*Another* playtest? Why, yes.

Jim Fisher’s group did a character creation and playtest a while back, which I just found (again) in my inbox and figured y’all might like to see it. I’ve left the notes he sent me about playtest intact at the end, because if you folks aren’t getting a look at how things are evolving, then really these are a bunch of actual play reports, yeah? I am gratified to note, however, that while we’ve got something like a half-dozen groups playtesting, they’re basically all saying the same things: Demonic forms needed revision, Embeds need resistance added, certain things need to be clarified. That’s good, in my opinion, a lot better than each group finding something different that utterly didn’t work for them.

So, without further ado:

Demon Character Creation and Playtest Session Report

22 March 2013

Character Creation: Actually this went quite a bit faster than I’d thought, despite having people who didn’t bring laptops with the rules and such. However, not a heck of a lot changed between core WoD and GMC in regards to typical character creation. The biggest wait was for people to pick their Embeds, and answering questions on how that worked.

Otherwise, this went fairly quickly and easily. Selecting new Merits and such was quick and painless. I had one person take the Double-Agenda Merit, which I just gut-checked at 2 dots (don’t know why, it just felt like a 2-dot Merit to me for some reason). Even though there is no mechanical benefit for taking more than one Agenda at present, he took it anyway and selected Inquisitor-Saboteur.

So, cast of characters:

–          Brock Easton (Destroyer/Saboteur): Spy for hire, in-between jobs at the moment

–          Anya Grey (Guardian/Inquisitor): Private investigator

–          Marv Pentacross (Messenger/Integrator): Preacher

–          Roland (Psychopomp/Tempter): Limo Driver

–          Victor Cortez (Destroyer/Inquisitor-Saboteur): Crusading Journalist/Blogger

–          Katherine “Dice” Takahashi (Messenger/Tempter): Anarchist Runner

For the game itself, I hadn’t done too much prep ahead of time as I wasn’t sure how long character creation would take, nor did I have an idea on what people were making ahead of time. That said, I had written up at least some initial plot ideas and such, and knowing my players (although they can surprise me; see below), I wasn’t worried about a little bit of “winging it.” There was a lot of roleplaying, but we did use the mechanics as well (notably some Embeds and Demonic Form abilities

I had purchased some glass beads from a local craft store (like what some Magic players use for tokens or counters of various sorts) in a few different colors. I used white/clear for Aether, and blue for Willpower, and passed the appropriate amounts out to each player. For Beats and Experiences (we used the “Group Beats” optional rule from GMC) I used the yellow beads and black glass beads from my curse the darkness materials from the Kickstarter.

With input from the players beforehand, I set the game in Las Vegas. So, as we started out, most of the characters were in or around the Mirage casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Marv was outside with pamphlets, doing a little street preaching, and Roland was wrapping up his limo shift. Otherwise, everyone was inside the casino.

Anya was tailing a man whose wife suspected him of cheating – and indeed, he had a woman with him, but it wasn’t clear if this was a pre-arranged meeting, or if she was just trying to do a little gold-digging on her own. As Anya sat at a slot machine, keeping an eye on the couple and hoping she wouldn’t actually hit the jackpot, Katherine was wandering through the casino, wondering how to do a little gambling without any starting cash. (Only one character out of the bunch put any dots in the Resources Merit for some reason.)

Deciding on a very unwise course of action, Katherine decided to try and snag some chips just sitting at a table. She managed to get caught – and as luck would have it, her target was the same man Anya was staking out. While Katherine got a success on the roll, the target got more successes on his perception roll and quickly accosted her. Some quick fast-talking got her out of the situation, and she wandered off, borrowing ten bucks from Victor to play some of the penny slots.

Meanwhile, Brock was in a similar situation to Katherine’s – namely, he didn’t have a whole lot of extra money to use. However, unlike Katherine, Brock decided to call upon some supernatural aid to fix his dilemma. Wandering by the high-roller section (or as close as he could get), he managed to catch a look at some of the higher dollar chips. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a $1000 chip. (Use of “In My Pocket.” It doesn’t seem to me as if one needs to see what one is pulling from the pocket beforehand, but the player did it without a requirement from me, so I just went with it.)

He quickly grabbed Katherine to keep her out of trouble and went to a blackjack table to cut the chip down to size, and split the chips with Katherine, $500 each.  We then actually grabbed some cards and played a quick hand of blackjack, with the other players portraying the other NPC’s at the table, while I played the dealer. Most everyone won, and after the one hand, both PC’s wandered away to find another game.

Anya couldn’t get enough information on her guy from where she was, so decided to enlist some help. Texting Brock and Katherine, she had them go mingle at the craps table where her target was playing. (There was some miscommunication here; I had thought I was clear earlier as to whom Katherine attempted to steal chips from, but not all the players caught it – notably the players of both Anya and Katherine. Oh well.)  Off they went to help, and only managed to make this horribly, horribly worse.

In the ensuing social exchange, Katherine got casino security called on her, and quickly ducked into the milling crowds, using a power to help her escape. (Used the Embed: Lost in the Crowd; without any seeming ability for the guards to make a Contested Action – maybe something akin to Clash of Wills? – the power simply succeeded, and Katherine was hidden in the mass of people. — Matt’s note: This is a common playtest note I’m getting from people, and it’s true that I didn’t include a lot of resistance to the Embeds. That’s something I’ll have to fix in revisions.) Brock managed to creep the guy out through nothing but roleplaying, and the guy left the table, taking his companion with him. Anya, fuming, texted the both of them, furious at their general ineptitude in regards to “helping.” They all decided to clear out of the area for a while and go grab a bite to eat.

