Bloodborne Design Diary (Part 4)

Designer Diaries: Exploring Yharnam

One of the unsung marvels of the Bloodborne world is its fantastic setting design and map-layout. Yharnam itself is a seemingly endless and sprawling city that makes you feel insignificant just by existing. The trick, however, is that while it gives you that huge sprawling feel, the map itself is ingeniously laid out with quick access and shortcuts to most parts.

The first time you explore an area it can be dizzying with the corridors and pathways that seemingly have no direction or reason, but the more you explore and understand the map, the more it all syncs together, and eventually you’ll find yourself almost instinctually knowing how to get directly from the Courtyard Lantern to the Great Bridge in record time.

Bloodborne might be most famous for its combat, but its sense of exploration and discovery are also paramount to its overall experience. Bringing this to the board game was therefore an important element to incorporate. It was this fact that led us to decide on utilizing a variable-tile-system. Basically, each Chapter will list a certain number of specific tiles to use, usually the famous locations from the game, such as the Grand Cathedral or the Tomb of Oeden, and then have the players take a number of random tiles and combine them into a (face-down) stack. The players will have their starting location and from there on it’s a matter of uncovering the world. As players move, they’ll flip over a tile, populate it accordingly, and continue on, building the overall map as they explore.

This means no two games will ever be the same. Even if you’re playing everything exactly the same, the specific order of the tiles, how they connect, what’s on them, etc etc will dynamically alter how you approach each game. It’s also important to note that, if you’re going to be successful anyway, that revealing the map isn’t a slow process. Speed and urgency are key features when playing, and, should a player really decide they need to, it wouldn’t be hard to sprint across most of the map in one or two turns- The freedom of movement is another aspect we wanted to maintain.

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