Playthings: Looking For A Few Good Sources

As the old saying goes, a building is only as strong as its foundation. A large part of my initial research for Playthings has focused on establishing a broad, solid base of literary and film sources from which to draw. Some of the sources have been obvious, others a bit more obscure, but all have offered elements that I would like to incorporate into the final game. I thought I would share a few of them with you.

  • The Toy Story Films – Toy Story 3 in particular prompted me to pursue the development of Playthings. There is a surprising amount of depth to these films. They explore an array of benefits and pitfalls of being a toy and never shy away from tough subjects. They really are amazing works of fiction; I can’t say enough good things about them.
  • Corduroy – It’s a simple story, yes, but I think it speaks to the special relationship between a child and a toy. If you haven’t read it should give it a look, preferably with a wide-eyed young child in your lap.
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – The stories are about the toys in Christopher Robin’s room, but they are never treated as such. They are, by all appearances, living, breathing characters. They are given the proper respect and, as a result, you never think of them as ‘just a toy.’ I think that’s a key concept that I need to impart to the game.
  • Memoirs of a London Doll – I consider this a rare, valuable find. The story follows the life of a doll from the doll’s point of view. It starts on the day of her creation and follows her through several different owners. A real treasure.
  • The Steadfast Tin Soldier – In typical Anderson fashion the story is a downer, but it is a great example of the emotional power of toys. Yes, the main character is nothing but a broken toy, but I was still horrified by the poor guy’s fate. There’s more to toys than just play time.
  • The Stuff of Legend – This was a comic book series that came out within the last couple years. I have only read the first issue, but I liked the direction it was headed and was especially interested in the toys’ faithfulness to their child. A toy’s world revolves around their child, so their decision to plunge into unknown dangers to save him seems perfectly natural. I’m certain I can use that in the game.
  • The Velveteen Rabbit – A good take on how a toy’s life can be brutal and brief. At least that’s what I took away from it. How else can you interpret the idea that to become real you have to be played with until you are worn and shabby.

I’m still researching and have uncovered a lot more sources. I’m sure I’ll mention the ones that interest me the most. And if anyone out there has a suggestion for a book to read or a movie/series to watch, pass it my way. It all goes toward making a good, solid foundation.

Posted in Game Design

Preview: Denizens of the Plex, Grand Finale

So obviously I took a week off. Officially, I took the week of Thanksgiving off to celebrate with my family. Off the record, I ran into a road block and was too lazy to push through it. In researching the final type of character I had planned, the transient, there was more depth to it than I originally thought. In a nutshell, transients tend to be defined by their work ethic. Some travel to find work, some travel to find an audience for their work, and some travel to avoid work altogether. I decided that rather than trying to pack all of these into one character type it would be better to split them into three distinct types. So without further ado…

This series of previews is designed to introduce newcomers to Chronoplex. In this, the eleventh – and final – entry in a series about typical characters found in the Plex, we explore a triple play of transients.

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The Busker

Description: Acrobats, animal trainers, caricature artists, clowns, contortionists, dancers, singers, fire eaters, fortune-tellers, jugglers, magicians, mimes, puppeteers, snake charmers, storytellers, and sword swallowers. While they are all vastly different from one another, they all share one important quality: they are all street performers, otherwise known as ‘buskers.’

The Plex has no mass communication. While radio and television transmissions function within chroneurisms there is no way for signals to transmit between chroneurisms. And although some chroneurisms are large enough that they could support local media programming, manufacturing limitations in the Plex makes the production of radio and television receivers slow and costly. Only the very wealthy are able to afford the equipment, which makes public broadcasting impractical at best. Because of this, buskers play an important role in Plex society; they are a source of entertainment for an audience that is positively starving for it. A talented busker entering a new Plex community can expect a warm welcome, complimentary accommodations, a hot meal and a decent take after each performance, all luxuries not afforded to most other spanners.

