Patrick Curry’s Thoughts on Game Design

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October 2nd, 2006

Game Idea #40: Apothecaries Guild

I’ve wanted to post something like this for awhile, but I didn’t really come up with a theme I liked for it until recently…

High Concept:

Apothecaries Guild is the game of ancient medicine. The world is full of diseases and sicknesses, and as a member of the guild, you are the keeper of arcane cures and elixirs that combat these ills. It’s up to you to grow, gather, and mix secret ingredients to make elixirs, potions, and lotions for your customers to keep them healthy.


Home Console

Why it needs to be made:

As a designer of action-games I spend a bunch of time figuring out clever ways to let the player harm his foes. So I like the idea of spending time with a game where I get to do nothing but help and heal people. :-)


The Apothecaries Guild is a pillar of your village and the kingdom. Everyone from the king down to the poorest peasant knows that when they are feeling ill the apothecaries will do all they can to fix them up in a jiffy. As the newest member of the guild, it’s up to you to uphold the apothecary oath, and do all you can to heal the sick.

One day a young woman comes to you in desperate need of help. Using your giant book of “material medica,” you diagnose her fever and look up the ingredients for a cure. You check your storage, and find that you’re fresh out of cinchona bark. So you grab your apothecary bag and venture into the woods to find the bark. Deep in the woods you find the bark and pick a couple extra mushrooms and herbs that you know you’ll need later. You rush back, grind the bark in your pestle, and fix the woman a hot tea with it. She’s feeling better in no time!

It’s important to learn where certain plants and animals can be found, as speed is critical when dealing with matters of life-or-death. Some you can buy from the local merchants if you have the extra gold, but many you’ll have to harvest yourself. As you cure each patient, he’ll express his gratitude in whatever way he can. Sometimes it will be in gold, sometimes with a helpful tool or piece of equipment, but sometimes it will just be a simple gift to adorn your shop.

Why it will be fun:

I see Apothecaries Guild as a classic adventure game. Instead of questing for legendary weapons to slay the dragon, you’re questing for medical ingredients to slay illness. But in both games you are “doing battle,” and ultimately get to save the damsel in distress.

Final thoughts:

While I don’t have all of the mechanics worked out in my head for each of the activities/mini-games, I think that the overall theme and message behind this week’s game are strong enough to post it. Thanks to all my friends who had feedback on this one.

3 Responses to “Game Idea #40: Apothecaries Guild”

  1. Erin commented:
    posted October 2nd, 2006 at 7:45 am

    I love the idea of healing people instead of shooting or bludgeoning them! This feels like the classic games to which I was adicted as a kid, like Mario or Zelda — and that’s about the only kind of game (aside from variations of Tetris) that still does it for me. Good one! :)

  2. Wizzel Cogcarrier Wizzleton IV commented:
    posted October 25th, 2006 at 11:42 am

    Every process in the game – gathering, preparing curing, etc. – would need to be highly interactive for a game like this to be at all compelling. Don’t make them minigames either, let the player click and drag materials in the real world. Interesting idea, one of your best yet.

  3. Fletch commented:
    posted January 7th, 2007 at 1:15 am

    I really like this one. It’s a very positive take on the action adventure genre - rather than going on missions to kill some enemy, you go on compassionate missions to help others. Take that, short sighted conservative political Jack Thompson types.

    What kind of game would you make it? A sandbox adventure where you roam the community helping others, seeking out materials for your stores whenever stocks run low and helping people that seek the assistance of the guild? More of a farming spin like in Harvest moon? Or something more specifically mission based?

    Lots of potential for a great story, lots of humour and drama and everything good like that.

    Very cool idea, I’d love to see this made material. So that I could play it. :D

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