Where does Teknor stand?

As much as I like this piece it’s also time for some new art.

A long while ago Teknor was born from many ideas. It was full of vigor, inspiration, holes, and sharp edges. It was gonna be like Dark Souls! And Like Heroquest! And Like Dungeonquest. It was a beast that took many shapes as we tested and tuned, We took parts out and glued things on. Now, after all its trials it has entered a new phase. The core design of Halls of Teknor is set in stone. So now what?

Is it still like Dark Souls? Not really. I initially set out to have a board game version of Dark Souls with dodge rolls, ripostes, and critical damage for striking from the rear. Along the way we could never really intuitively implement doing actions during an opponent’s turn (like the dodge roll) so we took those out. We still have you do more damage when striking from the rear though!

Is it sill like Heroquest? No. This was always more visual thing. But through the months I have started to notice _everyone_ likes to call back to Heroquest and I am now on the lookout for something visually different. I have still not found it.

Is it like Dungeonquest? No. That game is an all time favorite in this house and I intended to use its ‘will you carry your loot one more round?” system but with how long an average room currently takes that system does not shine well anymore. 

That exploring item mechanic I talked about in an earlier post? That’s gone too. It required the game to have a lot of cards and a lot of shuffling. The game currently has no more shuffling.

All these cards are gone.

So what remains? A game where a duo of heroes enters a room, fights its monsters. Gets loot coins if they kill them with excess damage. They can choose to use a risky die with more points but more dangers at any time. Set dice aside to use for special actions. Go first in the timeline to beat the robots to the punch at risk of them being stronger. Go last in the timeline to refresh their action cards. And when the room is clear search the room for treasure. And that’s about the version I’ve been testing the last few weeks. It was nice to realise I did not need to chance things for a few sessions. That the core was there. The realisation that Halls of Teknor has entered the next phase is exciting but no really it’s daunting. Because now that we established the core we have to make _everything else_.

Seeing a printed prototype of a level book is inspiring to me. I am excited to fill it.

The end goal is for this game to be a narrative spicy adventure game where one or two players can go on an adventure as they dive deeper and deeper into the tombs of the cryptical cybergod Teknor. They will get new powers and gear along the way. They will encounter new foes, strange and secret rooms, and mercurial characters who may or may not be on their side. There will be endbosses too.

I wrote out that part because it helps me map things out. If I break the adventure up into three parts and make those all take place on their own dungeon level then I can break up the workload. The first thing I now can do is create that first part. The opening of the story where the heroes enter the dungeon, learn the rules, clear some rooms and meet the first endboss. That I can do.

So that is where Teknor now stands. The mechanics are done and now we can paint the first chapter. This could take weeks! months! This is the fun bit! Hope to see you on the other side.

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Teknor’s First Demo

After much anticipation it’s here: The first fancy physical prototype of Halls of Teknor. My dungeon crawler board game. The game is not even halfway finished so why spend money on making a physical prototype already?

When I started this a year ago I had some simple ideas: You play a lone adventurer looking for the tomb of a cybergod. You explore rooms, slay robotic foes, and find mysterious objects which you can have identified by a shopkeeper. 

I got a custom D12 with the help of Tim Popelier and Heinze Havinga.

After months of testing digitally these themes remained but much of the mechanics have changed and instead of a lone adventurer you now play two lone adventurers. I’d say rules wise we are halfway into halfway into a finished game but I made a little campaign anyway. Just some areas, some items, and some weapons. It took a lot of time for me to get this ready for print and  approached it as if it were a finished game where everything would be under the scrutiny of consumers. That means I even went as far as making a fancy box. (Those who follow us on Twitter may have seen some design musings)

Apart from the first few weeks most of the testing was done on a computer. It was just quicker for me to do it on there and easier to get people to test it. I’d say around 20-30 people have tried it but few have actually touched it on a table. And lemme tell you: This game is NOT the same on a table. 

For starter it apparantly takes up way may more table space than I’d like it to, shuffling cards before starting a session is less work than I feared (I do not like shuffling!) and there is apparently a ton of co-op strategy. Some of these are just not apparent until you put your game out on a table. Also: Something I feared was hard for players to remember was actually easily remembered by everyone.