But as much as buskers are welcomed into tempor communities, they are still outsiders and are usually not treated as equals. A busker’s complimentary room is not in someone’s home or in a nice hotel, it is a trailer or servants’ quarters set aside for ‘the talent.’ A busker’s hot meal is not in a fine restaurant, it is a plate of food doled out on the back step of the local pub. And a busker’s take at performances is not all his own; most communities claim a percent of the proceeds as tax for the right to perform openly. Communities may want buskers to entertain them, but they don’t necessarily want them to stay.

Relationships: Buskers are the epitome of the adage ‘alone in a crowded room.’ A busker may spend his time among throngs of people, but few of them want anything to do with him after the performance. To stem the tide of loneliness this can bring about, buskers actively seek out traveling companions. Buskers’ crowd-pleasing personalities make them easy to get along with (although they are, perhaps, a bit over-the-top), but companions need to be ready to keep on the move to find a new audience.

Spanning: Buskers tend to span frequently by necessity. Crowds quickly tire of the same act, so buskers must stay on the move to support their chosen profession. However, traveling with a busker can be a frustrating ‘hurry-up-and-wait’ pace. They quickly move to a new location, stop for performances, then quickly move on again.

Talent Focus: Buskers benefit most from charm and agility with a secondary focus on awareness and savvy. Buskers have to be able to hold an audiences attention and be able to identify when it’s time to move on.

Buskers should have an authority level personal pursuit in their chosen act. In most cases, buskers have practiced their act for the better part of their lives and they can perform without really having to think much about it.

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The Drifter

Description: Some spanners don’t really have an agenda. They aren’t out to pursue career goals; they aren’t out in search of a particular person or object; they aren’t out for money or glory or adventure; they’re just… out. These temporal drifters have no possessions, no money, no attachments and no home. And in most cases, that’s just the way they like it.

In many ways drifters are the purest form of spanner. They travel from chroneurism to chroneurism simply for the sake of shooting the next tube. Drifters tend to be less-than-welcome in tempor communities. They survive off of handouts and whatever goods they can scavenge. Occasionally a drifter will cross the line between scavenger and thief, but most drifters try to keep their noses clean. So many people object to their lifestyle that most drifters feel it ill-advised to invite more calumny and consternation.

Although drifters have a questionable reputation, there is also an odd attraction about them. Because they span so frequently and reach so many destinations, drifters have a lot of life experience and are famous for their ‘road stories.’ Even the most hardened opponents of the drifter lifestyle find themselves quickly enrapt in a good drifter road story.

Relationships: Drifters are often referred to as “gentlemen of the tubes.” They have a very pleasant, easygoing demeanor that puts most people at ease. This makes them fairly enjoyable traveling companions in the short term. Long term, however, people they travel with can become rather tired of drifters’ constant pandering him for handouts.

Spanning: Getting a drifter to span is like asking the wind to blow. It’s going to happen, probably sooner than later. Getting a drifter to stay put is the tricky part. Drifters are use to completely untethered freedom, so the idea of waiting on someone is difficult for them to wrap their head around.

Talent Focus: Drifters benefit from savvy and endurance with a secondary focus on charm and will. Drifters maintain a very ‘take what you can get’ attitude to life, living off of what they can find and what they can coerce from others. And although they can depend largely on the kindness of strangers, they also hold fiercely to their free and independent lifestyle.

Drifters benefit greatly from at least an enthusiast level personal pursuit related to travel and it is recommended that they have the maximum amount of life experiences. Drifters own nothing except for their own memories of their travels, so it’s best if they have a lot to draw from.

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The Hobo (Chrobo)

Description: ‘Decide your own life’; ‘respect the local law’; ‘try to be a gentleman at all times’; and ‘always try to find work, especially jobs nobody wants.’ These are the guiding principles of hobo spanners. Hobos, or ‘chrobos’ as some prefer, are proud migratory workers who traverse the Plex in search of work.

