Jamie Fristrom’s play test feedback

I got the chance to play 0 Hunters with Jamie Fristrom at PAX he is a fellow indie game designer and video game dev (check out his blog here http://www.gamedevblog.com/)

Also in the game was Artist Tod Wills who drew a picture of his character along with the creature stowed away on their ship. find his work at http://thestorydragon.com

Jamie was nice enough to send some feedback and I thought our conversation would be a fun thing to share, given that so few people have actually played the game maybe you can live vicariously through Jamie.

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Hey Tyler,

I owe you some feedback – I enjoyed the game and Todd mentioned to me later that it was his favorite session that day.  The char-gen is great;  Danger Patrol cubed. It’s neat how you fit a fairly complex rpg (*8* stats! Buffs & debuffs! Burning wheelish duel-of-wits! Gear and character advancement!) all onto a deck of cards. It’s nice that a session plays quick (we were done in 2 hours, right?) – and the setting and tone were cool. The void blade, for example, is the sort of unique detail that really makes the setting pop – but I didn’t have the oppressive feeling that I get with Vampire or WH40K that there’s a ton of setting material I’m supposed to know. (Like Apocalypse World, it mostly felt up to us.)  It felt great to be able to say, “Oh yeah, these are sea-landing spaceships” or “I’ve got an aqua-suit” and to just go with that.
The personality keys (I forget what you called them) were also … key. For me, they were what really made it a role-playing game rather than a more mechanical story-generating parlor game – they made what we narrated in our scenes important.  Bickering over which faction we took a mission from was great too.
Some minor things you could tweak – instead of having to announce which key you’re hitting, make it honor system and anyone can grab a die when they feel they’ve hit a key. Generally that’s how I run Lady Blackbird – sort of honor system but everyone’s watching – and I’ve never seen it abused. And maybe increase the difficulty some, so we’re pushed to use up our resources and hit those keys a lot…
In one way it wasn’t really my cup of tea – and that was that everything felt on rails. Compare & contrast with Apocalypse World or Lady Blackbird, which are much freer “here’s a situation; what do you do.” Though I don’t know if you should change that. It feels like it is the game it wants to be. It’s probably better to finish this game and ship it then to revamp something that fundamental to it. (You know the metaphor of the pots? Actually, I need to follow that advice myself with That’s Drama.)
Great work!  Take care!
-Jamie
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I replied
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Hi Jamie,

Thanks! this is encouraging because you listed most of my goals.

This set’s included plot line is tightly structured as I kind of see bounty hunters as characters that are subject to their environment and circumstance, future sets may appeal more to you as they will have more self directed player characters and more open plot structures that play something like simple board games.
That said the game actually has off plot play built right into the system. scene cards have advice on when narration should trigger a scene type and then a menu of stakes that can be picked from to fit the situation, things like macguffins, money, and permanent stat changes. I guess it’s more of a traditional role play idea but it’s there if people want to venture off the plot line.
Hitting motivations (keys) has been honor system in the past, and it works. I think there is something different about it. Like the diffidence between repeating an affirmation to yourself and getting a compliment. Swapping is clunky for the first game when every one is learning the cards but once the cards have artwork and stands they will work as little signs clearly showing people what your trying to do.
Thanks for playing and for the feedback, lots of people have said they enjoyed playing but it’s nice to know why. I actually think these e-mails would be a cool thing to share on my blog are you ok with me posting them?
High Five,
Tyler
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Thanks to Jamie for letting me share this.
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