Playtest Update, Food for Thought, and a Story

Hi all…

So Tuesday night, through the Colorado Springs RPG Meetup group and the nice folks at Gamer’s Haven, I ran a sample adventure as a playtest opportunity. We had 6 folks, plus myself, so we had a great turnout this time and an amazing amount of input.

  • RPG DiceShannon was nice enough to arrange everything on the CSprings Meetup board and book a table at Gamer’s Haven. She played the thief Kress.
  • Johnny played the fighter Hans, battle axe in hand.
  • JP played Father Goul, the priest of the group.
  • Frank played the guard Rod.
  • Nathan played the huntswoman Andra.
  • And Arpie played the huntsman Andrax. (I’d run out of characters, so we improvised.)

It was a great mix of players, some of whom have game design experience, which led to some very interesting conversations about game mechanics and impressions of the system based on the quick start summary of the rules and the character sheets.

Among the food for thought provided was:

  • The d12 mechanic for characteristic and skill resolution didn’t work well. After a 45 minute discussion of bell curve distributions for die rolls, we ended up with using 2d6 for the rest of the night. A 2 or 3 was a critical success and an 11 or 12 was a critical failure. The goal was to roll as low as possible under a target characteristic score (either the characteristic we’re “checking” or the highest characteristic for the skill).
  • The “feet per action” mechanic didn’t really work when we moved it to a hex map. We changed it to “hexes” per action, where a hex was 5 feet across. I believe some of this was due to a misunderstanding about how possible actions worked in combat, but we just went with it.
  • It came up that it would be nice if characters who were cooperating on a task requiring a skill (such as Tracking) gained a bonus for working together. Since party collaboration is a great goal in gaming, we decided that if cooperation was declared, each character would roll their skill separately and gain a +1 on the attempt. And all characters cooperating would then gain the best roll for that action.
  • The other main thing that came up was that 16 characteristics seems like far too many and the Random characteristics (Beauty, Wealth, Family, and Luck) should roll into other characteristics (like Beauty could be considered part of Charisma) or become separate entities (like Luck could simply be a pool of points a player could buy with XP or at character creation).

I think all of this is great. I really appreciate having the input of other folks. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve been wearing blinders when dealing with some of the “system” aspects, so it’s nice to see things with fresh eyes.

The whole process has kick-started some serious noodling over the rules and how I could simplify the mechanics to keep things fast, easy, and open so players can focus on roleplaying and creativity. We’ll see where it leads me.

Man on FireI owe a big thank you to Shannon and everyone who showed up, as well as Gamer’s Haven for providing us a table on a Tuesday night!

Before I sign off however, I have to relate a story from the end of the session that will stick with me for a while.

The group had attacked the brigand stronghold and dispatched the four useless guards patrolling within the partially ruined/rebuilt walls. Among the buildings are the ruins of a crumbled tower with an open doorway and stairs descending into the ground…

Hans, axe in hand, bravely headed down the stairs into the darkness. Near the bottom he heard the movement and growling of something large. He smelled it too – the musky scent of an animal den was unmistakable. But he couldn’t see in the dark, so he climbed back up, grabbed a torch, and headed down again…

Meanwhile, Andrax had come up with the idea of dousing one or more of the straw-filled mattresses in the guard’s bunk house, tossing it to the bottom of the tower stairs, and letting it smoke out anybody who might be down there. So, oil-soaked mattress in hand, he went down the stairs…

During this time, Hans had been attacked by the far-too-large wolf and was fleeing back up the stairs, axe and torch in his hands. Running up, he stumbles into Andrax with the oil-soaked mattress, setting it and them on fire, with both of them falling back down the stairs to the bottom. The wolf took a number of steps backwards and had a WTF moment. :)

It was a classic “you got your chocolate in my peanut butter” moment as the torch met the mattress… :)

–Fitz

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