How to make a card game with tokens and extended gameplay

Step 1


Decide on a theme, idea or concept that you want to explore.

Step 2

Decide on a Game end goal/ how one wins the game.

This is where counters come in. How many does one need to win? Are they part of winning, or do you use them to retrieve other cards?

Counter examples: Health points in  Pokemon, a way to get assets in Netrunner, A way to count round victories (and bets in general) in Mahjong.

For the game I’m creating as an example, A certain number of each kind of token (Division and Romance) is needed to win the game.

Me trying to figure out the end goal + playstyle

Step 3

Balance in these kinds of games can be tricky.

I suggest using existing proportions from other things as a guide. For example, using the way currency is divided as a basis for card-to-token ratios. Nickels to Dimes to Quarters (20:10:4), as token type 1: token type 2: total cards, if you don’t mind having numbered tokens (or just a whole pile of them).  For the Example, to figure out how much of each type of card I wanted, I played off of the  average number of fic tags on any one work, and decided that balancing between 7 and 12 might do me good. Again, there’s no need to worry; play time with the game will help figure out the kinks, or even talking about the design with other potential players.

Handwriting,,, ugh
A look at me trying to figure out what I wanted the proportions to look like, with some name brainstorming at the top

Step 4

Design the cards.

The key to games that require reading is to make sure your font is legible for all your players. Using Dyslexic-friendly fonts, and making sure that the text is at a good size, especially if your players are on the older side.

Color-coding your cards can help distinguish them. Since tokens are involved, it can help to add any symbols on the tokens to the corresponding cards.

I used excel to help me with this step!

Color coding

A sampling of card names + some descriptions-in-progress

The ruler on the top of this page was especially helpful in designing these


Dungeon design in DnD: The Rooms, Hallways, and the bits between your players and the Boss

A home is not an empty house; even the most neat space still has stuff in it. In Dnd,  the problem is how to describe a space without tripping up your players, while maintaining the atmosphere you want.

Where is this place going to be? Will you build the building around the location? Will you develop the building based on its occupant? Both?

Think about what people would need to live in your chosen location. For example: A Cult that lives below ground; where do they get their food? What do they do for entertainment? What do they find important in their cult, and what kind of space does that occupy? In that case, you could add in pantries, game rooms, a few sacrificial alters in front of a statue with it’s own room, a space for priests in the cult, a space for digging tools, an area for certain building or support materials, and some sort of path to remove dirt that’s been freshly dug.

Even with just this, there’s already a map being developed.

To build a place around its occupants can be more complex than just location-based design. For example, If you have archers in your castle, you’d want the tall, thin windows and battlements that will protect them; however, non-European cultures tend to use mounted archers (those on horses) more often, so the buildings in those areas don’t account for defense-based archery.

More simply, you can examine the origin and design of your boss, and what pieces of architecture would accentuate those traits. an Eldritch beast would call for a dark and imposing building, with heavy materials, the tall ceilings oozing with foreboding shadows, and stained glass windows alluding to something far beyond the Players’ knowledge. There is also a need to consider the atmosphere you’re trying to create, and creating a moodboard (a selection of images associated with what emotions you want to convey) can help.

For the individual rooms, you can search up a list of items created in the era you wish (for more historically-inspired pieces), or a list of items found in books or media for the location (for sci-fi or high fantasy). You can also review your list of occupants and wonder about what they might need for daily life, and then scatter about these items.

To spice up the interior, you can add in Furniture! Use words that can describe the atmosphere or boss as well. The furniture a person has can tell you something about them. A “bone-thin chair with a black metal back” has a much different vibe than a “warm, plush couch, made of quilted velvet”. A visible lack of furniture can set up an atmosphere of barrenness, or even when placed in context, an air of suspiciousness.  Furniture can be minimalistic, decorated, homely, and can help set up your atmosphere as well as any sounds made by a you-tube playlist.

The materials used in the room can also give it flavor. Describing types of stone using their textures or appearances, or using the wallpaper to its maximum effect. Add in color-meanings or flower symbology to tell the story of the place or its inhabitants. How well-maintained are the rooms? Do people care about the place they’re in?

You can also Give clues about your Boss in main rooms. Shed skin for scaly beasts, the odd hair or piece of fur, or even a closet with the Boss’ preferred outfits. Does your Boss have a particular diet, or habits that are unique to their species or situation?

All of the above can be used to world-build in a way can be as subtle (or dramatic) as you’d like!

Have fun designing!