A Roll-and-Write Fantasy Adventure.

Game Review

Hans Solo reviews Fortress of Terror.

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Designer’s Log

(Ordered from most recent to oldest)


Wow, what a year we just finished! This year, I hope to get Fortress of Terror into circulation!
This week, I submitted Fortress of Terror to the Indie Game Alliance Minions for a playtesting process. I look forward to some helpful feedback.
Also, Fortress of Terror is now on TABLETOP SIMULATOR! This is my first game that I have created with this fantastic tool, so hopefully it will offer players more options and convenience for play.


Early morning "saving the world" duties. πŸ˜€ The game is pretty crunchy in this version, and I played multiple times yesterday with all losses. With some careful thought, strategizing, studying my options, dice, and relics, I managed to win! I felt like it was my efforts and execution, not random dice luck, that led to my win. And that's a good thing.
Not only did I win, but my goal was to see how high I could get my score. I was able to, with creative manipulation of movement using relics cards, use all my dice every round of combat with Bram, and lost 0 Fortitude. I finished with a score of 28! So I see it is possible for such a score. I still need TONS of play test scores to find where they will fall in order to place the Titles at game end in appropriate places - you don't deserve to achieve CHAMPION status your first play through. Sorry. You don't. 😁

NEXT...as I continue testing, I am considering a small addition to expand and extend gameplay...VARIABLE PLAYER POWERS.

*EDIT: After multiple plays today, I, for the first time since the inception of the game, managed to craftily collect every single Relic throughout the entire game. This really paid off in the final battle, as I had 17 relics to draw from to mitigate the dice rolls. I scored a 43, which may be towards the highest possible for the game. It's not easy to get that score, hopefully others will have to struggle through the adventure many times before getting a score like this. We'll continue to tally scores and find ranges and averages.

VERSION 3.0 IS DONE. This is intended to be the complete game. Naturally, there will be some changes and issues that will need to be addressed, but the game is now a complete package with all necessary elements for full and total play.

It has been a while since I updated the log, but I have been hard at work on a MASSIVE reworking and update of the game to version 3.0. It is nearly there, and I have made huge progress towards a version of the game that plays a little faster (maybe), is balancing challenging difficulty with a feeling of player choice (as opposed to just unlucky dice rolls), and looks lots better in the graphic design and presentation of the game sheet and hero sheet. Just today, I think I have tweaked the maps and a couple of small rules tweaks that fine-tunes things - I was winning with 70-80 points often, and another play-tester did the same. But I think that is highly unlikely if not impossible at this point. Now, winning feels like a triumph, and the final scoring range will not be all that high compared to before.

Now that the Game Sheets and the Hero Record Sheet are completed, I will be moving on to the graphic redesign of the Relic cards. Additionally, I have been thinking of how to add the story cards to the game, and I have done so by reintroducing the TERROR mechanic back into the game, albeit a little different than before. The base TERROR mechanic works and puts pressure on the player, but I will be experimenting with them to create varying TERROR cards that add effects, and perhaps some Story cards that progress the story more thematically.

But, for now, the overall game design and structure is fairly tight I think, we will see how further play tests go. I will be updating again with updated components soon, as Version 3.0.


OK, Version 2.1 was very short-lived. After consideration of some player feedback, I nixed the 5th Phase, Mark round/Terror. I think it is not critical to the game in any way at this point. I think players will have more choices and flexibility now, and the reality of getting trapped by being too greedy will become more real.

THE CURRENT VERSION IS NOW 2.2, and has been uploaded to the Drive.


Well, the Fortress of Terror is done. There are three Chapters to the game, and they are meant to be played consecutively. The game culminates in a brief Final Battle sequence against Bram himself.

The game is currently in Version 2.1. The Hero Sheet is fully functional, but it will need some further tweaking in order to maximize its user-friendliness. I played through the entire game this afternoon and had an absolute blast. It's really fun to see what my rank will be at the end...and what the village thinks of me!

After tweaking the Hero Sheet, I will begin experimenting with the final stage of the game - the icing, if you will. There will be STORY CARDS, thematic additions to the game that will include some short flavor text to flesh out the story, and some small effects on the game mechanisms when drawn. The cards will not make a huge impact on game play, but the goal is provide #1) thematic flavor, to help the whole story make sense even more and #2) add even more to the variability and replayability of the game. Story Cards will not be drawn very often. First, I will explore simply drawing one card at the beginning of each Chapter, to make the story fresh and interesting as well as to add throw a little variable into the mix that wasn't there the last time you played. Simple to add, but the excitement factor shoots up exponentially. Those are the goals. Probably will end up being a small handful of tarot-sized cards, that's it.