Once it was printed it’s not easy to make adjustments. That last part is actually a plus for me. In the past, whenever I did a session with some one I’d get ideas and immediately change some mechanics, adding or removing whole systems. As a result, No two people played the same version. The following weeks, perhaps months, I will play this short and early version with locals and they will all play the same version. I’m curious if this leads to different conclusions. In the new year I will continue digitally and build a new version with all that feedback. 

I feared text may have been hard to read but even with shrunken images (a printing error) it holds up.

I’m feeling VERY good about Halls of Teknor and honestly I have to hold myself back to not make a whole game with the rules I have right now. As always I hope that next version will be solid and we can get to making cool powers and characters and little trinkets of lore. Who knows. For now. Before we hit the drawing board, let’s hit the table!

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The origins of Teknor

So here we are making Halls of Teknor. This dungeon crawler that’s a homage to both classic fantasy games and 90s action figures. This adventure for two or even one player. That means solo! Where is all this coming from?

It started in 2020. Like most of us I spent those early dark and scary weeks locked away from others and from ways of doing my hobbies with others. The mind drifted and the eyes shifted to finding something new to do. To the internet. I rediscovered old Games Workshop things. At first just for the nostalgia, Then with the idea of “What if I can play one of these on my own just to kill time?” The first was Blackstone Fortress, then the original Warhammer Quest, then many others big and small. The seed was planted but it would take another event to make things click.

My love for great box art got me into this mess!

Actually that is not where it starts. It was 2014 and I was fresh out of game design school. I grew fond of doing pixel art and a friend of mine was making a turn based strategy as programmers do, ugly but technically functioning.  We started working together and I got to make the art and setting anything I wanted. And what I wanted was to homage the action figures toys I had as child. Something silly but solid. Like the Ninja Turtles or Toxic Crusaders. Mutants vs Robots! Green skin versus pink metal!

bonus point if you can spot our future heroes.

We titled it Mutant Gangland and I started drawing characters. Give them names and tiny origins. People seemed to like it and the game sold well. There were plans for expanding but because Life my friend and I amicably parted ways. We left the Mutant Gangland but did the Mutant ever leave me? No. Ever since I made and released paper model kits of the tanks and robots that wandered That World. To my surprise they also sold.

The first of 4 Mutant Gangland model kits

Back to that scary year of 2020. When I saw internet friend Dick Poelen making great 3d sculpts of other people’s designs. He made a Ninja Turtle and I was smitten upon sight.  What if we made Mutant Gangland toys? Action figures were too large. What if we just made some tiny rubber (keshi) figures? Let’s just start printing and see what comes out. Dick just picked two characters and started sculpting. I posted the test prints and someone said something I cannot believe I did not think of. “Please make a skirmish game with these”.

Dick Poelen’s excellent sculpts. Remember anyone from earlier?

Skirmish games? Where players take turns fighting each other on a small turf with just a few fighters? That is PERFECT rhyming with what we did with Mutant Gangland! I was excited, cooked up rules for a quick prototype and tested it with my partner. The game was fun after some iterations but it was also a mistake. Because even if I like skirmish games I had lately grown to LOVE solo games. All that Warhammer Quest and Heroquest. All the quests! That was what was in my heart now! with all that fresh solo dungeon experience it had to be a solo dungeon game and it had to be a mutant gangland game.

A scrapped prototype of a Mutant Gangland skirmish game.


There were two other big inspirations. In our house we love the old Dungeonquest, A brutal board game with push your luck mechanics. Then there is Bloodborne, A brutal video action game with push your luck mechanics. The longer you walk around with all your treasure, the higher the multiplier bonus for cashing in that treasure. My game had to have this.

The world of Mutant Gangland is a far future with its own history. Its own strange artefacts. Having a setting that is not the western fantasy associated with many dungeon crawlers gives me an opportunity to make items that are weird. There are mechanics with that. When you find an item for the first time it is strange and does nothing. Only when you cash it in at the shop will the shopkeeper tell you what (they think) it is. From then on, whenever you find it again it will have its true name and abilities.

So where is the mutant theme in the mechanics? It’s still in construction. I’m playing with giving (and taking!) the player random powers every time they level up. We will see how players will like that.

A work in progress shot from Tabletop Simulator


That’s where we are now. We are far from done but after many sessions and changes I have something I feel really good about. If you wish to stay informed, please consider joining my newsletter.