02. The Importance of a Good Play Test

A couple of weeks ago I ran my first play test for the first mission that I will be suppling in the campaign setting. I had a list of things in my mind that I wanted to find out;

  • Were the zombies too tough or too easy?
  • Did the Pre-generated Characters seem under powered?
  • Did the Pre-generated Characters abilities suit their theme?
  • Did the plot intrigue you?
  • What did you like?
  • What could be better?

With this few things in mind I set out to surprise my regular gaming group with the first ever play test of ‘Aim for the Head.’ While I did get some answers to the above questions, I also learnt a lot more about hosting an RPG and especially a play test for a new campaign setting.

First never spring a surprise RPG on a group of people who are expecting to be playing board games, while they were all accommodating once they found out that it was a play test. I think it let the mood down a little due to the fact they had all wanted to play something else.

Just because someone tells you they have played DnD do not assume that they remember it clearly, make sure you are clear when you tell them how the games mechanics work (dice rolls)

Be clear on what, the mood of the game should be is it a hack and slash a mystery or something else. While you may have it in your head that the story is the goal of the game, the players might just want to hack and slash. No-one will enjoy the game for what it is meant to be as you will be annoyed that every plot point you throw at them is ignored and they get annoyed as it is taking too long between the next big fight.

Pick a group of players that work well together, for most of the games I was wishing, that I had my old game crew playing, because I know that each of them knows how everyone else in the group plays and they each can contribute to the story and feed off each others input.

In the end I did learn that if there is a location on the map you need to know why it’s there, don’t put something in the game that you have no reason for it, as it will be the first thing the players will want to access/ search or use. This goes with NPC as well, otherwise your players will want to interact with them and all you have is a corny line stolen from ever computer based RPG out there ‘I have nothing to say to you’ ‘I’m too busy to talk to you, move along.’ If it’s in the game let there be a reason for it or get rid of it.

My monsters were too hard to kill (easy to hit hard to wound) I toned it down mid game which sped things up. Some tweaking of the pre generated characters is needed but not much theme wise they all seemed to fit rather well and each had their own skills they could bring to the game to help complete tasks.

But most of all, I am looking forward to running the play test again an next time with my old game crew as I know if there is anyone who will get into the theme of it these guys will and if there is anything broken in the game these guys will find it.

Till next time,
Cheers Ray

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