The full game is ready for play testing. I look forward to seeing the response of play testers!


SO! After a few days of working through the tedium of creating new documents and a full rules rewrite, and then updating the feedback form, I think we are now in business to start testing the "campaign" style game as it will be. There will be three chapters: Bram's Garden, Bram's Crypt, and Bram's Tower. Each chapter uses the same basic rules set and mechanisms, but each chapter also has unique features of game play for the new location. I am now officially changing the name of the game to FORTRESS OF TERROR. For now, there are only 2 chapters. For play testing, simply play through Chapters 1 and 2, then record your score on the Hero Sheet. For now, you "WIN" if you have at least 0 points cumulatively for both Chapters. I will now set to work on the 3rd and final chapter, Bram's Tower.

All new documents have been uploaded, and the official version is now Fortress of Terror 2.0.


Has anyone ever told you that designing a game is a lot of hard work? If we didn't love it, we wouldn't do it...😁

Today, I got The new Game Sheet, the 2 new cards for the Crypt, and the Hero Sheet completed. The next step is to modify the rulebook to reflect the Crypt rules that have been added (mainly doors, Lore Stones, and Orb Die). While I am at it, I may change the overall Rules layout a bit.

One other big change that is coming is an official name change. "Bram's Garden" is not going away, it is only moving into its rightful place as the title of Chapter One. Chapter Two is of course Bram's Crypt. Chapter Three will be Bram's Tower.

The name of the game itself is changing to FORTRESS of TERROR. I wanted this game to reflect the popular fantasy game books from the '80s that I enjoyed so much, like Fighting Fantasy, Lone Wolf, and so forth. This overall name change will occur when I get the rules adapted for the Crypt.


Today I nailed down the Bram's Crypt (Chapter Two) map and did some more testing.

I also did the following:

1) Created a new Game Sheet, combining the Garden and the Crypt maps onto one sheet and removing the charts. I am resigning a "character sheet" (if you will) that will be a smaller, separate score pad for you to keep track of score and other details throughout all Three chapters. That is not done yet, but it's in progress. The new sheet is 99% done and will be posted either this evening or tomorrow.
2) I created two new Relics cards that will be added to the draw deck for the 2nd chapter - they give you power over doors and to morph a relic into another one, chosen from the deck.

The next steps are to adapt the rulebook to add Chapter Two, and to create the Character Sheet. Then, they will be added to the Drive for play testing. I will make it clear in the next post when this new version, 2.0, is ready to download and go.


I spent the last two days designing - and redesigning - the next chapter of the adventure, BRAM'S CRYPT. In this chapter, you have fallen into the crypt after escaping Bram's Garden, and you must collect items of Lore from the crypt, then use these Lore items to escape the crypt by activating four locks.

The map design took about 6 or 7 tries, all completely different. I think I settled on one that is good. Time to test it. A bunch. The good thing is that the overarching story and flow from one chapter to the next, synchronizing the mechanisms between them, is coming together and making sense. Now, I am ready to test Bram's Crypt a bunch, and do lots of little tweaking.

Ideas for the final chapter, Bram's Tower, are already coming about. I will have a running start on that one once I get the crypt nailed down. When the Crypt is ready, I will post it here for everyone to try. You can play Bram's Garden, then go right into Bram's Crypt and carry over your relics, refreshed and ready to use again.

I have uploaded the latest rules document, as well as the new Relic cards, to the Google folder.

The primary rule changes are:
1.) The Magic Boomerang can grab any item (Relic or the Orb of Ice), not just Relics
2.) When you collect a Relic, instead of choosing, draw a Relic card and add that Relic to your inventory by checking the box as usual.


Today, due to wonderful player feedback, I have made the following adjustments to the current version 1.2:

1.) Added a note in the rules about the Luck Die: "NOTE: It is possible to subtract the Luck die value from a Movement Die of the same or lower value - in this case, you would use the Movement Die as a β€œ0”. This is an interesting strategic advantage."
2.) It seems huge, but it's really more of a way to clear up the flow of the game to make it more understandable: I changed the order of the round FROM:
1. Mark the New Round
2. Advance the Doom Die
3. Roll Dice
4. Activate Dice
5. Bram's Power


1. Roll Dice
2. Activate Dice
3. Bram's Power
4. Advance the Doom Die
5. Mark the COMPLETED Round

This eliminated the "don't Advance the Doom Die in the first round" disclaimer, and grouped the effects of the Doom Die together. Pretty smooth, I credit [user=russ][/user] for this suggestion, thanks Russ!

