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Awesome Con 2018 Playtest Feedback


(Photo by Duffy Austin)

This past Saturday I was lucky enough to run some playtests at Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. in the dedicated tabletop room, and wanted to go over how the playtests went and the feedback I received.

There were two playtests in the afternoon, each with two players. The first participants were a young man and an older gentleman, and the second group was an adult man and woman. everyone had prior experience with RPGs and were familiar with tokusatsu on a basic level. I recruited them by walking up to them as they were looking around and asking if they were interested in testing out my game. Each session took about two hours.

WHAT'S NEW?

Not much difference between this playtest and the last at the Big Frederick Gaming Convention, other than adding more detailed explanations of the rules associated with Powers.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Saw-Tooth, one of the pregenerated player
characters for this playtest. They're a werebeaver
(Art by Duffy Austin)

I ran a scenario where players had to investigate a haunting, putting more emphasis on investigations, interactions, and altogether actions outside of combat. This way, players were able to build experience that they could use to Advance their characters during the session.

Players were quick to test the boundaries of the game system, trying to find creative, non-conflict resolutions for problems. This included creative uses of their Vectors to investigate areas where hauntings occurred, questioning witnesses, and searching for clues. Players were even able to bypass an entire set piece fight by talking with their opponent.

All players in both groups managed to Advance, choosing to do so during the game session, resulting in them having to roll on a table to determine what their Advancement was. All players raised a Vector as a result. This is compared to the alternate method of Advancement, where players can wait till the end of the session, then choose an Advancement of their choice; raising a Vector or gaining a new Form.

Players did Crash as a result of taking too much damage from their opponent, and I forgot to inform a player that this would cause them to lose their accumulated experience until after they already recovered and Advanced. I'll get more into this in the feedback section below. I also want to note that players didn't use their Archetypes at all during the playtest.

Ultimately, the players defeated their main opponent and ended the scenario by making use of Finishers to perform a final, all-or-nothing attack.

WHAT WAS THE FEEDBACK?

(Photo by Duffy Austin)

VECTORS

To begin, most of the feedback was positive, with both groups commenting that they liked the flexibility that the three Vectors afforded them in what actions they could take. They also enjoyed using the Vectors of navigate the scenario without a stated goal. This suggests they have a fair amount of versatility in and out of combat

COMBAT INITIATIVE

I believe I neglected to mention in prior playtests that I have organized combat initiative by having the character who initiated combat have the first turn, and then having their player choose who goes next. The next player does so, and so on until every player has gone at least once, then they can choose who goes next. The players responded well to this, but I am concerned this worked well only because there were few people playing (two in each group) compared to larger groups (six at MAGFest) where it can be difficult to keep track of who has had a turn already.

CRASHING

There was one player who felt that there was no consequence to Crashing, as a result of my forgetting to inform them of their loss of experience from their own Crashing. The other player was quick to point out that the reason they were able to defeat the final opponent was due to their Advancement, so they rescinded their feedback, but I still want to continue to observe players' relationships with the Crashing mechanic because I want to see if this feedback does come up when I consistently tell players they lose experience when their character Crashes.

ARCHETYPES

On that note, players once more did not use Archetypes. this might be because of the aforementioned feelings that Crashing doesn't feel like it has impact or, as one player felt, the rules for them are confusing. I want to run tests with long-form groups to see if this remains consistent, as there is a chance that it could just be because everything shown to these players was new to them. A group that is repeatedly exposed to the system and terminology might be able to better navigate it.

TERMINOLOGY

There was also the bit of feedback that terminology was a bit confusing for one player, which is understandable because, as mentioned, this is a new game for the players. I need to work on explaining terminology to players at the top of play sessions to ensure this issues doesn't arise for them.

WHAT'S NEXT?

My next playtest is scheduled for Saturday, April 7 at JohnCon, the sci-fi/fantasy and gaming convention at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. For this session, I want to largely keep the system the same, save for a few minor adjustments.

ARCHETYPES AND EXPERIENCE

The biggest observation I've made is that players do not make use of Archetypes, either because they don't feel the need to or they don't understand how they work. I think it might be more the former, as players have not seemed too concerned with their Drama during playtests. For this next test, I am changing how experience is earned. It can still be earned by performing non-combat rolls like investigations, but I will allow players to also earn experience based on the number of success that they have from using their Archetypes. I hope this will encourage them to make more use of them.

Archetypes are used to lower a character's or their ally's Drama by acting in a certain way as determined by the character's specific role in the group. This was to simulate how interpersonal relationships in tokusatsu shows help characters grow and thrive. I think it makes sense to incorporate it into experience as well as a means to incentivize players to help one another, since it is easier to be successful in healing allies than yourself.

FINISHERS TWEAKING

The Finisher aspects of Powers are relatively new, and I'm beginning to see some of the ways they can be overpowered, underpowered, or just not useful. I'm going to work on updating them to be more balanced. One thing I noticed for certain is that players can't, and shouldn't, be able to use stat-raising Traits to enhance Finishers.

EXPANDING POWERS

Afterwards, I want to expand the number of Powers available to add more customization options. Players have expressed interest in defensive moves they could do to avoid taking damage on enemy turns and I think Powers are a viable option for this. This is further down the line though.

VECTOR USE

This playtest made a lot of use of Vectors for investigation purposes. I want to better codify what Vectors are used for which things, because I felt like I was improvising more than I wanted this time when players wanted to notice if things were out of place, sneak around, and question witnesses.

WEBSITE GLOSSARY

I want to update this website with a glossary page for a number of the terms. I feel like the About page doesn't do enough currently, and would be helpful for visitors to be able to decipher my gameplay terms.

FOLLOWING THIS NEXT PLAYTEST

I am also interested in performing user experience tests on the character sheets in order to see if they are readable without my explanations.

Comments

  1. It was a lot of fun to participate in your playtest at Awesome Con 2018; thank you for the opportunity.

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