Monday, February 8, 2010

Leftovers Playtest Last Night

So last night my ol' gaming group and me (plus one) did a brief playtest of Leftovers via Skype and Google Wave. This included character creation, which ended up taking way, way longer than I'd hoped -- but I chalk that up to having to mediate everything through our Internet interfaces. I wanted it to take 30 minutes; it ended up being more like two hours.

This would be bad news for OrcCon this weekend, at which I intend to include chargen in each of the two 4-hour sessions, but I've made a character sheet that I think should sort out most of the confusion in advance. I know part of the problem was people rating their Traits, then later on finding out that, for example, if you don't rate your Violent Trait at all, you'll be terrible (and dead) in a fight. Personally, that's a feature, not a bug, but I don't want people getting screwed over by their lack of familiarity with the system. The character sheet has the formulae for the four derived stats (Physical and Mental Defense, Vigor, and Spirit) right there, along with a list of the 18 Traits and what kind of dice you get to spread between them at character creation.

As for the playtest itself, it went pretty well, although I made a pretty egregious mistake of putting them up against three really tough Horrors right off the bat, which led to a really grindy combat that I'd rather avoid in the future. But hey, I was pretty much making it all up as I went along, so I'm going to take the lesson and leave the rest.

The PCs were:
Lebowitz, "a 'former' smuggler of goods" with an acid-spraying duct of some kind, a tentacle foot, and a few other Grafts (Human Nature d6/Horrific Nature d10)
Chrissy, a rather literal combat monster with wings, a claw hand, and a tail (d6/d10)
Tretch, a mechanica-oriented guy with a "hand of worms" and a compound eye (d8/d8)
Chuck "Phat" Loot, a material opportunist with a fin behind one ear that improves hearing (d6/d10)
Beckers, a pure-strain human scientist (d12/d4)

The story begins in the Trench, when Chuck is approached by a wealthy scrounger named Rinaldo. It seems Rinaldo's found a topographic map in the Ruins that, he says, clearly shows the location of an underground military base -- the fabled Bunker. Unfortunately, it's rather distant, and the journey would be prohibitively dangerous. But he knows that Chuck owns a former news helicopter (thanks to Chuck's high Human Nature and d12 Resourceful), so he wants to "bring him in on the deal," as it were. The reward? Finding the Bunker means safety, security, and all the comforts of the pre-apoc world. Or most of them, anyway.

So Chuck rounds up the PCs, starting with Chrissy (with whom he has a loyalty Bond -- although ironically, Chrissy has a betrayal Bond with Chuck) and Tretch, the best pilot he knows. Those two bring in Lebowitz and Beckers. The next day they all say goodbye to the Trench forever and head out over the Wasteland.

An hour or so into their flight, though, the Action News Chopper is attacked by three Fly-By-Nights, aka Flying Vs. And they were tough. Really tough. One would've been enough. But what with one thing and another, Chrissy leaps out of the helicopter to fight them in the air, Beckers falls out the open door when a Flying V yanks on one of the helicopter's runners, Lebowitz is nearly stabbed to death (5 Wounds!) by a Flying V's barbed prehensile tail, and Tretch pulls a nose dive to cut one of the things neatly in half with the helicopter's rotor blades.

That last event means that the windshield's covered in thick, dark blood, making visibility impossible and turning that nose dive into a much more dangerous proposition than intended. He manages to land the thing, but not without significant damage. While he repairs he, a few of the others set out to find that downed Flying V so Lebowitz doesn't, y'know, die. It isn't hard to find on the flat, cracked plain: two huge black triangles lying in pools of blood. They graft the wings onto Lebowitz and the tail onto Chrissy -- who already had a tail, but wants a new one, apparently, which means convincing Beckers to cut off the existing tail with a sword -- and each of them ends up more Horrific (and less Human) as a result.

(Oh, and more significantly, Rinaldo is killed in the crash -- Tretch's player failed his Pilot roll to land safely, so I made Rinaldo a casualty of his failure. Nobody else can make heads or tails of Rinaldo's map.)

Some time after their return, while Tretch continues to repair the helicopter, Chuck hears an odd noise wafting across the overcast plain: a car engine, and an especially well-tuned one at that. This can only mean trouble, so Chrissy and Lebowitz fly up to get a better view. In the distance, they see two Jeeps and a small military transport following the long gash the helicopter left in the plain when Tretch more or less landed it. There's nowhere to hide but the helicopter, so everyone chooses to meet these strangers head-on in a dramatic pose.

When the vehicles arrive, armed and uniformed soldiers pour out, taking up positions around the PCs. One or two PCs figure out that they're Humanists, a hard-line pro-human faction that often kills anyone with even a single Graft on sight. A commander of some kind steps forward and says, "Anyone of you that's human, you'd better step forward now. Wouldn't want you getting shot."

And that's where we left things. If we continue, I honestly don't know where it'll go from there, since everyone but Beckers should probably be cut down without hesitation.

Those Flying Vs, as I said, were extremely tough. A PD of 15 and a Vigor of 5 meant that they had to roll at least a 20 to deal a single Wound, which happened... not often. They could Rattle them plenty, but a disheartening number of those were 18s or 19s. So close! Later, I realized we forgot to include Bond dice when we should've, which definitely would've made a difference. Still, Lebowitz managed to nail one of them with a 25 on a Violent roll, so that was pretty impressive.

All in all, it was a valuable session, if a brief one. Looking forward to OrcCon when I can test it again!

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