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 Post subject: Rev. Dak's Los Angeles, CA, play-test report
PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 2:12 pm 
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Intro

I decided to not start with "Portal" and convert an intro S&W (OD&D) module (Splinters of Faith #1: It Started With A Chicken by Frog God Games) instead. I did this for two reasons. I wanted to see how an OSR mod would play with DCC and I wanted to use OD&D XP values as the baseline. I talk more about this later.

The group consisted of a newbie, whose first RPG experience was playing the D&D4e version of Gamma World. And several vets of varying D&D experience. One with no 3x, but some AD&D and IndieRPG time. One with tons of Old-school through 3.5. And one that played all versions of D&D fairly consistantly from 2nd through 4e. I, the Judge, have tons of B/X and AD&D, a bit of 2e, and played 3 through 4e consistently until last August. 4 players, 16 zeros. I called them the town mob.

The Character Funnel

No one had a problem with the Character Funnel. A couple really loved and embraced the idea, the rest were indifferent if not totally cool about it. The vets knew what to do, the newbie was the last one done and needed help the whole way through. It took longer than 10 minutes but it didn't help that we got a late start, and the power went out in my neighborhood about half-way through character generation. The power stayed out the whole sesson, so we really old-schooled it by playing by candlelight, flashlights and headlamps. (Don't drop your dice when the lights are out, finding dice is tough with flashlights!) The group had several questions that weren't clearly stated by the Beta (june8). I decided to adopt S&W rules where I saw fit. The first question was Randomly Determined Equipment: Could they sell it? I allowed it, and went with 1/2 value. No one actually did, but it came up so I noted it. The other question that came up was, "do you get your ability modifiers to Attacks and Saves at 0-level?" Some argued that the rules specify that you get only a +0 at Zero. The rules were clear to me, but some disagreed. I made the call that they DO get them. Then there was the question about Initiative. I couldn't find it stated anywhere in the book, but I'm sure it was safe to assume it was the Agility modifier. In fact for the Combat Basics section of the character sheet it wasn't clear in Character Generation what those things would be at Zero level. I assumed a d20 for Action Dice and +0 for Attack. I had to figure out Crit Die and Table, it wasn't in the Character Funnel section (I would also have to figure out the Fumble die later.) I allowed all the characters to make further purchases with their 5d12 coppers. Bottom-line about the character funnel, no one complained, everyone was totally cool and excited to play thier Ditchdiggers, Chicken Farmers and Gongfarmers. I think that all the information that would be filled out on the Character Sheet should be found in the Character chapter. [note: I found initiative information later while writing this under Combat, p63.)

Encounters

I don't want to spoil the adventure, but I chose this module because the monsters were all undead, and even generic undead works well with the concepts behind DCC. Their first encounter could have been a small band of hired thugs. But I decided that they would have heard an angry mob armed with pitchforks and torches coming their way, so I had them run and hide. I did this logically but arbitrarily. The angry mob (because that's what the PCs ultimately were) found a tunnel and assumed that the thugs (who they are after for stealing their chickens) went down into it. This is was one of the first things I wasn't sure what to do about. The tunnel was slick with grease and asked for a Dex check to not slip and fall. There were already knotted ropes heading down into the tunnel. I didn't want to make an "event" out of climbing down ropes that were obviously placed there for that reason, so I asked who had the lowest Agility. The Gongfarmer had a Agility of 5. So we made him out to be tubby and clumbsy. Two of his cohorts, both elven foresters, offered to help him down, so I decided to make it a non-issue. A chicken farmer decided to take home some equipment, left-over cooked chicken and an ox the thugs left behind. He unfortunately took off on his own, promising to catch up. The mob continued to the bottom of the shaft and headed into their first room. They had a couple torches and a lantern. There weren't any rules on the range of these things, so I again had to reference S&W.

Meanwhile the lonely Chicken Farmer was heading back, pitchfork in hand. He was stopped by the leader of the thugs. We had our first issue with combat, specifically initiative. The pitchfork (as a spear) used as a melee weapon we deemed to be two-handed for the farmer (I did note that a footsoldier would fight with a shield in one-hand and a longspear in the other.) Since, rules dictate a -4 on initiative for 2-handed weapons, this was enough for him to lose initiative and he was immediately slain by a single stroke of a short sword. We modified the initiative order retroactively. Ironically it was the player that pointed out the -4 modifier. He originally won initiative and hit first (although not killing the thug.) This reminds me of speed factor in AD&D we never used... not sure I like it.

