I ran The Bell’s Toll over the course of two short sessions with my regular gaming group. I have asked them for feedback on The Dee Sanction – and I look forward to getting some good stuff over many future sessions.
Generally, the adventure seemed to work. I think the premise generally works in principle as well. I need to give some consideration to fleshing out a little of the detail and making succinct notes on clues. Short, pithy notes for adventures like this would be perfect, and a necessity for smooth running.
Also, when I turn this into a supplement/book, I think I’ll have a string of random names appearing in the margins or footer. Having these immediately to hand and in full view would be supremely useful for improvisation. You can spot a name, circle it. Make a quick note of the who, how and why. Whatever.
I found myself occasionally stumbling coming up with a flavourful name because I didn’t have the table right in front of me. With this, you could just look down and choose one – or flick to a random page.
One thing that definitely struck me at the end of the game was that it didn’t end with a battle or combat. The wily players managed to pool their professional skills and suggest they could use materials available to concoct something equivalent to tear gas. Taking the improvisational cue of ‘Yes, and…’ as the preferred option, I ran with it.
Why not? In a game that has largely involved investigation and a little drama, why would it end with a fight? In this case, it ended with a bang, some tears and a final gasp to cleanse the dark magic.
For some reason, this felt wrong and right. I could feel the cogs inside my head turning wondering whether a conclusion without a fight would be the right way to go. The adventure did have a conclusion – though again, how conclusive should a procedural investigation be? In the real world, catching the bad guy doesn’t deliver a full stop. He’ll stand trial, and he might yet get off on a technicality, with the assistance of a good lawyer, or through a plea bargaining… something like that.
The team found the culprits, defused the threat, and arrested an extra accomplice for good measure. Shouldn’t that be enough?
Favourite revelation of the night concerned Effect Counters. When you succeed, you turn over a counter. I had 6 – four with a value of 1, two with a value of 2. For whatever reason, the group kept turning over the low value counters, chipping away at the enemy rather than cutting them down with speed and efficiency.
Anyway – someone asked, why isn’t there a counter with a value of 4?
The system is called 214 – where’s the 4?
It made sense. Indeed, adding a seventh counter with a value of 4 means that the Effect Counters match the game system AND drawing a 4 has the same chance as rolling a 7 on 2 six-sided dice. It makes sense – and that 4-value counter becomes a bit of a critical hit option that could sway a challenge in a devastating way.