Monday, 21 August 2017

Swift d12 Playtest Report

Last night Mathew Halstead and I did a playtest of the latest Swift d12 Quick Start rules. I played Big Brak and he played Krusty Snaggletooth, and we ran through the Hot Water One Sheet, converting it on the fly from Savage Worlds to Swift d12. We shared GM duties and rolled for each other's foes in combat, but the focus was on testing the mechanics, so there was also a lot of metagame discussion going on.

Here's a short summary of my thoughts:

  • It's extremely quick and easy to convert Savage Worlds adventures to Swift d12, as long as you're fairly familiar with both systems. I can comfortably convert adventures on the fly without writing anything down in advance.
  • Extended actions with complications do a great job of simulating SW Dramatic Tasks, and the ability to invoke Flaws and knick-knacks really helps the narrative. When fleeing the inferno Big Brak decided to move his eyepatch to cover his healthy eye (invoking his One Eye flaw) and charged blindly into the fire (failure on a complication), getting badly burned. The next round I invoked the eyepatch, turning failure into a critical success, as the eyepatch protected his eye from the smoke!
  • We used the new Shenanigans setting rule, and it worked out great. Our gang members got up to all sorts of mischief, and it really felt like they were part of the story.
  • The new damage system felt faster and smoother, I'm very happy with it, however I'd still like to playtest it some more.
  • The new rules for invoking gear worked very well, however it adds complexity when gang members start doing it. One of Mathew's goblins snapped a bow string, while two others broke their spears, and we then needed to track how the individual gang members were armed. It also makes Mooks much more dangerous if they can invoke weapons.
  • The attack rolls still feel clunky, and I think it's the modifier for the foe's Agility that does it, where you're effectively flipping their Agility bonus into a penalty to your own attack (or flipping their Agility penalty into a bonus to your own attack).

The obvious solution to the attack roll problem would be to create a "defense" value (7+Agility), but I've been trying to avoid doing that, as it felt out of place. I prefer to either have the target number change or have a modifier to the roll, but not both - I think it's easier for players to remember that they always need 7+ to succeed.

However in the next playtest I think I will try it anyway: For opposed rolls (which includes attack rolls), the target's ability is added to the target number (i.e., 7) instead of being applied as a penalty to the roll. There would then be an implied passive "Defense" stat for each ability equal to 7+ability, with a critical success threshold of 13+ability.

So if you attacked a villager you'd need to roll 6+ to hit or 12+ for a critical (instead of applying an extra +1 bonus to your attack), while attacking a veteran soldier would require an 8+ to hit or 14+ for a critical (instead of applying a -1 penalty to your attack).

This probably seems like a minor detail (particularly if you've not played Swift d12), but I think it will make the attack rolls faster to resolve, particularly if the foe's Defense values are written down in advance.