What Do You Get out of Playtesting

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I’m about to run my GenCon game for the first time for some friends at a local game day (also known as excuse to get together, geek out, play games, and drink). We try and structure these like a Con with 2 or three 4 hour blocks of games. It’s nice because it simulates what would happen at a “real” Con. So what does this get me on the first run through of an adventure.

Timing.

Does the adventure fit into a four hour (three and a half really) time frame? Running a little short is fine, but going over means a rewrite or cut of something. I’ll accept a little slack because a home group always does more chatting than a group at a Con. But if we haven’t gotten close to the end conflict, or some of the fights are taking too long I’ll be forced to rush and perhaps cut scenes. Cutting scenes could take out some of the focus or spotlight for some of the PCs/players – never good.

Balance.

Does the module provide enough opportunities for both role playing and exploration. I tend towards a more run and gun style of Con game. It’s fun, but I also want to provide some reasons for the fights. A couple of the PCs aren’t straight combat monsters so I need to make sure they get their moments. I don’t normally worry that there is enough combat. But, having experienced the ingenuity of players I always want to make sure that at least some dice are rolled in anger.

Danger.

When there is combat, it should provide an appropriate threat level. Something I love about Con games is killing PCs. For some reason, players love a good death scene at a Con. I guess it’s the spot light time. It’s never good to kill them too soon, but a meaningful death when confronting the Big Bad is an awesome way to go, and makes for a great story. For this run through I’m checking monster threat levels (AC, HP, Damage), big bad capabilities, and resource management. They have the opportunity to begin the game with resources, do they need more (magic, healing, etc).

Fun

This should probably go closer to the top. The game needs to be fun. It is written as a comedic adventure with threats, so the comedy needs to be there. Some of this is me playing straight while the PCs riff off of each other (Gilligan and Skipper for example). Some of it is me making funny voices (Mr Roarke and Tattoo), and some of it is the situation. I guess you need to play the adventure – or see the post GenCon write up for more on that.

PCs and Relationships

Last is making sure that the PCs are complete and capable. Need to make sure that spells and abilities make sense (I think I had a +43 to a skill for Gilligan last year – sheesh). The PCs also should have a good amount of hooks to both the adventure, and with each other. This one is tough because it is dependent on the player to run with the hook. Hooks into the adventure like relationships with the other NPCs or even the Big Bad are more likely to get used (my opinion). If I have a table of strangers to each other, it is common for those hooks to be left untouched.

There are some other things like maps and props. I’ll have basic maps ready for the game. LEGOs will have to wait for later.

Look for an after action report in a couple weeks.

 

 

 

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