So, in a previous post I introduced my card game tentatively titled Hook Up Heroes  (I’ve since discovered this may be an icky name but maybe I can reclaim it?)

Time to follow up briefly with how it’s developing. Expect lots of open/unanswered design questions at this stage.

First off, I played around with the traits/likes/dislikes system mentioned previously. Visually this is represented as shown below (please bear in mind I’m still using the Pillars of Eternity portraits as placeholders and they are not representative of the end thing, although ultimately this is the classic D&D portrait style I would like to use)

blog 2 craeg the innkeeper blog 2 banditqueen

Each hero card has the following information:

Top left: Hero name, followed by a flavor title/description.
Top right: “orientation heart” indicating whether Hero prefers same, different, or any gender.
Centre, under portrait: class plaque
Bottom third: Trait/Desire plaques:

  • The colour-coded Trait plaques to the left represent traits that the character has. For example, Craeg the Inkeeper is Wealthy and Influential (of course) while Ra’ina the Bandit Queen is Rebellious, Wealthy and Destructive.
  • Rigth of these you will see trait plaques with darker backgrounds. these represent Desires; Traits which the Hero does not have themselves, but Desire in a partner. Craeg is looking for someone who is Artistic and Refined, while Ra’ina is looking for someone who is a Nature-Lover and Brooding. Desires and Traits are represented in a sort of “jewel and socket” fashion.
  • The red plaques represent Incompatibilities. Craeg doesn’t suit anyone Debauched or Destructive while Ra’ina can’t go out with anyone Influential or Refined.

Already I’m quite happy with how much can be inferred about a character based just on these snippets of information. When I try to think through the logic of how these were applied I get the following kind of back-story:

  • Ra’ina is not necessarily a Nature-Lover herself, but she’d be a good match for one because she spends all of her time banditing about in the forest. She wouldn’t like to go out with anyone Influential because she’s a rebel, and she’d be a bad fit for anyone Refined because she eats the flesh of her enemies (or something like that).
  • Craeg is Wealthy and Influential, working all hours behind the bar and doling out gossip and quest-tips to travelling adventurers. He’d like someone Artistic and Refined and preferably not Debauched or Destructive; basically the exact opposite of most of his patrons at the inn.

So there’s the basics of how the Traits/Desires/Incompatibilities (not sure on these technical terms yet) sit on the cards and what they mean before scoring is considered.

Sooo… then I went through nearly all of the PoE portraits and made a total of 40 characters (20 male, 20 female).

blog 2 boys blog 2 gals

(technical note: I had to save the powerpoint I was prototyping in as a .pdf and then convert it to a series of hi-res .pngs for printing, because Powerpoint only exports images as <300dpi and I was losing the text. Despite this, I still recommend Powerpoint for prototyping cards seeing as it’s got a lot of stuff in it now that you had to use illustrator for just 5-10 years ago)


As I have said before, there may be scope for a handful of genderless or non-binary characters, but I would need to have a proper think about that mechanically. As it stands, I’ve made each of the 2 present genders have 8 heterosexual heroes, 8 homosexual heroes, and 4 bisexual ones. But I may rethink this for reasons below:

As mentioned in the first devblog, the system I’ve designed so far inadvertently repeats some iffy ideas with regards to ascribing “easiness” to bisexuality (a bisexual hero is automatically easier to match) so I had initially scaled back the number of bisexual heroes for this reason. Actually I think I may take it in the opposite direction (for example 20 total = 8 bi/6 homo/6 het) because a higher number of potential matches puts more emphasis on the part of the game players actually have to use their brain for (the compatibility system). We’ll still end up with a situation where heroes attracted to only one gender are “pickier” or “more discerning” but I’d rather not go for an “everyone is bi” free-for-all either, for reasons already explored.

If there comes a point where I need to ascribe ‘levels’ to the characters based on how hard they are to match, then orientation may come back in there, alongside a consideration of how relatively common each Trait is.

I started messing around trying to work out the relative value of each Trait when Desireability and Undesirability of said trait are considered.
I started messing around trying to work out the relative value of each Trait when Desireability and Undesirability of said trait are considered. I doubt the end balancing will be this fastidious but you can start to see how the maths works. Each hero might end up with a “Level” used to score couples at the end of the game – the harder they are to match, the higher their level. Or something like that.

So then we get to the silly task of turning all of this into over-simplified rules that have no bearing on the real world, yay! (sort of like a rom-com then I guess),

The core rule in terms of determining compatibility should be: shared Traits are good, but Desired Traits are better. Everything else is additional to that.

Matching up heroes with similar traits should lead to an ok-ish level of compatibility. A couple get +1 compatibility for each shared trait. But if a hero has a trait which is desired by the other hero, the potential couple get a +2. That’s the basis of the whole thing. It allows for similarity to be attractive (for example two Wealthy characters feel comfortable with eachother while not necessarily desiring this) while weighting more towards finding strong matches based on mutual-meeting of needs.

blog 2 compatibility system

The above image shows how complicated scoring can get what we start messing with more parameters though.

  • Should two Heroes with a shared loathing of Religious heroes get an extra compatibility point? (yes, probably)
  • Should two non-Wealthy Heroes with a shared desire for Wealth heroes get an extra compatibility point? (yes, probably)

How much weight do I give to Incompatibilities? Should it be a minor (-2) or major (-4) score modifier? Or are those heroes just straight-up incompatible? Say we have a Royal Guard character who loathes Rebellious heroes. But maybe the Bandit Queen is so appealing to the Royal Guard in other ways that the Guard can see past those things? Or maybe there’s an item card called “Problematic Fave” or something that turns an Incompatibility into a Desire? Who knows.

Numbers, numbers, fiddly numbers.

A lot of this is going to come down to playtesting and working out how much players can deal with on the fly. My gut-feeling is to keep things simple but then at the same time, perhaps you wanna have a situation where people are misplaying, getting caught out on the odd thing etc. etc.