09 Mar Tabletop Influence: Challengers of Khalea
It Starts With Tabletop
It’s often said Challengers of Khalea takes inspiration from games like Fire Emblem, Gladius and even Areena 5. Many other games have given bits of inspiration to the project, but we’ve never talked ’bout the inspiration that has been drawn from outside video games. Namely from tabletop rpgs.
Pinpointing one tabletop rpg as the inspiration for Challengers of Khalea is impossible. I’ll do my best in this post to illustrate the similarities of styles and mechanics in tabletop rpgs and Challengers of Khalea.
Tabletop is a traditional pen and paper type of roleplaying using only dice, character sheets and group communication. Just making sure you, dear reader, know what tabletop rpgs are. There are tons of different rulebooks. Rulebooks are game mechanics of sort, for tabletop rpgs. Of all the existing mechanics I find myself playing with Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 edition and Steve Jackson Games’ GURPS most. Naturally these have been present in the making of Challengers of Khalea. You’ll notice that soon.
Most of the time the characters in video game rpgs gather XP to increase in level. When the level up gives the sweet “ding”, the player gets to choose upgrades and stat increases that are more or less predetermined to certain builds and paths or limited by class/job. Of course this is traditional in tabletop rpgs as well. In our case we found more similarity with a less traditional tabletop game, the GURPS. General Universal Roleplaying System doesn’t restrict character progression to a class but instead allows players to freely customize their character’s evolution by spending rewarded points.
In Challengers of Khalea we have character classes in place, but we wanted to give an experience where you can change and test different classes on the fly and have the progression mechanism to support it. We took some inspiration from GURPS so you can freely choose attribute and skill increases to apply to your warriors. Changing the class doesn’t alter warrior progression. For warriors’ the class is a role in the team’s tactics, not a lifestyle.
Combat Mechanics of Match Mode
Challengers of Khalea is a turn-based tactical rpg, so the combat mechanics are bound to have similarities with the roleplaying genre that preceded digital rpgs. I’ve been caught admitting that our ability system is heavily inspired by the Pokemon games. It’s true. It’s surprising how well that game’s move system fits with traditional tabletop combat systems. Such variation of moves can’t be often seen in tabletop rpgs, but similar mechanics can be seen in Dungeons and Dragons rulebooks. Surely in tabletops the number of attacks and usable abilities are not limited like with Pokemon, but such limitations make the character and team management more interesting. With Challengers of Khalea we wanted to create combat mechanics similar to Dungeons and Dragons and add some of the video game proven ability move charm on top of it.
Storytelling with emphasis on dialogue
So take a second and imagine. When you’re playing a tabletop session how is the story brought to you? How do you learn to like, loath and trust the npcs when you can’t see them on-screen? The most important immersive factor in tabletop storytelling is character dialogue. As a matter of fact, most of the time outside battles in tabletop games is dedicated to character dialogue.
Challengers of Khalea aims to bring this rich dialogue structure from the tabletop RPG sessions to RPG fans that enjoy tabletop games. As a video game we have the privileged option to visually represent the characters engaged in discussion. Even though we have highly skilled 2D artists we hope to thrive by using magical, tabletop-inspired dialogue as the core storytelling mechanic for the game.
About The Author:
When not needed as a game designer or programmer, Joni Lappalainen is the CEO of Dreamloop Games Ltd. Joni has a degree in Game Programming and in BIT, but a majority of his experience comes in the form of leadership and project management. When not orchestrating development at the office, Joni can be found playing basketball, Xbox or doing his duties for the local IGDA hub.