What can we learn from the playtest? Let’s see…
I had fun
- I had a lot of fun, which means the draft system can definitely GM a fun session for me in practice. So that’s good. The system isn’t sophisticated enough yet, but it’s workable.
The Basic Mechanic is OK
- The basic mechanic seems to be working ok – it’s simple to run and generates worthwhile results, so I don’t think I’m going to do a total overhaul. That’s pleasing! (It definitely still needs revision, and also some fleshing-out and coloring-in, but that’s another matter).
The Scenes were Too Short
- The scenes here were all very short – most were just one or two skill rolls. Now, partly this was because of the colossal luck Jaspin kept having, and I don’t want to be misled by that. But still, I think perhaps I ought to increase the cost of winning the scene. Tying that cost to Peril might have been a mistake, too, since Peril is already taken into account in the penalty to the skill roll. My instinct now is to adjust the cost of winning the scene to a flat 5 pts, and see how that goes next time.
“Scene Gains” might be too cheap, across the board
- In fact, I wonder whether I ought to increase the costs of all “Scene Gains,” so as to lengthen the scenes. I’m not yet sure if this will work – part of Jaspin’s success here lay in the fact that he was almost always in “mental” scenes, and that really worked out for him, since he’s invested most of his points in being good at those. Things would have gone much worse for him if he’d been forced into a choice between, say, a “Physical” and a Combat” scene. Things would also have gone worse in the “Mental” scenes if I’d been using a character with points spread across a wider variety of activities (Temian, for instance). So while I’m considering increasing all the costs, I think perhaps I’ll hold off on that for now, pending more playtesting. Maybe it’s not really required.
The timing of the “Climax Scene” is too unpredictable
- The arrival of the Climax scene is a bit too random. I think I need to introduce a new option under “Scene Gains” (I’ll call it “You’re a big step closer to your goal!” or something), which makes the scene you’re currently in count for a bonus of +2, rather than just +1, when rolling on the “What’s Next?” table. This would allow you to invest some of your winnings in moving yourself closer to the Climax scene, and thereby give you more control over when it arrives. How much should that cost? I’m not sure. Maybe 4 pts?
The system can be exploited; I should fix that
- I didn’t do this during the playtest, because it would have spoiled the fun, but I while playing I noticed that it would be possible to exploit the system by remaining in a scene that’s favorable to you indefinitely, just racking up bonuses for the future. Then you would take the risk of moving only on when you’ve racked up so many bonuses that you can’t be beaten. I need to do something to prevent this. A blunt way to do this would be to simply put a cap (3, maybe?) on the number of “Things That Might be Useful Later” you can have at any one time.
And of course, the whole thing needs fleshing out
- Right now the top priority is to get the basic system working ok, but I’m very much looking forward to the stage after this, when I’ll be able to start fleshing things out a bit. I especially want to come up with some nice, flavorful ways to make the Climax Scene special and interesting. But that’s for another day…
Well, those are my initial thoughts at least. As always, I’m very happy to hear others views on this, so if you’ve already taken the (considerable!) time to read both the draft system and the playtest, then please do weigh in with your comments/suggestions/critiques. (I can’t imagine too may people will have done all that reading, but maybe…)
Until next time, happy gaming!