While there have always been a few spanning workers in the Plex, chrobos didn’t exist as a group until the Great Jeet Rush. Jeets who weren’t lucky enough to claim any land (and there were many who didn’t) were left with no home, no money, and no purpose. Some spanned their way back to their home chroneurisms, but many, having had their first taste of the freedom of spanning, didn’t want to return and opted to find work where it was needed. With so many new communities being built, short term labor jobs were plentiful. Soon a whole new culture of spanning migrant workers was born.

The term chrobo was, of course, adapted from the linnie term ‘hobo,’ a word that defines a similar lifestyle led by many linnies of the early 20th century. A number of other elements were adopted from linnie hobos as well. The chrobo guiding principles are an abbreviated version of the ethical code followed by hobos. And much like linnie hobos, chrobos developed a unique style of music that incorporated local melodies with the steady rhythm of a shanty or worksong. But most relevant to other spanners was the development of chroboscript. This system of symbols, inspired by linnie hobo code, was originally developed as a means of providing direction for fellow chrobos, but was soon adopted and refined by all spanners. With a few carefully carved or chiseled symbols spanners could leave notes for those who followed telling, for example, where to find a good meal or warn of a mean dog. While frowned upon by the TPA as an abuse of the Temporal Preservation Act, chroboscript has gone a long way toward leading spanners through the often-unforgiving linnie landscape.

Relationships: Chrobos tend to be loners most of the time. They go where there is work to be done and stay long enough to see a job through. Traveling in the same circles as they do, chrobos often cross paths with each other, so there is a level of camaraderie among their own kind. Chrobos don’t mind traveling with other spanners, but they are seldom as at-ease as they are when among their own.

Spanning: Chrobos span when they have to to find work and they don’t like to leave until a job is done. Since some jobs can last weeks or even months, this can make traveling with others difficult to impossible. However, if the job itself travels, then a chrobo will follow where it goes.

Talent Focus: Chrobos benefit most from a primary focus on strength and endurance with a secondary focus on agility and will. Chrobos are laborers, plain and simple. They have to be strong enough to do their job and tough enough to see it through to the end.

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Thanks for following my progress on Chronoplex. Check back in two weeks when we start a brand new series of previews focusing on the major population centers of the Plex. 

Posted in Game Design

Preview: Denizens of the Plex, the Tourist

This is the 25th installment in a series of previews designed to introduce newcomers to Chronoplex. In this, the tenth in a series about typical characters found in the Plex, we learn about one of the most clueless spanners.

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The Tourist

Description: Despite the Confederation’s assurances that inter-aggregate travel is tightly regulated, the demand for extra-temporal sightseeing has led to the rise of a thriving underground tourism network. Whether they’ve paid big money for the most unusual vacation they could find or just happened to stumble into an unexpected vacation, tourists are out to see the world as it unfolds through the linear ages.

Tourists have a fairly unflattering reputation among seasoned spanners, and to be fair many of the stereotypes have been earned honestly. Tourists are some of the worst when it comes to ‘blending in’ with different linear societies. It’s not uncommon to find a modern tourist meandering through the Middle Ages in a Hawaiian shirt or Bermuda shorts, totally unaware of the unwanted attention it’s drawing. Likewise, a tourist from the Middle Ages might marvel at a modern toilet and may raise a few eyebrows by drinking from it. Basically, tourists are out of their element and either don’t know how, or don’t care, to mask it.

Given this prejudice, one might conclude that no sane spanner would ever want to travel with a tourist. However, what tourists lack in cultural awareness, they make up for in perception. They bring a fresh set of eyes to a situation and will often notice big picture details that escape a veteran spanner. You might say they see only the forest and not the trees. Also, there is some truth to the saying “ignorance is bliss.” Tourists rarely have any idea what danger they’re in, which means they are willing to walk into situations that most spanners wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. This is an oft exploited trait for less scrupulous spanners.