3.) I clarified the usage of Relic Powers to "must use a Relic [b]immediately before activating a Movement Die[/b]".


Today, I am experimenting with two things: (1) random relics and (2) 1 less round per game.

1.) First, I am attempting more long-term planning, namely, when the Bram's Crypt and Bram's Tower modules are added. In seeking further variety and replay, I realized that while it's nice to be able to choose the Relic you want each time you obtain one, I realized that it is not extremely critical to have that privilege in order to win the game. I find myself being able to strategize which relic I need at a given moment, but winning each time with a score above 10 was bothering me. Additionally, as you finish Bram's Garden, you can only take with you the relics you found. I wanted a way to vary which relics were available each time you play. So, after messing around, I settled on just a good ol' random card draw.

Each time you collect a Relic, you draw one of 12 cards, and "you get what you get". After trying this several times so far, I have not found myself getting "screwed" by the card draw, as each item is powerful in its own way. Getting a random item does not exactly "screw me over" due to bad luck, but so far I feel like it just poses me with a new dilemma to solve, and forces me to work with what I have in order to get the job done. Basically, it keeps my approach fresh when I don't know which relics I will have to work with throughout the game.

Another benefit of random relics is that I cannot simply plan what items I will have throughout the whole campaign (the immediate Crypt and Tower chapters) and choose them. I have to work with what I discover, creating more brain-burning and even more variation in gameplay from campaign to campaign.

So, I think I will stick with the random relics for now, and add these 12 cards to the print & play files.

2.) I need the game to be tighter. I am winning every time. I need to sweat more. Even some first timers are winning. Not good. The struggle should be more real. Looking at the average scores, I think I can tighten things up without going crazy by reducing the game to 7 rounds. It shortens gameplay, and makes the sweat more real for sure. More harrowing decisions, less tromping around the garden smelling the roses.

Combined with the random relics, the 7-round game is surely the sweet spot. I will probably recommend that if players want an easier game, go with 8 or even 9 rounds. But "campaign" play with require 7 rounds and random relics before moving on to the creepy Bram's Crypt.


-Working on art for the game "box" cover. The style I am looking for hearkens back to the fantasy adventure games I played in my youth
-Now brainstorming the possibilities for the next module that immediately follows Bram's Garden: Bram's Crypt. You carry your relics that you collected with you into this second module. While the goal of Bram's Garden is to collect Relics and the Orb of Ice, in Bram's Crypt, the goal is to find the exit before your Fortitude is depleted. One new kind of die will likely be added to the game, and you have a new action you can take with your dice in addition to movement: INTERACT with something (door, lever, etc.).
-Bram's Crypt will lead you to the final and biggest chapter, Bram's Tower. By being able to maintain relics you collect from one module to the next, it creates interesting long-term strategy, planning, and replayability.


-I have added variability to the game by allowing the Orb of Ice to move to a new location each round according to the Doom Die. This makes things EVEN MORE interesting, and creates a lot more variability. This required me to have to change the map a bit, and things are now too different from the EASY map, so I have eliminated the EASY version for now. I will try to create a new one in the near future.
-The current version is now 1.2.

I am very excited about the changes to the game. There is tension, plenty of strategy, and now more variability with the moving Orb of Ice. Give it a shot and record your results on the above Google Form! 😎


1.) I have edited the Game Sheet (latest is 1.1) with the following changes:
-Alphabetized Relics List
-Added a check box next to the Relic name for "cleaner housekeeping" on your sheet
-Added a reminder icon or set of icons below each Relic to remind you of its unique power

2.). I have created an "EASY" version of the Game Sheet (latest is EASY 1.1), which serves as a gentler way to learn the game. Once you get the hang of it and want the "real" challenge, use the standard Game Sheet.
EASY version is no longer available due to version changes. I will consider adapting a new EASY version.

These new files are located in the same Google Drive link listed above. The old files have been removed to avoid confusion.


Things I would like play testers to look for:
1. Is it fun?
2. Does it feel challenging?
3. Do you want to play it again immediately when finished?
4. Please complete the Google form (xxx) after each play test. I need the scoring data to make tweaks on difficulty and balance.

Thanks so much! πŸ˜ƒ


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