Sunday, June 30, 2019

Test Run

Played some Caverns  & Cowboys last night with the guys on Hangouts/Roll20. There were a few minor issues, but mostly Dean, Jeremy and Ken had a positive reaction to the game.

There was a little bit of confusion with the different ability scores from D&D standard. I've based the system on the Star Frontiers d% system, so the ability scores and their abbreviations can get confusing. For example, in SF there is an ability abbreviated INT but it stands for Intuition, not Intelligence. LOG (Logic) is closer to D&D Int. Also, PER is Personality, but they kept assuming it was Perception.

Char gen is fairly easy as far as ability scores and skill selection, but buying equipment was the thing that slowed it down. Dean missed having "ready pack" options like in 4E and 5E D&D, so I may come up with some suggestions for that. Jeremy just copy/pasted my sample character's gear then added a few things he wanted, so that was fairly fast for him. Ken is a bit of an Old West history buff, so he was pleased to see the wide selection of gear available.

Anyway, Dean's suggestion of some sample starting packs would be a good idea to help people get into the game faster. Also, Ken (who played a doctor) noticed that I forgot to put medical kits and laudanum and other period medicines on the list. To be added. I should make sure other skill sets that need tools/equipment have them available as well.

The big departure from Star Frontiers is the magic system I cobbled together. I did some research on period mystical/magical belief systems (Jeremy appreciated this level of setting detail) and came up with some appropriate magical traditions. Using the SF skill system of one skill with discrete subskills as a package, each magical tradition is a skill and each spell is a subskill. They improve in potency as you level up the magical skill. Dean took Mesmerism as one of his starting skills, and put it to good use with a seance to gather information and later hypnotism to pacify a villain. So far, it didn't seem broken. The other traditions, and magic skills at medium to high level play still need to be tested, though.

The combat system worked well (I knew from Star Frontiers that it should). Chances to hit for beginning characters are low and there are more negative modifiers to attacks than positives, so there was a lot of missing by both sides. Dean was a bit put off by this at first, but since Ken and Jeremy were commenting on how this was more like a real firefight, where lots of bullets do miss unless you're really close to your target, Dean got on board with it. I know from experience that once those combat skills get up to around 3 or 4, combat gets a lot easier.

The scenario I ran them through was a simple one. Sheriff Bart of the town of Justice asked them to go to the smaller town of Liberty nearby and run off some bandits who had taken over the town. After a bit of haggling over the reward, they set out and on the way were ambushed by blink coyotes (blink dogs from D&D of course). They had trouble hitting the blink dogs, and took a lot of small bites. Finally, they wounded enough of the blink coyotes that the creatures decided to find easier prey and vanished. The party decided to head back to town to hire some extra guns to take on the bandits.

In town, Dean's character Schmitt performed his seance to contact a victim of the bandits and get some intel. They each also hired a rifleman to accompany them. When they got to Liberty, there were four bandits guarding a bridge over a creek south of town. They spotted the bandits, the bandits spotted them. Both sides took cover, and one bandit ran into town to alert the others. The firefight was fairly long, as I mentioned above, lots of missed shots (mostly due to range and cover penalties to hit). After five or six rounds the bandit leader, an ogre, appeared and charged across the bridge to attack with its spiked club. They did a good amount of damage to the ogre, but it nearly killed one of their hired guns before Schmitt could hypnotize it to sleep. Then, Sam (the hired gun of Jeremy's character Hezekiah) managed to roll a 01 and 02 to hit, which are knock-out rolls in the system. So two of the three bandits went down the same round as the ogre boss. The final bandit surrendered, and the other bandits carousing in town fled to the wilderness when they got the news.

When the ogre woke up, they questioned him (with a bit more hypnosis to make him talkative) and found their lair was a cave outside town. After securing the ogre with chains in a root cellar, they set out and found the lair, getting just over $1000 in silver coins, a potion, and a magic wand. On Hezekiah's orders, Sam drank the potion (the order was drink, not sip! Jeremy had maybe a little too much whiskey as we played!) and so had clairvoyance for an hour with nothing to view. :D Back in town, the sheriff of Justice arrived with a Justice of the Peace and they gave the ogre his trial, found him guilty, and hung him by his neck until he was dead.

So the scenario I sorta whipped up out of next to nothing worked well, and since the players were into the idea of D&D with Western trappings, it seemed to work out well. I think this little game has some promise.

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