Monday, July 4, 2011

Heroes of Destiny: Fourth Playtest

The last playtest blew a huge hole in the mechanical basis of the game, so I had a lot of work ahead of me to get the game in shape to play again, as prior posts attest. Walking into this game, I wasn't sure how the revisions would go over, so I had the train roll into town and got the players into trouble right away.

Non-combat rules changed very little, so people were fine with just rolling along. Destiny worked a little different, what with 10s counting double, but it didn't come up much. No one defended or endangered dreams this session, so despite the fact that those rules underwent a massive rewrite, there wasn't much testing going on there.

We did see several combats though. That's right, several. The new rules allowed us to engage in multiple altercations and have time left over for not ony more game, but more combat. Needless to say, it went much more smoothly. I found information much easier to track on my end with NPCs reduced to series of target numbers, and not once did a player stop to ask what the hell he was doing.

New recovery rules proved intuitive, and while I still wonder if they make a person a little too tough, hard opposition can still put plenty of hurt on a PC. Players found the entire system far easier to track than the bloodied/bruised system in place previously, so there's a win. I think it bears more watching/testing, but it's a step in the right direction.

Damage, special damage that is, needs some work though. The whole damage = margin thing is cool and it works, but having all weapons provide bonuses to the attack pool isn't translating into harder hits the way I hoped it would, and it puts our spellcasters at something of a disadvantage when compared to gunslingers. I haven't worked out how to make it work instead (players are pushing for a straight damage bonus, but that feels wrong to me for no reason I can articulate), so that's grist for the design mill. The short of it is, there needs to be ways of making special attacks more potent, ideally without adding a while separate damage score to the whole thing.

Which brings us to the other major complaint of the game: potencies suck. Okay, no, they don't suck, but they're not, well, potent enough. The general feeling was that for abilities that cost extra successes to activate, they should have a lot more oomph than they do now. Some of the design suggestions made them into quasi-feat chains ala D&D, which was a real turn off for me. I don't hate D&D, but I want to avoid the design methodology that created that system as much as I can, given the playstyle it engenders and that I've experienced. I want to avoid a power grab system that turns characters into compilations of special abilities. That said, if people aren't feeling their potencies matter much mechanically, that absolutely does need work. Throw that on the pile I guess.

Next up, some possible solutions... I hope.

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