Back down in the dungeon, the mob will have thier first encounter. Three zombies stumbling their direction. I wanted to have them surprise them, and that's when I notice that there aren't any rules for surprise! I did it S&W and rolled a d6, no surprise so we went to initiative. I didn't use minis, just focused on front lines in contact. I used logic and allowed them to have 5 zeros on the front line versus the 3 zombies. Surprisingly no one died. They then moved on to the first trap. I allowed them to peel open some iron doors with a crowbar on a 20. Behind the door was a floor trigger that filled the room with a "stinking cloud". There aren't rules for dealing with traps, so I had it automatically activate since they didn't deliberately look for it. I used the effect of the Choking Cloud spell as if it was cast with a 13. And used that as the Fort save DC. The two halflings that triggered it made their Save and they turned around. I basically arbitrarily triggered the trap, and used an equivelent spell as the effect. It works well, but I'm not sure how I am supposed to have them "search" and at what DC. They had one more encounter before we ran out of time. A Ghoul at the back of a room, eating himself. They approached it, tried to make friends. But there are no rules for reactions. But it didn't matter because I had it attack the first one to get close with a weapon out. Let's just say I called it a readied attack. Claw-claw, dead. It took two more PC deaths and one paralysed (but left for dead!) before they killed the ghoul. There was one PC fumble. I didn't know what die to use off hand, but I figured it out (p65.) This should probably be something that should be included on the character sheet. The Ghoul also fumbled. I wasn't sure what die to use for him. This should probably be noted in the stats or some rules. I just used a d16, for no armor. But it was soon over. The killing stroke was a big one, I made the ghouls head crack open to reveal a large shiny emerald (worth 100gp.)

Rewards

I issued XP based on the module, 30 ea for the zombies. 60 for the ghoul and 100 for the gem. (I gave XP for GP because I am using the S&W standard for this module.) It came to about 19XP each. I'm not sure if they will get 101 by the end of the adventure.

I studied XP values and levels for 3.5 and S&W, they're totally different. In 3.5 it takes 1000 XP to reach 2nd level. In S&W it takes 2000 for a Fighter (which I'll use as a baseline.) A Ghoul is worth 300 XP in 3.5 and 60 XP (plus treasure value) in S&W. (S&W awards gold at 2 to 4 times monster XP value, effectively making a 3HD monster worth, on average, 240 XP.) At 1st level Fighters have pretty much identical HP and do exactly the same damage. While Ghouls are also, stats-wise, pretty much identical. The Warrior in DCC is almost identical to both games but they need only 1000 XP (as in 3.5.) If we're to play-test -100 XP at 0, it's pretty much necessary to include XP values for the example monsters.

Conclusion

Everyone had a blast. Time flew by QUICK! Even in the dark. I'm pretty sure everyone will be back next week, and we'll continue on. They should complete the adventure at the next sesson. We should also be adding couple new players who will start with multiple Zeros. Other than the hitches I noted above, it went pretty damn good.

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Reverend Dakota Jesus Ultimak, S.S.M.o.t.S.M.S., D.M.

(Dungeon) Master In Chief of Crawl! fanzine. - http://www.crawlfanzine.com/

"[...] there is no doubt that Dungeons and Dragons and its imitators are right out of the pit of hell." - William Schnoebelen, Straight talk on Dungeons & Dragons


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 Post subject: Re: Rev. Dak's Los Angeles, CA, play-test report
PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2011 6:27 am 
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Nice write-up, particularly the metagame comments on how you GM'ed some of the rules situations.

Sometimes I think that rules for everything should be in a rulebook, then I think again about the old days and how I used to "wing it" all the time. Combine this with Joseph's assertion that he assumes the player is experienced and I come to the conclusion that your approach is exactly in the spirit of what DCC is trying to accomplish!

Sounds like a fun session! :D

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"The worthy GM never purposely kills players' PCs, He presents opportunities for the rash and unthinking players to do that all on their own."
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 Post subject: Re: Rev. Dak's Los Angeles, CA, play-test report
PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2011 2:56 pm 
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Great write-up.

I actually gave 2-Handers a d30 for initiative (due to their ability to "strike first") in my last mini-play test and it was well-received. Makes up for the lack of shield use. Of course after round 1 of individual intiatives, I switch to group initiative and use a simple d6 (to simulate the chaos of battle). Note that I haven't fully committed to a system for round 2 on (I have three I am playtesting but all become group initiative). In any event the 2-handers get the advantage only on the first round so it's not as great as it may seem.


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 Post subject: Re: Rev. Dak's Los Angeles, CA, play-test report
PostPosted: Sun Jun 26, 2011 12:32 am 
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Thanks for sharing!

