So, we had the first play test for Over The Top last night. It was played with some members of my usual D&D/play test group. People who are both understanding to the process and willing to give it a good-old fair-dinkum go, regardless of how bad things turn out. This is lucky because the playtest went for all of an hour in which time the Party all died a horrible death at the hands of the Golem of Themar, a bronze Golem. All-in-All it was a pretty inappropriate adventure for first level characters but was a good test of some of the rules and the introductory adventure. Okay, so what was the problem with the adventure and the rules? Firstly, trying to cross No Man’s Land with an AC of seven against machine guns which can target up to four squares or the same square four times, or two squares twice, etc is a pretty harrowing experience and the Party made good use of their trench and muddy ditches in No Man’s Land to get better AC – especially when ducking out of the way of a stray artillery shell. Those Elves might have been crack marksmen, but our Heroes were made of sterner stuff. Good job.
When turning a captured machine gun on a Bronze Golem, however, it was pretty much a mess. While the image of this hulking man of bronze ignoring machine-gun fire as bullet after bullet bounced off the creature, which for its part casually walked towards the player’s hero and calmly crushed their head in a single smooth action was awe-inspiring, it also highlighted how ineffective machine guns would be on a hard-core Fantasy battlefield. Shrapnel also – deadly to low-level-PC’s – was ignored by the Golem. While it was deemed making a Save vs. Shrapnel better articulated a “roll to hit, roll damage” formula – representing less pinpoint accuracy and more a character’s ability to dive for cover – worked and machine guns functioned deadly but fune, it was noted that the adventure needed tweaking. This was decided after a short discussion. It was generally agreed that a machine gun should be able to mow down hoards of Goblins and other low Hit Dice fantasy monsters and careless player characters. A hard-core magical monster like a Bronze Golem, however, should be a big, scary weapon of war: A walking tank.
The fix for The Golem Of Themar was fairly easy one: Switch the Golem type from Bronze to Wood. We though the basic premise of the adventure – the Party are given the orders to holding a ruined villagen No Man’s Land, only to find the village’s guardian (a Golem) has been awaked – was cool. So it has stayed.
Next on the playtest agenda? Bi-Planes, tanks and other things of the vehicular nature.