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 Post subject: Second Playtest (with actual people!) Part 1, 2, & 3
PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2011 3:16 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:17 am
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Our playtest consisted of Dan, Chris, Bill, Me (Jork), and Bob, our DM. Bob’s been running Goodman modules for Dan and I for years, and this game is all the way inside his wheelhouse. The module we played was familiar, a zero-level number that was not the one I posted about previously, so that ought to barrow it down quite a bit, but I’m too lazy to go look it up.

Chris and Bill had a lot of previous experience with 2nd and 3rd edition D&D, Chris still actively runs a 2E game. I missed most of their initial character gen, as I had previously rolled up and run my characters with Dan in a previous session. Dan rerolled his zeros to start fresh, and as it stood, we only had one first level character through the first half of the session (Old Dale, Wizard and swordsman).

There is quite a bit of strategy involved in having 25 characters at the table, and not just the who’s out in front part of it either. Each player essentially could be his own group within the party, and as it worked out that wasn’t so much an issue, but I could see that maybe getting to be onerous if a player became obstinate about plans he or she wasn’t willing to go along with.

The first encounter involved only two of our characters, Bill’s stupid elf (INT 4), and Chris’ human weaver, and they fought an orc to the death as they scouted a route around a skull shaped hill. Dan pointed out that all of the back and forth and single points of damage inflicted by all three combatants was more like an episode of Xena: Warrior Princess, or Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules than a proper gritty combat. The orc killed the weaver and tried to flee, and the elf gave chase, missed on the charge and was also slain by the orc, who at that point had only 1 hit point left (after a full turn of hits and misses). No one else saw the orc, and the remainder of the group was forced to assume that the trees and bludgeoned to death those slain. Though unsuccessful, I think everyone enjoyed the combat.

Personally, I think that’s what sells this game for me: how much fun it is, even when I’m not directly involved. There is a lot of tension in combat, so much so that the bad outcome of a fight could mean that those not directly involved will have to get involved, and that the width of a tunnel is key in effectively nullifying the advantage a zero level party has in numbers. Old Dale cast his first spell fighting a chained dire wolf, Magic Shield, which caused members of his party to believe he’d become possessed (esp. since his manifestation of the shield was a black tear in reality and his face took on the terrible visage). The role playing here was pretty good considering how many personalities could have been at play, and each player had a good grasp on what each would or wouldn’t do. The greater number of players really helped with some of the nebulous moral gray areas, since the lawful guys could take a back seat while the neutral or chaotic ones could do what they felt needed doing. Which, for what I’m used to experiencing with 3rd edition, is something of a revelation. It might be the group I played with, the Chaotic Evil Drow Ninja Assassins, but it was nice to have folks worry less about what was good or evil and what was lawful or not. It made the moral arguments a lot easier to conclude satisfactorily for everyone.

I’ve got more to say, but I have to work, so I’ll post part 2 soooooooon!


Last edited by jferngler on Sun Jul 24, 2011 2:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Second Playtest (with actual people!) Part 2
PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 12:22 pm 
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The death rate was high. Bill and Chris lost characters right away fighting the orc, and as their first exposure to the system that's probably appropriate. Following that combat, despite the comedy, there was a lot more caution at play. Favorite characters stayed a little further back, and the less liked became trap-springers, essentially. The way Bob ran the encounters though, no one was safe. His wolf dodged back and forth, Dan's halfling rolled around behind it, and Chris lost what he considered his best character after that character scored a max damage hit on the wolf. As I posted above, the wizard cast his first spell, just barely, and the effect of the manifestation I described his terrible visage as an unnatural lengthening, and the tear in reality for the Magic Shield itself, for a puny plus two to AC made for some chuckles at the table. The wolf died mid spring, a pitchfork deep in its neck, hurriedly picked up from another dead party member.

I want to mention something that I thought was a good idea: In the first session, before this one, where the wizard was still only a parsnip farmer with a mule, the party had a squire in it with a longsword. Several different party members called dibs on the sword in the event of the squire's death, and eventually it ended up in the future wizard's hands. Between sessions I said that the wizard named his sword, something I picked up from Bernard Cornwell's Saxon-Dane novels, and the name he picked is "Knifelonger." I think this might be a nice organic way to introduce magic-esque weapons, since as you get better with a particular weapon, maybe you know it well enough to get a bonus to hit, a nominal, and purely personal, plus one. And this would be across all classes. You find a rad ancient sword, as happens later in this adventure, hang on to it and give it a name and it's something special to the character.

Anyway, farther up the trail is a log trap that kills five plus, summons the ogre we've been sent to slay, and a wild melee breaks out over the logs and corpses of our recent friends. Flaming oil bottles are misthrown (and Bob has them land randomly). The wizard and his retinue throw fire bombs until they kill one of Dan's guys in melee with the ogre, then decide maybe it's time to pull back. the ogre is one-shotting characters, one a round, and it's a blood bath. Bill's last halfling takes one of the wizard's firebombs and sets the ogre ablaze with it, finally (4 bombs later), and the ogre flees deeper into the cave after killing yet another party member. We started the adventure with 25 characters, and after this fight, only 9 are alive. There's a lively discussion about heading back to town or finishing the fight, but after a turn or two, the party gives chase.

