The Occult Chronicles

Halloween is approaching and it’s a suitable time for me to reveal what I have been working on for a while. This is the time of year that I break out Betrayal at House on the Hill and more recently Mansions of Madness. So I’ve set my occult adventure strategy game in a lovecraftian mansion replete with ghosts, monsters, cursed items of all kinds and any other haunted mansion trope that I can come up with. You start a game by creating a character in a surprisingly similar way to which Archfiends were created in Solium Infernum. In addition to health and sanity you also have four other attributes; Swords represent your martial ability, Cups represent your physical robustness and agility, Wands represent your mental acumen and finally Pentacles represent any arcane power that might be coursing through your veins. If it sounds like some Tarot cards might be involved in this game you might correct in your assumption.

Where is the Adventure? The whole game is basically one big map exploration. You play an agent of the O.D.D (Occult Defense Directorate) who has been assigned to check out some bumps in the night at an ancient estate out in the country. Before each game you choose a mission (or ask for a random one). This will determine who the final boss is and what clues you need to collect to find it and take care of it. You start in the main entrance hall and commence your exploration from there. Each mansion is randomly constructed but follows one of several architectural frameworks i.e. central hub, wings, T shaped etc. There are multiple floors, attics, basements and even things lying deeper under ground. Rooms are divided up into smaller 100 by 100 pixel areas with circular movement locations that you click on to move your character’s icon about the map. When you encounter something you must complete a challenge based on a trick taking game with Tarot cards to figure out whether you win or lose, run way or deliver a shot gun blast to the thing’s torso etc. I’ll have a lot more to say on the mechanics as I reveal more about the game. Which brings me to the next talking point.

Where is the Strategy? The strategy is in the challenge mechanics for the most part. There are some decisions to be made in exploring the map of course. The main floor is the safest. Venture up or especially down and you are increasing both your risk and your rewards. You’ll also need to decide how many clues you’ll want to gather before you confront the mission’s goal (i.e boss etc.). Clues have special bonuses that apply to the challenges that are directly related to the mission. So there is a risk reward calculus that has to be made. But most of the strategy revolves around deciding on how and when to use your items, skills, spells, heroic feats during the many challenges that you will have to beat. The mechanics center on manipulating the Tarot cards that you must use to take tricks to score points. Your abilities help determine how many points you’ll need to take as well as how many cards are laid out for tricks and how many cards go into your hand. From there you can use all your resources to manipulate and change the rules to ensure you win the challenge…but you’ll need to decide which challenges are must win and which ones can be accepted as a failure if the cards don’t break your way.

I’ll have a lot more to say about the design as I move forward with development. I’m pretty far along at this point. The engine is done for the most part. The art is being completed and all the encounters have been mapped out and the data entry has begun. I’d wager that it should be ready this Spring but I’ve been proven a liar every time so we’ll have to see about that. The game is room tile based and this is one of the start tiles.

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