September Wrap-Up time!
I finally got an opportunity to playtest the latest iteration of “Maze of the 4 Queens” and the August changes with a live group in Oslo. The session was fun, but a bit clunky as the game was in an in-between stage, especially with the new WIP Traits.
Something was feeling off after the session, and it gave me a lot of headaches both trying to figure out what that “something” was and how to fix it.
- Players don’t die fast enough. It is still an issue. And it has potential fixes already. The amount of HP will have to get a second pass. But I think it also has to do with the pace of the game and how it is presented to players. Which reminds me of the latest article from Spriggan’s Den. Designing an adventure for Loot ‘n’ Loot is different from making an OSR module, in the sense that character preservation is not as important. Living YOLO and experimenting is key: shorter dungeons, clearer objectives, telegraphed traps & loot.
- The Referee has still too much to manage on their end with NPCs. Too many traits, too many weapons. And then, it falls back on the PCs who have too much loot to go through. The excitement of surviving a tough fight hits the ground pretty fast 4 Souls and 20 pieces of gear have to be sorted. But cutting content is not just enough to solve the issue. Or rather, it’s not enough if it’s not done mindfully. In order to do so, I had to go back to the root of my game, the pillars: Simplicity, Synergy, Fun. Willing to create too many synergies removed the simplicity of my game, on many different aspects: weapons, NPC, Traits.
Therefore, I took a lot of time pondering on the necessity of each element of the game:
- Too many weapons, I removed everything that was not “common gear “and decided to limit the game to 26 basic gear.
- Too many traits, especially on Humanoid characters who also have gear. A character should have max 4-5 abilities that have an effect in combat (Traits+Gear). The rest of the Traits, if any, should be for social/exploration. As of today, I classified Traits into “mostly combat” (126) and “exclusively non combat” (39), after a lot of merging and cutting.
- Upgrading Traits over multiple runs is a mechanic I removed completely. Now, at Death, a PC loses everything but Souls; they have the option to destroy some Souls to carry any piece of gear or Trait to their next incarnation.
- Gear and Traits now both occupy Character Slots (previously Equipment Slots) as Slots are mechanically cousins. Getting Horns prevents you from having a Helmet, right? Then it makes sense the Trait Horns and the Equipment Helmet should be put on a Head slot. So reworking the Traits also implied finding Slots for them.
- Speaking of slots, I removed the 8 slots for inventory. Now, they are only Character Slots and if a PC wants to carry more loot, they should grab a Satchel.
- The character creation has been revamped to enhance the randomness of starting gear.
- All these changes created collateral damage on other parts of the game, namely the Character Sheet.
Everything will be playtesting this very weekend at MidgardCon!
Let’s conclude with another small tease with a sneak peak at some of the new Traits.