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 Post subject: SESSION 2
PostPosted: Sun Jul 03, 2011 3:39 am 
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Session 2.

Setup

This is the second DCC RPG Beta Play-test session. One experienced player was replaced by a novice player. 4 players total. The new participant created 3 brand-new Zeros and the 3 living characters of the absent player was divided among the 3 returning players for a total of 15 characters. The new characters joined the existing party with creative and cooperative role-playing.

Story

The mob is still in the tomb, but now their main concerns are getting their dead back to the surface. They lose two more in the process due to a mishap (a group Agility Test, resulting a some falls.) The new characters wondering where the rest of the town went, find the Thugs that hid in the woods. They try to sneak past them, but one character, a squire, sacrifices himself. He gets caught, the other sneak into the dungeon. These guys connect with the mob and decide to rescue the squire that is now a prisoner. This resulted poorly at first. With two dead, including one Thug, and “fine” of a large bag of copper, the boy was returned and the remaining thugs escaped. The Mob return to town and get some aid from the town’s cleric. Then the mob is pleaded by the priest to retrieve the dead. Hesitant, they head back down. This results in a fight with a powerful ghoul. But this time the dice rolled in the favor of the players, as they easily defeat it.

Play-tests and notes

This game went even smoother that the first game. Every player lost at-least one character. They would have lost more, but we forgot that Zeroes don’t benefit from the Bleeding Out or Recovering the Body rules. The rules got to be play-tested as if they were 1-level, the general consensus was the stat loss seemed worth it to keep the characters. After we realized that they weren’t allowed to benefit from that rule, we played RAW for the rest of the game, we didn’t retro-kill the others that benefited from Recovery.

So far people have been hesitant to burn off luck. I remind them to, but I think they’re not comfortable permantely reducing abilites.

I’ve come up with my own rules for group ability checks. I used it for surprise, “passive” search and spot checks, and traps. If I think the task would be of average challenge, I roll 3d6, if it would be easy or routine, I roll 2d6 or if the check is difficult I roll 4d6. Roll the dice, and compare the total to the appropriate ability scores. I give a +/- bonuses due to background and circumstances. If any player is LESS than the roll, that individual fails the check. I considered using funky dice, but I think the bell curve matches the natural spread better. I only had ability checks rolled when there was a chance of injury or death.

Fumbles and Crits came more often this game. I was worried that Fumbles would happen too often, but so far the results have been minor and not game breaking. Everyone has enjoyed the random events created by fumbles and crits.

The players made use of the local cleric. They requested some healing and blessings. So the Cleric, happy to abide, casted all the Lay on hands and Blessing he could until he could no longer. Only 1 Blessing was successful, and about 3 Lay on Hands. Fortunately he never met with Disapproval. I was worried there.

Not enough XP were awarded to reach 1-level. But there are also still about 2-3 characters per player. The dungeon is mostly cleared, but I don’t think enough characters have died to warrant leveling. Still not sure what is an appropriate XP award.

Concerns and suggestions

I have gotten my vet players used to being more specific and deliberate with describing their character actions. I did this by faking or making all checks secret. Having the Player dictate what their character doing, I judged whether the character can do it and how successful. Sometimes rolling but always asking what their Ability Score is. Then comparing it to an arbitrary number, 7 if it’s easy. 13 if it’s hard. 15 if it’s difficult. This has proven to be more engaging than a series of DC checks, passive or active. If the attempt risks life or limb, I make a secret check and use their Ability Score as the DC. I roll 2d6 if Easy, 3d6 if Hard, or 4d6 if Difficult. By putting the dice in Judges hand, it forces the players to be specific, ask questions and be creative. How to do this and allow Burning Luck is the only concern. It’s probably as simple as asking the Player if they would like to Burn Luck. A plus with this is that it adds tension--always a good thing.

The rules are better if they’re more consistent from Zero to 1+ play. Allow the Bleeding Out and Recover the Body rules should work with Zero play. Bleeding Out at less than 0, but with a higher Luck DC, or a -4 penalty. Encourage the use Burning Luck in 0-level by somehow having them renewed or refreshed at 1-level. This would develop habits early in play, and ease the transition. Questions did come up about racial abilities while Zero. I embraced the RAW and didn’t allow any. But I’m more convinced that a smoother transition would be better. Partial racial abilities, would be cool and simple to implement. I think expanding the details of each Occupation wouldn’t hurt.

