Monday, June 18, 2012

Saving Grace (Chronicles)

I've been testing Chronicles, the tabletop skirmish RPG system extensively as a solo project for a long time now, and I'm also writing an adventure book for the system. After first few overly detailed tests I haven't written anything here, because I didn't really feel I was playing the game, just testing it, alone.

However, yesterday that changed.

I played the adventure book A New Start with a friend. We both had two adventurers - my team being Zweihander with Charging Smash and Cleric with Smiting Words. My friend had Flame Wizard with Improved Fireball and Geomancer with Elemental Strike around. This was an excellent team for testing purposes - Zweihander and Geomancer being two of the newest additions to adventurer possibilities.

We played with Warmachine miniatures, though I have actually bought a couple of models to be used as adventurers later. But they will have to wait for a paintjob.

First, a thing that you cannot feel when playing as solo on Vassal, is the size of the gaming area. The size of 24" x 24" is actually excellent gaming area for a game of this size. Movement scores and "costly" running make are in good balance - smallish table size cannot be run over and across too easily.

A quick word on all scenarios played:

First Battle Scene (goblin ambush on road):
Scene was still very easy, but I still think it should be that way, because it is there to teach game rules. We decided to play enemy phases so that we discussed what is probably the best (and vaguely realistic) way for goblins to act.

Second battle scene (goblins base camp in the forest ruins):
Here we had first real challenge. A few critical hits by goblins and a couple of good Fire damage rolls from goblin shaman against Zweihander forced Cleric to go and heal him. While Cleric was healing Zweihander, goblin archers scored lucky hits to the only unengaged adventurer - Flame Wizard. He fell unconscious in the battle.

Cleric saved up skill points then to have enough for Saving Grace - an ability to prevent injuries from falling down in battle. This had the impact that Cleric could not either heal nor effectively battle the goblins. He could, however, effectively tie goblins up.

After the Battle Scene a new nice feature came up that just isn't there when testing mechanics as a solo project - trading between players.

We had decided to collect our loot separately so that my group had their own treasury and my friends group had their own. Any items found were randomised between the group, and my Zweihander made a good roll and found the Copper Amulet from this scenario. We agreed on a price and so the item was given to the spellcasters, who really needed the hit point boost.

Next, then, the Giant Centipede was a major resource depletion. We were lucky enough that no adventurer fell unconscious, but we had something like below 5 combined skill points available for whole party.

When we arrived at the underground ritual, we were swarmed by the goblins inside and on two occasions the time counter was down to only 1 turn remaining. Eventually both Flame Wizard and Geomancer were using Defense -action every round engaged by three goblins and both had only very few hit points remaining. It was "kind of" exciting, but there sure was a little problem at least in the Geomancer's melee potential. In the end, however, we finished the scenario succesfully, and even got both of the rubies out of goblins' statue. This, however, made us spent just about all remaining skill points (even when we rolled a couple of Blue Potions from treasure table).

Last Battle Scene (the goblin attack on the village) felt a little bland, still... It could be we had started losing impetus a little, since we had been playing the whole adventure book in just one go.

Goblins were still very easy, and captain from the village single-handedly killed half of the goblins, Zweihander chiming in as a good second candidate. Cleric without skillpoints and Geomancer with only a couple of skill points ran to engage archers and were then using defense -action or attacked the goblins, but that was a damn slow progress right there.

All in all, we had good time and both saw the potential in the system.

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