Friday, July 23, 2010

Fourth Playtest

By now people are getting pretty comfortable with the rules and how to use them. Aspects are seeing regular use, though while I've compelled a few myself the players still seem reticent to do so themselves. Someone did ask if they could spend their edge to activate someone else's aspect, and while I ruled no for the moment, it does have me thinking about developing some team mechanics that would allow them to contribute to and use some sort of shared resource.

I've got a couple of examples of this from other games I can draw on for inspiration. I really like the Warhammer 3e idea of giving the party as a whole its own sheet and resources, and during the brief time I ran Shadowrun using Feng Shui rules I threw group shticks into the mix, and they were pretty popular. It's something to think about, but I've got nothing solid yet.

Healing is humming along smoothly, and I'm very glad to see that while magical healing is quite potent at aiding in the recovery of acute injury, it's a poor substitute for medical treatment when you're dealing with a large number of wounds. And injuries give our resident medic something to do in providing acute care as well.

We saw use of vehicles, stunts, and sorcery. Combat chugged along with good speed and flexibility. Injuries are seeing more use now, especially when a heavy hit slams home, and they're holding up in the face of increased use. I tagged a number of injuries during the game and got myself a hefty serving of bonus dice, but this in turn gave my players more edge to burn on their aspects. The players are also getting comfortable with the idea of folding knacks into one another and using them to do far more than basic "I shoot" actions in combat, which has done wonders for the pacing of fights.

At one point the party had a midnight meeting with someone to receive some information. They pulled up alongside his car and began to exchange words through open windows when suddenly a massive bug spirit materialized in between the two vehicles and began to rend the informant's car. The sam and the mage jumped out of the car and leaped into combat, but the two adepts opted to try some acrobatic maneuvers through the combat and get into their informant's car to drive it, and him, away. Was there a rule for that? No, not specifically, but inside of a couple of seconds we got a knack combination that handled it, rolled some dice, and moved along.

That brings us to spirits, which saw their debut in this session. I was looking forward to this because so far human opposition was feeling a little light. Granted, I rarely put highly advanced opposition in front of the team in any significant numbers, but spirits offered the opportunity for uniquely resilient opponents without resorting to cybermancy or military armor (which the players would of course want to scrounge). How'd it work? Beautifully.

Spirit combat played out exactly as I'd hoped. Immunity to normal weapons put a real wrinkle in the team's standard battle tactics, and they'd burned several rounds of autofire and wrecked one car before they figured it out. Once the team resorted to melee, however, the system bore out just as well. Melee was a viable, if not optimal, option for some, while the mage continued to be the heavy hitter (and the one who drew a lot of the spirit's ire). In the end, they left the scene victorious by their own merit, but certainly bloody from the encounter (wounds all around and two deadly injuries). I'd call that a good fight.

Finally, we got another crack at hacking. For this session I made one more go at creating a character for the face/adept/rigger/hacker, which still proved difficult because he had so many areas of expertise, and I'd designed the system to promote specialization. What this meant was that some key knacks had to take a lower rating because there were only so many slots available. This turned out to be a silver lining, however, because a lower knack rating allowed us to explore the full implications of how program ratings work. For some of his hacking actions, the programs didn't modify his roll at all (he had high ranked programs and an equally high hacking knack). For other actions, however, the program roll gave him a boost, since his knack rating came in low. Seeing how the software could provide a boost if you're low, not just a penalty if you're high gave the player a bigger, more complete picture, and he signed off on the system as good and satisfactory. Finally, it looks like we can lay this to rest.

All in all, it looks like we're done with the gross issues now and have moved into fine tuning. The general satisfaction level remains high, which is a great place to be after only a handful of sessions. I anticipate a big battle next game (they're headed to the warehouse where Euphoria's being held), which should give us a lot of opportunities to test not only spirit combat some more, but also the chance to see how the combat system holds up with large numbers of opponents. Who knows, maybe they'll actually want to try defensive actions. Maybe.

No comments:

Post a Comment