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Suggestion: A Character Compendium

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With a few runs under my belt, I feel confident in saying that Griftlands looks great for its current stage of development. Battles and negotiations are sufficiently distinct from one another, but they're both fun and support various playstyles. Once the card pool is completed and balanced, I feel like this can be up there with Slay the Spire as far as deckbuilding gameplay goes. The issue here is that Griftlands also has the narrative element, and the main story beats -- unlike your decks -- never change from run to run, e.g. you'll always choose between Oolo and Naden, you'll always be ambushed at the end of Day 2, etc. For this game to have as much staying power as StS, the narrative part needs to be more randomized from run to run.

Now, I'm obviously not a game developer, but I think the best way to achieve that is to focus on the game's characters. I feel like you're definitely on the right track with randomizing characters that are involved in quests, but you'd need a bit more than that. For example, instead of always paying for drinks to get people to love you, prove your worth in other ways (having them add a bad card to your deck or take 50% of your hp/resolve). Or, instead of killing characters who surrender always resulting in negative status effects (those -4 max hp or -2 max resolve thingies), why not have some murders result in an additional mini-combat or negotiation scenario (with no rewards) with their friends down the line? Basically, anything that makes use of that large cast of characters you’ve built up is good.

To make things easier to track, you’d have the Character Compendium, which would contain a single page for every character in the game. These pages would have the character's biography (some flavor text to flesh out both the character and the setting), character traits (mostly flavor text, but these could also influence their in-game behavior), loves/likes/dislikes/hates (probably have some characters with multiple love relationships so that more people get upset if they die, maybe have some of them upgrade likes to loves off-screen each run), status effects you'd get from killing them, etc. If you're planning on adding a card/graft compendium (like the one in StS), you can add the character page to it as well. Probably put the whole thing in the quick access section in the top right, next to your relationships, grafts, and decks.

I imagine this compendium working similarly to the Ammonomicon from Enter the Gungeon: all the pages would be locked at the beginning, and reaching a "love" relationship with a character (hate is a little too easy to come by at the present moment) would unlock their page. Griftlands is a well-written game already, so I think people would be interested in unlocking these pages to find out more about these characters and the world. Plus, that way you eventually get to see exactly what would happen if you kill certain characters instead of just getting a random negative effect. If you want to add more meta-progression to it, you can have 5 completed character pages unlock a new card or something like that.

So, that's my idea. I don't think this would give the game infinite replayability since you'd complete the Compendium eventually, but this sort of progression system could easily add up to tens of hours of additional playtime. Once again, the game seems great for an Alpha, and I can't wait to see what else is in store!

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