Relationships: Tourists need a companion. It’s possible they might survive on their own through sheer dumb luck, but the odds aren’t in their favor. There are several types of spanners that are willing to travel with, or even seek out, tourists. Guides frequently pair up with tourists because… well, that’s their business. Explorers and thrill seekers will sometimes travel with a tourist purely for the unintentional excitement they bring to a journey. Also, smugglers will frequently utilize tourists’ clueless nature to move ’sensitive’ goods through high security check points.

Spanning: Tourists want to see everything! Getting them to span isn’t a problem. Keeping them out of trouble between one tube and the next? That’s more of a challenge. Anyone traveling with a tourist must be constantly vigilant or else willing to cut them loose at the first sign of danger.

Talent Focus: Tourists benefit greatly from awareness and will with a secondary focus on charm and agility. Tourists tend to have a surprisingly insightful fresh perspective on everything around them and are always hungry to press on and see more. When things get difficult, it helps to be able to talk their way out, or, failing all else, to be able to run.

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Thanks for following my progress on Chronoplex. Check back in two weeks when we finish up the series of common characters found in the Plex with perhaps the most common of all: The Transient.

Posted in Game Design

Getting Back To It

I managed to find a new job and have been at it now since 10/20/2010. With my life somewhat back to normal it’s time for me to get back to game design. Keeping a regular schedule for new posts was good for my productivity and I want to continue that, so starting next Wednesday, 11/10/2010, I will resume my normal bi-weekly schedule of posting.

In addition, I am setting a new date for the start of the Chronoplex open playtest. The way I see it, December is the game killer, so there’s no point in starting a playtest until after the holidays. As a result, I’m going to start 2011 off right by setting the new date of the Chronoplex open playtest for Wednesday, January 5, 2011.

Man, it’s good to be back. 🙂

Posted in Website

Chronoplex: “So What Happened To The Playtest?”

I stated in my last post that I wanted to have a playtest ready to go by Labor Day. So what the hell happened? The long and short of it is that I lost my job. I’m still working on the materials for an open playtest and fully intend to do it when I can, but my priority is my family and that means putting all of my focus on landing a new job. I’ll continue to post as things progress.

Posted in Game Design

Preview: Denizens of the Plex, the Thrill Seeker

This is the 24th installment in a series of previews designed to introduce newcomers to Chronoplex. In this, the ninth in a series about typical characters found in the Plex, we study the most extreme sort of spanner.

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The Thrill Seeker

Description: Daredevils. Adrenaline junkies. Extreme sportsmen. No matter what you want to call them, thrill seekers have existed throughout recorded history. And while the Plex exists outside of history, it is no exception. In fact, because thrill seeker can go anywhere in the world and to any point in history, the Plex offers a unique opportunity for those seeking new challenges. Want to try barnstorming in an early biplane? You can. Want to go big game hunting for the extinct atlas bear? Sure thing. Want to battle a lion in a gladitorial ring? Yep, you can do that too. The Plex is a thrill seeker’s dream come true.

It’s difficult to understands what makes thrill seekers tick. Some say they have a death wish. Some say they’re too restless for an average life. Some say they’re just plain crazy. But the attitude of thrill seekers is best summed up by the famed mountaineer George Mallory who climbed Mt. Everest just “because it was there.” Basically, thrill seekers tap directly into an innate human need to take risks simply for the sake of discovery; a useful asset in the Plex.

As a matter of fact, without thrill seekers, the Plex wouldn’t exist. After all, the earliest spanners had to be willing to dive headlong into an untested portal leading to an unknown destination with little hope of ever returning. It’s no wonder, then, that most thrill seekers are card carrying members of the Plexploration Society and are responsible for some of its greatest discoveries. The platform city of Canopy; the scorched town of Inferno; the reclaimed trading post of Abaskun; they all owe their start to enterprising thrill seekers.

So are they crazy? Probably. But it’s the kind of crazy that most spanners want in their corner.

Relationships: Thrill seekers love an audience and actively promote their exploits to potential followers. Sure, it’s fun to risk life and limb, but it’s even better to have someone there to appreciate it. However, thrill seekers tend to prefer having the adoration of many to the deep devotion to just one. Besides, why form any lasting bonds when the next stunt could be your last?

