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!

August 2022 Wrap-Up

August Wrap-Up time! A lot of things have happened in the game design sphere as well as in the editing world of Loop ‘n’ Loot:

  • The “Defense” mechanic is now officially replacing the “Soak” one. Basically, when you declare an Action with the “Damage” keyword against a Target, the Target’s Defense value is indicating how many cards must be at least committed for the Action to connect. In other words, it’s harder to bash a dude in Heavy Armor than a naked one. This new mechanic implies tweaks on several minor parts of the game, like items or traits balancing.
  • Two new pages have appeared in the core rules book. The item price page has been refactored for more content and easier parsing.
  • A good chunk of Traits has been removed (or recycled into Items/Spell ideas) as there were underwhelming or “off-brand”. The remaining ones are currently being revamped to be upgradable over the course of multiple runs (you can call that “meta-progression).
  • All “Thrown” weapons have been merged with Ranged weapons, as they were mechanically the same.
  • Kept working on Maze of the 4 Queens, as of today I’m only missing 6 rooms in the book. Some tables have been started (random events, random loot) and things that won’t show anywhere.
  • I have also cleaned my playtest setting into a playable booklet, which I intend to sell for a minimal price on Ko-fi when the Core Rule Book gets released.
All in all, things are moving forwards!
If you live in Norway, don’t forget to put the following events in your calendar as Loop ‘n’ Loot will be demo’d at:
  • MidgardCon (Borre NO) – 30 September – 2 October 2022
  • Regncon XXX (Bergen NO) – 7-9 October 2022
  • Hexcon (Trondheim NO) – 5-6 November 2022
It’s your chance to playtest the game system as well as the WIP version of Maze of the 4 Queens.

And to conclude the August Wrap-Up, the aforementioned new double page in the core book!

July 2022 Wrap-Up

July has been somewhat of a slow month with well-deserved vacation abroad. But I managed to sneak in some work the past couple of weeks once back in Norway.

  • A combat playtest happened with my French group, to discuss my planned evolution of Soak. Bottom line, I want to remove Soak.
    • Reason 1: There is a lot of “subtraction time” in combat, which also includes repeated noise turn after turn (“You take 9 Damage, I ignore 1 Soak because of my Vicious1 , subtract your Soak, that’s your Wounds”).
    • Reason 2: I want to simplify the game wherever I can. At the moment, we have Damage and Wound, two different concepts around life loss. I’d like to streamline them to a single one.
    • Reason 3: I want the game to be viewed as “fun lethal”, you can die pretty fast if you are careless but that’s OK. The concept of Soak, reducing damage (therefore giving at least the associated idea of protection/you’re safe), is antinomic to my goal.
    • The replacement system will assess all of these, speed up combat and be more tied up with cards.
  • A lot of pondering to simplify the game and get a snappier experience for the players and less “mental charge” on the Referee. The number of enemy types is decreased from 3 to 2, the number of Equipment slots from 9 to 8, still pondering with merging Legs Slot and Trinket Slot to go down to 7.
  • A good chunk of work was on Maze of the 4 Queens, the first module for Loop ‘n’ Loot. It has been playtested during Arcon 38, the validated rooms have been put in a book layout (29 rooms, 11 left to design). They also each got 4 random events. I did a bit of refactoring on the dungeon creation as well adding more opportunities for just corridors. I removed the glitch effect (ex: a probability to have a room fully underwater for instance) because too much mental charge on the Referee.

And to conclude, here is a sneak peak of that module!

Arcon 38 & first open playtests

Arcon 38 is behind us now. It was the first time Loop ‘n’ Loot went public for open play sessions with people who knew nothing about my game.

I can safely say that the game was well received and all of the players seemed to like it :). Some liked the freshness of the system, some the gonzo-ism of the dungeon, some liked it so much they came for extra sessions :). To all the people who dared to come to play: a huge THANK YOU! (you’re awesome).
If you have tested the game this weekend, and if it’s ok with you, send me a PM with your real first and last names so I can add you in the “thank you” of the core rule book.

If you have not done it yet, feel free to join the discussion around Loop ‘n’ Loot in Discord!