I just spent the last few days changing a major design feature and despite the ripples it sent through my code base, I’m glad that I did. My original vision for Occult Chronicles was a computerized version of a board game where you move your investigator around the haunted house and whenever you enter a room and something happens, an “Encounter” card is drawn. Usually, you read the text, resolve anything that needs resolving…skill challenges, etc. and then discard the card and move on.
I decided originally that I did want some cards to hang around on the board. I called them unique encounters and they were often scenarios where you could come back to complete a quest, or have more options after you had improved your stats or found more objects during your exploration. Random encounters were the opposite in my mind. They popped up and you decided either fight or flight. Thematically I justified this by telling myself that the patrol of cultists or gaggle of zombies that you randomly encountered in a room moved on if you fled. Poof. If you killed them all of course there was no need to track them. But what happens if you decide that you are not ready to handle a random encounter and you run away?
It always bothered me that they just seemed to vanish. I was also trying to be a little more board game like and less traditional rogue like in this aspect. I know when I play rogue likes, one thing that sort of bothers me is the goofy one step, two step dancing that sometimes happens when you are navigating, running away or trying to use ranged attacks. I wanted abstraction and not a lot of tactical maneuvering. But I thought there was a better strategy element that could be added if the random encounters didn’t just go poof.
So, I now have a system where after you decide to run away from an encounter (and succeed in the tarot card challenge after you pick that option), the encounter can now remain on the board and actually chase you around a bit. I’ve also created some rules so that you can actually lose your pursuer by carefully moving around the corridors and rooms of the mansion. You get a one space head start so that it’s not right on your tail and after that if you can break line of sight from one room to the next i.e. leave a room before the encounter has trailed you into it, then you are free. The encounter will either wait a few turns before randomly walking around the mansion or pick a random door immediately and go through it…which may or may not be your door. It sounds more complicated than it is but the end result is that the running away/sneaky strategy just got a bit more interesting. And now there is more tension as well. If you keep running away from things the air space starts getting crowded. So you have to keep that in mind as you plan your strategy out for which rooms to visit and when to push on to another level.