Welcome to Candycreeps Development Diaries! This series of posts is like our transparency policy — it’s designed to paint a picture of the ideas and motivations that went into putting the game together. Keep an eye on this space for future updates.
Development Diaries 5: Roles
As we started putting together Candycreeps characters, we found that Features didn’t always let us define them to a degree that would support all the stories we wanted to tell. Sometimes, we needed to describe an aspect of the character’s knowledge base, or of his or her place in the Pembrigan Academy ecosystem, and a single bonus or special ability on par with other Features wasn’t enough. That’s where Roles came in.
We never wanted to give Candycreeps a fully-fleshed-out system of skills. That was one of the main ways we wanted to make the game “rules-light” — by trusting the judgment of the GM and players to determine what the core competencies of a particular character would be. For a while, we considered going with pure “skillsets” — i.e., you could buy a group package of skills in Science or Business or whatever. As we kicked that around, though, we realized that the main goal of suggesting it was to let us make characters that did specific things in the setting — like, for example, a Science Teacher should have a certain broad range of abilities relating to science, but also to running a classroom.
So we decided to cut out the middleman and go after that goal directly, and that’s where the idea for Roles came from. Each Role a character has grants him or her two separate kinds of bonus. Some of these bonuses are right in the line of skills, but many, if not most, are broader than any single skill would be in a full-on “attribute plus skill” game (the Punk role confers a +1 bonus to anything that involves breaking rules, for example).
Most Roles, with a few exceptions (again, Punk is an example), also confer a broad set of appropriate knowledges and competencies; so a character with Superfan, for example, knows the teams and players for any sport that might come up in game. We left these intentionally vague to encourage players and GMs to be as inclusive as possible, on the grounds that it’s more fun to spend time talking about what the characters can do than worrying about what they can’t.
Since Roles cover a lot of ground, they’re twice as expensive as individual Features in the chargen and advancement processes. Given the range of abilities that most of them grant, I think they’re still cheap at the cost. Theoretically, a character could just take Roles without taking any regular Features. In practice, though, we’ve found that most players are interested enough in the unique elements of their characters’ appearance that they gravitate toward Features. Lots of characters have Features but no Roles, which is just fine — that just means that they don’t have a stereotypical position that they occupy in the society of the game, or that their jobs don’t play an important enough role in their lives to define them during gameplay.
Next post, we’ll take a look at the Crunchy stats that support in-game fighting in Candycreeps, and at the same time, we’ll talk more about how Candycreeps strives to be “rules-light.” Until then,