In a large room with a curtained and open secret door, the party decides that the ogre is probably in the hidden room. Two halfling brothers (Bill and Chris') decide to check it out. They barely get in the door before Bill's halfling is slain by a javelin, and the other brother books it and the party shuts the door. I remembered that I had ward portal, and I decide to spellburn two points to make sure it goes off, fairly convinced that the secret room is a dead end (that might contain the hostages we're supposed to rescue, but a small price to pay for trapping the ogre and letting him starve). I still fail the roll by three, so I burn luck to get the lowest result, sticking the door at an apparently permanent DC30 STR check. There is no mention of a duration, the door's just stuck, and pretty damn well, too, since the ogre apparently can't break it down. We loot the room, another room, and our friends then return to town.

From 25 to 8 in about 3 hours. Not bad. We made Bob attach a kill counter to the outside of his DM screen and ticked the deaths off as we went. With the 8 or so from the previous session, the sheet was looking mighty grim.

(But wait, there's more (Part 3 soon(-ish!)))


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 Post subject: Re: Second Playtest (with actual people!) Part 1
PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2011 5:20 pm 
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Location: In a galaxy far, far, away (Missouri)
Wonderful reports!

I really love DCC #0 a lot. DMed it myself using Castles & Crusades. It is much fun.


Last edited by JediOre on Sat Jul 16, 2011 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Second Playtest (with actual people!) Part 3
PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 11:55 pm 
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The survivors gathered up the loot and headed back to town, and once there leveled up. Two halflings, two dwarves, a warrior, a cleric, and a thief joined the wizard as real adventurers. Bill, who'd lost all of his characters to the ogre, had four new zeros ready to go, but had to leave. The group filled out to about 16-18 total, and about a week later returned to the cave to see what was what.

With nothing to report on the interior of the cave, the group climbed around back looking for a chimney or something we'd seen in the ogre's presumptive bedchamber. We found a rock-clogged tunnel filled with firebeetles who roasted two of the new party members before one beetle was chopped to death by a greatsword wielding warrior on a charge. We had such terrible luck with the dice in the first half of the adventure that the only thing the group was rolling well on, sometimes, was initiative. Low to-hits and minimum damage were all we had for the few hours before we leveled and started getting regular hits. At least that's how it seemed to us then and probably moreso now in the late retelling.

Having leveled and gained at least a few more hp made the party a lot more willing to make risky moves. We chased the fire bugs deeper into the tunnel which morphed into tunnels and then into an ancient crypt. The wiz worked knock on the door to the tomb when the thief failed at picking the lock, and since treasure was evident on the other side, and figuring that death was looming close by, the whole group strutted in and desecrated the crap out of the tomb. What more could a body want than ancient swords and glaives holding up a pile of human bones, a sarcophagus that appeared untouched? We laughed as players while our greedy characters moved in for the too-obvious loot. We laughed as they pried the lid off he sarcophagus and a paralytic claw shot out and incapacitated one of the new guys.

The ghoul in the box didn't stand a chance. The initiatives for the party were high and his dismally low, so one of the halflings crit his leg, my STR 5 dwarf charged with an MDoA to knock the thing down in the sarcophagus and also crit with a warhammer, and my warrior chopped the thing's head right off where it had been laying for God knows how long. Potentially the most deadly encounter of the night became one of the cakewalks. The warrior who killed the ghoul with the ancient two hander pulled from the bone pile named it "Kingslayer" immediately. My dwarf who'd scored the crit and knocked the beast down took it's cold iron longsword as his own. No one even died on the encounter.

So the party pressed on, into a room full of stalactites and a pool, where firebugs wandered without being aggressive, until a new guy splashed some water on one and was cooked for his trouble. Then the fight was on. No one had wanted to go into the rock pool room, so 15 characters were jammed up at the entrance, easy targets. Bob rolled randomly for targets, hit the wizard who, of course, only had 3 hit points. Down goes Old Dale. Some more of the zeros fell as well, but at the end of the fight, only the wiz had gone down for the count among the real players. I rolled a 2 for my luck check. I begged the halfling to help me but he didn't have much luck to spare. The cleric, having been casting his heals willy-nilly on the zeros, had a -5 to his spellcheck roll, decides he's going to call Cthulu up and beg for the wizard's life. He burns all of his luck to do it after he fails hard on the roll before he adds his negative mod. Cthulu kind of hand waves and Old Dale wakes up. Both he and the cleric owe the Great Old One big time.

And that's where we left it, until next week I think, at the earliest.


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