On Saturday evening, I was finally able to playtest ‘Demons in Space’ with Misha Burnett* and my wife. It was a short little adventure I created with a map I made. I will be the first to admit that neither the adventure or the map were brilliant, but it was something simple to test the game mechanics. The setup was this:
The players awoke in the brig
The power flickers and the door to their cell opens
No one is around
The “We have been boarded” alarm is going off
Our intrepid party was Misha as an Occultech:
And my wife as a Marine:
Their priority after getting out of the cell was finding the escape pods and escaping. As Misha said on Google Plus, “if it had been an old TSR module it would have been called ‘SDS1: Run For The F*cking Lifeboats'”. They went into a cargo area and noticed boxes covered in green goop. They heard some movement in the corner of the room and lobbed a grenade.
They didn’t even see what they killed until after the deed was done. When they viewed the demonic corpses, they redoubled their efforts to get off the ship. Unfortunately, once they discovered the escape pods, a wandering monster roll forced a demonic ambush that sadly meant the death of the Occultech. However, the Marine avenged him, hopped in an escape pod and left. The demon-infested ship now floats in the darkness between stars, the screams of the dead and dying reverberate throughout the entire ship, until they are silenced forever. Perhaps someday, a foolish group will find this “abandoned” ship and attempt to loot it…
So what worked?
– The Loot Token (LT) system. It worked even better than I anticipated! I may need to tweak the numbers a little, because it seems like grenades may offer a little too much bang for the LT-buck. However, I will need to do more playtesting to confirm this hypothesis. However, the LT system allows the game to keep going, as well reinforcing the theme of the game (you are cut off from everyone else and are scrounging what you can to help you survive).
– Adding rules on the fly. I want a complete rule set, but I do not want a rule for every single possible situation. That way leads to 3.5. During play, Misha asked about flanking. I made a ruling on the spot that has been added to the rules document I work from.
So what needs improved?
– My GM-ing skills are not perfect. ’nuff said.
– The Occultech and Technician tables are wrong in the playtest document I uploaded! I am correcting them now. I have so many documents and written notes everywhere and I thought I had my latest and greatest ideas on the playtest document. Guess not. Luckily, my players were patient as we untangled some of these issues.
– My writing is not 100% clear all the time. I am going to need to re-write a few sections so that others can understand what I mean.
I will be playtesting a few more times. I want to try with more players, at 1st level, mid-level, and high level, just to make sure that the game works at all levels.
Also, this was my first time GM-ing something even remotely OSR-ish. I’ve played a little bit, but not GM-ed old school stuff. In the past, I have only GM-ed 3.5, Pathfinder, Star Wars Saga Edition, and 5E. After GM-ing this…I don’t want to go back to those other games! It was fast and easy, just like the women I like!**
Even my wife, who enjoys those other games (especially when I GM), had a good time. I am beginning to suspect the original mission of this blog, to mix the old-school and new-school, will fail. I am leaning more to the old school like a see-saw with a blue jay on one side and a blue whale on the other. I know it is arrogant of me to say that ‘Demons in Space’ is OSR-ish, when I have exactly zero street-cred in the OSR, but there…I said it.
If any of this piqued your curiosity, I will be playtesting again via Roll20. I do not know precisely when, but I will announce it here on the blog.
** Honey, if you are reading this, that was a joke.