CVA
Topic Author
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri 02 Jul 2021, 23:01

Alpha rules playtest

Thu 15 Jul 2021, 12:53

I got my regular TOR group to run a playtest of the Alpha rules with new characters besides our Mirkwood campaign. My players have been somewhat sceptical of the changes at first glance but agreed to give the new rules a fair shake down.

Character creation was very smooth, and everybody was able to create a character to his liking without any major hiccups. We ended up with the following player-heroes:

- Hobbit Treasure-Hunter (Scout, Stealth specialist, and jack-of-all-trades)
- Dwarven Scholar (Guide with favoured Travel, competent defensive fighter)
- Ranger Champion (Hunter, Tank extraordinaire)
- Elven Warden (Look-out, Ranged fighter with great bow)

The hobbit’s player did not like it that he had to pick axes as a close combat skill, as this clashed with his image of Hobbits. Even though clubs are available as an option, the regular axe is just so much better that it would simply feel wrong not to take it. We finally agreed that he could take a “great club” in the tradition of Bullroarer Took with the stats of an axe.

The player of the Ranger expressed that he wanted to powergame as much as possible as a stress test for the new rules. He assigned his free attribute point to Wits and took Heir of Arnor, which mitigated his hope problem quite well. Then, he proceeded to pick a magical tower shield of Numenorean make with Superior Reinforced, which brought his starting Parry to 23. This means that adversaries with attack 2 or lower will not be able to hit him without rolling an Eye.

The Hobbit’s player was delighted to hear that he would start with a half-starved pony and came up with a name and backstory for the beast on the spot. Finally, Useful Items were a big hit with all players and a lively exchange of ideas ensued.

Personal Notes: All in all, character creation is quite quick while offering good options for customization. Balance might be a problem in some cases. Useful Items/pack animals provide great story hooks.

I had decided to run Concerning Archers from Ruins of the North as test adventure, as it takes place in Eriador and seemed easy to adapt to 2e rules. The company started out in Rivendell, where Bilbo Baggins sends them to the ruins of Fornost to investigate the fate of a company of Hobbit archers that supposedly fought with the king against the hordes of Angmar. The adventure proposes an Encounter to impress Bilbo here, but I did not use the new rules for Councils as the player-heroes had no personal goals to achieve themselves. Instead, I had them make some free-form skill rolls depending on the situation. Everybody struggled with the high TNs as no one was truly competent in any social skills, but the Elf eventually won everybody over with a magical success.

The next day, the company set out on their journey which would take them from Rivendell to Bree and then to Fornost. Thanks to their great guide they only had to face two events on the road. The first one was a possible shortcut, which the scout botched, and for the second one I threw in a sudden attack by four wolves as a quick test of combat.

As expected, the player-heroes had no trouble dispatching the foes in just 3 rounds without taking any hits. The new system with trading 6s for special damage was an instant hit as expected, and everybody was immediately discussing tactics and ideas. Only the player of the Dwarven Scholar voiced dissatisfaction after the battle. He had fought in defensive stance and found himself too restricted to act in any meaningful way here, especially because the Protect Companion task is not a meaningful option in its current state. Granted, staying on the defence was not really necessary against these easy foes, but this is the default tactic for his character in our main campaign and so it was important to him to experience the changes here first-hand. Things might get more interesting once more powerful Adversaries show up, but I share his sentiment that defensive stance is not as attractive as it used to be.

We ended the session when the company finally arrived in Bree. There was some confusion about what the smartest way would be to share points from the Fellowship Pool, but it was eventually decided to postpone the question for now. Most characters had spent 1-2 points of hope, had incurred 0-1 points of travel fatigue and no one had lost any endurance.

Post-game, I’d say the general mood was carefully optimistic, in the vein of “not as bad as I had feared, and with some stuff I really liked”. We agreed to continue the playtest in two weeks.

