So, I was running another Encounter Critical III playtest in the RPG's home world of Cha'alt. Not going to bother linking the Kickstarter campaign because it's ending in about 30 minutes (as I type this first draft).
A little over $2,600... not too bad. Should be able to afford some cool artwork for that much, plus pay my layout guy.
As per usual, when I'm not running sessions over the weekend or at night, I only managed to get 2 players. But that's ok. 2 players gets the job done. One was a returning dude (whose game I respect), the other was a relative noob.
Got to introduce new character classes this playtest, so that was exciting. The choices I offered were: warrior, pioneer, criminal, warlock, doxy, and psi-witch (or psi-knight). Now, it's starting to feel a little bit more like Encounter Critical!
Still has a way to go, obviously. I'd say I'm about 65% finished with it. Next playtest will involve new races!
Anyways, one player took on the role of warlock, and the other a pioneer. Both chose human as the race to make things easier, and for the extra hit-points.
I'm really glad someone played a warlock because the magic system was an area that needed playtesting. I had this whole d6 dice pool thing going, kind of a riff on earlier versions of Crimson Dragon Slayer. But then decided against it. Too much fiddling around.
Instead, magic works like any other class ability - it's a skill check with a 15 target number, but you also get to add your level. Still pretty tough to do anything at lower level, which is why PCs need to accumulate Divine Favor... and you get that from roleplaying your character, primarily.
Speaking of which, I eased up a bit on backgrounds. That's a lot of coming up with stuff and writing for such a short game. While I mentioned that they might want to think about a drive, look, flaw, obsession, relationship, and other noteworthy things + personality quirks, I didn't mandate it. I also took the time (twice) to tell players that they'd be rewarded with Divine Favor for roleplaying their backgrounds, and that Divine Favor could be spent to re-roll any die (has to be their own die, though).
The returning player made great use of what he was told / given, bringing details about his character to life with social interaction, personal thoughts, and action. It may not seem like much, but stuff like that is one of the more rewarding things about RPGs in my opinion. That's why I made it a design goal up-front.
So what happened? Damn, it was a wild time! The PCs were prisoners, abandoned with a dead cellmate because the city of A'agrybah was engaged in a bloody civil war - blue versus green (if you've seen The Tomorrow People, then you know what that's about).
But something found in the dead man's pocket made it just that much more special. Recently, our twin boys have been watching Fairly Odd Parents on netflix, which means that I've also been watching Fairly Odd Parents. Could have been much worse, BTW. And those pink and green fairies gave me an idea...
What if I incorporated them into my game, but Cha'altified, of course? Inside a small leather pouch were two smooth, shiny stones... one fuchsia, the other chartreuse. Tapping them together released wisps of vapor those same hues. They coalesced into a pair of tentacled entities - chartreuse and fuchsia. They didn't speak the common tongue, but the party's warlock, Shernoz, cast a spell that made them intelligible.
But not before the PCs asked the vaporous entities to open the cell door and deactivate the anti-magic sphere preventing Shernoz from casting spells. Two wishes gone, it turned out. Only one wish left today. But why would their third cellmate, who recently died, not have summoned these colorful, tentacled genies when he was alive?
Because they're psychotic cenobites, of course... probably from some Quor'toth-like dimension. Officially, I'll be referring to them as zenobites or quorta'athians. They are extradimensional demons who get off on pushing humanoids to the extremes of pain and pleasure. When they're not granting wishes, they orchestrate mass murder, torture, rape, slavery, and other wickedness.
These entities could also talk to each other, as well as the PCs, so they added to the roleplaying immersion.
There was another whole subplot when a demon (traditional, this time) clawed his way out of Hell to make a deal with the warlock who failed his spell-check and was about to get killed by civil war guerillas. The demon wanted those mystical fuchsia and chartreuse stones for himself. I really thought the warlock would have gone along with the demon's offer since the true nature of their guardian demon genies had already been revealed.
But nope, the demon got nothing and when he unfroze time, Shernoz wished the chartreuse and fuchsia entities to send them far away. Seconds from being stabbed in the abdomen by a "green", Shernoz and Snare suddenly appeared in the open desert.
By then, we'd gone over our 90-minute allotment by about 6 or 7 minutes, so we said our goodbyes. Both players told me how much they enjoyed the game, which made my day.
Rest assured, I'll be using those colorful tentacled entities again. Oh yeah, I came up with names for them... Yazka'an and Dvorek. Maybe I can get one of those A.I. art making programs to illustrate them?
Ok, that's the end. Thanks for reading! Hopefully, I'll see some of you next weekend at Game Hole Con. I'm sure Yazka'an and Dvorek will show up eventually.
Thanks for reading, commenting, and sharing!
p.s. I now have a paid subscription to Midjourney, that program creating A.I. works of art based on user prompts. The 3 images below the first one (Odd Parents) are my first results. Pretty cool so far...