Archive for May 27th, 2008

Playtest Lessons

2008 May 27

Played Black & Gaunt last week at SGBoston. It was pretty fun for all involved, but the system didn’t quite support us as much as I’d like. I really wanted to evoke that zombie movie effect where the main characters are herded into an increasingly smaller space by a growing army of the dead, and that just doesn’t happen with the rules currently.

Talking with Eric and April over falafel afterwards, one of them suggested that it would make a lot more sense if the zombies could actually occupy an increasing amount of territory on the board. So you’d have an increasing number of zombie tokens that would grow and mark out locations that the zombies had taken over. Characters in those locations would be guaranteed to be attacked, but characters could avoid the zombies by sticking to unoccupied locations (where they would presumably still be fighting amongst themselves).

Another thing I wanted was for the major locations in the game to be further subdivided into smaller locations to do the “room by room” affect that happens with zombies and even in the Aliens movies. So, on the new map that I just worked up, the major locations also have blown-up outlines for you to draw individual rooms on and add basements and subbasements. Once it matters, then, where particular individuals are within a specific location, you subdivide that location on a zoomed in map. This may be something worth porting back to Geiger Counter in general.

Not 100% sure this is how I want the map to go, but it’s a step in the right direction:

Nathan and Paul Weigh In

2008 May 27

Local recluse Nathan Paoletta has weighed in on one of the major issues current occupying indie roleplaying’s awkward adolescence: dealing with how mechanics actually get implemented in play, instead of narrowly looking at how they might work in an abstract, ideal case. Folks have brought this up before, but this seems to be a popular topic recently.

Nathan’s comments remind me of what Paul Tevis was saying over on Cultures of Play, that he was slowly coming to realize that there’s a number of things that we like about roleplaying that can’t (or maybe just shouldn’t) be the focus of mechanics. This relates to earlier conversations about the “fruitful void” a bit, but is also the sign of something new. It’ll be interesting to watch how different people choose to react to this growing concern, both in play and in publishing.