Thursday, May 26, 2011

Legends & Labyrinths Playtest, Episode One: Heart of the Storm

Though faced with rain, hail, and tornadoes, our playtest of George Strayton's swiftly developing Legends & Labyrinths rules went on at the Fantasy Flight Games Event Center. We only had to evacuate to the warehouse for about 15 minutes. :) Thor is obviously watching out for Secret Fire Games! One of my players is a member at the Event Center now, too, so we got to game up in the mezzanine, which was pretty cool. Like playing in an attic instead of a basement...

The players were:

The characters were:

Nicker the Nimble, Dwarven Holy-Man
Though weak and uncoordinated (obviously not suited for being dwarven warrior!), his robust health kept him alive long enough to join the priesthood. Though insightful, his offensive nature sometimes makes communication difficult.

Talia the Clever. Or the Beautiful. Or the Nimble. Or the Mysterious. Or any combo of the above, Elven Thief
Though weak and delicate, her nimbleness has gotten her out of many a situation in the course of her scoundrel life.

Bahb the Enigmatic, Human Fighter
Muscular, robust, and agile, Bahb is a competent warrior of few words. A bit dense and foolhardy, others sometimes mistake his incomprehension as deep reflection, especially when he decides to speak up and use his natural persuasiveness to convince others he knows what's going on.

Sargon the Inquisitive, Arch-Mage-in-Training, Human Magic User
Robust, brilliant, and persuasive, Sargon leaves no stone unturned. Nor soil untasted. His wizardstaff, topped with brass human hand, only adds to his formidable appearance.

Snakefoot the Unblinking, Elven Thief
Though delicate and occasionally foolhardy, his physical adroitness leaves his foes wondering just where that arrow came from...

Initial Cool Thing: I just made up these descriptions by using only the ability score descriptors. They immediately bring the characters to life! I could've kept going by working in their personality traits (one each for Good, Neutral, and Evil), but I wanted to get this posted today... Players were using them throughout the session in reference to one another.

Character creation took awhile, but it turned out we were using two versions of both rules and character sheets, so that slowed things down. Once solidified, I don't see making a character taking more than about 15 minutes. Once characters were set, we didn't have a whole lot of time to explore McKracken's Folly, the insta-dungeon I created for this session (more on that in a later post.)

Situated in the skull of a titan defeated long ago by the Arch Mage McKracken, they discovered a circular trap door on the inside dome. Some careful examination of the ground revealed a metal rectangle which, when depressed, extended into steps leading up to the door, each one embossed with the McK sigil. One by one our intrepid adventurers walked up the stairs and entered the trap door and went up the ladder rungs on the revealed shaft, only to find themselves, after a moment of disorientation, climbing down instead. This was a bit too much for Nimble, and he lost his grip. This necessitated him making a Luck roll. Having taken the Special Quality, "Lucky Son of a Bitch", he had a +3 to this roll and made it, being jerked up short by his holy symbol getting jammed in a ladder rung.

A bit of exploration of the dungeon at the bottom of the shaft led to one encounter, with a necrophidius:

If you recognize this from the Fiend Folio (though this is a different illustration), you made your Lore roll. I used both the Fiend Folio and the 4e Essentials Monster Vault for monsters. There are great quick and dirty conversion rules for both 1e and 4e in the rules, and I made liberal use of them.

The scouting elves heard this horror at a corridor t-junction but, deciding to leave well enough alone, they continued on ahead. The other three characters were subsequently hypnotized by it's swaying, lambent eyes until the elves, running back, peppered its skull with arrows, shattering it and destroying the beast.

Attacks in L&L are interesting, in that they currently combine a d20ish system of adding adjustments to a d20 attack roll with cross-referencing that number on an level-determined Attack Matrix with their foe's appropriate defense. Armor is, of course, a defense, with higher being better, but so are Fortitude, Reflex, and Will, which confused me at first. Part of my confusion came from the current lack of an explicit statement about this in the text; obviously a beta-draft issue. Once I figured it out, I just assigned the necrophidius a level for his hypnotism and made an attack roll on the Matrix, no problem.

I was going to go into more detail about the system and how it worked, but correspondence and George's blog have shown the rules are rapidly evolving into a non-OGL framework with some really intriguing differences. I'm excited for the direction it's going, and am eager for our next playtest session (scheduled on June 12.)

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