, and everyone else’s PCs are lifelong bachelors.
Now that Chuck has his land fully settled with peasants and shops all his own where he can buy the same stuff and services he had back at the original town, he decides to finish conquering the map. There can’t be much left, can there? After all, there’s just that one square left in the corner, right? The game doesn’t just end when he enters that last corner and fights the last monster, right? Damn straight it doesn’t end. After he explores the last square he is shown a cut scene depicting the taming of the land and then a horrifying portal opens right in the middle of the old town, killing everyone and turning the skies a blackened red color! When Chuck returns to the original town he finds it in ruins with that big, red portal in the middle. When he enters it he sees a loading screen and then finds himself in a hellish landscape with a new main map. Though this place isn’t as big, Chuck faces the same rules as before, only now he can’t settle and the monsters are all insanely hard. Lucky he has his cohorts an he can leave back through the main portal whenever he wants to go back to his settlement and resupply, but after exploring around the areas in the infernal map he finds a huge demonic castle full of really hard monsters and one mondo powerful demon prince. When he kills the demon prince, his elf thief is then taken up into the heavens by the gods where he becomes a consolation on the scrolls of honor!
Now Chuck sees the credits and gets to know all of the wonderful folks who made the damn game, including the main writer, yours truly, but after the credits the game auto saves again and when Chuck goes back to the title menu he sees a new option he was originally barred from during his first play through, and that is access to the Scrolls of Honor! Now, when he selects the constellation of his old thief, he can start the game over again as that thief! But there’s a problem: all the cool gear and cohorts he gained during the original play through are gone! But his level is still intact, so he can buy new cohorts when he has the money and since he’s not a druid or a monk he can continue to keep leveling up, gaining new weapon proficiencies and HP! What is more, the enemies now level up with you, becoming way more powerful than what their base templates in a fresh play through would provide! And if this ever becomes an online thing, Chuck can brag himself up a storm when he shows off his level 100+ something thief! Folks can also show off their bards that they somehow managed to roll without totally modding the game!
So there you have it: if this isn’t made into a video game there is something wrong with the world, because for old schoolers and new schoolers, this would be way more fun than the latest Fallout/Elder Scrolls!
One final note: enemies can sometimes bring in siege equipment to destroy the land you settle. If you have magical weapons you can dispatch these yourself or simply let your cohorts do it for you! You can also buy siege equipment of your own and guide one piece at a time through the wilderness toward your target enemy fortress! You can also see the stats of monsters you’ve encountered at a scholar’s booth, and print off your character’s stats on an official OSRIC sheet in on your character’s screen.