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Author Topic: Donjon, session 2  (Read 3072 times)
Clinton R. Nixon
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« on: February 11, 2002, 09:06:24 AM »

I was able to playtest Donjon yet again this weekend with Zak Arntson and his friend, Matthew. The game worked as before - I even ran the same adventure - but I was able to make a few new conclusions about it that I found interesting.

a) It was really easy for new players to learn. If I'm not mistaken (and Zak will correct me if I'm wrong), Matthew hadn't played a role-playing game in a very long time - he was one of those "oh, I played D&D when I was a kid/in college/at some other point in my life" players. He not only figured out the system quickly, but caught onto the more advanced narration qualities. Within a half-hour of playing, he knew the system quite well, and needed little assistance. This is a very good thing, as I'm not only trying to write Donjon as a good Gamist RPG that people can come to, but as a "beginner-level game." While I know this is lofty, I'd love to see a bunch of kids play this instead of D&D as their first game.

b) The system makes failure interesting, and even fun. One of the tenets of the system that I need to make more explicit in the re-write is that absolutely no roll is wasted. There's never a roll you can make where nothing can happen. The example from this session:

Zak's character, Nemo, tried to use a spell to animate a skeleton. The skeleton was from a dead adventurer that had fallen into a pit full of snakes - his treasure lined the bottom, and Nemo wanted the treasure without fighting the snakes. He figured he could animate the skeleton and have it kill the snakes.

He rolled Total Failure on his attempt to animate the skeleton. Since that gives full narrative control to the DM, I had the skeleton animate, its fingers growing into sharp, bony claws. It then climbed the wall of the pit, snakes hanging from its bones, with a hunger to eat its creator's brain. Unlike in other dungeon crawling games where a failure would have resulted in nothing occuring, a failure presented trouble for the characters in this situation.

3) The combat rules can be tuned some more. They fly, and work rather well, but I was able to make two monsters (Big Nasty Snakes) that whipped the characters all over the place.

4) The game is much more fun when players "get it." I guess that's obvious, but my example here is Nemo's skill of "Spot Trouble." Zak was able to use this well - he could look for trouble whenever he wanted. With successes, he could find the sort of trouble he was looking for, but even with failure, trouble happened - just not the sort of trouble that helped him in any way.

Also, "combos" were the item of the day. With the dice pool system, and the ability to convert successes into bonus dice, there was much combo-action and team-work.

----

The two characters this time were Nemo, an Egyptologian with the skills of Magic (withering, stinging, sepulchral, and sun), Use Rapier and Main Gauche with Panache, Loot Tombs, Witty Repartee, and Spot Trouble; and Houdini, a Circus Performer with Use Feet as Hands, Blow Flame from Mouth, Juggle Palm-sized Objects, Sommersault from Danger, and Find Trap Doors.

Some of the interesting things we found were:
 - special abilities are easily figured out with the dice pool system. Blowing flame from one's mouth was no different than using a rapier. Just as Nemo had a rapier equipped, Houdini had lamp oil written down as a weapon. The execution of the two attacks was exactly the same.

- 'Find Trap Doors' was a blast. If successful when used, Houdini found a trap door. It was just that simple. They used this to great success escaping from the pit of bad-ass snakes.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Valamir
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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2002, 09:12:49 AM »

Sounds amazing.

Any chance that could you have your intro scenario and possible tweaks available in the next couple of day?

I'm going back to MD for the weekend and will be hooking up with my old gaming group.  If I can pull them away from the monster session of Twilight Imperium they have planned, I'd love to run DK past them.  They are all long time D&D players (thats how I met them to begin with) but I've managed to get them to play some new stuff like Orkworld and Sorcerer so they'd be a perfect trial run.

For effective playtest purposes it would probably be best to use the same scenario and most current rule tweaks.

If you're interested let me know.  Its about 50/50 at this point given time constraints of the trip but I'll do my best.
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Clinton R. Nixon
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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2002, 09:14:48 AM »

I'll edit the rules, and throw my scenario up in the next day or two and post an announcement (and e-mail you, Valamir) when it's up there. I like this adventure enough that I think it's going to become the demo kit for retailers eventually.
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Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games
Jared A. Sorensen
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2002, 09:20:58 AM »

Quote from: Clinton R Nixon

3) The combat rules can be tuned some more. They fly, and work rather well, but I was able to make two monsters (Big Nasty Snakes) that whipped the characters all over the place.


How about making a list of monsters with difficulty ratings, ala the CR's of D&D3e? Don't detail them too much, just make kinda generic monsters that DM's can plug descriptors into...?

Quote from: Clinton R Nixon

The two characters this time were Nemo, an Egyptologian with the skills of Magic (withering, stinging, sepulchral, and sun), Use Rapier and Main Gauche with Panache, Loot Tombs, Witty Repartee, and Spot Trouble; and Houdini, a Circus Performer with Use Feet as Hands, Blow Flame from Mouth, Juggle Palm-sized Objects, Sommersault from Danger, and Find Trap Doors.


I love the idea of being able to play any kind of character (like the old D&D game I played in where I was a pirate captain. Well, the adventure was set underground against the Drow, but hey...there I was, cutlass and parrot and everything.
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jared a. sorensen / www.memento-mori.com
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2002, 01:48:22 PM »

Quote from: Jared A. Sorensen

I love the idea of being able to play any kind of character (like the old D&D game I played in where I was a pirate captain. Well, the adventure was set underground against the Drow, but hey...there I was, cutlass and parrot and everything.


Yeah, reminds me of the later text-dungeon computer adventures like Net-Hack where in addition to playing rangers and illusionists you could play an archaeologist. The occasional anachronism is fun.

Mike
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