Spanning: Getting a thrill seeker to span is usually easy. They don’t really care where or when they land, they just want to find some excitement once they’re there. If a journey promises the chance to, say, wrestle an alligator or cross swords with a pirate or similarly hazardous derring-do, then a thrill seeker is typically all-in.

Talent Focus: Thrill seekers tend to benefit primarily from savvy and awareness with a secondary focus on endurance and agility. Despite many people’s belief to the contrary thrill seekers are keenly aware of self-preservation; so much, in fact, that it is often their meticulous attention to possible problems that keeps them alive. Of course having amazing reflexes and stamina to pull off a stunt doesn’t hurt either.

The most successful thrill seekers benefit from an authority level personal pursuit in a particular activity. Base jumpers are experts at parachuting off buildings; wind walkers excel at balancing on the wings of planes; matadors masterfully evade charging bulls. Thrill seekers might apply this knowledge to other areas, but they are most comfortable in their chosen element.

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Thanks for following my progress on Chronoplex. Check back in two weeks when we take a snapshot of a liesurely spanner: The Tourist.

Posted in Game Design

Preview: Denizens of the Plex, the Smuggler

This is the 23rd installment in a series of previews designed to introduce newcomers to Chronoplex. In this, the eighth in a series about typical characters found in the Plex, we uncover a rather shifty character.

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The Smuggler

Description: In an effort to protect linear time from anachronistic pollution, the Temporal Preservation Act places limits on a variety of goods imported from linear time. Some items are banned altogether. However, these limits do not really prevent the targeted goods from being exchanged, they simply change the nature of the demand. For those with the proper contacts and a willingness to circumvent authority, a smuggler can be contracted to transport anything from anywhere and from any time.

Most smugglers work independently or, for larger or more complex jobs, with a small group of close associates. They do not trust others easily and are always on the lookout for an ambush. This paranoia is not without merit. Smugglers are one of the main targets of the TPA and sting operations designed to snare them are all too common. In addition, some associates are just greedy and weak-willed enough to betray their comrades for a larger share of the haul. Smugglers who place their trust in others tend to experience a rather short, brutal end to their careers.

To mitigate the risks inherent in the trade, a number of smugglers turn to the Shadow Post for a measure of security. While the Shadow Post isn’t an ‘official’ organization by any means, its associates recognize and respect strength in numbers. The system is simple: smugglers accept contract jobs on behalf of the Shadow Post and in return the smuggler receives a percentage of the job and enjoys the protection of the Shadow Post (with the understanding that the smuggler will do the same for other Shadow Post contractors when needed). Those who harass Shadow Post couriers have a bad habit of vanishing, so most authorities and would-be turncoats steer clear of them.

Relationships: Smugglers’ propensity for mistrust makes them difficult to get to know, but their need to find new jobs assures that they do not become complete introverts. Jobs are of paramount importance. Smugglers spend a good deal of time drumming up new business, and the necessity to fill basic needs requires smugglers to have a certain level of moral flexibility in the jobs they accept.

Spanning: Smugglers will span to any God-forsaken corner of the Plex if it means they’ll be able to, say, eat for the next month, so all it usually takes to get them to span is to offer some compensation. Most smugglers travel light so that they can leave for a job at a moments notice. Of course this also helps them to slip away quickly if things get too hot.

Talent Focus: Smugglers benefit most from a primary focus on on will and savvy with a secondary emphasis on awareness and agility. They have to be tough, quick-witted, and able to spot trouble before it happens, but they also need to be able to run if all else fails.

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Thanks for following my progress on Chronoplex. Check back in two weeks when we check out the adrenaline junkie of the Plex: The Thrill Seeker

**EDIT**

8/12/2010 – Decided to go back and do some clean up work on this entry. Not a huge change, but I feel better about it now.

