Playtesting at Dragonmeet

Statue of Infant Jesus of Prague (copy) with g...

Dragonmeet 2014 at the ILEC Conference Centre saw me running another playtest session of 214. I ran The Dee Sanction setting using a new adventure called “The Holy Wax Infant of Prague“. I had five players and a table in the open gaming area (where I had the opportunity to build my own table).

I think it likely I’ll post more than once about this session as I consider it a little more and have the time to ruminate. For my own part, I had a bigger adventure in mind than I could fit into the time available, so it definitely didn’t feel “whole” to me.

Part of that came down to the confusing arrangements of the gaming area for the event – where for the first half hour I – and other GMs – spent quite a while telling people they’d come to the wrong area. I’m not certain we helped much – as we found out later we’d directed them to the wrong other place.

Anyway – as I sold the premise as a game about investigating the unknown, the magickal and the supernatural, I needed more of those. The way the adventure panned out, it turned out to be a far more mundane investigation of wrong-doing. That’s all well if you’re running the game and want a change of pace, but for a convention game I need to run something that showcases what I feel the game’s about.

It didn’t feel like it went badly. While we had a few real world distractions, the players remained engaged and worked together to fathom the mystery of the wax infant, the monks and conflict in a north Moravian valley.

The best feedback I had at the time related to the character cards. I posted about a minor redesign, so those saw play for the first time, including handy new name generator at the top. The feedback suggested these cards provided a rather neat way to quickly create and encapsulate a character from which players could then spin off their own slant.

The talents and expertise listed, by and large, gave a good spread of abilities with little overlap. One player queried whether you could use more than one card to influence a roll – and I said yes. However, the feedback suggested that this would likely be very difficult given the ability spread. On a rare occasion, a real focus of very narrow expertise might allow a player to do this, but most not.

Generally, a good session. Could be cleaner and better suited to showcasing the setting, but the game mechanics seemed to work well. I did rush the end a bit, so I didn’t give the right level of in-game respect for those characters who had redeemed themselves through discarding Incriminating Evidence. I don’t think anyone managed to get down to zero, but at least one player got damned close. On the other hand, another characters acts of atrocity against persons of “the Church” probably garnered them a few fresh black marks against their name and reputation.

It’s In the Cards

sample-dee-sanctionI’m running a session of The Dee Sanction at Dragonmeet (visit the website to discover more) in London this weekend. The morning session, somewhere in the big new Ilec Convention Centre. Don’t ask me – I’m sure someone will point you in the right direction on the day.

Anyway, in preparation, I have redone the cards for the game. I already did it for my Complex 214 game. One criticism of the old cards was – well, they might have been a bit tough to read. I use a serif font and it was a bit on the small side.

I have made the font bigger. Oddly, the cards have got smaller. It all seems to work out.

The existing features of the card show the title (capitalised and bold), a brief description, and then two or three suggested traits. I’m willing to consider other inventive options should the player wish to conjure something appropriate up and sell it to me!

On top of the size changes, I have added a couple of extra features. One is a little grey circle with a letter in it. Each player should end up with an A, B and C – indicating their prior profession, the magickal text they have read, and the society they belong to (or did).

The other feature, suggested names for the period. Rather than have the players flounder around thinking up a period appropriate name, each card has a male and female option suggested. With three cards, you have six suggested names. If you’re still struggling, the core rules will have suggested names with each setting. I know how difficult it can be sometimes to choose something.

I’m looking forward to trying the game system out with a bunch of new people. They’ll have the chance to play through a brand new adventure, the Wax Infant of Prague.