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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 133 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [Andrew's Little Game] First Playtest  (Read 1921 times)
Andrew Cooper
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« on: June 12, 2005, 06:26:41 PM »

One of the normal players wasn't able to make it to play our regular D&D campaign this afternoon so I decided to whip out my game (which still doesn't have a name.... eye-yiyi...) and run a short playtest just to see it in action.  Overall, I was fairly pleased but there were a few hiccups which I'll describe below.

Setup:  We had about 2.5 - 3 hours to play.  I determined to use 30 minutes to an hour for character generation and setting discussion and then use the rest of the time for playing.  I'd try to leave about 30 minutes for an After Action Review.

Setting:  We went with some typical fantasy fair.  A frontier region with an independent Duke.  The region was actually an island archepelago.  There was the expansionist Empire, bunches of pirates, some dangerous and mysterious Fey, the oppressed tribal culture, secretive Wizard Cabals, and a powerful Inquisition.  Nothing that wasn't hard to grasp pretty quickly.

Character Generation:  This is where things really got interesting.  I tried to explain that character generation was really a group activity with this game but they just weren't grokking that concept.  I mean, they understood but they didn't understand.  Despite all my prompting and prodding, nobody really jumped in there with any ideas for other people's characters.  The stories were written in near total silence except for me poking in suggestions or asking questions from time to time.

I'm really considering expanding the character generation portion of the game to formalize the group nature of the activity.  Perhaps a group storytelling type thing going around the table with each person adding a little portion to each character.  Not sure about the specifics yet but it might be a good way to introduce players unfamiliar with it to the concept.

Interestingly, both players took Inquisition characters.  I figured the Inquisition would naturally gravitate towards the antagonists but it seemed  that was the side the players wanted to go with so I said "Okie dokie" and went with it.  I don't have the actual character sheets but I'll summarize the characters.

Trey's character...
Barak - An orphan raised as the favored son of the High Inquisitor.  He had elemental powers that augmented his physical abilities.  The Inquisition used these to hunt down their hated foes, the Wizard Cabals.

Attributes
Physical - 5
Spiritual - 3
Mental - 4

Traits
Favored son of the High Inquisitor
Elemental augmentation
Natural brawler
Unshakable faith
One with nature
Honor in all things

Convictions
A man's word is his bond.
Justice is man's greatest achievement

Seth's character...
Moorelock - Huntmaster for the Inquisition.  Middle-aged man expert at the training and use of hunting animals.  Served the Inquisition all his life chasing down the Cabalist Mages.  Served as a mentor for Barak for a time.

Attributes
Physical - 5
Spiritual - 2
Mental - 5

Traits
Expert archer
Good swordsman
Natural with animals
Bizarre affinity for scorpions
Middle-aged
(One more I can't remember)

Convictions
When in doubt, don't.
Always be polite.

Actual Play

Scene 1
With that we started.  The first scene opened at that ceremonial burning of a young woman for being Wizard tainted.  Barak and Moorelocke observed from the steps of the Temple with the High Inquisitor, Archemedes.  Barak observed to Archemedes that it seemed to be a shame and a waste to kill such a pretty young woman.  That led into a discussion on the cleansing of the soul of all taint so that the woman could be free in the afterlife and how they were actually doing her a favor by killing her.

About this time a storm rolled in very quickly and a thick fog.  It all seemed very unnatural.  As the Inquisitor on the ground put the torch into the fire, arrows began to spring from the mist followed by a black-masked man on horseback.  Barak was sent to prevent the prisoner's escape.  Moorelock loosed his dogs.  However, since no one called for a Conflict, I had the girl escape with the masked man.  Archemedes sent Barak, Moorelock and 5 Inquisition soldiers to hunt them down.

This scene was mostly just narration.  No one ever called for a Conflict so I just let the opposition have its way.  Barak's player (Trey) said he didn't call for a Conflict because he really kinda wanted the girl to get away.  I pointed out that it would have been a good Conflict to declare and then not push too hard just so he'd lose and garner some Power to spend later.

Scene 2

After following the dogs into the forrest, they are met in a clearing by the black-masked man (Darkmask, we named him) and halted by the renegade and 10 of his forresters.  Conversation ensued in which demands were made on both sides that led to me calling a Conflict.  Here's the way it broke down...

Goals
5 Inquisition soldier (grouped) - Capture the forresters.
vs
5 Forresters (grouped) - Hold off the soldiers.

Barak and Moorelocke (grouped) - Unhorse Darkmask to keep him from getting away.
vs
Darkmask and 5 Forresters (grouped) - Get Darkmask away.

Spending ensued.  Because he was grouped, Darkmask had a large maximum dice pool.  I didn't want him to get caught really, so I spent Power for a large Pool of 10 dice and also spent to activate Moorelocke's Middle-aged Trait to hurt my opponents.  Barak on Moorelock could only get an 8 dice Pool but grouping allowed them to at least get even on the type of dice used so we both ended up rolling d8s.  Trey activated a Trait to get the group of soldiers bumped to d8s too.

Rolling ended up with Darkmask winning handily while the Forresters and Soldiers had a draw.  We decided that all the Forresters were still in the clearing but that Darkmask had galloped off into the forrest.

Trey wanted to capture some Forresters at this point.  I wasn't really opposed but wanted him to work a little so I declared a Simple Resolution.  (Plus I spent big to get Darkmask away, so I want a few Power back.)  Trey spent the Power and captured 2 prisoners.

Scene 3
Barak and Moorelocke are watching the prisoners being put to the question with Archemedes.  There is a conversation about how this doesn't seem to be in keeping with the tenets of the Faith.  Archemedes convinces Barak that this is indeed the right and proper thing.  Barak and Moorelocke want to get the location of Darkmask from the prisoners and Trey declares a Conflict.  There is some spending and the Player's win (I didn't care as I got some more Power back) and they learn the location of Darkmask's lair.

We ended the session here.

After Action Review

I discussed the game with the players afterwards.  Trey and Seth agreed that it was different from what they were used to.  However, Trey commented that  the system really worked to get that literary feel of ebb and flow of tension from protagonist to antagonist.  They immediately grasped how to get and spend Power to influence the story.

All in all, I was pleased with how the game mechanics actually performed in play.  I do need to mention Draw outcomes in Conflict Resolution in the rules.  I also need to talk about what Players can do if they completely run out of Power.  Suggestions on that last point would be very welcome as I haven't really decided on anything there yet.  Well, it's late.  I'll wrap this up and answer any comments it garners tomorrow.  The game text can be read on the website in my signature.
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