Creating objectives for the Fallout Shelter RPG
One thing I wanted to mimic from the Fallout Shelter game, and inject into the corresponding RPG, was the concept of Objectives and rewards.
Normally, these start out very simple, with objectives such as "Collect 50 water", or "Level up 1 dweller". These are very easy objectives that get you into the flow of the game, and are almost a training exercise the first few times you play. Additionally, they give you some needed, albeit random, bonuses.
I thought this would be a fun element to add to the RPG to give it the look and feel of the phone game. And so...
The first iteration: Random objectives
I started with a look at many of the generic objectives from the phone game. Things like:
- Stop # incidents
- Kill # <various creatures>
- Rush # rooms
- Collect # resources
As you notice, these are all fairly mechanical objectives. What's nice about these, even as they are just mechanical, is that they provide some impetus for the player to drive towards, even if they are fairly metagaming constructs. "Do this thing to gain a reward of money or items."
I took a screen capture, and then created a generically looking graphic that was blank, to use as a template. I also modified it slightly so that it fit on a 3x5" Word template, so that they could easily be printed on index cards. A la:
I added text boxes around the objective areas, so that I could easily type and create my own. However, wanting to keep the same font style as the game, I needed to find what font was being used.
I made about 8 of these with the intention of using them in the game, but because there were so many things still in progress during the first playtest, I completely spaced out and forgot to use them!
Good thing I was having a good long conversation with Howie, one of my players, after the game. I showed him the cards, and he had some thoughts around these being used to inject a little more role-playing and such into the game.
The second iteration: Narrative objectives
I took Howie's feedback and played around with it, and came up with personality-based objective cards. As an example, here are two, for Ambitious and Brave:
What you'll notice is that the objectives themselves are themed. Those on the Ambitious card are all things having to do with being ambitious. This means that choosing this card, or set of objectives, gives the player a way to play the character in a manner that runs with that personality.
Additionally, not all objectives are purely mechanical. For example, on the Brave card we have the objective "Do something brave". That can be anything, and knowing that there is a mechanical bonus (in this case 30 Caps) the player has more drive to act according to that trait. Another example on that card is the "Take an injury for someone else". This is nothing like the objectives in the phone game, but provides a way in the RPG to play "brave" for mechanical bonuses, but with some risk.
The little circle bubbles are there to assist the player in tracking how many of these things they've done to complete the individual objective.
In total, I made 16 of these. Because this is a 4 player game, my intention was to give each player a random selection of 4 cards, and then have them choose the 1 or 2 that they fancy. This gives the player some choice into their characters personality and bonuses. This also provides me, as the GM, a wide variety of character combinations that I get to play with, as I run this game over the course of the year.
Now, I also planned to tweak the game, from the initial playtest, to provide a level-up functionality. Originally I planned to have this timed, so that 2 hours into the actual game (which should last 4 hours, at a con), all the players would level up. Then again at the 3 hour mark. The level up would have some bonuses to die rolls, hit points, and even a S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stat upgrade.
After showing these new objective cards to Howie for feedback, he contributed another 2 excellent pieces I incorporated:
- Call these "Narrative objective" cards (and maybe even label them as such on the back), since the personality trait is a narrative-based objective. I liked that.
- Make the level up mechanic tied to these objectives. If the player completes all 3 objectives on an individual card, they level up! That was perfect, as I planned at this point for each player to have 2 level up possibilities, and 2 cards. Additionally, this makes them work that much harder at trying to complete the objectives given.
I got to test these new cards and mechanics at Orccon 2016 for 2 game sessions, one for adults, and one for kids. It worked brilliantly both times, and I'm really happy with how this all came out. I also love that if I get inspired, I can easily create more at a later point in time, which has no strict impact on the game, but could very much influence inter-party conflicts and narrative directions for the game.