After we have brainstormed our adventure, we can do a freeform, improv-heavy, roleplay-focused playtest of our adventure.
Our goal is to play out a fun story, see the adventure from the perspective of the players, notice any existing issues and open questions, come up with more cool ideas, and to practice running the adventure before we do it for our players.
Creating your Character
Copy this template, fill it in, post it in
**Name**: Character’s Name
**Description**: Who are you? Appearance, personality, occupation, motivations.
**Abilities**: What can you do? Profession, cool powers, special skills, spells, useful items.
Come up with up to 8 abilities. Feel free to pick them from this list, or invent your own using these examples for inspiration.
After each adventure, your character can gain a new ability or improve one they already have by removing some of its limitations.
Rolling the Dice
When you attempt a task that is difficult or risky, the GM can tell you to roll a 20-sided die. If you roll above the target number (set by the GM) - you succeed, otherwise you suffer a negative consequence, setback, or a complication.
You can improve your chances by rolling with advantage. That means you roll multiple dice, and take the best result. Roll with advantage when you use an ability or an item relevant to the task you’re attempting. If you want to use multiple abilities - roll an extra die for each one, up to the maximum of 4.
!roll in the discord chat for a regular roll, type
!adv4 to roll multiple dice with advantage.
Follow these guidelines to get the most out of our games. If you’re new - don’t get too overwhelmed by all these tips. Practice them one at a time - pick one principle you’d like to get better at, and focus on that one thing for the duration of the game.
Running the Playtest
Adventure authors can invite other people to participate in the game, or playtest the adventure between themselves (if they don’t mind the spoilers). We create our characters, one person volunteers to be a GM, and we play through our adventure.
If several authors want to try their hand at running the adventure, we can take turns GMing the scenes for each other (everyone plays as their character, one person temporarily becomes a GM and runs the game until we switch and someone else continues the story).
Rolling Dice (for GMs)
Before the roll, set the target number the player needs to beat in order to succeed at a task. Set lower target numbers for easier tasks and clever solutions, and higher numbers for difficult situations and risky actions. 5 is easy, 10 is average, 15 is challenging, 18 is very hard.
You can split more challenging/elaborate tasks into multiple rolls:
Picking a lock is a single roll. To open a bank vault you might want to roll for disabling the alarm, breaking the lock, sneaking in in time to hide from the guard patrol.
If the players want to sway an angry Orc to their side, tell them to roll for an attempt at calming it down, then for communicating in a way that it can comperhend, and finally for convincing it to follow the course of action players want.
Running Combat Scenes
Resolve combat the same way you resolve any other challenge in the game - with one or multiple (often 3-5) rolls.
Don’t run combat blow-by-blow. Instead, roll to determine the outcomes of decisive moments in the conflict, dramatically interesting turning points.
There are no hitpoints, fights are resolved narratively. Successful rolls move the players closer to victory, heroes progressively back the enemy into a corner until at some point they have an opportunity to land the final killing blow.
Wound the dragon’s wing to force it to land, distract it to help another player to get close, avoid its attacks, pry open one of it’s scales, land the killing blow.
On failed rolls, players take damage from the enemy’s counterattack, the situation gets more dangerous, victory is harder to achieve. Describe how the player got hurt and take it into account when narrating the consequences and deciding the difficulty of future challenges. If the situation gets severe, players may be forced to escape or be left at the mercy of their enemies.
The orc kicks one player onto the ground, wounds another, deflects the attack, disarms the last one. Now players have no choice but to flee or get captured.
The goal is to make combat feel like improvising a cool cinematic action sequence, as opposed to playing a turn based boardgame. You present players with interesting and high-stakes challenges, they use their creativity to invent cool solutions, roleplay the dramatic moments, vividly describe awesome actions.
- Don’t over-prepare. Try to make sure you have prepared everything that would be hard to improvise on the spot, but no more.
- Listen to players and “yes and” their ideas. Let them take the story in their own direction, and build on top of their ideas. Play to find out what happens, don’t try to force preplanned outcomes.
- Keep the scenes short. Start scenes as close to the action as possible, end them as soon as the interesting part over.
- Draw players into the story by asking questions such as “How does your character feel about x?”, “What’s going through their head as they do y?”. On a successful roll, let them describe the consequences of their action - “Describe to me how you defeat the enemy.”
- Follow the rule of cool. The more awesome, creative, or funny the player’s idea is, the more likely it is to work.