Hidden Complexity

One of our core design principles when designing Lands of Ruin was to keep the gameplay simple and fast-paced. However, we didn't want to create a simple or dumbed-down game.

Our unique way of combining tabletop gaming with a companion tablet app has enabled us to have our cake and eat it too. We were able to create gameplay where complexity is hidden from the users making the game fast to learn and play without compromising realism or limiting interesting game mechanisms.

You can also check out the Lands of Ruin introduction video where we discuss our game design principles and hidden complexity of the game: Lands of Ruin - Introduction - YouTube

In this article I want to explain what we mean when we say "hidden complexity" in the context of Lands of Ruin gameplay.

Let's start with an example. Weapons in Lands of Ruin have nearly 30 different stats per firing mode and most weapons have 3 or more firing modes (ways the weapon can be used).

Weapon Attributes

Forcing a players to remember these stats or making them part of tables for resolving target numbers would end up with an unplayable game.

In Lands of Ruin, the companion tablet application takes care of all needed calculations. While the modifiers and calculations are transparent to the user and there's no hidden logic, as such, the users won't have to care about them unless they so wish to see how each detail was calculated by the app.

Weapon Attributes

When a player is performing an attack against another character the companion tablet app boils down all the modifiers, effects skills and gear into a target number which the attacking player must roll to succeed with the attack.

The number shown in the attack user interface takes into account many different factors when calculating the necessary dice roll.

These values are used for the calculation:


  • Attacker's skill with the specific weapon.
  • Any wounds and negative effects.
  • Any positive effects (for example bipod supporting the weapon).
  • Range modifiers of the weapon for the selected range.
  • Negative modifiers from suppression.
  • Modifiers from equipment.


  • Any skills giving a modifier against the weapon.
  • Any wounds and negative effects.
  • Cover modifiers.
  • Additional positive defence modifier for moving.
  • Modifiers from equipment like armour etc.

Weapon Attributes

As you can see, Lands of Ruin has many variables but they act behind the scenes to create a more accurate simulation of reality.

Let's take protective equipment like armour, for example. Each piece of armour has multiple defensive values that are used in different situations.

Weapon Attributes

It makes sense that a piece of armour has a different level of effectiveness against mindless Rotter attacks, bullets and in close combat. In our system the app automatically knows which of these values to use when making the calculations without the users having to know or lookup any of these variables. This allows us to model the equipment to a much higher level of realism without having to worry about bogging down the gameplay.

Automated side effects

Character attacks are performed manually by the players based on the numbers calculated by the app. This is because we want to maintain the excitement of dice rolling as well as keep the best aspects of tabletop gaming. We can, however, add automation to the manual process.

Attacks cause wounds and effects but they also cause suppression. Even attacks that do not hit cause suppression to their targets. This represents the effect and human reaction of simply being shot at.

Because the system already knows which weapon was used against whom, and whether the attack hit or not, we can calculate suppression in a completely automated way.

Every firing mode has two suppression values: "being targeted" and "getting hit". The first value is always added to any character that is being targeted, regardless of the hit result. The latter value is added in case the attack actually does hit the target.

Dividing suppression into two values allows us to create interesting tactical options for players, like laying down suppressing fire to keep the enemy's heads down.

Let's look at the VZ 99 V Assault Rifle for example.

Weapon Attributes

As you can see in the above screenshot, selecting suppressing fire doesn't look like a very attractive option, as it seems to be impossible to hit anything in that mode. But hitting isn't the point in this case. The attacker lays down a massive spread of bullets - in fact, he empties his or her clip completely - to cause high suppression to all of the selected targets regardless of whether they hit or not. In this case the player can choose to slow down the enemy's approach, or give opportunities to other characters to attack the enemy in a more advantageous position... or even stop an enemy character from fleeing from Rotters.

Oh and yes, we count ammo automatically as well!

This is just a small example of what our hybrid gameplay allows us to do. There's much more that we are doing and plan to do in future updates. Stay tuned for more, and don't hesitate to contact us if you have thoughts and opinions!