Wednesday, 21 December 2016

SWIFT-d12: First Goblin Playtest

Yesterday I had the opportunity to run my first playtest for SWIFT-d12, using an early draft of the rules along with the newly converted archetypes for Saga of the Goblin Horde. I ran it for the same group I usually play Sundered Skies with (giving our regular GM the chance to play for a change!), so there were five players in total.

Manuel and Heike resumed their usual roles as Maeson Crispyface the goblin pyromancer and Izzy Toecutter the goblin scout, while Daniel played Skally Finback the river goblin, Babsi played Krusty Snaggletooth the gremlin saboteur, and Claudia played Amalia Bloodylocks the goblin princess.

As it's nearly Christmas I decided to run Sanguine Solstace (with Sleigh Heist on standby, should we finished early). We started at 7pm, but probably spent at least half an hour talking about the setting and the new system, and finished at around 11pm, so it was fairly comparable with the typical 3-hour adventures I ran using Savage Worlds.

As with all of my SotGH One Sheets, Sanguine Solstace is split into five scenes.

Fireside Tales

This scene normally uses the Savage Worlds Interlude rules. I don't have Interlude rules in SWIFT-d12, but it was easy enough to ask the players to spin a short tale in return for a Karma Point. The SW goblin archetypes have a background suggestion for each of the four Interlude categories (Tragedy, Victory, Love and Desire).

The SWIFT-d12 archetypes don't have the category names, but they still include four background suggestions each, so the only real difference was that the players didn't need to draw and consult a card - they just chose (or made up) any story they liked. So overall I'd say this scene worked just as well with SWIFT-d12 as it does in SW.

Home Invasion

This scene is normally handled as a Stealth-based Dramatic Task. Although SWIFT-d12 does have extended ability checks which can work in a similar way, I wanted to make this scene a bit more interesting, so I prepared ten cards before the adventure. Each card described a particular foe who might raise the alarm (guards at the gate, a couple of young lovers on a rooftop, an old drunk staggering through the village, etc) along with two different sets of mechanics for dealing with them.

The goblin bosses first scouted out the dangers, with each player making a Perception check. On a success they drew one card, while on a double success they drew two cards. I asked the players to describe to each other in-character what they'd found, then afterwards they could discuss the cards out-of-character, and exchange cards if they wished. The goblin princess ended up with two cards, while the other characters had one card each.

The players then took turns going through their cards, choosing which of the two mechanics they wished to use to resolve the card, describing their actions, and making their ability checks. Everyone (except the goblin princess, who already had two cards) then had to draw a second card, representing a danger they'd failed to spot earlier; their ability checks for these cards were made at -2.

Fortunately the characters were able to overcome all of the dangers without anyone raising the alarm, and everyone really got into the spirit of the setting, with some hilarious over-the-top antics. The river goblin terrorized the docks, the goblin princess rolled the lovers off the roof, the goblin scout leapt from the watchtower onto the heads of two guards, and so on.

The card-based mechanic took a lot longer than a Dramatic Task (or extended ability check), but I think it was worth it.

Wrecking Crew

This scene allows each player to choose one of eight different options, sabotaging the village before the humans realize what's going on, and I actually ran it in pretty much the same way as the original One Sheet. Maeson set the tavern on fire killing everyone inside, Izzy found a sniping spot and lay in wait, Skally trashed the boats at the dock, Krusty knocked out the lanterns illuminating the village square, and Amalia tossed the heavy bar off the gate and kicked it wide open so that the goblin gang members could enter the village and join the fight.

Yuletide Massacre

The main combat encounter involved 5 PC goblin bosses and their 20 allied gang members facing off against 6 guards and 20 villagers. The new initiative system worked okay, but could probably use some tweaking. The combat itself was just as fast as Savage Worlds, and I was rather pleased with the wound system - the enemy Champion (comparable with a Wild Card) took quite a beating, but the lack of Soak rolls made it feel as if every blow mattered (as opposed to a lucky Soak roll undoing a player's action for the turn). The goblin princess also took a nasty blow, the sort of lucky damage roll that would usually put a SW character out of the fight, but it proved far less crippling in SWIFT-d12.

Maeson also made use of the magic system, tearing up the enemies with blasts of fire. Although the magic system is semi-freeform, it still proved very quick and easy to use. I can see some potential for abuse though, and will probably tweak it a bit - I've already started bouncing ideas off Manual.

Mopping Up

The final scene used my new chase rules, and although it wasn't a disaster, it didn't work as well as I'd hoped. I think this was mainly due to two factors. Firstly, the chase system had been designed with one fleeing character in mind, while in this case there were several fleeing villagers. Secondly, the villagers were Mooks (similar to Extras in SW), and simply weren't competent enough to have any reasonable chance of escaping the PCs.

Summary

For a first test-run I think it went well, and everyone seemed to have fun. The players got to grips with the mechanics quite quickly, and although we forgot things a few times, I'm sure we'll get better with practice. Hopefully everyone will be up for another playtest in the future!