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Incremental mechanics development - Introducing traps

spike trap in the snow from Silent Nightmare

One of the best things about developing a brand new TTRPG is the need to 'get it out there', play testing is the best way of ensuring that the end product is as balanced and enjoyable as possible. This kind of consumer engagement is a really powerful tool for generating ideas and highlighting areas that need more work.

While working on our Starter Kit we focused on the investigative aspects of the game with only a nod towards the eventual combat mechanics we would eventually employ when dealing with corporeal entities in the Beyond the Veil universe. As part of the Silent Nightmare one-shot release, however, we found a new section of the rules that required some distinct mechanics, traps!

"It's a trap!"

As I've said many times before, representing the entire universe of options is an impossible feat, instead we, as game designers, must make some concessions for creative license by grouping similar things under a single mechanic... providing a framework of rules that can be used to guide each table in a way that makes sense to them.

In Beyond the Veil we already have the concept of static pieces of equipment and how to install them, applying these rules to traps was all a matter of perspective. By using the same rules and values but with a new twist for context, it turned out that a new rule was not required and the overall idea of how items work within the system remained as simplistic as possible.

By tying as much to the core mechanics of a system as we can, we lower the bar for new players to learn the system which, as a new TTRPG, is ALL players. However, this should never be done at the cost of quality. When a new rule or a new interpretation of an existing one is required we can still tie it back to the underlying basic rules that drive the game. This breeds familiarity and allows us to quickly assess for balance.

Check out an introduction to combat and traps in Silent Nightmare, a free festive-themed one-shot.

Preview of the module contents

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