"Oh cool... So you're STILL working on this?" -- A guy at GenCon

"If I see Drah-koo-lah, I will. kick. him. in. the eye!!!" -- My 4 (almost 5) year old daughter. She GETS it!

"Meatpie Forever!" -- A playtester at GenCon 2013

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Level, the First

I ran a group of five willing participants through an adventure with 1st Level Transylvanian Adventures characters. First off, the adventure was a huge death trap for 1st Level characters. I used Raid on Black Goat Wood with some fleshing out in the pre-dungeon phase. I went a little light on the wandering monsters but still…

No characters died.

The party of five 1st level characters killed 3 Satyrs. And successfully navigated a Black Pudding.

And no characters died.

These were 1st Level characters. With no spellcasters.

In a setting with no magical healing.


The characters in the party included:

  • Berthold, the Albino Artist, now a 1st Level Half-Breed
  • Tito, the Outlaw, now a 1st Level Redeemable
  • Sybilla, the Scout, now a 1st Level Exotic
  • Snorri, the Savage, now a 1st Level Charger
  • Buffy, the Vacationer, now a 1st Level Hunter

What Worked

  • Well, making the characters more survivable worked. Too well, in fact. And it wasn't so much the Hit Points changes. It was more the changes around Dying that messed things up. Some changes weren't even used because other changes were so effective.
  • The tables and such for Research worked well. But could use some polish. I mean, when they worked, they worked awesomely. But there were times when it was difficult to figure out how best to use them. Considering that section isn't fully written yet. It was good feedback to have.
  • The Cleavage Rule still rocks. Yes, oh yes, it does.
  • Turning the Unholy. With 100% more Hammer.
  • The Skill Check rule changes also worked well and came up with a surprisingly satisfying frequency. It's like getting your Gumshoe on with your OD&D.
  • Magical healing is absolutely superfluous in TA. So no need for a Cleric-type class. That's good news to me. Because I didn't write one.

What Didn't

  • The classes were flavorful but unexpectedly gimped. A big reason for this was their limited capability, especially when it required a situational context. I thought I was being clever. Instead, I just messed up. The game still played well. People were into their characters. But it felt more Call of Cthulhu when I wanted more Castlevania. I hope that makes sense. It's something I intend to correct.
  • The Fear rules just plain sucked. They were too easy to avoid and when they did come up… Meh? It was just one more thing tacked on to a thing that may not need to be a thing. They were more fun at 0-Level but they need to be more fun at any level, IMO.
  • Some of the rule enhancements around Damage and Dying made characters harder to kill. But also didn't come up a whole lot. I was expecting more… I don't know… fun? Again, the group seemed to enjoy themselves. But I felt some rules left more fun on the table than necessary. Fear and the Damage/Dying rules were the biggest culprits.

What Needs to Change

  • The classes need more cool. I've re-examined my approach to the classes and, well, I was just wrong. It happens.
  • The Fear rules need to be simpler and more present. I'm not going for a Sanity death spiral. But something that injects fun and is always at least a short-term threat.
  • Hit Points, Death, Dying all need to be rethought. I'm not sure whether Hit Points will be completely changed. I actually like them as they are. But the death/dying/damage stuff? It's not simple enough. And there isn't a good point where the existing rules will come up. That needs to change.

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