Thursday, August 23, 2012

Do We Really Need to Playtest Old School Shit?

Think about it.  What're we really looking for when we playtest stuff?  Assuming the developer has half a brain, if he says its for 4th level characters, he won't throw in an encounter with Orcus, right?  That's all you really need to have.

Everything else comes down to DM skills. 

Game balance?  Who cares?  Not the OSR types.  We just run the fuck away if its too tough, since the xp comes from gold and not kills anyhow.  If something is totally out of whack, the DM adjusts on the fly anyhow, if he's any good.  This goes back to the special snowflake thinking rampant in newer editions and story games.  "Wahhhhhh... no fair, I died in the first encounter!" 

Fuck you, you pussy.  Back the fuck off from my game table.

Tricks and traps?  So what?  Either they'll figure it out and live, or they won't and they'll die.  Big deal.  Chances are they don't even have a name for their character until they're 5th level anyhow.   Besides, playtesting that with one group just means that group was able to figure it out or not.  As for other groups, their mileage may vary.  If the trap is stupid, the DM should just skip it anyhow.

Reading the DM's room descriptions to players?  Big whoop.  We all wing that as DM's anyhow, regardless of what the boxed text says.

Game breaking exploit type shit?  Hell, if the players figure out a way to make an end run around the encounter, or even the whole module, they get bonus xp from me if I'm DM'ing.  

I guess the ultimate thing to playtest for is to answer the question "Is it fun?"  Fun has little to do with the stats of monsters, game balance, room descriptions, exploitable stuff, or tricks and traps anyhow, and everything to do with the DM skills at improvising when all the shit hits the fan, as well as the chemistry between the DM and the group of players.  That's completely subjective stuff.

So why do we playtest old school shit?  For the word of mouth buzz and promotional marketing type gain I guess, and maybe to stroke the developer's ego.  That's about the only thing I can think of.  It seems unnecessary.






Sunday, August 12, 2012

Geek in Training

Yesterday I was playing Star Wars the Old Republic with my nephew.  He is 7 years old, and better than me at it.  It's a good time, we get on Skype and talk while we kill critters and take their stuff.  Works out well, because it gives his father time to mow the lawn and whatnot, while his 4 yr old triplet brother and sisters take a nap and his mother does mother stuff around the house.

Anyhow, he is an Avengers fanatic, so I told him about the Marvel Superheroes game I played with Zak Smith the night before and how fun it was.  I told him I played the Hulk, and some of the other guys who played with me.  When I got to Dr. Strange he says to me, with absolute total surety and confidence:

Matt:  "Dr. Strange is DC, not Marvel." 

Me:  "Really?  I didn't know that."

Matt:  "Yup.  DC.  Look out for the Imperials over there."

Me:  "Shit."

Me:  "Don't ever say shit Matt."

Matt:  "Mm  hmm."

In the meantime I'm thinking that his father and I are like Ralphie's Dad in the Christmas Story fighting the furnace, and if he says shit we should be happy if that's all he repeats.

So I Googled it today and it turns out Dr. Strange is Marvel.  But goddamn, do I have a geek in training or what?  At age 7 no less.  :)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Joe "Greyhawk Grognard" Bloch Pops his FLAILSNAILS Cherry

I threw together a last minute "Saturday Night Special" session of Castle Zagyg, and to my surprise and pleasure the Greyhawk Grognard joined up for his first FLAILSNAILS game.  He had never even done a G+ hangout before, so it was a true first.  He made up a first level character from his own system, Adventures Dark and Deep, a Mountebank, and he survived!  (Though he nearly died, going below zero by a few hitpoints....there was a debate on whether to use a potion to heal him...(my players are hardcore!)...but a fellow Greyhawk aficionado helped him out.)

I was a bit nervous, because I remember he did a  review on Castle Zagyg, and then did a  massive multi-level expansion to it, so the guy obviously knew his shit when it came to the module. Plus, I usually DM three or four sheets to the wind. It all worked out well though.  He had a good time, as did all the other players, and we were all happy to break in a new guy to our little FLAILSNAILS Club.  Joe actually mentioned that he may want to DM a Game here---perhaps Gamma World!  Hopefully everyone can spam the shit out of him with requests until he gives in and DM's one.  :)

Actually two new guys played tonight!  Scott Acker joined in the game near the tail end and played one of the PC's henchmen and kicked some mighty ass.  He will be rolling up a new character to set loose upon unsuspecting DM's. 

We all had a great time, they got some good xp, and the northern east wall tower has been cleared!  There is now a 2nd level Adventures Dark and Deep Mountebank let loose into the FLAILSNAILS  'verse, so beware!

I usually run this game a couple of Fridays a month at 9:30 EST, if anyone is interested.  Hope to see you there!