Outside, Marv was passing out pamphlets while attempting to impress upon people the evils of gambling. Roland was dropping his last passenger off outside of the casino, and quick ducked into the car to clean it out a bit. Marv decided to go preach to his fellow Unchained who, knowing the Integrator well enough, exchanged in some sardonic banter.

As Anya, Brock, and Katherine were exiting the casino, a man bumped into Anya, picking her pocket. Ordinarily she might not have noticed, but he stopped dead and stared at the group for a moment before taking off in a sprint. Realizing the man had picked her pocket, Anya called out “thief!” while Katherine and Brock took off in pursuit, with Marv following a little behind. Roland and Anya jumped in the car and drove to intercept.

The man turned down an alley, narrowly avoiding Katherine’s attempt to grab him, but then ran afoul of chain-link fence. Brock, only a few steps behind, quickly stepped up and called upon his own abilities, knocking the thief out with a single punch. (Used Knockout Punch here; it was super-effective!)

As Anya and Roland came from the other direction, six thugs came out of a side lot and told the PC’s not to interfere with the thief. As the characters didn’t immediately move off, attempting to reason with the thugs instead, the thugs decided to attack.

We went through the GMC combat rules (declaring Intent and so on) and before the thugs could act, Victor used a power and just shut down combat entirely. (He used Cool Heads Prevail. This is another situation in which a Resisted or Contested action might be good. Although, it seems like the general tone of GMC might be to avoid combat whenever possible, so having this be either Resisted or Contested might go against that. I’m not sure. However, we thought that having it just be an Instant Action was really beefy, power-wise.) Not wanting to get into any sort of combat nearby the Strip and gain attention – especially as Brock noticed that the thugs were almost certainly under the God Machine’s influence.

Getting the hell out of Dodge, as it were, the PC’s went to a buffet to get something to eat and talk over what happened and what to do about it. While there, Brock slipped on a pair of dark sunglasses and huddled in a booth, activating another power to try and spy on their thief. (He called upon one of his Demonic Form abilities – Clairvoyant Sight. I may have mis-ruled, but I said that using a Form Ability that wasn’t blatantly obvious, like Blade Hand, Huge Size, or Molten Core wouldn’t in and of itself call for a compromise roll. If I was in error, I can make him roll when we play again. — Matt’s note: As written, any form power causes a compromise roll, but the demonic forms are getting heavy revision anyway.) He saw the thugs carry the thief into a room that looked almost like a workshop of some sort and lay him on a metal table. Then, what appeared to be an older gentleman in a grey suit came in, woke the thief, and talked to him a bit. Sadly, Brock couldn’t hear what was transpiring.

The waitress came by to find out what Brock wanted to drink, shaking him out of his trance and placing a Condition on him. (The Resolution of the Distracted Condition I don’t think really fit well here, as he wasn’t taking an action to answer the waitress, so I just gave him a few seconds of being out of focus, and then he sorted himself out.) He recounted what he’d seen to the others, and they concluded that it must be an angel of some sort, and that they’d have to figure out what exactly to do about it.

Due to time, and some folks needing to be at a convention the next day, we had to break it there. We’ll pick up there next session, working the other two players who couldn’t attend in at that point.

End of Actual Play


–          For the players, coming up with a Cover-threatening Specialty was somewhat difficult. We’re not sure if we just weren’t “getting it,” or if we were unconsciously justifying pretty much anything we came up with as being not threatening enough. “Sure, a Brawl Specialty in Krav Maga – he’s been taking classes down at the Y!” That sort of thing.

–          One character, as noted, took the Double Agenda Merit, which I priced at 2 dots. I can change that later on down the line, depending on what it actually ends up costing, and what benefits that provides.

–          Embeds are powerful. It doesn’t seem like any of them are Resisted or Contested.

  • In My Pocket seems like there are all sorts of crazy things one could pull out – in some cases, stepping on the toes of the Authorized Embed
  • Cool Heads Prevail – just shutting down combat like that makes me almost think I ran it incorrectly somehow

–          As stated, there was an odd interface between what was occurring in the narrative, and the Distracted Condition. I’m assuming that corner cases like that are just going to happen sometimes. Or I ran it wrong somehow.

–          Players really liked the Beats system, and as I stated we went with the “Group Beats” option. Final tally: 1 Experience and 3 Beats were in the pool at the end of game. They decided to just leave that sit for now and we’ll just add to the pool until there are enough Experiences to divvy out evenly.

–          In general, we all loved it, despite the bumps. Aspirations went well (and were the origin of some of those Beats), and the new Virtue and Vice system was well-received. I know that’s not necessarily part of Demon proper, but it’s related. I wanted to get them into combat with the thugs, but despite expectations, they really took the whole Cover thing to heart and managed to avoid a situation that might otherwise have ended in numerous compromise rolls.

–          Now that I know the bulk of the characters, I can start writing plot that will hook them in better, and I’ll have more time to decide exactly what the God Machine is planning here, and what Output the current Infrastructure is being designed to create (and how the PC’s can thwart it). I will get them into combat, and I will get them into their Demonic Forms one way or another (although one of them took Huge Size at 3 points plus Molten Core, Extra Mechanical Limbs, and Rivet Arm, so….that’ll be fun).

7 thoughts on “*Another* playtest? Why, yes.”

  1. It’s really nice to see that there is still plenty of feedback going on; it means things are actually being tried at a table and potential problems are getting spotted. I really like to see that.

  2. Awesome. I’m loving all Tue reports and I can almost visualize the system already. It’s beautiful, please keep up the great work everyone…its just adding up to another game I’m gonna have to have! 😉


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