Playtest at HexCon ’22

Last weekend, I flew to Trondheim to attend HexCon for the first time. HexCon ’22 also marked the last date in the “Loop ‘n’ Loot Demo Tour accross Norway” after Arcon, MidgardCon and RegnCon.

First time in Trondheim, I spent some time with my Guild Ball sparring partner talking about many things including my work-in-progress miniature game, quickly visited Nidaros Cathedral, had 2 pizza diners (Hevd is an awesome place to eat, Grano is completely overrated), visited downtown city and, of course, attended the convention.

The convention itself was pretty nice, although a bit small on the role-playing game side (I counted 3 GMs over the week-end, each of us with several slots). For my game, it’s not a disadvantage: it helps gathering people who have no clue what they have signed for and players who did not get a seat in another game happening at the same time slot as Loop ‘n’ Loot. It also gave me the opportunity to test OG, a caveman RPG with limited use of words. It was fun!

(Once again, I forgot to take any picture of the convention… If you happen to have some, hook me up!)

HexCon was the occasion to have 3 playtests with the latest iteration of the rules, with 10 players who had never tried it before. All in all, it went well and I believe everyone had a good time. A new record was set, with a player suggesting to put something on fire in the first room in the dungeon :p.

The playtests allowed me to validate some design decisions I took during the month of October. The biggest change was the new NPC cards (that you see in the October wrap-up linked article), consequences of many, many, many iterations with one simple goal: make it simple and usable. It is now in a satisfying place.

There is a good chance the name for the GM/Referee changes for “Croupier”, which makes sense given the poker inspiration.

One of the feedback I got from the playtests is the use of Attributes. Your Attributes value = Number of cards you can draw for a test. In combat, I simply say “you use everything you have at hand, therefore you draw the sum of your Attributes”. In a way, that makes sense. In a way it doesn’t (why a character with 0 in Heart would suddenly be able to charm an enemy in combat?). Therefore, my newest task on my to-do is to investigate that specific Attribute/Draw/Combat matter:

  • Is it better to draw the sum of your Attributes in combat (ex: 5 cards) and use these cards for your Action+Reaction?
  • Is it better to draw cards related to the relevant Attribute when you declare an Action or Reaction? Ex: “I attack with my hand weapon! = Draw your Clubs value for this Action”, “I dodge away from the lightning bolt = Draw your Spades value for this Reaction”.

I don’t know yet. But if you have an opinion, you are more than welcome to share it on the Loop ‘n’ Loot community Discord server :).

October 2022 Wrap-Up

I’m super late with the October Wrap-Up post. Mostly because work has taken the better part of my brain capacity as my students were in the process of making the pre-prod documentation for their first big scale video game project (65 students working together on a single game for 5 weeks, that ought to be interesting).


October was full of playtests as I went to both MidgardCon and RegnCon to present the latest iteration of Loop ‘n’ Loot. As I already wrote in the forementioned retro-linked articles, the feedback was really positive and people enjoyed playing the game.

But I was unsatisfied with some game mechanics and extra mental charge for the players and referee. By the way, should I keep “referee” for the GM name for Loop ‘n’ Loot? Should it be “the Dealer”? “The Croupier”? Let me know what you think in the comments! Or join the Discord server to start a discussion around it!


The hours dedicated to game design for Loop ‘n’ Loot allowed me to work on:

  • Consolidating the Math around the new values for Attributes (ranging for 0 to 3 now instead of 1 to 5). It was especially important to make sure it worked because the hand size is now a consequence of these values.
  • And to make sure it’s working in order, the Tool Item have been reworked along with a brand new mechanics called “Memories” attached to the soul traits. The key word association had really good feedback and help with the randomisation of the game (which is a pillar in itself). The Memories will be gain by absorbing Soul Traits and will have 2 keywords (ex: “kick” + “door”) and the player will be responsible to come up with a memory associated with them (ex: “the NPC from which I got the memory has his house on fire, family trapped inside, he kick the front to reach her daughter and save her from the flames”, any other player would come with a different example). Then, when making a test, the player could call back to a memory to increase the hand size by one IF the memory is relevant. In our example, the memory is obviously relevant to dramatically open a locked door, but it could also be used for a Test against Fear or how to extinguish a fire…
  • Tools, taking your time, memories are mean to increase your hand size when doing a non-combat test. Let’s imagine a player want to bash a door open. Their Value in Clubs determine the initial hand size (3). The referee sets the difficulty at 3 (it’s a nice door, well crafted, and everyone knows doors are the main obstacle for adventurers). The player says they have a crowbar Tool, +1 hand size. They invoke the “Kick Door” memory, it’s relevant, +1 hand size. The total card to draw is 5.
  • The Soul Trait mechanic has changed. You used to get 1 random trait on absorption. I was fine, honestly, especially for the players. But the referee had a lot of work to do create NPC and a lot to track in combat, especially with Humanoid character that can have Traits AND equipment. Now when absorbing a Soul, players will have to state where the Soul is absorbed: Head, Torso, Legs, Hand 1, Hand 2 or Mental slots. Each slot would have either a Trait or a Memory. It does not change much from a player perspective except they have more agency when they evolve their character. On the referee’s side, it means that the maximum amount of things to manage on a NPC is cap to 6. I’ll spare you the details but to come up with that solution, there has been 2 different new designed and trashed Soul Traits systems before reaching that – I believe – elegant solution.
  • If you played Loop ‘n’ Loot before, you would notice that the number of Character Slots has been reduced. Everything is a consequence of something.
  • Less Slots + Memories = New character sheet!
  • All items and Traits have been re-balanced to fit the new system! It was a lot of work..
  • Finally, I designed and created the NPC cards for Maze of the 4 Queens. I have 27 of them. The number might go down a bit, it sure won’t increase until the potential Kickstarter (which will likely have “create your own room+monster” pledge).

