Monday, December 13, 2021

Keep It Simple, Stupid


If you'll remember my last blog post, I advertised another playtest session for the megadungeon I'm currently working on and a couple different initiative systems.

As for the latter, long story short, I prefer the super-simple rules-lighter-than-light version.  Thieves, then Fighters, Opponents, Clerics, and finally Sorcerers.  Every time; no rolling needed.  

We tried both versions and when it came to Roll20's virtual table, rolling for round segments to act on had me scrolling back up the chat box to see who rolled what and where we were at.  It would probably be better in a live game, but who knows when I'll have one of those?

So, from now on, I'm going to stick to TFOCS.

As for the session, I had six players.  That's a lot.  One of the advantages of text only is that everyone can feel rather uninhibited.  Even I occasionally get self-conscious talking to people face-to-face, but typing with the veneer of anonymity behind a computer screen, I'm free to pretty much say whatever the fuck I want... which is nice.

The downside; however, is that players feel emboldened to do whatever they want.  There's little group cohesion.  That's not all bad.  Lack of cohesion is actually pretty realistic.  On the other hand, you've got a couple PCs trying to be quiet and stealth their way through a situation, a couple PCs who just want to walk up to people and start talking, and then a PC or two who may decide they want to go north when the rest of the party tries making their way southwest.  

There's no right or wrong here; just me trying to make sense of what is.

As for the session, it was good, I think, but not stellar.  I was mainly focused on getting into as many combats as we could in 90 minutes.  Apparently, that number was two.

Aside from the combat, the PCs encountered a couple aficionados of bird law (I didn't even ask the players if they got that Always Sunny reference), a really strange scar-like zipper running across a rock wall, and they investigated some memory crystals growing near exotic fruit. 

The party's sorcerer and priest of Asta'aroth, Dal Chat, used a demon survivor to fuel his magic, saving up enough energy to cast a few different spells throughout the session, which was fun to see.  I'd like to come up with something, an energy echo or vengeful spirit of the person being used as a wizard's battery.  Hmm...

Six players kept my hands full, and this was a playtest so I had to keep flipping from Roll20 to my word doc to the map image and back to Roll20 so I could draw the caves and tunnels.  

Regarding my GM mindset, it felt more like a normal Cha'alt session.  Once or twice, I tried to dig a little deeper into my inner darkness, but yeah my tentacles were full.  Next time!

Almost forgot about the pha'at loot the PCs acquired.  They already know about the 618 pieces of gold, the jellybeans (got to use the jellybean flavor random table), but what did they get from the last deluge of demons trying to kill them?  

More gold... 236 pieces, in fact.  The big score was an ivory ring (magical) that removes the wearer's shadow in favor of a chalk outline appearing on the ground where the shadow would normally fall.  And also a small book titled Crimes of Love, a collection of short stories by the Marquis de Sade.  

I'm happy we got to try both initiative systems and there was a clear winner in TFOCS.  This coming week will be focused on finishing and fine-tuning Cremza'amirikza'am.  I'll probably run one more session before Xma'as break and then a couple sessions before the kids go back to school.

That's it, thanks for reading!


p.s. Tickets still available for attending VENGER CON... old-school, OSR, and traditional roleplaying games.  Join us in Madison, WI this summer!


  1. You're right, diceless, class-based initiative makes sense and it's clearly simpler to run, but it feels... unsatisfying, somehow. I like the strategy involved in adapting to a random order of action. This might just be a kneejerk "this is the way we've always done it" response, but it makes combat seem scripted to me, like pro wrestling match. Just my 2 coppers.

    1. I don't disagree. Maybe the pro wrestling match feel could be a feature, rather than a bug?

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