Posted in Game Design

Preview: Denizens of the Plex, the Merchant

A quick note, I’m writing this while enduring a tooth ache. I’m posting so that I can keep my bi-weekly schedule, but I can only pray that it makes sense and reads well. If it doesn’t, please leave me a comment so I can fix it once my jaw stops throbbing.

That said…

This is the 22nd installment in a series of previews designed to introduce newcomers to Chronoplex. In this, the seventh in a series about typical characters found in the Plex, we take stock of one of the Plex’s most silver-tongued characters.

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The Merchant

Description: There are some items tempors simply can’t get from their local street corner vendor. Extratemporal goods are hot commodities in most GTLs, and where there is demand, there is always someone willing to supply. Merchants fill this need by buying and selling their way across the Plex. They pick up hot deals in one GTL and sell them (at significantly marked up prices) in another. Most, though not all, merchants tend to fall in one of two basic groups: entrepreneurs and hucksters.

Merchants who have been in business long enough understand the need for building relationships with suppliers and customers. These merchants, or entrepreneurs, live and die by their carefully cultivated reputations and benefit from a large network of contacts. If they don’t have an item, they usually know a guy who knows a guy that can get it. If they need to move some product, they usually know the best place to push it and who to contact for the space. If they need to acquire more goods, they usually know the best local suppliers and have already negotiated the best possible prices. Contacts are easily an entrepreneur’s greatest asset.

Conversely, less reputable, shortsighted merchants, or hucksters, are quick, slick and deceitful. They operate within the bounds of the law, but just barely. They’ll take any product they can obtain and will sell it for the highest possible price to anyone they can quick-talk into it. This practice earns hucksters a lot of unsatisfied customers, so they are seldom able to stay in one place for too long. However, having to ’start fresh’ in new locations so frequently sharpens a huckster’s ability to quickly plug in to local connections (albeit somewhat seedy ones). Hucksters may not always know the right person, but they can usually locate a serviceable one.

Relationships: Since their livelihood depends on their people-skills, merchants are almost always ‘on’ and looking for the best angle to approach prospective clients. Some people find this charming or engaging, but more jaded individuals see it as fake or off-putting. Regardless of perceptions, it is usually difficult to truly get to know a merchant because few can tell where their sales pitch ends and their true personality begins.

Spanning: All merchants travel, but entrepreneurs and hucksters tend to follow different paths. Entrepreneurs tend to span the same circuit, hitting as many large GTLs as they can in the shortest distance. Hucksters set up operations in a GTL until things get too hot, then they pack up and head for the next town, preferring to avoid any town they’ve already worked.

Talent Focus: Merchants benefit most from an emphasis on charm and savvy with a secondary focus on awareness and intelligence. Merchants are naturally gifted conversationalists and know how to manipulate people, but they also need to know how to find and/or negotiate the best deals and, in some cases, know when it’s time to leave.

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Thanks for following my progress on Chronoplex. Check back in two weeks when we uncover a rather clandestine character: The Smuggler

Posted in Game Design

Playtest #3: Observations and Conclusion

I promised additional details when I got a chance, so here they are:

System

Identity vs. Reputation – This really seemed to ring true for the players. It immediately gave them an idea of how their characters saw themselves and how they were seen by others; and it was evident from their actions that they were allowing this to influence their play. This was the first time I’ve introduced this in-game and I wish I would have done it sooner!

Skill Usage – The players seemed to easily take to the concept of pitch + skill base. Before long I didn’t have to explain it, I could just say “give me a Manipulate pitch of 15 or better” and they immediately knew what to do. There was one issue I would like to address and that is with finding the right skill for a challenge. I had always thought that it would be easy to determine the two talents to use and look up the skill based on that, but I found myself searching the character sheet for the right skill a couple times. For the sake of speed, I need to address this. Perhaps just having a GM cheat sheet would be good enough?

