I had a major play test last Friday for my Thornwatch game. It was the first time I tried to run a full adventure rather than just testing combat mechanics. If you’re working on a game of your own I cannot stress enough just how important it is to get it in front of other people. Watching how my friends played it showed me right away what parts were working and what parts needed help.
The Thornwatch setting is designed to provide quick focused adventures similar to a television episode. They start with the Thornwatch group being summoned by someone in need. On Friday the night began with the following:
The Forest has alerted you to a call of distress. You move swiftly and silently through the Eyrewood, letting it guide you to your destination. When you arrive the scene is not a surprise to you.
You see a white barked Birch tree striped with black bands. The Birch Tree being the Symbol of Long honored traditions is the first part of the spell that brought you here. The second part is wrapped around the tree’s trunk. A wreath of thorns has been tied there in the fashion described by the old poems.The barbed wreath symbolising pain and sacrifice completes the spell and draws the Thornwatch (and binds them to the task). This wreath is tied in a Crow’s Loop knot telling you something needs guarding.
Huddled at the base of the tree cradling his bloody hands in his lap is a dirty middle aged man in filthy farmers coveralls. He is sobbing quietly and has not noticed your arrival.
Besides injecting some RP into the night I also added a new fifth class and tried some new mechanics that allowed players to help each other by augmenting each other’s attacks. So it was a big test for the game and it went great.
I cooked up the Thornwatch setting last week and since then Tycho has helped me flesh it out. I love being able to say to him “how should people summon the Thornwatch?” and then get a description of this amazing ritual complete with poems. Friday was the first time I dropped players into the setting and they fell right into their characters.
The combat mechanics are feeling super good and I’m really just tuning stuff right now. With that locked down I feel like I can move onto the other parts of the game that need work. Progression, equipment, and character creation are next on my list. I wanted to focus on the basics like “how do characters fight monsters”. Now that I’ve got that down I’m ready to start building out these other concepts.
Thanks to everyone who keeps mailing me about the game. I’ve had a lot of offers to test the game and I appreciate that. At some point I’ll need to get it in front of people outside my circle. The fact is I’ve got a pretty amazing circle though. Just inside the PA office I have access to lifetime gamers, game designers, artists, writers, math wizards, and true tabletop pros. Everytime I take this game into the conference room I get a ton of great feedback.
With that said I am anxious to get it in front of you guys. I want to run it for other people but I also want to watch someone else run it. I’m very curious to watch a group play the game without me pushing my way in and explaining shit. I can see organizing something at Card Kingdom in one of their awesome gaming rooms. As that sort of test gets closer I’ll let you all know. In the meantime I’ve got a character creation system to build!