Monday, October 17, 2011

We're in alpha!

Jax and the rescued merchant on a built plane. In the foreground, some dismantled pirates.
There was an impromptu test session today after school. I had no definitive rules, no setting and no scenario, but I had an eager 9 year-old. Also, I really wanted to try some things out.

Sean chose the Gladiator minifig with a different, more cheerful head, and I asked him to fill the following template: [Name], the [behaviour] [job] from [world]. He wrote "Jax, the smily (sic) Army captain from Alostorus". He described Alostorus as "a dragon and ninja world".

I showed him the weapon rack, the potion shelves and some miscellanous items and he chose a spear, a round shield and a potion. ("What's the orange potion?" "I don't know... Strength?" "Okay, I'll take it.") He customised his Hero dice with yet another Strength power - I'll explain these in a further post - and character creation was over.

As the Army captain of a border town in Alostorus, Jax was asked by the mayor to look for a missing person. A potion merchant should have come through the jungle a week ago. I won't tell the whole story here for fear somebody steals it and writes a best-seller, but there were pirate slavers, a raging river, a car wreck and a destroyer drone. All in less than an hour.

I got several important lessons from this session.
  1. Kids wanna build. Sean kept coming up with solutions to overcome obstacles using the handful of bricks I gave him. He built a car to travel to the jungle, a lamp to light his way in the tunnels, a bridge, a ladder to go over the pirate's hideout fence, and finally a plane to bring the merchant back to the town.
  2. Be more prepared! If I want to use minifigs for enemies and other NPCs, I'll need to have them ready with their equipment at hand. I spent far too much time rummaging for stuff. Good thing I had a few creatures already built.
  3. More complications! The reaction to the "success+but" rule (the player succeeds but the GM gets to narrate a side effect) was an enthusiastic "Cool!" That's not something you'd get from a seasoned gamer.
  4. Combat works as planned. I've decided that rolls would be simultaneous attack-defenses and that made everything smooth. With more than one player, I might even do group simultaneous - Tunnels & Trolls style. One roll to rule them all: successes cancel each other and damage is shared among the losing side. With four HPs and potentially two weapons, characters are quite potent, though I suspect unlucky players could see their heroes dismantled soon enough. But that's what potions are for.
  5. Roleplaying. Nothing to do with the game in itself, but I was pleased to see that roleplaying came naturally to Sean. In the end, he just chatted with the merchant, asking him if he was comfortable in the plane and promising to visit his shop. Win!  
There you go, Brickworlds is an actual game now. I should maybe start writing down some of these rules as well. In any case, I'm looking forward to doing more tests. After all, we never learnt what the pirates were doing on Alostorus...

Donation update: two great kits were sent via the Amazon wishlist (thanks, C├ędric and Guillaume!), and two more were given by my friend and flatmate Chris. Photos are linked on the donors page.

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