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  Mechanic #113 - It Takes A Village
Posted: 10/27/10

Play as multiple townsfolk, marrying and having children, as you dungeon crawl.


The basic idea is that you have a village full of characters that you can play as. Everyone in the village is a playable character. These villagers grow old, fall in love, and have children (which you can then play as). It's not precisely like the Sims because this isn't a sim game. It's a dungeon crawler. It's just that you have multiple playable characters who live together in a village.

  Four Stages of Life


There are four basic stages to the life of a villager: childhood, young adult, middle age, and elder. Each stage has its own set of levels, abilities, and skills that you can earn which is roughly built around the pros and cons of each era. For instance, an elder Warrior might have lower strength and dexterity, but have higher critical hits representing his increase expertise through his many years of training.

The village graduates between eras at the same time. Basically, once you've gotten all your villagers to a place you are happy with, you call a giant festival in which all the villagers get together and celebrate the passage of time - sort of a New Year's Eve party. At this point, everybody moves to the next age. A level 20 young adult will then become a level 20 middle aged villager.

As you can see, the level stays the same, but the age changes. When you hit a new level, you get the appropriate stat changes and new skills as determined by the age. So hitting level 15 as a young adult will result in different abilities than hitting 15 middle aged. There is a limit to how far you can go though - roughly ten levels per era. So a young adult won't be able to hit level 21, but if you aren't careful when advancing eras, you could end up with a level 1 elder.


Childhood is an age where you don't actually go out and adventure. Instead, you live in your family's home for the duration (which I'll talk about in a moment) gaining levels by playing with toys your parents provide.

Young Adult is when the villager gets his own house and is able to go out and adventure, at the peak of his physical abilities. It is here that the villager can fall in love and marry another Young Adult villager.

Middle Age is a little bit wiser, a little bit slower (some stats decrease with age), but with a focus on special abilities instead of raw stat power. If they are married, they may have children and raise them during their middle age years.

Elders continue the downward trend in physical stats, but increased intellectual stats. They tend to be somewhat less effective in combat but can contribute to the village by teaching weaker versions of their special abilities to young adults.

After the Elder stage, they go off and retire in Florida. At least, that's what I'm telling the children.

  Home Sweet Home


When a villager becomes a young adult, they either get their own house or go off to a distant land to adventure (basically retire from the game, but with some sort of benefit, like sending money home or returning as an NPC with special items to sell or something). Obviously, there is limited space in the village, so there has to be an open house for them to move into. Likewise, if you don't like any of the children or just want to introduce some new blood to the village, strangers will occasionally appear at the inn who may decide to move to town into an open cottage.

The housing works in a similar way to the previous entry, [#112 - Room RPG] in that you can decorate it with items you loot from dungeons. These items affect your character's stats, provide stat bonuses, or even prestige which makes that character more attractive to the opposite sex.

  Love & Marriage


At any time, you can grab one to four villagers and go spelunking through dungeons and doing all that fun adventuring stuff. Members of the opposite sex who group together will increase their affection for each other. Other factors like prestige and wealth can make this easier or more difficult. Once two characters like each other enough, they can get married.

When two villagers get married, they move into the same house and all their possessions and wealth are pooled together. Though the house is the same size, they have to make room for twice as many possessions, and decorate with an eye towards the needs of both characters. Also, when in a group together, they gain special bonuses and abilities unique to married couples. Of course, should one of them fall in battle, the significant other will be less effective in battle until they are brought back to life.

When the married couple enters middle age, they may choose to have a child. The child's class is based on the classes of the two parents. For instance, a viking and a maiden would have a boy viking or a girl valkyrie. A thief having a baby with another thief may have a ninja boy or a kunoichi girl. A thief and a warrior could have a swashbuckler. And so on. Unlocking all the classes in the game is largely a matter of matchmaking. If you find you don't have the right classes, you can always rely on visiting strangers to move into the village.

Children do not get their own rooms, but are given toys to play with by their parents. These toys have a basic affect on the child's base stats. So, a picture book might increase intelligence a little bit, while a football would increase strength. Children acquire toy xp over time which allows them to level up. Stat changes only happen when they get to the next level and is based on the collective toy usage during that level.

  A Kind Of Garden

I think of this idea as a sort of villager garden. Though you can take each villager out an experience all that fun dungeon crawling stuff you've come to expect, the ultimate goal is to cultivate a village filled with useful characters. Individually, they grow through their own pursuits, or grow as a pair when married, but coupled with the house ownership and raising children, the goal isn't so much to build a single really powerful character but to find some sort of harmony between all the villagers that will create a more nurturing environment for everyone.



Copyright 2007-2014 Sean Howard. All rights reserved.