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TQB Playtest Journal ONE

Started by James V. West, March 05, 2002, 04:48:36 AM

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James V. West

Hey everyone!

Last night was my first official playtesting session of The Questing Beast. I hoped to post a detailed overview of the session tonight, but time and duties forbid so a quick note is all I can do until tomorrow.

The session went very well. I had the players choose from a stack of pre-generated characters and I used the film Excalibur as the Accord.

There were a few bumps, but nothing I didn't expect to encounter. The players were understandably slow to figure out how to use their Monologues, but as the night went on they warmed up to it quite a bit and expressed to me that they enjoyed it very much and wished to play again. The second session is set two weeks from yesterday and I'll have them create new characters of their own.

Some strange/interesting things that happened:

-one player lost his Pool halfway through and rolled all Defeats for the remainder of the session. This did not seem to frustrate him or cause a problem. He was playing a rather unscrupulous manipulating character anyway, so adversity seemed fitting.

-players tended to fall back on classic rpg thinking when doing Monologues. Frex, one character was a coyote and when the player rolled a Defeat while frantically searching for a trail in a dark forest, he narrated a scene in which the coyote fell off a cliff. Ok, the session had its streak of humor anyway so I didn't stop him. After all, the animal forms are symbolic and Wile E. Coyote is a symbol engrained in all our brains. But, when he seemed to be finished narrating, I pushed him further by asking how this fall adversly affected his character's goal or how it added complication that would last beyond getting up and saying ouch. A look of recognition passed over his face and he got what I was saying.

More soon...

James V. West

I apologize for the disjointed nature of this post, but I can only seem to get a few moments a night to jot down my thoughts on the game.

I mentioned the player who lost his Pool and rolled Defeats the rest of the night. This is one aspect of the game I've always been concerned about. My previous games of The Pool did not lead to this kind of bad luck, so I hadn't had a chance to digest it first hand. As I said before, it did not affect the game in a bad way. The player took the Defeats in stride and seemed to enjoy the prospect of inventing complications. In one scene he was trying to pour some tainted wine for Arthur's knights in a pre-joust banquet. His die roll was linked to his character's warlock motif. I think the player's goal for the Monologue would have been to explicitly describe the wine's effects on those who drank it, as well as naming those individuals. Instead, he dealt himself the misfortune of being caught in the act by Morganna and revealed to everyone by means of a minor magical effect.

The session was of low-cerebral makeup. This was intentional because I was playing with folks I didn't know and I wanted to push the system itself a bit. Next session will be from scratch, players creating their Heroes and all that jazz so I get to see how my rules for Quests, Trials, and general chargen work as well as how easy or hard it is to get a game started.

I'm thinking of presenting two or three ideas for Accords and letting them pick. However, that isn't really in keeping with the game's suggestion to let the whole group discuss it, is it? My feeling is that we'll probably go with the "default" Accord which I simply call The Sword in the Stone--a general amalgam of the most commonly held conceptions of the legend of King Arthur. I chose the film Excalibur for the first session because it was the most widely-known Arthurian story among gamers besides Monty Python (and I ain't going there--at least not now).

I'll have to wait until the next session to really get more in-depth. This session, while important to setting the stage of us as a group, was only a bumpy beginning. I claim no godlike GMing powers that would have made it any other way ;-).

Ron Edwards


I'm a bit surprised to hear about the player losing his whole Pool in TQB, as my experience with the game suggests that it's a lot harder to do this than in The Pool (strict sense).

What puzzled me regarding Paul's run of The Pool was why people stayed at 0 dice when the mechanism for recovery is so straightforward. And in TQB, although the mechanism is different, it's still very likely. Are you telling us that this player did not get a single Guided Event for the rest of the session?


James V. West

He bottomed out halfway through, then, if memory serves me correctly, he did get one Guided Event after that. But the remainder of the rolls were Defeats. This has nothing to do with the system, obviously. It would have been just as likely (actually, much more so) for him to roll all Victories instead. Just piss poor luck. And yet, it worked out to be fairly cool anyway.

The dice-replenishment in TQB was more consistent when players would gamble low--which is exactly how I intended it. Roll fewer dice and you have a better chance of rolling a Guided Event. One player usually gambled low and he tended to have more dice at all times. The third player ran the range from low to high gambles and his Pool responded in kind.

BTW, players started with something like 8, 5, and 5 dice.

Ron Edwards

Hi James,

The Accord in TQB is very close kin to the customizing necessary to playing Sorcerer, so I've had a lot of experience with this.

I've learned that someone has got to come to the table with a clear idea. It may or may not end up being the way the group goes, following discussion, but it's necessary to start with something. Otherwise you end up with "Whaddaya wanna do?" "I dunno, whaddaya wanna do?" terminating in fizzzzllle .....

So if the GM shows up and solidly says, "Arthurian! Like this!" that's not such a bad thing. It's only "non-TQB" if that solidity extends to the status of a decree. If it's understood by all to be a suggestion, open to discussion if anyone wants, then that's fine. Similarly, any lighter or multi-optioned suggestion to get things off is great too.

The only dangers to warn against in the text are "GM chooses, go," and "No one initates with a suggestion, flutter helplessly." In my view, organizing or specifying further about how to go about it is unnecessary.


James V. West


Thanks for the tips.

The text I've written on this suggests that if you ask everyone in your group who King Arthur is you'll get wildly differing answers. Therefore it is best if the Guide presents the Accord and then the group discusses it for a bit. So, yeah, I totally agree with you.