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Ideas from Co-operative Boardgames for D&D

Written by LovelyRotten - Published on July 20, 2015

DM: “So, you’ve entered the room of Eternal Evil…”  Players: “We storm in as fast as we can, unleashing as much cacophonous violence as possible and raise any dead when we’re done.”

DM: “So, you’ve entered the mystic china shop full of expensive, hand-made stuff.”  Players: “We storm in as fast as we can, unleashing as much cacophonous violence as possible and raise any dead when we’re done.”

Weary DM: “So, you’ve entered the Orphanage Of Eternal Anime-eyed Scions and…Players: “We storm in as fast as we can, unleashing as much cacophonous violence as possible and raise any dead when we’re done.”

PC’s standard operating procedure can resemble a raid in Juarez. Fortunately ‘cooperative” board games (where everyone works together, either all winning or losing) suggest game mechanics for the Dungeon Master that can move the action from repeatedly kicking down dungeon doors into the realm of movie trailers.

Pandemicstop outbreaks before they end humanity by sharing knowledge, discovering cures, and treating diseases. DMs can apply:

  1. Separate needs, same time Make time-sensitive actions required at the same time, creating the need for the party to split up to get them done in time. Not only do you have to get the falsely-convicted prince free of his cell, you need to keep the magistrate busy in court while you do it, and that means creating diversions all around the hallowed halls of the Justicar.
  2. Someone needs to know!  The diversion in the halls of justice has forced the discovery that the prince is actually a doppelganger, and the moment he’s near the princess, its lights out for her! Pushing a need for long distance communication while being chased by the despotic king’s forces creates new challenges for the party.
  3. Triggering the spill  The false prince remains jailed (or killed, knowing this party), but they didn’t get the Justicar distracted for long enough, now he orders his loyal troops to enter the city and begin hunting down the party and their allies. Unless they warn enough of their friends, the thieves guild that was waiting for ‘just the right moment’ have realized now is the time to steal the party’s armor that the smithy just finished.

Marvel Legendary; stop a supervillain’s nefarious plans and waves of underling enemies by recruiting Marvel superheroes and building up enough power to eventually fight the boss baddie.  DMs can apply:

  1. Pipeline of thugs  Soldiers of the enemy arrive constantly, their plodding pace and additions to the attack stretching the characters resources. The party knows they can’t unleash their devastating stuff too early, lest they have nothing left for the leader.
  2. Recruiting resources Magic spells are needed to power the ancient hold’s defenses, and hero points and grit points can be used to add to the players’ success at getting the local tribe of pech to fight on their side.
  3. What the hell was that noise? The longer the party takes to build the giant-chopper that’s designed to take down the frost giant archer, the deeper the evil duergar sappers dig into the side passage to let the giant spiders in to attack, the farther the darkmantles fly to harass the party, and the worse the smoke gets from the burning mushroom forest.

Shadows Over Camelot; save Arthur’s realm from invasions, the Black Knight, siege engines, a dragon, and a possible traitor all while hunting for the Holy Grail.  DMs can apply:

  1. There’s a snake in my boots! Character possession and geas magics are just a couple of ways to introduce SoC’s traitor mechanic. But who says a traitor needs to be evil? Sometimes the players loved one is at risk and forces him to choose them over the greater good at the worst possible time. However SoC proves that even the suspicion of treachery does damage.
  2. Benefit from doing nothing The player is forced to take no action, lest his efforts possibly make things worse. Rather than their sword saving the day, have a hero stuck holding a trap closed, or wrap their hands around the one rope that, if let go, releases the lynch pin to the walls of the tower upon which their battle rages.
  3. The heavy gamble A huge risk means a huge reward! Like being given two paths to take, one with horrible ends, the other with grand good stuff to horde (treasure? Power? Victory? That last hit point you needed?). Making an early decision, where the outcome won’t be known for turns or even days, carries the suspense.

Good DMs will beg, borrow, and steal any good idea.  Co-operative games aren’t just enjoyable, they’re a rich field to idea mine.  But elements that you yourself find fun playing, your group will find fun playing with.

And fun is why we all do this.

Written by LovelyRotten

Gamer for 35 years, Metal for Life.

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