Combat – There was one combat and it was quick, decisive and non-lethal; in other words, it was exactly what I was shooting for. Also, this was the first time using the new wagering system. It worked out brilliantly. The NPC had a terrible Fight score, so I put everything into that. The PC put his full wager into Fighting and it cost him. I had a great pitch and since he wasn’t defending he took 10 points of physical damage, just enough to exceed his pain threshold and take him down. Then, while the NPC was trying to steal an object from the prone PC, the rest of the party arrived and put a bullet in the NPC’s head. The whole thing went quickly and – at least to me – had a very active, cinematic feel to it. I’m really pleased.

Setting

Buy-in – Unbeknownst to me, my playtest section was titled “Hot Buttered Awesome” because I had failed to provide info and the guys listing it had to put something. (BTW, sorry about that guys.) So I was a little worried that the players wouldn’t know what was going on and would either lose interest or be confused. When the players were pulled into the tube and landed in Canopy the players initially seemed confused, but having an NPC on hand to explain things to the party seemed to help. If the players had remained confused or would have continued to pepper me with questions or had aggressively questioned the logic behind the setting I would have been worried that I’d made it too convoluted, but since they all seemed to have a decent grasp on the setting and had a rough idea of how it worked before they left the Canopy landing platform, I consider that a victory.

Reaction – I expect a certain level of non-confrontational “it was good” comments, so I was ready for that. What I wasn’t ready for was for the players to react really, truly positively. They seemed to be jazzed by the way the setting worked and seemed excited about the possibilities of where it could go. I couldn’t be more pleased with their reaction.

Adventure

Structure – I wanted the players to see a couple different chroneurisms and a couple different historical locations. Canopy was an easy choice since it opened into Libertalia, Madegascar where there were pirates. Everything is better with pirates. :P   The only question was where else to send them. I decided on Hinnom because it forced me to develop it a little further and because I thought it might provide some levity after a tough scenario. From there it was just a matter of sending them back and tying up any loose ends.

Acclimation – The players were all coming into the game blind. No one knew what the game was about or how the system worked. I tried to take this into account and started them in a relatively modern setting (the Korean War) and gave them a reason to all be together (all part of the same Forward Surgical Team of an army battalion). I think this lessened some of the common new-game-awkwardness and helped them focus on taking in the large amount of exposition that was required. Once they had an idea of where they were and how things worked, they were off and seemed to find their way rather easily.

Length – The adventure was a bit shorter than I anticipated. We started at 1pm and were done by 3:30pm. I’m not sure if that is a shortcoming of the adventure or of the GM. I do tend to rush things, so it very well could have been me.

Denouement –  I gave the party a guide to help them along, but made the guide a TPA agent with his own agenda to add a twist to it. It provided an ending that was clean, but still left a carrot dangling. From what I could tell, the players all seemed to like that.

Decisiveness – The only noticeable point of confusion among the players was what to do at the landing platform. I had decided that it didn’t matter whether they busted out or waited to be released, but I think I needed to make a choice and try to lead them to it. Busting out is easily the more exciting option, so I think I should go with that.

Overall Thoughts

The playtest couldn’t have gone much better. For the first time I feel that the system is solid. The setting, while still needing some details filled in, has enough meat to pique player interest. And now I have a scenario that GMs can run if they want to give the game a test drive.

All of this leads me to a rather important decision: I am going to clean up the rules, setting and adventure and hold an open playtest. I want to start this process as soon as possible, so I’m setting a goal of having it ready by Labor Day, September 6th, 2010. Keep watching for more details in the coming weeks. Things may get really interesting really fast!

Posted in Game Design, Playtesting

Playtest Report: Pre-Gen Con Wednesday Gaming

I ran my first full-fledged game of Chronoplex today. I’ve had playtests before, but they were very system-focused. This was the first time I really involved the setting. It went great! I mean really great! I managed to hit several mechanics that I missed in previous playtests, the comments I got – both on system and on setting – were very positive, and overall everyone at the table seemed to have a good time. I’ll post a more detailed report later, but right now I just want to bask in the afterglow for a bit. 🙂

Posted in Game Design, Playtesting