Saturday, September 20, 2008

Playtest Report

Just concluded the first real alpha playtest. We had four players, and the story quickly turned around my character, the ghost of a seven-year-old boy who died on his first vision quest after his baptism in the Mad Valley, so this insane little ghost boy tried to drive the other characters insane, ultimately killed two of them, and in the end managed to destroy the village. A bit of a downer, but a clear moral about the impact of pharmaceuticals in the environment even four hundred years from now (which created the Mad Valley that created my crazy ghost kid).

Overall, it got a pretty positive response. Rough, yes, as you'd expect of an alpha playrest, but we mostly focused on details, rather than the core mechanics of the game. I could hardly ask for better results! A clear story structure asserted itself even without a central GM or preparation, so that seems to go well. What did come up in our post-game discussion:

  • We'll try next time having more of the character decided outside of initiations, possibly even allowing for characters to be half-created before the game starts.

  • The beads and strings turned out to cause a big headache. Next time, we'll try a combination of a paper character sheet and poker chips.

  • Does the game rely too much on interpretation? Does that make it too much of a burden to play? I think that poses the main question for the playtests as we go forward. Tonight, it worked out just fine, but we'll need a lot more testing before I'd feel comfortable giving a solid answer to that question.

We've found two more local playtesters, and I'll experiment this week with MapTool to see if it might provide a useful platform for an online playtest, since I have a far longer list of playtesters who could play online over Skype.

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