Saturday, March 17, 2012

The God that Crawls Art Update + Monolith Playtest Results!

There's a full update today over on the IndieGoGo page, but just wanted to drop a couple notes here as well.

Playtests for The Monolith from beyond Space and Time went very well yesterday. (although almost 15 hours of describing physical and temporal anomalies was rather exhausting... boohoo my job is hard.) I've now played the adventure with five groups and the pattern is generally the same:

  • The players stumble upon "the solution" soon enough but nobody even considers that to actually be the solution. So they continue to explore and come up with plans (sometimes for hours of real time) that usually pull them further and deeper into a weird mess.
  • Atrocities are committed along the way. Once PCs encounter time and space as completely malleable constructs they lose inhibitions and respect for "the natural order." It's like Lovecraftian insanity in organic, rather than mechanical, form*. What at the beginning of the scenario is considered absolutely crazy is tried at the end just on the off chance it might work.
  • Things get awfully quiet and a little bit desperate when they realize that their final options are all kind of crap.
  • Things liven up afterward when they realize that it's the adventure's fault and it wasn't them just being too dumb to find the happy ending.
When it doesn't work like this, it's because the PC is OK with being an altered being and think that's better than the available alternative.

I don't know how the public at large will receive the adventure, but "eehh, same old shit" is not a criticism I'll be hearing often.

The God that Crawls is going to be a more familiar format of adventure, being focused on a dungeon, but with a great possibility of having a very unconventional structure. I'll be doing Google+ games for this hopefully in the next couple weeks. But take a look at a cool piece of Jason Rainville art from the adventure (which will be presented in a 210 × 550mm (about 8.25 × 21.5 inches) foldout on the reverse side of the maps):

* I recently received Trail of Cthulhu, Bookhounds of London, and Stealing Cthulhu. All are excellent, with Stealing Cthulhu in particular being exceptionally perceptive as a general resource for horror gaming and dissecting Lovecraft's stories for RPG scenario purposes. Bookhounds is a great concept. They are very useful non-system specific sourcebooks and idea mines...


  1. Love the artwork, that piece is really excellent. What's up with the guy trying to cut the rope? Doesn't he know that's the Flame Princess? I hope this is an emerging theme of art featuring the Flame Princess in peril.

  2. That is just amazing art.

    I'm curious, how did the players find out that it was the adventure that fucked them and not their own actions? I could see that sort of thing being vital to making that adventure work.

  3. After-play conversation. And the adventure isn't necessarily a complete fuckjob. Not for everyone, anyway.

  4. What do you mean emerging theme of the Princess in peril? As opposed to the current theme of her dying in agony? Ha.

  5. It was a very cool and challenging adventure. Thanks for running a public beta! I hope this practice catches on with other designers.

  6. I'm curious to know how the 100th level group fared.

  7. Re: Flame Princess in peril... we know she gets dissolved by some guey greenish stuff... this could be rounds just before her death.

    Re: Stumbling on the solution... this reminds me of a LARP involving time travel. About two hours into the game, I was sitting on a couch accidentally blarping out the solution. But nobody was listening to me (not even I, cause I forgot till at the post-play discussion round). The GMs were listening though. I had them terrified that after two hours, the LARP would be finished early, because I already knew the solution. Alas, in the end we still failed after 8 hours. Nobody was listening to me...

  8. >>I'm curious to know how the 100th level group fared.

    In some ways they had the toughest time of the bunch, I think, because all the options they they had available to them. Some turned against them badly. Much was ineffective.

    Before they entered the valley the magic-user suffered more damage than all hp damage the adventure had ever inflicted on anyone ever, from a combo of spells I'd never considered. 100th level character playtests are a good way of finding out what spells, if any, will break an adventure, since they pretty much have everything at their disposal in whatever quantity they desire.

  9. The magic-user being me. I cast Permanent Spell Immunity, Flying and Improved Invisibility on myself. And then they all got dispelled when I was 100 meters high in the air. The pain. Where I became worried was when my Feather Fall refused to work, too. What I can say here is, that this adventure is close to absolutely unbreakable by magical means =D.