Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Belated OSRIC Playtest Report

So, I ran OSRIC about a week and a half ago now.  It went...  interestingly.  We had 6 players, all from a mostly 3.x background as far as D&D goes, with one having played AD&D at some point, one with Baldur's Gate experience, and one with Nethack experience.  Character generation took a looong time - about two hours.  The issue there was primarily a focus on all the effects of every choice made; "what makes a fighter different from a ranger?", "Can I assign my scores in a way that will let me play a gnome illusionist?", and "What do all of these table entries for ability scores mean?"  We ended up with a half-orc cleric, a human ranger, a half-orc assassin / fighter multiclass, an elf assassin, an elf fighter, and a half-elf MU, I believe.  In retrospect, I really see where the "roll-in-order" rules would've been really practical - such a rule would have greatly narrowed the decision space for the players (by a factor of at least 6 factorial, plus limitations due to racial and class ability score requirements).  Gear went pretty swiftly, thanks in large part to BtBG's adventuring kits, which left the PCs to choose weapons, armor, and hirelings (and chalk.  Lots of chalk).

Having gathered their many porters, the PCs set out for the Deephalls north of Ironbridge.  They arrived, and tracked a party of berserkers who had been out hunting into the dungeon.  The berserkers engaged them, but were slain to a man.  The two assassins scouted ahead, finding first bats, then a pair of rust monsters.  Having never deployed rust monsters before (but having rolled them on the inhabitants table), the looks of sheer horror on the faces of the players were...  pretty priceless, actually.  They managed to block off that part of the dungeon, and turned their exploration in other directions, where they found giant spiders and beetles.  Highlights of this part: the half-orc assassin was poisoned, then told that poison was save-or-die.  He made his save, and his response was "Oh!  That was exciting!"  There's just something about mortal peril that makes life a little sweeter when it continues...  They found their first real treasure webbed up by the spiders, in a trapped stone chest containing a mix of gold and copper pieces.  The assassins went scouting again, with the (still-injured) half-orc failing at his Hide in Shadows and being gored by a pair of giant fire beetles, putting him at -7, but not before he assassinated one of them.  The rest of the party came to his aid, however, and he survived, but had to be carried out of the dungeon.  They found their second treasure in a pile of beetle dung, consisting of a mixture of electrum and silver pieces, but that was where we ended the session - the half-orc's going to be out of action for a week or so, and the rest of the party considered pushing forward without him, but decided against it.  This decision was complicated by the elf fighter, who had rolled lower ability scores than the rest of the party and is out to get them due to envy.

So, mechanically, the game went pretty OK, mostly...  it was very assassin-and-fighter focused, with the cleric and the MU doing very little.  That this changes at higher levels was no consolation to the caster players, who were greatly disappointed with the system.  The assassin players both seemed up to play again, as did the ranger.  The elf fighter was initially offput by his low scores and remained as a 'rearguard' for most of the combats, but later mentioned that he was interested in playing again, if only for the party conflict RP angle.  He also mentioned hirelings as greatly appealing.  So, I'm calling it a reasonable success; 66% of participants responded positively.  As a result, I'm keeping the dungeon around and will restock the parts they cleared out.  I should probably also design level 2 at some point, but they seem unlikely to find a way down any time soon.

Unfortunately, I've become distracted by Victory by Any Means.  It looks like to scratch my Master of Orion and Fields of Blood itches, if I can find time and players...  Maybe I'll get to test it out over winterbreak.

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