Yesterday was the first virtual playtest of Phoenix, using MapTool as the virtual software. I had players from three continents - Asia, Australia, and North America.
I can honestly say that's a new experience for me. I've never had to calculate so many time zones to schedule a game session.
It was a full party, with the same characters as in the OTB Playtest, plus the introduction of Shor, the Prophet. Prophets don't have any allegience to religions; they serve their Supreme Power directly.
We used MapTool and Skype. I had worked with everyone to set them up ahead of time, and started the session with a little tutorial map that showed a few things and let folks play around moving their tokens, scribbling on the map, and rolling dice.
When they were done, it looked like this:
Skype worked well and the only problem we had was one brief drop-out from an iPad user. Of course, we did audio only - be honest, who really wants to stare at an aussie in his underwear for 4 or 5 hours.
MapTool worked well for the most part, but there were a couple of issues raised by the players.
Making people type in [d10e + d8e], or similar, when they wanted to roll wasn't appealing (nor was the rudimentary output), so I had a dice box frame based on Rumble/Cclouser's work. Even with that, the players felt like the die rolling was getting in the way of the gameplay to some degree. I agreed. When players sit at a table, die rolling is much more fluid. I'll work on some enhancements and see if I can make that a bit better next time around.
The other opportunity for improvement is around the fog of war. I think the players would prefer to not use the line-of-sight (LoS) functionality; next time we play I will try a straight-up fog of war manual-reveal approach, and see if that fits their expectations more.
As with previous playtesting, feedback was generally positive. Everyone enjoyed the quicker attack resolutions, and everyone enjoyed the dynamic initiative. Exploding dice made for fun critical hits. The new defense system in this version made sense (although as a GM I saw some more room for improvement).
I do need to continue working on some of the class mechanics.
Elementalists in particular still do not have a satisfying overload model from my perspective. This is the model that allows Elementalists to go beyond their normal safety limits when channeling raw elemental energy. The risk/reward isn't quite where I'd like it yet.
At least one person missed fumble mechanics, i.e., really horrible misses that result in things like tripping over your own feet or stabbing your friend in the eyeball.
Unrelated to the game system, one interesting thing to see when playing pregenerated characters is how different people play them from group to group.
The Conquestor has seen some of the most interesting variations in play - even though the character has the same abilities, different players focus on different aspects. One played the class up on cleaving, constantly looking to multi-attack everything. One played as a single-target warrior. One played as an attention-deficit victim, constantly spending Endurance to charge new targets and mutilate them.
I like seeing that sort of variance in play. It indicates that the class is interesting in different ways to different folks. It also means that the class will have replayability.
The virtual playtest didn't cover as much of the dungeon as the OTB test, given roughly the same time period. I think the tool got in the way a little bit on that, although the virtual group did spend more time playing with their lizards.
|Dungeon Tier 2|