Yesterday I finally ran the first playtest of Slime Story. For a first run I think it was very encouraging, though it definitely needs more work. The 2d6+Attribute mechanic does seem to work well, and having Fumbles on snake eyes and criticals on double 6s adds an oddly nice random element.
Making character was a bit time-consuming, but basically painless. I think combining a clique and class to get your character worked well, and buying gear was the most time-consuming part. Of course, I haven’t implemented non-Base Talents, which would add another element of choice-paralysis.
I had changed how you handle character ownership from an earlier draft without changing how you initialize character connections to match, and wound up giving each character a flat 2 connection ranks to assign as desired. That was still kind of time-consuming, though I’m not sure that’s avoidable apart from changing where that element fits into the session.
The encounter rules seem to work well overall, and from here on out it’ll be a matter of refining rather than rewriting. The abstract range system and the system of actions and attacks and such seem to have worked pretty well, but with a group of 5 hunters the monsters were never much of a threat. They fought a bunch of squishies, then two salamanders, then a mixed group of two shadow dogs and three stumpies.
- Suichi’s monster tamer character wound up being at a severe disadvantage. I need to figure out a better metric for selecting pet monsters, and having the tamer and monster have independent initiative slots makes it so the pet monster too often winds up just sitting there. I’m thinking Monster Tamers need a Base Talent to assist their monsters better.
- Monsters die pretty quickly. On the one hand I don’t want combats to drag on, but on the other hand they’re dropping like flies and not having a chance to do much. With their current HP totals there would have to be more of them per encounter or something.
- The only time monsters won a Positioning Check was when the protagonist rolling for the party rolled a fumble (auto-fail). This is partly due to letting PCs Help one another. I’m thinking monsters (and maybe characters in general) will just get a flat bonus for how many they have on their side. Allowing Help on Positioning Checks also means that whoever’s got the second- and third-highest Hunter ratings gets a mark on their connection to whoever has the highest for every single Encounter.
- Consumable attack items suffer the same problem as alchemy items in D&D4e, which is to say that they’re really expensive for a one-shot attack that can miss.
- Having Aura attacks (like the salamander’s fire aura) be a Clash actually makes it easier to hit the monster, which is not at all what I’d intended.
- The Assist action potentially puts you at a disadvantage, especially if you’re dealing with a monster that has a high defense rating.
- Since I used all common monsters, the players never once had to do a Monster Knowledge check, which in turn made the Geek character’s Monster Encyclopedia talent irrelevant.
Interludes, which are meant to carry the lion’s share of the role-playing, were probably the weakest part of the game. Some of that came from the fact that we had too many secondary characters that weren’t particularly involved in monster hunting, plus I think I as the GM wasn’t trying hard enough to drive the role-playing oriented elements. I’m not sure what exactly needs to happen with this part of the game. We weren’t in fact playing it quite how the rulebook suggests, but then it wasn’t a difficult mistake to make.
Some of it is that I need to try to as the GM to do more RP-oriented stuff with the existing rules, but I’m thinking it might also be a good idea to put something in the rules to push towards role-playing. I really have no idea what that would be though.
On the whole a good start, but I’ve got a fair amount of writing, revising, and brainstorming to do before I do another serious playtest. There were also a fair number of elements we didn’t touch on, including achievements and social conflicts, so we’ll have to see where those go next time.