Easthampton Playtest

2008 Apr 14

Last night, I participated in the second playtest of Shreyas’ Mist Robed Gate out in Easthampton. It was ridiculously fun, though the version of the rules we used has been updated a fair bit since the draft I just linked, including new guidelines for action sequences. Meg also blogged about the game over on Fair Game, where she gives even more details.

We decide we wanted to play a space western on a Mars that had been partially terraformed by the People’s Republic of China. The characters were all delicious, from Meg’s heart-of-gold prostitute to Kat’s saloon owner to Kelly’s monastic cult leader to Elizabeth’s bounty hunter and so many more (it was a huge game with 11 players). I played the head of the local section of the People’s Armed Police, trying to keep order and suppress independent social organizations (like Kelly’s secret religious order) and Taiwanese spies (including Shreyas’ character).

The new action sequence rules are an interesting mixture of randomness and consensus. Elizabeth described it as a “rigged election.” The two sides involved in a conflict take turns narrating actions and, during the conflict, each of the other players secretly votes for which side they want to win by putting an appropriately colored counter in a bag. Then, when everyone has voted, one of the counters is drawn out to determine the winner. The two sides of the conflict can also add in extra stones of their color by bringing in special descriptive traits. (Elizabeth also mentioned that each party in the conflict is also allowed to vote for or against their own side, but we didn’t really follow through with this in practice and it seems much less important and interesting. Better that the fighters can only gain tokens by bringing in traits.)

With so many players, we only got about halfway through the game, which is a shame because it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to get everyone together to finish it, but the action was very compelling.

Interestingly, the game is extremely rules light, such that the complete rules of the game could be fit on about 5-6 pages of text. Also, as Dev mentioned on the way home, it would be dead-easy to distribute the game as a practice. Dev has never read the rules of the game, but, after only playing it once, he feels like he could run it for SGBoston, with only a one-sheet rules summary to use as a reference. Perhaps we can convince Shreyas to distribute it as a series of short-stories that serve as examples of play…?

6 Responses to “Easthampton Playtest”

  1. I should clarify, I have read the game, and that helped. Still, I agree that the game should be quite translatable that way.

  2. Meguey Says:

    I found it pretty easy to understand in play even with just spotty explanation before play.

  3. Evan Torner Says:

    There is still hope that we will reconvene – we just need to trust the cosmos to give us a date within the next couple months that’ll work for everybody. I may even go so far as to volunteer my and Kat’s apartment, seeing as Shreyas’ living situation will shift shortly.

  4. ScottM Says:

    It sounds like a great experience so far– hopefully more play and writing will only make it even cooler.

  5. Indeed. I feel like the game is complete enough that I’m already waffling over whether to run it exactly as Shreyas wants, to help him playtest, or to go ahead and tweak it slightly to better suit the play group I’m going to be running it for, like you do with “finished” games, where the focus is on the having fun and not the trying things out.

  6. […] at Summerbird. Then, Meg and I posted about the second, 11-person playtest in our respective blogs (Thou and One, Fair […]

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