Thursday, 24 August 2017

Swift d12: Two More Playtests

I ran a couple more playtests this week. The first was a Saga of the Goblin Horde playtest with Manuel Sambs and his girlfriend, the second playtest was just Manuel and I, using my notes for modern-day settings.

Goblin Playtest

Although this wasn't a "proper" session, we went through the character creation process, and then I ran Bone of Contention. Character creation was reasonably fast, although the players spent a few minutes browsing through the Flaws and Feats for inspiration, as this was their first time creating characters (previously they'd just used pregens).

Once again we used the Shenanigans setting rule, and the results were hilarious. I will definitely be converting this rule across to Swift d12, so that it doesn't rely on the use of cards.

We tested out the opposed roll concept I proposed after the last playtest (where the opponent's ability is added to the TN instead of being subtracted from the roll as a penalty), and unanimously agreed that we didn't like it. It was confusing, one more thing to keep track of, and it felt particularly clunky when it came to critical successes.

While I still wasn't too happy with the current approach (treating your opponent's ability as a modifier to your own ability check), Manuel's girlfriend said that she found it about as easy as tracking modifiers in Savage Worlds. As she has a lot less experience with Savage Worlds than Manuel and I, we discussed if the main problem might be due to familiarity. Perhaps the Swift d12 system will start to feel more intuitive after a few games.

In the Savage Worlds version of Saga of the Goblin Horde, goblin gang members have Agility d8, which is average for the goblin race. So when I converted them to Swift d12, I gave them Agility +1. The problem is that Agility +1 in Swift d12 also gives the equivalent of a Savage Worlds d8 in all Agility-linked skills (including combat skills). Not only does that make goblin gang members far more competent, it also makes them more complex to track in combat, as they all have +1 to hit, and foes all receive a -1 penalty to hit them. So I think I will reduce their Agility to +0, and consider some smaller advantage to represent goblins being more agile (such as +1 Speed).

Modern Playtest

The second playtest was just myself and Manuel, so we used the Mythic GM Emulator, allowing us both to play. As a pair of independent repo men in an urban setting, we'd decided to take on a little "side job" for a wealthy gentleman, and a few days later he was brutally murdered. It was originally going to be an urban fantasy adventure, an introduction to my Primordial Horrors setting, but the GM Emulator has a habit of throwing curveballs, and this was no exception.

The initial pitch for the adventure involved an occultist and a stolen spellbook, but the former turned out to be the front for a criminal organization, and the latter ended up being a notebook filled with blackmail material, so the supernatural clues were nothing more than a smokescreen for an elaborate con. It wasn't exactly what we'd planned, but it was a pretty good story with a nice showdown at the end (a big fight outside a bar followed a car chase).

In the modern setting characters have devices rather than knick-knacks, and influence instead of gang members (although the appropriate influence can be used to recruit temporary minions, for example if you have underworld contacts, or friends in a street gang). While we did get into a couple of fights, without all the gang members combat moved much faster.

Overall I was very pleased with the feel of the mechanics, they were fast and intuitive, and supported the narrative without getting in the way.