4Ward/FrankenFourth Playtest

A few players had to again cancel our A Sundered World campaign, so I figured Melissa and I could run through a playtest of yet another game we're working on. This one uses elements from our dice-pool dungeon crawler (like simple-yet-flexible characters), and various editions of Dungeons & Dragons (mostly the d20 mechanic and simplified skill ranks).

She suggested asking the players that were still available if they wanted to give it a shot, and we managed to rope one in, This was good, as it allowed me to see what someone who was unfamiliar with the rules and design process would do, what they would hate about it, what questions would be asked, and so on.

Given that I thought the whole thing would largely be a one-shot, with more rigorous playtesting being done on our end—at least until we conclude playtesting on Dungeons & Delvers (which is basically done, just needs art), and Maria's Persona/Dungeons & Delvers hack—I opted to keep things simple and dust off an old, heavily modded "classic": Keep on the Shadowfell.

The Rick-Roll of adventures.
My plan was to skip most of the adventure, since I'd want to replace the kobolds and dragon with something else, and just drop them at the titular dungeon locale. This way they could get immediately to exploring, fighting, and looting. Buuut, between the questions, and discussing equipment, ideas for new character options, the merits of characters with elaborate backgrounds, running a long-term campaign with this system, and the "fail" results from various game systems, we only ended up getting through a pair of encounters.

My thoughts, at the conclusion of a couple piles of bones and rusted armor, were that combat was really fast, but given all the natural 1's I rolled more playtesting will be needed to determine if the whole low-Defense/armor-as-damage-reduction/split-hit-point thing is working as expected. Melissa thinks so, but Adam is concerned that the "best" character build will just ramp up Dexterity to avoid getting hit at all (a simple fix, I think, is to have heavier armor cap your Dexterity bonus).

At any rate, Adam seems to really dig what little bit we did play, to the point where he wants me to run Keep on the Shadowfell, Thunderspire Labyrinth, and so on using this game. I'm all for this, as it would let me actually use those adventures (including all the changes I made, of course).

After only a couple hours of design and writing, The Swordmage is good to go. If you want a solid fighter/wizard hybrid with twenty-five advanced moves to choose from (in addition to some other extras), pick it up.

Grave Goods is the latest magic item compilation in our 10+ Treasures line. If you want nearly 30 undead-themed magic items, some monsters, and advice on how to make your own, pick it up!

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out!

Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance!

Finally, we've updated If These Stones Could Scream.

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