Thursday night was a good one. Both Josh and Randy were able to come down to the Baranof and I was managed to play-test the most recent iteration of D&D Mine. We also played Dungeon! (1980 edition) which was pretty cool, and the closest contest I can remember having with that particular game.
Huh, might as well provide a little synopsis on it, since I bothered to mention it.
We each selected a different character: Randy took a wizard (with nearly a full spell roll: 11!); Josh selected a superhero, and I went with the True Blue hero. We could tell out of the gate that Josh was going to have a rough time of it when his superhero was roughed up by a giant rat in the first room. Meanwhile, Randy (in his first time playing Dungeon!) went balls-to-the wall, working his wizard like a champ and not being afraid to mix it up, mano-a-mano.
My hero picked up a magic sword in the 2nd level, and made his way downward with a good chunk of change in his pack. Unfortunately, he met his match in the form of an ogre who wounded him (“drop all treasure, place piece at start, lose next turn”), just as he’d crept over the 7500gp mark. This provided Josh with the incentive to give up his struggles in the 4th level and make a beeline for my abandoned hoard, hoping to put his total over the top.
Randy, on the other hand, had cleaned house, finding half his 30,000gp goal in the forms of a huge diamond (10k) and huge sapphire (6k). Counting his loot and realizing the wizard had enough to win, he set off for the entrance, only to get there the hard way by being wounded by a black pudding.
Realizing I had only a very brief reprieve, my hero hurried back towards the 3rd level, despairing a bit when I saw Josh’s superhero was going to get there first. Unfortunately, Josh’s anticipated triumph was short-lived as a chance encounter with a second ogre in the 3rd level storeroom (“just looking for a snack”) led to HIM being wounded as well, dropping his entire trove! Knowing I would have to fight an ogre (sans magic sword) either way, I changed my route to snatch the superhero’s bulging backpack, and finally was able to roll the 9 I needed to slay the beast.
It came down to a footrace: Randy fireballed the pudding and headed straight for the entrance. His route was more direct than mine, but he had to fight his way past a giant he’d left alive on his way down to the loot. Because of that extra stop, my hero was able to squeak out a victory (by one-turn!). Josh, did kill the ogre that had done for my hero (and thus earned himself a magic sword), but unlike Randy and I, his total treasure was far less than that which he needed for victory. As is usual in such cases, this allowed us to heap ridicule upon his head.
After Dungeon! we drank and shot the breeze for awhile (talking mostly about fatherhood and our own childhood relationships with our parents) before figuring out it was after 10:30 and we still had some serious play-testing to get to! Loading up on another pitcher of beer, we managed to get through character generation and the first couple encounters of an adventure I’d whipped up earlier in the afternoon. And amazingly enough, I was able to get some good info/feedback despite the limited time spent on the game.
Chargen was surprisingly fast...like, I blinked with surprise when it was over. Having them add their bonuses for use with die rolls didn't take long (nor did encumbrance and armor calculations or equipment selections). Both players, I think, had fun with it, even alignment and motivation. Note to self: have to make alignment more mechanically relevant, as I've done with motive.
I was pleased one player (Randy) chose a magician subclass, as I was able to see how the retooled (i.e. "non-Vancian") magic system worked. Early verdict? Good (another happy surprise). Also, the spell choices made had a nice range of utility to them (mainly because they're all utility spells). How often do you see a 1st level wizard with read languages (or its equivalent)? Awesome. My nerfed sleep spell worked as intended: useful without being the uber-spell/monster nuke found in other editions...now it's an appropriate 1st level spell.
Rule Zero (MY "rule zero," not the rz found in other games) was in full effect tonight and worked great, though it did necessitate a couple "roll overs" during chargen. No one tried using the "push" mechanic, and I'm not sure if this is due to the fact that our only encounter was an easy one (see below) or that it wasn't well understood. The D6 mechanic worked fine, and the "high roll always = good roll" was much more intuitive than standard Old School D&D. I've got to tip my hat to WotC for that one folks, sorry.
We ran a single combat encounter: two PCs on three "quasi-goblins." The PCs achieved surprise and murdered the hell out of 'em. I wish we'd had a little more time to play as I would have liked to gotten to a larger or tougher (i.e. more complex) encounter. But the new "ironed-out" order of combat worked much better than the crocodile fight of the week before. I'm really liking it.
I also REALLY dig my new HP rules, though I actually screwed up when doing the players' HPs (fighters get bonuses and magicians get penalties and I awarded neither); ah, well...next time.
RE: monster cosmology...um, actually that's a little too much for right now. We'll blog about that later this week. Gotta' run now!