Personal Notes: I’m still struggling to find ways to incorporate Councils into play, but the new Travelling rules seem really great at first glance. Combat feels great too, except for all things defensive. I feel like I can do more with Adversaries now, thanks to spending hate for bonus dice and 6s for special effects, which is a big plus. Less Hope refresh is also a plus in my book, as players will now have to put more thought into this. Finally, awarding a flat 3 xp/3 ap per session seems bland and generic, but I am still happy to see the old system gone and I can’t think of anything better myself at the moment.
 
edufernandes
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed 17 Feb 2021, 21:28

Re: Alpha rules playtest

Thu 15 Jul 2021, 14:34

Wonderful experience, thanks for sharing.
I'll run my campaign next week, converting our characters from 1ed. to new rules.

Just a question, what was the impact of useful items in your game? Have you used them anyway?
 
MDuckworth83
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue 06 Jul 2021, 03:32

Re: Alpha rules playtest

Thu 15 Jul 2021, 15:48

Thank you... THIS is what this forum needs right now. I think we've just about exhausted everything from a theorycrafting perspective, and sort of need to see how test plays with actual playgroups go. I do feel a little better about the travel system after reading this. I'm still concerned that your Dwarf's great skill in travel would have been indistinguishable from an Elven Guide's great skill in Lore. I really hate that these feel like two generic flavors of the same skill now rather than distinct skills with distinct effects (travel gets you there, lore determines some successes up front to spend at your choice during travel). I also noticed you tossed in a combat encounter, which is absent from the random events. Maybe this is how it's intended to be played? Combat along the road is not supposed to be random? Sounds like it worked in your group, and perhaps the final rulebook should have some guidance into adding combat encounters into journeys.

One technicality question though - can your Ranger actually choose a cultural virtue at character creation? This is something that confused me too, but after several readings, I don't think you can choose cultural virtues until after you gain a point of Wisdom in play. I think all virtues and rewards have to come from starting virtues and starting rewards (which is "all" rewards at this point). Speaking of which... how did you come up with the Numenorean shield? That's only possibly through magical item horde rules now right?
 
Mythicos
Posts: 124
Joined: Tue 16 Jun 2020, 03:46

Re: Alpha rules playtest

Thu 15 Jul 2021, 20:13


Thank you... THIS is what this forum needs right now. I think we've just about exhausted everything from a theorycrafting perspective, and sort of need to see how test plays with actual playgroups go.
Agreed +1000. Very interesting!

One technicality question though - can your Ranger actually choose a cultural virtue at character creation? This is something that confused me too, but after several readings, I don't think you can choose cultural virtues until after you gain a point of Wisdom in play. I think all virtues and rewards have to come from starting virtues and starting rewards (which is "all" rewards at this point). Speaking of which... how did you come up with the Numenorean shield? That's only possibly through magical item horde rules now right?
Maybe they weren't beginning characters?
 
CVA
Topic Author
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri 02 Jul 2021, 23:01

Re: Alpha rules playtest

Thu 15 Jul 2021, 20:49

Wonderful experience, thanks for sharing.
I'll run my campaign next week, converting our characters from 1ed. to new rules.

Just a question, what was the impact of useful items in your game? Have you used them anyway?
Thank you, I would love to read about your experiences as well. 1e conversion will certainly be a topic I will have to deal with in the future as well.

The Useful Items actually didn‘t matter much from a mechanical POV. I think we only had a single roll where one of them was used. They did matter a great deal for the story, though, because my players came up with awesome ideas that added a lot of flavour. The Dwarven Scholar owns a carved tobacco pipe that supports his Song. It‘s an old family heirloom that is traditionally smoked during gatherings and which he needs to get into a festive mood. The Hobbit carries Barnabas Brandybuck‘s Little Book of Good Manners around, from which he likes to quote extensively (mainly to himself, as his manners aren‘t all that good actually).
The Useful Items gave the players a real incentive to get creative with their characters, and that paid off really well.
 
