No Artpunk III Playtest report 1
Artpunkin'? Not on my watch.
It is that time again. The NoArtPunkman has sounded his clarion call and summoned all OSRmen to the fray. "Down with the picture book modules! Down with esoteric encounter procedure! Down with 'generic OSR' modules!" He roared; and so we have answered, however meekly, to his rally.
NAP III ends in a little over a month. My humble entry has been simmering behind the scenes for most of this year, and is just reaching a boil. Now is time for the taste test and final polish. In light of these facts, my usual session reports will be replaced by tidbits from these play-tests sessions. Starting today.
This test session comes off of the back of a week and a half character generation process. Most of that came from me learning that the current domain focus of the adventure was simply too small in scope. Originally, the old home base was a measly class VI market. That is now gone as the size of armies and domains of players were huge. In this vein, I am now stocking the area which much larger opposing armies. This was what the vast majority of time the past week was going towards. The rest went into generating henchmen and followers.
Dying [not so] easy
The main dungeon itself is the initial part that's getting tested. This session was extremely brief do to a late start, so here are the highlights:
- The party met with the Gate Guardian, a massive Iron Golem with a bell in it's chest
- A retainer was turned into a mouse and reduced to 1 HD for messing with an artifact
- Another retainer had two levels eaten by a Spectre.
- Several tons of dirt was moved from one garden to another. This killed the archer bushes and vampire roses gaurding them from the skies.
Most of these were relatively easy for the party to overcome. The golem in particular was a cinch. They simple cast silence around the bell, causing it to not be able to raise the alarm. It was rooted to the ground, and so keeping their distance proved effective.
A few major issues have been uncovered so far:
1. The possible party size is much too large. High level characters have a lot of henchmen.
- To remediate this I am planning implementing a fear aura around certain places that will hinder bringing in infinite guests.
2. The Golem encounter was too easy
1. The Gate Gaurdian was originally rusted in place. This is being change because going in the front gate should be more punishing. It's being changed from an Iron Golem to Bronze, but allowed it's normal movement.
3. The Artifact was too punishing
- There is a choosy magical artiface in the main hall of the castle. Previously the punishment for not being worthy was permantent reduction to 1HD, no save, no way to fix. Then a save vs spell or become some vermin. I've now made both effects reversible via a remove curse and a polymorph spell respectively. Cast by a 9th level or higher caster. The warning on the artifact does not telegraph the danger and how to avoid it well enough. A rewording is in order
Things what ain't changin'
1. The Gardens
- I am very happy with the gardens as is. Their monsters were neutralized by Move Earth, which is fine. They are more to punish flying into the castle from above, not to be a threat to those who are entering from elsewhere.
2. The encounter frequency
- I was originally using a modified version of The Underclock but it felt somewhat awkward in solo play (read Artpunky). So I settled on the standard 1d6 every two dungeon turns, roll on the random encounter chart. Plus some extra circumstances that will cause a roll. Most notably, long combats. Every five combat rounds incur a random encounter check, with those monsters coming to join the fray.
Final Thoughts and a Sneak Peak.
In conclusion the play-test is going well. It has exposed some serious weaknesses that I needed to shore up. Nothing survives contact with actual players and this is a good thing. Importantly, it has caused me to abandon the original premise and drive force for something more extreme and threatening. Now the PCs are fresh off rebelling from a distant and greedy monarch, while trying to expand their domain in an extremely hostile land. It is much stricter time clock, but the PCs have far more resources than I expected.
Finally I will leave with the sneak peak the magic item that caused such a fuss (they were unable to get it). I am going to leave the requirements a mystery for now, but they may be inferred from the description. Here it is (formatting Substack’s):
Iron Rod of Rulership:
The Iron Rod of Rulership is a gold enameled iron scepter. It may be used as a +3 mace with the following properties:
- Any character class may wield it, regardless of weapon restrictions.
- It uses that classes prime requisite for melee attack bonuses and damage
- It provides a +1 morale bonus to a characters personal domain, and a +2 morale bonus to any henchmen with them
- It is Sentient and cannot be discarded except by it's choice. It is capable of speech and will pontificate on the finer points of ruler ship and statecraft, even when not asked. It will demand to part ways with any character who loses their domain, or whose domain drops below a 0 morale rating. This parting of ways does not incur the curse from the statue.
- Int: 12
- Ego: 12
- Lawful alignment
- Languages: Common, Elf, Dwarf.
- Motivation: guide would be kings to greatness
- Detect Evil
- Detect Enemies
- Detect Invisible or Hidden
- Phantasmal Force: King's Guard
- This Phantasmal Force always appears as a group of loyal guards for the wielder. They were special plate with the wielder's regalia emblazoned on it.
And that's all I have for this week! So for now!