Reactions (Part 1)

Well, kids, I’m back from my back to back trips to Gary Con and the GAMA Trade Show, and it was one hell of a ride. Ten days on the road running games and talking to folks is both fun and grueling.

While most of my attention and energy was were on running games of the Pathfinder 2nd Edition Playtest, I got a really good game of Delve in. But before I get into that, let me talk a little about Pathfinder.

When Jason Bulmahn and I were invited to the show, we knew it would be a shame if we didn’t run sessions of the new game. Jason had the idea of running a charity event to not only raise some money for the Wounded Warrior Project (Gary Con’s official charity) but to cover our tracks. No one was going to question a vaguely-worded Pathfinder event that was raising funds for a good cause. In the end, we ran about six games, raised over $2,000 for the charity and ended up having a lot of fun. Folks who played were pleasantly surprised that they got a chance to play it first, and were digging the mechanics of the game, especially the action economy, which I’m particularly proud of. Folks at the GAMA Trade Show had similar reactions. While debates rage online with each trickle of new information, folks who have played the game find it to be both very “Pathfinder” (their words, not mine) and made very few comparisons to another extremely popular roleplaying game out on the market (other than both games come from the same source). They understood the changes very quickly and loved the freedom it provided during play, and they relished the choices that opened up to them with character builds and tactics. While this is a small sample and the point of a playtest is to increase that sample and the feedback, I think we are on the right track. I’m sure I will have more to say on the subject as the playtest ramps up in August, as our play sample grows from opportunistic to massive.

Garycon Delve 2

Me running the Delve Game at Gary Con. At this point, the players are exploring the main chamber under the mausoleum, and are about to meet the demilich. Thanks to Beth Damis for taking the photo.

If you are interested in my thoughts and takes on the playtest rules, I will be on some podcasts and Twitch stream in the coming weeks. This swirl of activity starts with my friends over at The RPG Brewery. I’ll be on that Twitch show tomorrow night at 7 p.m. PST answering questions from the host and the audience. I’m sure that interview will soon go up on YouTube, and for those of you who miss it, I’ll make sure to post the link here and on social media. Next, I’ll be on The Obligatory RPG Podcast produced by the Boomer Radio Network out of Australia. We’re recording that this week, and I’ll post the link here and on social media once it’s released. I’m also in discussion with the lovely and talented Matt Finch to be on his Old School Gamer Radio show—one of my favorites shows out there. I’ll let you know the particulars when that appearance solidifies.

To keep up with all of this, I’ve added a podcast section to my Upcoming Events page to keep track of all of the events on the horizon.

Okay, now on to Delve. At Gary Con, I ran the first part of my Nesserin Crypts mega-dungeon. For my first few playtests I was running something far more narrative and less crawly in the Wyrdwood, but after reading Greg Gillespie’s  Barrowmaze adventure, and running Temple of Elemental Evil as my lunch-time internal P2 playtest for the last couple of years, I got a hankering to design something a little more like the zoned dungeon crawl presented in those two works. And, you know, the game is called Delve after all.

Garycon Delve 1

Another shot of the game taken by Beth. In this one, I’m roleplaying the cranky (and often funny) demilich.

The adventure takes place in the Crypts Quarter of Nesserin, which is the largest city on the Gray Coast. The Crypts is a place filled with ancient tombs and where the city dumps its dead. Ghouls haunt the place at night, hiding during the light of day. In the daylight, mongrelfolk toil to undo the damage the ghouls inflict and frantically bury the new dead. The characters are tasked by an ancient family just returned to the city after centuries of exile to explore a long-locked mausoleum in the quarter. Aid in their exploration comes from a cantankerous demilich relative of their patrons who reveals that the tomb’s various inner sanctums have been taken over by dimension-jumping crypt things.

Death, destruction, and treasure ensued.

By the end of the adventure, the characters defeat the first of the crypt things and recover ancient magical tomes, containing long-lost spells and arcane formulas.

I was very pleased with the player reaction. They enjoyed my odd little dungeon crawl and both new and return players seemed happy with what they played. Of course, like any playtest, there were some issues. One part of the game that’s not pulling its weight the way I want is the various reactions in Delve. Unlike the three-act unweighted action economies presented in Pathfinder Unchained and iterated in the Pathfinder 2nd Edition Playtest, Delve uses a different initiative system. Because of that, I don’t think many of my reactions are doing the work that I want them to. Some are performing just fine, but many need boosts, especially my Heroic Save talent.

But I’ll get more into the nitty-gritty of that next week. Until then, keep on checking out the blogs and podcasts for Pathfinder 2, and roll a lot of crits with whatever game you’re playing!

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About neogrognard

Stephen began working on RPGs in 2000, when he became the RPGA editoral assistant at Wizards of the Coast, working on both Polyhedron magazine and Living Greyhawk Journal. Over the years he’s administered the Living Greyhawk campaign, aided in the development of the D&D 3.5 Edition rules, was a developer for D&D 4th Edition and Star Wars Saga Edition, taught numerous game design classes in the Seattle area, and contributed to the Pathfinder RPG Advanced Player’s Guide and Ultimate Magic as a freelance designer. He has worked at Paizo for the past six years and is now the senior designer for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. He’s also the guy who designs the Pathfinder Flip-Mats and Map Packs. His current credits include Southlands for Kobold Press, as well as Hell’s Vengeance: For Queen & Empire, Horror Adventure, and Villain Codex, all for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game.
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