Thursday, August 20, 2009

Museum of Unnatural history?

I need a name for this game...

With the advent of Time Travel, museum curators have procured prototype time machines, and will use them to go back in time and "save" precious cultural artifacts that - until now - have been lost to history (damaged, destroyed, or lost forever). But it's very important not to cause a paradox, or let people know the item still exists - so only the player who arrives closest to the time the item is thought to have disappeared will be able to take it!

Furthermore, as time travel becomes more widespread, rumors of future technology surface, and players can attempt to go forward in time and procure them for their own use (only the player that arrives first, after the technology is invented, will get it).

Players are Curators collecting items for their Exhibits. Each Exhibit will be worth points depending on how many Artifacts it contains. Collecting artifacts from one culture will help to find more artifacts from the same culture, however 3 different Exhibits is more impressive than 1 really big Exhibit, so specializing in just 1 culture's artifacts may not be the best way to go.

Each round 5 different artifacts from 5 different cultures and 1 futuristic technology will be revealed - information about these items has surfaced, and players will have to calibrate their time machines to attempt to collect them.

Each player will roll a number of Color Dice, this represents research being done. the colors rolled represent information about the matching colored culture/artifact. Each player has some information but nobody has all of it. Using the information they have, and judging their opponents based on their actions, players calibrate their time machines by iteratively 'bidding' on how far back in time to send each of their Explorers (players will have 4/3/2/2 explorers an a 2/3/4/5 player game), and for which artifact. When all players are satisfied, each artifact is retrieved by the player who chose the closest without going over (er, in this case maybe "without going under"). The Futuristic Technology is collected by the player who goes forward in time the least without going over. The 'calibrating' phase works like this:

When it's your turn, you place an Explorer token on one of the Time tracks associated with one of the artifacts. You can only place 1 explorer on each track. Once all of your explorers are on tracks, your turn consists of Passing (if your explorers are furthest along all of the tracks, or you are happy with how far back you are sending them), or re-placing an Explorer who has been 'outbid' (another explorer has been placed higher on the same track - indicating that he'll be closer to the correct time, unless he doesn't go back far enough to 'save' the artifact).

Once everybody is happy with their explorer placement, the artifact retrieval is resolved by revealing all dice. For each artifact, the player who's explorer is on the space closest to the space corresponding to the correct number of dice of that color without going over collects the artifact.

When determining the number of dice, it's possible that a player might have a special ability which allows him to count an additional die - that die only counts for that player, other players compare their explorer placement with the actual number of dice. This can create a tie, and in the case of a tie, the player without the 'bonus' (or with fewer bonuses) wins the tie and collects the item.

Each round, or when receiving certain Artifacts, each player is given an additional color die to roll, representing more information becoming available as time travel becomes more widespread.

In the end, each Exhibit will be worth some number of points depending on the artifacts that are in it. Perhaps to score an Exhibit at all you need to collect at least 3 artifacts of that type, and each additional artifact is worth less and less. That way just 1 of each type isn't enough to score really well, but all of 1 type isn't as good as 3 each of several types.


Scurra said...

Did I ever send you the outline ruleset for my Time Travel Auction game?

It's the standard idea - travellers from the future are trying to save artefacts, which they do by going back into the past to auctions and buying them (thus avoiding suspicious disappearances.) Unfortunately, the historical records have been damaged, so the players only know certain things about the auctions - e.g. how much was paid for each lot, but not which amount went with which lot... They must thus be careful to preserve the timeline by making sure that the auction comes out the way it is recorded, without realising that all the other bidders in the auctions are their time-travelling rivals.

The idea was to create a really bizarre feeling where players already knew the outcome of the auction (the one thing that really shouldn't be known!) but not quite enough of the details to be sure they know what they are getting themselves into.

Brettspiel said...

I've got something with this in progress myself. Time traveling collectors.. I call mine Zeitkammer, a play on wunderkammer.