Played out first session using the quick-start last night.
Played out first session using the quick-start last night. Overall it went well and everybody had a good time. I’m hoping they’ll be up for tackling their second score next week.
* Character and gang creation was good, everything is in place to help people make interesting/colorful characters. I’m dying to get my hands on the other crew playbooks!
* Filling in the details of “our” Duskwall during play was a great pleasure, thanks to the evocative setting prompts laid in everywhere.
* They chose to assassinate Baszo Baz in order to impress the Red Sashes, so that was their first score and the meat of our session.
* Really enjoyed the way variable Position impacts the dice mechanic and puts escalation in the hands of the players. I was worried that this would unnecessarily mechanize the contextual difficulty of *World games, but there is satisfaction to be had in determining a Position.
* Everyone loved the way flashbacks could get folded into the plan, and how it made them constantly assess the current situation, searching for opportunities to exploit. The most memorable came from the acquisition of fireworks (to be used for a distraction during the assassination attempt), and ended with the murder of the fireworks peddler (Devil’s Bargain on a Desperate roll).
* There’s a pleasing mechanical input->output aspect to the gameplay. There are a lot of terms and resources to juggle, which got a little confusing at times, but resource management has some very tasty hooks that tie nicely into the narrative.
* Downtime was short yet satisfying.
* The “choose a Plan and dive in” approach worked as advertised at first, in the way it allowed us to go right to the score after deciding one detail (for us it was Deception: distract Baz and his bodyguards so we can kill him), but the brakes came on every time we had to count dice for Actions and Effects. It felt like the time we gained from not over-planning was lost to figuring out how many dice to roll in each instance, then again each time Position was escalated.
* One contributor to the above was always feeling like we needed to come up with a Devil’s Bargain. In re-reading the rules I see that a DB’s are optional, but I think it would help to have their optional nature emphasized and/or mechanized. Because the dice mechanics are so crucial, it seems like PCs bent on success are going to want a Devil’s Bargain every single time in order to know all of their options. I love it as an interesting choice, but I would like to see some pointers or explicit rules about when a Devil’s Bargain is or is not available, because it a) slows down the action, and b) can be exhausting to keep coming up with them. The old 7-9 problem.
* Similarly, we rolled Effect too many times, not realizing it was optional until I went back to re-read the rules. Again, it might be worth emphasizing the fact that it’s optional, with maybe examples of when and when not to roll Effect. Add in the fact the Effect rolls also have a DB, and you can see why we felt bogged down in places.
* I can tell that for us, PC and Crew Advancement will work better at the end of a session rather than the beginning, because it gives the players concrete rewards for whatever dramatic and Stress-full Score they just pulled off, while it’s still fresh in their memories. I think I might house-rule a thing where whoever recaps “last week’s episode” at the start of a session gets a playbook tick, or something like that. And rotate that from session to session.
* Super-minor: I would like to see category headings for each of the faction sets on the Crew sheet so new players don’t have to figure it out by deduction: Criminal, Municipal, Industrial, Religious/Occult, or the like.
I know some of our problems had to do with learning a new system and not getting into a groove with it yet. The good thing is that we were gripped enough by what DID work for us that I want to keep at it until things click.
In any case, as a backer I’m grateful to have been handed such a substantial quick-start, and I really appreciate the obvious hard work and care John has put into this dark, bladed baby.