This past week we got to run another Reckoning playtest while we were at Unco11. The playtest was drifting the system a bit, outside the settings (modern) for which it is designed. The situation was that the players would be in the midst of the Fourth Crusade, either Latins or Greeks. If they had chosen to be the Greeks, they would be inside the city, centered on one of the monasteries in Constantinople, and their horror would be the impending doom coming down on them from the west.
The players chose to be Latins – their horror would be the horror of moral culpability as they sack and destroy cities of their brethren (Zara and then Constantinople itself).
The playtest went really well – the system works. It does what we want it to do. People have fun. Every group tells us that character creation is the best part of the system, and it led to a lot of interconnection and buy-in among the players.
The players were basically a group of five who normally play D&D (one has called every character Ham Samich since he started playing in middle school) and one player deep-friend in the simmering vat of story games, someone with an entirely different gaming background, different expectations at the table.
What I suspected, what was reinforced, is that not only is Reckoning not a story game, it is potentially not fun for story gamers, unless they are interested in playing something like a hybrid.
It was interesting to see this person’s discomfort. We spent three hours after the session discussing the game, and it seemed like our story gamer enjoyed parts of it, but felt a lot of anxiety around the idea of a GM having lots of control over what was happening.
The thing is, the game is solid. We know a little better about our target audience – basically, people who play D&D or other similar games will have a lot of fun with Reckoning and be introduced to a few ideas that don’t exist in D&D.
We did what we set out to do. We wanted to create an excellent horror rpg that we would want to play more than any other horror rpg. That’s what we have. As a wonderful bonus, most other people who have played the game in the past have a great time with the game – all but one, actually, though I don’t want to imply it was something wrong with this player. It’s just – well, not everyone is going to enjoy a given game.
This thing is sharp, man. It does what it’s supposed to do from a design standpoint. We got some good advice from the one less-satisfied player that we need more time to consider, but what we really need is a rough draft to start having readers look at.