A Disapproval or Spell Corruption/Fumble never came up, but I was concerned about rolling again, and on another chart. Disapproval effects can be merged with Cleric Spell Tables since there are negative modifiers after a certain point. Failure can be less than 1. This would also be an opportunity for incremental failures. Corruption, on the other-hand, is a whole different beast. Keeping them different is a good thing.

The Lay on Hands should be listed as a Cleric 1 spell, with a table, in the spell section. I had a hard time finding the chart for the NPC Cleric. Same could be said for Turn Unholy.

Instead of an arbitrary -100 XP, or “surviving their first adventure,” the Zeros should level when each player is down to his last one or two characters. This might encourage more bravado, and discourage babying. Plus the whole negative XP is confusing.

Conclusion

I am really enjoying the game even more. Players love the funnel. In fact they’re getting a bit too attached to certain “favored” Zeroes. This may or may not be a good thing, probably mostly good. (insert evil laugh.)

What is definitely happening is there is considerably more role-playing with increased (albiet careful) exploration and fast & furious combat, everyone loves it and combat scares them. I can’t wait until they get to play with Magic. They really embraced the literally zero capabilities of their Zeroes and really role-play their squires, gong-farmers and elven foresters. This would be even better if there were more details in the occupations--expand them. More occupations, and more details and minor racial abilities would be awesome.

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Reverend Dakota Jesus Ultimak, S.S.M.o.t.S.M.S., D.M.

(Dungeon) Master In Chief of Crawl! fanzine. - http://www.crawlfanzine.com/

"[...] there is no doubt that Dungeons and Dragons and its imitators are right out of the pit of hell." - William Schnoebelen, Straight talk on Dungeons & Dragons


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 Post subject: Re: Rev. Dak's Los Angeles, CA, play-test report
PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 8:11 pm 
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Session 3 and 4:

Every week I have at least 1 new player (my Thursday group is very inconsistent, but I’ve managed to have at least 3 players each session.) Two of the players were guests from Germany. Neither of them have ever played an RPG, so it was a lot of fun regardless that the session was super short, only 1 Zero died in the 2-hour gaming period. We had a late start and spent a few moments making a few new their zeros.

For the regular players, it’s taking longer to get to 1-level than expected. I’m still sticking with divying out XP and the -100 XP rules for now. The only characters that are close are two of the original 16 that started the game 3 sessions ago. The other 14 have died horrible deaths, the players are unfortunately getting a bit frustrated. Single hits typically kill. They’re about ¾ through the adventure, with only 2 original characters, the rest are new zeros that joined the slaughter.

A couple issues came up this session. The character sheet, what goes in where? What goes into the Missile Damage box on the Agility line? There should also be a spot for the Fumble die. The one modern innovation that I like are the granular weapon lines with boxes for each separate modifier, the DCC character sheet could use that stuff. Also an example of a filled out character sheet, and where the rules come from would help this.

Session 4; only 3 players showed up and it was a massacre, one player lost 5 zeros! Ironically this player is not a fan of “the old-school” and I probably reinforced his displeasure of low-level, old-school play by TPK his first set of zeros. It was his first game back from a vacation, and his first Old-school game since 2e. But it took him only about 5 minutes to whip up 3 more characters. I’ll admit that the party was a bit understrength. They had only 9 zeros, but fought a set of walking dead that they’ve fought and destroyed a couple times before. I’m thinking that the number of zeros has a huge impact on survival. I think the rule of thumb should be 4 zeros for each 1-level character. Having only 3 each ends in misery. A couple of the deaths were the result of fratricide! One was the result of a fumble and the other from firing into combat! We had a question about that.

A couple issues came up this session. First, 5d12 for coppers is just a bit too much math. I think 5d6 x2 has the same curve and is easier to count, doing this 3 or 4 times is just taxing. Second, firing into combat. RAW there isn’t a neg modifier, but a 50% chance to hit a random ally. Does that 50% automatically hit? And why just allies? We decided to recheck the attack, it resulted in a critical hit, and obviously a death!

I see one or two more sessions and possible 2 zeros leveling (if they survive.)

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Reverend Dakota Jesus Ultimak, S.S.M.o.t.S.M.S., D.M.

(Dungeon) Master In Chief of Crawl! fanzine. - http://www.crawlfanzine.com/

"[...] there is no doubt that Dungeons and Dragons and its imitators are right out of the pit of hell." - William Schnoebelen, Straight talk on Dungeons & Dragons


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 Post subject: Re: Rev. Dak's Los Angeles, CA, play-test report
PostPosted: Sat Jul 30, 2011 11:38 pm 
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Great gaming with you at the SoCal Minicon. Sacking the skull. Heh :lol:

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