Master Mines

We’re digging RPGs

This Is Why Playtesting Is Good

This weekend at Go Play NW I had two rockin’ playtests. The first worked a lot of kinks out of the system and pointed me in the right direction with regards to changes that needed to be made. The second confirmed the wisdom of these decisions. I’ve got some changes to make, which I’ve outlined here, and the feedback I got this weekend was both positive and useful. I’m hoping to get a new draft finished by the end of the week.


June 25, 2007 - Posted by | A Penny For My Thoughts


  1. That’s awesome, Paul. I’m looking forward to your new draft; looking over the change notes, it gives the impression that gameplay has been tightened (and I wanted MORE questions!) and that you now have a super clear idea of the roles the players take on, and the responsibilities for each, which is something I kinda struggled with the other draft because I couldn’t quite figure out how to approach it.

    Comment by Daniel M. Perez | June 25, 2007 | Reply

  2. I’d say that’s a pretty accurate assessment, Daniel. I now have a very clear idea of how the game works, as I’ve seen it happen. My job now is to make sure that it’s possible to get that experience from the book.

    Comment by ptevis | June 25, 2007 | Reply

  3. I really had a good time in the playtest (2nd game). I enjoy this kind of game. I came back to rpg’ing about seven years ago after a eight year hiatus; I’d been trying to incorporate some things I’d been learning in long-form improv into my play, but finding few systems that supported my play goals until the last few years.

    I’ve only skimmed your rules, but I think the game itself is really solid.

    I’m occasionally active in a local improv theater and I’d been thinking of trying to get some of my fellow actors into “story gaming” via Polaris. I may still do that, but I think Penny will be an even better gateway. Some of the folks I improv with might think of the “But only if” or “It shall not come to pass” parts of Polaris as reinforcing habits that their normal training/play is trying to break – like semi-serious tennis players indulging in a weekend game of racquetball.

    After the game I was thinking some of my improv fellows might find even Penny as too constraining, and I thought about a variant for them which would make the game play faster and make it more like a some of the traditional games we play when warming up for a performance. Brainstorm to follow…

    Comment by nemomeme | June 25, 2007 | Reply

  4. This would be a variant a lot of role-players probably wouldn’t prefer. It would make the game shorter and give the players even less control over their Travelers, but increase the collaborative/trust element that improvisers and some role-players might like to experiment with, especially having played APFMT once or twice together as a group and developed their active listening skills and knowledge of each others’ plot/character preferences.

    Two-Bits Hack

    Each Traveler begins play with a resource of five nickels. The default mode of play becomes for the Traveler to ask only one Psychopomp what the Traveler said or did.

    Only by expending a nickel may a Traveler turn to another Psychopomp and follow “Or was it…” to get a second option to choose from. When they’ve expended the last of their five nickels, that is no longer an available option.

    I recognize that long-form improvisers are not likely your primary audience for this game, but if I get a chance to try the game with them with this variant, I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Comment by nemomeme | June 25, 2007 | Reply

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