Playtest Journal #2: Nothing to See Here

By | August 26, 2012

So for today’s playtest, we mostly wanted to focus on our new Social Engagement system.  Unfortunately, because the players in attendance weren’t able to build the character concepts they were looking for the previous session (given that those concepts weren’t in the game–specifically, the Swashbuckler and Tosser), we spent most of the 3-hour playtest on character re-creation.

We did learn, though, that the new character creation model is solid, and that while there are actually more options now than existed two weeks ago, it feels like less.  That could just be familiarity with the system, it could be improved design.  We’ll need more playtesting to be sure.

We were also really pleased to hear playtesters describing practically everything as “that cool thing.”  One even stated that he was having a hard time choosing which talents to select for his character because they were all awesome.  Which was very gratifying, because we want every talent selection to be engaging, every talent to be a different kind of awesomeness that your character can bring to the table.  Feels good, man.
Once we got past character creation, we had an unfortunately brief session of social engagement between the playtesters’ characters and the crew of a crashed, experimental flying machine.  They rushed in to help the wounded crew, and the Tinker in the party started examining the flying machine wreckage trying to learn its secrets.  We had to cut away before the next segment of the playtest–a group of outriders running in to fight whatever was still moving in the area–but the general consensus afterward is that it felt like there was no “system” backing the events at all.

Specifically, they felt like they were just socializing with the NPCs, that there was no penalty for failure and that it felt like I could be running it in any system.

And yet, behind the scenes, I was keeping a track of the things they did to aid the NPCs, as well as the things they were saying, calling for Speech checks as appropriate, and adjusting the behavior of the NPCs on the fly given the mechanics in play.

So far, the new social dynamic we developed this week seems to be meeting the criterion of “not being very visible.”  Which is a huge plus over Tuesday’s playtest, in which the mechanics were so visible that they literally distracted the players from simply having a conversation with the NPC.

And even better?  They accomplished more in 22 minutes than Tuesday’s group did in over an hour

By gum, I think we’re onto something here!  🙂

See you next week, with an update on how we’re using the latest batch of Feedback to modify the system.  Have a great week!