CVA
Topic Author
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri 02 Jul 2021, 23:01

Re: Alpha rules playtest

Thu 15 Jul 2021, 21:15

I also noticed you tossed in a combat encounter, which is absent from the random events.

Sure, that was just some improvisation because I wanted to get a test combat in. Time was starting to run short and that seemed like the best opportunity at that time.

One technicality question though - can your Ranger actually choose a cultural virtue at character creation? This is something that confused me too, but after several readings, I don't think you can choose cultural virtues until after you gain a point of Wisdom in play. I think all virtues and rewards have to come from starting virtues and starting rewards (which is "all" rewards at this point).

Ok, did I screw up here? On page 51 it says „ At the start of the game, all players get to choose 1 Virtue and 1 Reward, selecting them among those listed starting in Chapter 4.“
So I thought that everything in chapter 4 was fair game.

Speaking of which... how did you come up with the Numenorean shield? That's only possibly through magical item horde rules now right?

Well, look at that. Heir of Arnor mentions „a Marvellous Artefact, or a Famous Weapon possessing a single Enchanted Reward“, and all of us just assumed that it would apply to armour as well. I don‘t quite get why it should not, but I have to agree that our understanding was not RAW.
 
baldrick0712
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri 28 May 2021, 12:29

Re: Alpha rules playtest

Fri 16 Jul 2021, 07:10

Well, look at that. Heir of Arnor mentions „a Marvellous Artefact, or a Famous Weapon possessing a single Enchanted Reward“, and all of us just assumed that it would apply to armour as well. I don‘t quite get why it should not, but I have to agree that our understanding was not RAW.
p163 Designing Famous Weapons and Armour. CHOOSE ITEM TYPE: The first thing to choose is the most important one: what piece of war gear is the object of the design? Is it a weapon, or a piece of defensive gear, like a mail shirt, or a helm or shield?

Seems you applied the rule correctly to me. I would think under "Heir of Arnor" when it says "use the rules on p161" the entirety of the rules there can be used. I also actually think shields are closer to weapons than armour as they have to be wielded and can be used offensively to shield-bash opponents.
 
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Michele
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue 29 Jun 2021, 16:58

Re: Alpha rules playtest

Fri 16 Jul 2021, 10:07

Ok, did I screw up here? On page 51 it says „ At the start of the game, all players get to choose 1 Virtue and 1 Reward, selecting them among those listed starting in Chapter 4.“
So I thought that everything in chapter 4 was fair game.

Cultural Virtues are available only from Wisdom rank 2 onwards:

page 81, "All Heroic Cultures feature six Cultural Virtues that can be chosen exclusively by members of that Culture, when they gain a new rank in WISDOM (in place of a standard Virtue), and only starting with WISDOM 2."

Great report, by the way!
 
CVA
Topic Author
Posts: 15
Joined: Fri 02 Jul 2021, 23:01

Re: Alpha rules playtest

Sat 17 Jul 2021, 12:58


page 81, "All Heroic Cultures feature six Cultural Virtues that can be chosen exclusively by members of that Culture, when they gain a new rank in WISDOM (in place of a standard Virtue), and only starting with WISDOM 2."

Shoot, I totally missed that! Thanks a lot, that is really important.
I wonder why this gets no mention on pg. 51, thought. Maybe that concept did change over different drafts?
 
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Michele
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue 29 Jun 2021, 16:58

Re: Alpha rules playtest

Sat 17 Jul 2021, 13:40

Shoot, I totally missed that! Thanks a lot, that is really important.
I wonder why this gets no mention on pg. 51, thought. Maybe that concept did change over different drafts?
You're welcome ;)
I don't think it's a change between drafts; page 51 could probably mention it for better clarity, but since you need to go to pages 80-81 anyway in order to choose your starting Virtues, you would learn about the limitation there anyways, so I guess it isn't strictly necessary to repeat that information.

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