Content of the article: "Building a Banner Saga inspired game"
In the game Banner Saga you play as a group of heroes escorting refugees across a war-torn norse themed apocalyptic landscape. It's kinda like Oregon Trail meets Final Fantasy Tactics. The player has to manage the caravans resources and morale and protect the caravan from enemies. Along the way you pick up more and more followers, including warriors who help you protect the caravan but that you don't directly control. You also make a lot of choices about where the caravan goes (although there is a static end goal there are many paths to reach it) settle disputes among your followers, decide if you let people join your group, decide if you will intervene when you see towns being destroyed and many other interactions. These choices all have long term consequences which deeply impact future gameplay.
So the core idea I want to steal is a group of heroes escorting a caravan of refugees during an apocalypse, trying to find safety. I have some basic mechanics on how this will work.
Gold will be mostly worthless in this game as it is the end times and things like food and blankets are more important. Supplies will be the main resource of the game and include everything a person or wagon travelling in a caravan would need such from food, tools, clothing, etc.
For simple math all the wagons in the caravan will be mechanically identical and each will be pulled by a single ox. Each wagon will have room for 10 people and 100 supplies. You can Add up to 50 more supplies or 5 more people (not both) onto a wagon which then becomes Encumbered and moves at half speed. Each person in the caravan will consume 1 supply every day.
I also plan on making a simple map with branching paths which the players will have access to. There will be different towns and cities along the way with different estimated times between them. There will be mass migrations happening from the east which the players will be very aware of. They will have to decide where they believe would be most safe as they continue travelling west.
As the players travel I will be using a lot of random encounter tables, having the players roll for each day. Encounters will not always end in combat,many will be choices the player has to make regarding managing the caravan and exploring the area around the caravan. If they do well I will reward the players with Supplies, new Followers, new Warriors (followers trained to protect the caravan) and occasionally a magical item. If they do poorly I will also punish them with stolen supplies, lowered morale, losing followers/warriors, etc.
I am considering how to balance encounters properly and I think to receive the benefit of a short rest the caravan has to stop for 8 hours and to long rest the party will have to stop the caravan for a full day. If they players don't stop the caravan to rest at least 1 day out of 7 the Caravan and players have lowered morale. I have not put much thought into the morale system and considering replacing that last rule with just giving the whole caravan 1 level of exhaustion which can only be cured by a 3 day rest.
At certain points throughout their travels I will add in some hidden locations they will encounter that I have designed to hold the story together and add some more continuity then just rolling on an encounter table. Reaching a city or town would also have some more story driven encounters, also allowing for more traditional DND as the caravan camps, recovers or resupplies for the next leg of the journey. I could even see the Caravan finding a safe haven and staying for a year or 2 either as downtime or allowing players to have a more traditional game trying to protect the town which would eventually fall and force the players back onto the road.
I also am considering creating a system, again based off banner saga, for large scales "battles" once your caravan reaches a few hundred. The heroes would have the option of "Charge Forward" in which case the heroes would take the brunt of the enemy resulting in more enemies for the heroes to fight. Second option "Hold Formations!" would have the heroes standing firm with the Warriors in the caravan and working together. This would be the normal amount of enemies for an encounter. Last choice would be "fall back!" where the Warriors take the brunt of the attack and the heroes face fewer enemies. Just to clarify, the Warriors and many of the enemy you combat would never actually reach a battlemap, just be abstractions, description of battle raging around you as you lead the caravan through the battlefield.
Banner Saga is a pretty brutal game and this campaign is intended to be similar. Each player will create back up characters which will become leaders amongst the Warriors in the caravan. After each battle depending on which choice the players make I will roll to see how many warriors die, with the back up characters potentially dying as well. If a players main character dies they will be able to choose from the back up characters they have created and placed in the caravan.
Well it's early stages and I will probably write more mechanics as I think of them but for now if anyone has any ideas or resources that might be helpful please let me know. Thank you.
- I love the Banner Saga!
- Mod Request/Idea: Balancing Followers – Morale System
- Just Finished Playing The Banner Saga, Highly Recommend
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