From Village Idiot to Fools! 24 hours of game design in the world of Fairy

Meet the Cobbler, a lesser figure in the noble Fey Army.
Meet the Cobbler, a lesser figure in the noble Fey Army.

I’ve got Ninja under my belt and Upgrade Wars has gotten some very helpful feedback by one publisher who passed and is at another who’s presumably still scratching their heads over it. So the sensible thing to do would be to step back a bit, take a break, focus a little on Total Confusion XVII which is rapidly approaching.

But no, my stupid brain can’t take a hint.

Stupid Brain

Two evenings past, I was sitting on the train on my ride home trying to stay awake so I wouldn’t end up far, far away from my stop when it hit me – Village Idiot. It’s a term that’s not much in use anymore, but still has traction in our collective unconscious. It would fit perfectly with this idea for a fairly casual card game I’d been toying with all day. Once my brain latched on to that thought, it wouldn’t let go and I spent the entire train ride home, a very distracted dinner and most of the evening putting all the mechanical bits together.

I’m not going to go into deep detail about the mechanics at the moment because there’s still some tweaking that needs to be done. The basics though are simple. It’s 2 – 4 players, 60 cards and is played over various hands until someone achieves a previously agreed on number of victory points. Each hand consists of several face down cards that you cannot look at, and several cards in your hand that you will see. Drawing certain cards causes you to discard your hand and draw more cards.

Each card has a point value assigned to it, and 5 of the 60 cards do different things altogether (or can be used for their points, depending). There’s a bit of maneuvering, perhaps a bidding element (but I haven’t worked that bit out to my satisfaction yet) and then you flip over your face down cards, and add up your points. The player with the most points wins that round and gets 1 victory point. Fairly simple. And I had the perfect theme and name to go with it!

The Goblin. Mean, green and a little less intelligent than your average tree.
The Goblin. Mean, green and a little less intelligent than your average tree.


Except that, as I developed the theme further, and the artwork started coming together, I realized that my name stunk.

The theme is that of a once a year tourney held in the realm of Fairy. All the top dog fairy kings and queens gather their followers, get together and have a war/party. The cards represent those who have the potential to distinguish themselves in the field of battle. Whether they will or not depends on how well they’re used. Add to this mix the fey love of drunks and fools – well who better to grab from the mortal realm? A drunk won’t work because they tend to fall down, be sick on themselves and others and really won’t work well in a game that’s ages 8+. A fool though… who doesn’t love a fool, except that person currently the focus of the fool’s attention.

Fools are interesting, witty, do unexpected things and generally work to mess up all of your well laid plans. Fate and circumstance can see them deployed in your army, or stealth and maneuvering can get them from your hand into your opponent’s army, where they’ll wreak their own brand of havoc.  These fools were to be the original village idiots that gave my concept its title.

As I gathered artwork (all of this is public domain, and modified by me) I realized that I was drifting much closer to a 19th century playing card design and not a 21st century whimsical fairy design. Turns out those people doing art in that style just are not giving their work away, and that is as it should be. Working with what I had, the cards coming fast it was clear that there were no villages and no idiots present. Fools in motley were to be had in plenty though. The game that started off with the catchy Village Idiot moniker has now morphed into the (I feel) equally catchy Fools! This also has a slightly more classy feel to it, which matches the theme I’ve gotten together a bit better.

Basic Logistics for Dummies
Basic Logistics for Dummies


That’s not to say I won’t head back to Village Idiots. If, say a publisher becomes interested in this but thinks that Village Idiots is a more attractive, catchier or more marketable title, and has the artist and graphic designers to go to town with that theme – then I’m on board. If I do the more likely avenue and publish this as a Print on Demand game through The Game Crafter, Fools! it will be.

Another interesting happening with this game, as with Ninja – Silent but Deadly is the design time. It was 2 days ago that the idea really gelled. It’s been a hair over 24 hours since I really sat down with this and started working.

It’s based very loosely off of a game you can play using a standard deck of cards. I’ve tweaked it quite a bit and have already done some me vs me play testing. It plays nice and quick. I’m fairly certain the card designs/designations are good to go, and that game play will be solid, fast and easy enough for an 8 year old while being strategic enough for an adult as a filler game. Even so, it was damned quick. If I get lucky with printing times, I may even have a prototype to show off at Total Confusion.

While I plan to do regular updates here, you’re much more likely to find instantaneous thoughts, design changes and requests for feedback on our Facebook page, on both Fools! and other things happening in and around the TC sphere.


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