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Good evening, afternoon, or whatever time it happens to be there, ladies and gents! I happen to be Andy, who happens to be a freelance web designer, musician, writer, and whatnot.

Roman Catholic, student of tabletop gaming, and someday soon I'll have my own designs in the field!

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Paper Empires: Building a Dynasty

Okay! This is the first post in my rebuild of Paper Empires, and I'm going to do two things. First, I'm going to explain (to the newcomers) exactly how Cortex+ works. Then, I'm going to outline how the concept of Dynasties will apply to this game, because Dynasties are a core component of this new edition, which I'm still trying to figure out a good name for. At the moment, Paper Empires+, Paper Empires 2E, and some totally unrelated title are my best options. Any input there?

The Cortex+ Mechanic
The basic idea behind Cortex+ is simple: you throw together a pool of dice (of various sizes), roll them, and pick two of them to add together. This is your total for the roll. Higher totals are better. Simple enough. You also get to pick a Power die (this is usually called the Effect Die in Cortex+ games). The bigger the size of the Power die (i.e. d8 vs. d10, d6 vs. d12, and so on), the more of an effect you can apply with the roll. It introduces a nifty balancing game: if your many-sided die rolls high, you might want to add it to your total, or save it to use as a Power die.

Example: I assemble a pool out of a d6, two d8s, a d10, and a d12. Respectively, I get the following results: 3 (d6), 7 (d8), 2 (d8), 5 (d10), 8 (d12). I could have a total of 12 (the d8 plus the d10) with a d12 Power die, or I could have a total of 15 (the d8 plus the d12) with a d10 Power die.

There's also the possibility of introducing negative consequences when you roll a 1 on any die, but that comes later on. At any rate, you assemble your pool by adding in traits. Each trait is rated with a die size, and represents a die that you can throw into the pool.

Powers of a Dynasty
There's a few different things which define a Dynasty in this iteration of Paper Empires. First and foremost, let's get down what a Dynasty is. It represents a sort of abstract idea, akin to Civilization's use of the term "Civilization" to represent ideas like the Americans, the Egyptians, the Germans, and so forth. The English could be a Dynasty in this game, as could a nation of pirates or an ancient tribe. Essentially, a Dynasty is a group of people with a shared culture that has a strong and distinct government.

One of the defining cores of a Dynasty is its Distinctions. You may always add one Distinction to your pool, and you may add it in one of two ways. First, it can be added as an advantage: you add a d8 to the pool. Secondly, it can be added as a disadvantage: you add a d4 to the pool, and you add a d6 to your Dynasty Pool. (That's a concept which I'll be getting into later, but it essentially represents the might of your Dynasty, and its ability to keep control over its provinces.) Some Distinctions will be harder to leverage positively, and others will be harder to leverage negatively, but be creative!

The second major feature of a Dynasty is the Arts which it knows. These are broad fields of knowledge, each with its own set of technology traits. An art also may have a number of Crafts, specific abilities granted by certain levels of mastery within the art. Advancing your arts by learning new technologies is one of the core aspects of the game. The technologies you can learn are also unfixed: each game can feature a new collection of technologies, custom-named and arranged by the players.

A Sample Dynasty
The Dun Crow Donnoleys
Distinctions: Aggressive, Expansionist

Boatbuilding d8, Naval Warfare d10, Navigation d8

Craft: Boarding Parties. Step down the die of a Military Asset on the sea to step down and claim control of another Military Asset in the same area with an equal or smaller die size.

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