The First Play Test

There are two mistakes that I notice commonly take place with new play testers. They expect a finished, polished game (and they try to break the game – but that’s an issue with the tabletop role-play crowd in general, those folks who forget the Game Master is also a player, one who puts infinitely more work, who decide to see how hard they can push the rules to derail the story). And that is certainly not something you get with play testing. Certainly not on the first playtest – maybe around the second or third depending on the game (new editions of old games, additions to or variants on existing systems require so much less work). That was certainly the case with the first Big Damn Dryden playtest. While the bulk of the rules – rolls and character creation – worked beautifully there were a few things that needed tweaking. Costs for gear for one, some stuff about Starships and starship crews. Some power level issues and somewhere to go with Experience Points. The mistake is often to think of these as mistakes or problems. They’re not. It’s the first time a game is played, it’s not going to be perfect. Indeed, no game ever is. Savage Worlds isn’t a generic system, for instance, it’s a pulp one and everything social is marginalized in it. Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition is more narrative war-game than role-play experience. But so long as it evokes the setting in a unique, characterful way that’s fun to play then it’s all good. And that’s what we have and got out of Big Damn Dryden. Those issues are just that: issues and opportunities to make corporate patronage more lucrative and characterful with discounts for items manufactured by your corporation, for players to own and crew their own starships Mass Effect style (specifically ME2), to make the setting feel grittier by scaling back points at character creation, and so forth. In short, you can’t gloss over the value of play testing. Big Damn Dryden is going to be good for it.

The First Play Test

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