All in all, I’m really happy about the state of the game. It was a lot of headaches. A lot! But streamlining all the game components and make them simple while keeping them interconnected and supporting character versatility was primordial!

I will be playtesting that new iteration of the rules at HexCon in Trondheim, this week-end (12-13 November). So if you are in the vicinity or know people who would be, share the good words :).

As usual, let’s conclude the wrap-up with a sneak peak of what is happening behind the scenes with the NPC card.

Playtest at Midgard Con ‘22

The previous weekend, I was demo-ing the latest iteration of Loop ‘n’ Loot at Midgard Con. A nice convention in the middle of a viking-ish village in Borre (Norway). The weather was really not with us and it rained for 3 days straight, which provoked two collateral effects:

  • Everyone was packed in the main Gildehallen
  • With close doors, the fire pit burnt smoke like crazy (tearing eyes, coughing and bad smell on the clothes)

If we forget about the smoke, it’s really a nice convention with a lot of ambiance! I heard some people used the occasion to play their grand finale D&D campaign there to enjoy the viking mood around them. There was even a LARP fight tournament! The organizer Karl Thomas is super nice and managed to make us at home (quite litterally as he lended us his cabin so we could spend the night!). In other words, Norwegians gamers, save the date for 2023!

I felt the convention was more oriented towards board games than roleplaying games and I had a bit of a hard time filling my table past the first one. But, heh, I could use the time to play some board games (Vikings, Welcome to the Dungeon, Jorvik). Some of them were played in a tournament structure and my fiancée managed to finish third at Vikings, securing some nice loot at the end :).

I also secured two spots to play RPG as a player. One was a homebrew OSR dungeon crawling that ended in a lot of mushrooms and the other one was the first playtest for Murder in Yonderville, a low-prep humorous murder investigation. It was actually so easy to play I ended up being a GM for it for about 2 hours and it was fun to play. As a GM, based on the card I drew, I had to create an investigation in a mining dwarf over a hellgate, as the tavern wench was killed by the shop keeper (hired by the Inn keeper). SIC. It is a fun improv’ exercise for the GM. I believe a kickstater will happen before the end of the year and you can follow the progress over their Facebook page.

In the end, I had one playtest for Loop ‘n’ Loot with the lastest version of the rules. It was fun, as usual, both from my point of view and from the players’ who seemed to enjoyed their smoky evening. Among the hurdle I noticed:

  • The use of the attributes tied to the best possible combination is often forgotten (even by yours truly) as players just put the best combination they have in hand. The Referee has to be carefully about it all the time, which is mental load I want to remove. I have since worked on a solution (an elegant one, in my humble opinion, that also solidifies other mechanics).
  • The mechanics “I attack under Clubs, you have to defend under Clubs” is also often forgotten (even by your truly). It’s something that has been bugging me since the beginning as I felt it make sense but is not fun and somewhat circonvoluted. But my previous fix is also fixing that one! Two birds, one stone.
  • The PC still have a hard time to die. What can I say, I’m too nice! But as Alice says, No More Mr Nice Guy! I’m nerfing pretty hard the Ration item, the Medecine Kit item and the Rest mechanic!
  • On the positive side, the new character creation is not breaking nor hindering the gameplay. The revised Trait are indeed better to manage in combat.

Other than that, it was fun to roleplay zealous skeletons, to look at players destroy loot out of fear for a goddess judment and fight cleverly against a group of (nasty but nerfed) zombies… The highest point of the playtest was when the players managed to pay a Necrologist with a fire nymph’s crown to soul-bind a ghost into a rubber chicken! None of that is scripted in the Maze of 4 Queens but everything is possible with creative players!

I’ll be in Bergen this very weekend to playtest my game at RegnCon! I will my latest iteration of the rules, including the new Attributes system. If you are in the city of rain and plan to go to the convention, come and say hi!