Every now and then, as a writer, you might find yourself creating something totally by accident. For example: you might be writing a story about a physical struggle between two parties and suddenly decide that it would be cool to have a few scenes in which the two parties are playing a board game – a sort of symbolic way to show the mental struggle accompanying the physical battle.
Now, you could use a reference to a game that already exists, like, say… chess or settlers of catan … but the story you are writing takes place in another world, and you think to yourself, “Hmmm, do they HAVE chess or settlers in that world?” Then perhaps you decide that they don’t. So you have to come up with a name for a non-existent game.
Later, you might decide that it would be cool (this being the final book of the series) to have “quotes” at the beginnings of all your chapters – but you don’t want to use actual quotes, since then you’d have to figure out the legality issues and the rights to those quotes… so you decide to create your own. As you do so, you suddenly realize that the game you have your opponents playing is a perfect tool for coming up with fictional quotes from fictional historical figures, which is fantastic, but also means that you now have to figure out the rules and how to play this game that was only supposed to be in one or two minor scenes.
Before you know it… you’re having to sit down and create a whole board game from scratch just so you can use it in one percent of your entire story.
Not that I’m speaking from experience… hahaha.
From The Minstrel book four of The Minstrel’s Song I give you a sneak peek at something I never intended to create – but once I got started it just sort of came to life all on its own:
Karradoc: The Game
Large board 20×20 squares
On each side of the board in the center (not facing the players) there are two black “shield” slots.
A player may have anywhere from 6-20 pieces to start with.
Pieces range in point value from 1 to 5, 5 being the highest.
On simple, cheap boards, all the pieces of the same value look the same. On high-end, expensive boards, every single piece is unique – and usually made out of some precious or semi-precious material.
Players may choose their pieces in whatever variety they like, so long as the total number of points on the board equals 30 points.
All pieces may move in whatever direction they like (and may change direction mid-turn) however many spaces corresponds with their point value (e.g. 1 point pieces may move one space in any direction, but 5 point pieces may move 5 spaces in any direction and may change direction mid-turn) however, a piece may not touch any square twice in one turn.
A player captures his opponent’s piece by both moving one of his pieces onto the same square as that of his opponent’s piece and playing a “capture” token. Pieces can only be captured by a piece of equal or greater value, or with a token that allows for an eight-sided die (that has three 1s, two 2s, two 3s, and one 4 printed on it) to be rolled and added to the value of a token (thus a 1-point piece could, conceivably, capture a 5-point piece with a roll of 4).
The game is won by whichever player can capture all of his opponent’s pieces, or by whomever has the most points left on the board once all the capture tokens have been used.
Tokens (80 total)
Tokens in ordinary sets are carved on small pieces of wood, in ornate sets they are made out of a thick parchment.
Players hold five tokens in their hand at all times. During their turn, they may move one piece and use a token. Sometimes more than one token may be used. Tokens must be used in conjunction with they piece being played during a turn.
Types of tokens:
Capture Tokens - there are 45 of these tokens in a deck. They are used in conjunction with a move where one player attempts to capture his opponent’s piece with one of his own pieces.
Shield Tokens - there are 4 of these in a deck. These are defensive tokens and they can be used to thwart an opponent’s attempt to capture a piece. They not only block the attack, but they also move the attacked piece to a “shield” slot on the board, where it can remain in safety for up to three turns. A piece can never attack from this position. It must move back into play first, and then in a second turn it may attack.
Die Tokens - there are 25 of these in a deck. These are also defensive tokens and allow for the outcome of an attack to be determined by a toss of the dice. Each player rolls the 8-sided die once and the highest number wins. If the attacking player wins, he continues with the capture as he would had the die token not been played. If the defending player wins, the attacking player must move his attacking piece back to the “home row” on his side of the board. These can also be used as offensive tokens if played before moving, they may be used to allow a player to add the roll of the die to his piece’s number of allowed spaces. (e.g. Player whose turn it is lays down a Die Token, chooses a piece, and then rolls the die. Thus, if he chose to move a 2-point piece and rolls a 3, he may move his piece 5 spaces)
Dragon Mage Token - there is one of these in a deck. This token acts like a shield for an entire army. It prevents the opponent from making any attacks in his next turn, allowing the one who plays it two turns to move any threatened or important pieces to safety. No pieces get put in the shield spots.
Rescue Tokens - there are 5 of these in a deck. They allow a player to either rescue a captured token or replace it with a token of equal or lesser value. This token may only be used if the player has lost at least 5 points.
One 8-sided die is included in the game. It is used in conjunction with the “die tokens.” When one player attacks another, the attacked player may play a defensive token such as a Shield Token, Dragon Mage Token, or Die Token. If the player plays a Die token, then each player takes a turn rolling the die. Whoever rolls the higher number wins the battle. The die can also be used to enhance the number of spaces that a piece is allowed to move. (For more on how to use the die tokens, see “Die Token” section of the instructions).