Since June development has slowed down a tad as I explore the possibilities of online testing. Regardless, specific developments have been made that may steer Deathroll toward a potential FINAL DESIGN.
Before I get into dev work, I’d like to take a second to talk about the future of testing. As it would seem, these initial tests have not been able to adequately reach the amount of testers I was hoping for.
Thats why I’ve decided to take the testing online in some capacity. I’ve found that through forums like BoardGameGeek.com and communities like TableTop Simulator’s, I could realistically test “at the drop of a hat”. To be honest, the possibilities that TableTop Simulator provide for independent developers is astonishing. I’m hoping to conduct my first test through these platforms within the next two weeks.
At any rate, let’s talk about progress!!!
I recently tested an Encounter developed from the prompts that were designed a few weeks ago that I discussed in the last Development Report. It went great!
From that test one very important statement stood out among the many others. Most players felt like that the cards were probably not needed in the final design of Deathroll. However, Allie, who had never played a Table-top RPG before, noticed the possibility for the cards to add immense depth to the game. When she said this, it reminded me of past play-tests where people had said the same thing.
It seems clear to me now that the cards, as they are, do not contribute enough to the game. However, writing them off now would be a mistake. Something has to be done to make them a critical part of playing Deathroll.
This is when I connected what Allie had said about the cards, to what Harry (another tester) had said about the rolling. He noticed that the interaction between the PCs and GM when adding Exertion Die to a test was a-lot like playing poker. Each player would bet an amount of Exertion Die and wait to see what course of action their opponent would take. Would they “raise” them by adding more dice, would they “fold” by adding none, how much was it worth the other player to risk their pool of resources?
Thinking about this for awhile I realized that I had been unconsciously taking cues from what I know about poker and applying them to Deathroll’s design. However, the stakes were not high enough yet to have this new vision of Deathroll’s rolling fully realized.
Here’s what I determined from this:
- Dice are Chips – In order to beef up the stakes for players, I’m now making all dice “exchangeable”. Meaning, if you put up Exertion Dice to increase the odds of you winning a roll but then fail it anyway, those dice are won by the opposing player and added to their pool. I’ll need to test whether or not PCs should be allowed to accumulate dice like this. The GM however will be able to without question. This makes rolling against him/her scarier knowing that a pool could be depleted temporarily and added to the GMs growing total of resources to use.
- Cards allowing Bluffing – Just like how players can add a few Exertion Dice first to gauge whether or not the GM will do the same, bluffing about how much they care about the roll, PCs will now have access to cards that allow for additional bluffing to occur. Cards will allow players to benefit from not adding any Exertion Dice or punish the GM for adding too many Exertion Dice. This forces the GM to think about the possibilities of the player’s hand before adding any Exertion Dice to their roll. These cards even have an effect on the game by merely being a possibility. PCs don’t have to have these cards in hand to still make use of their intimidation factor and potentially bluff their way out of failing a roll.
On top of all of this I’m also interested in balancing the player’s starting resources. Things like: stat values, exertion pools, health totals, etc. If player’s are slightly “underdeveloped” in the beginning, the cards become even more necessary for passing tests and surviving encounters.
With a little tweaking to the old systems and a complete overhaul to the cards, I think I may have a semi-finalized version of Deathroll, in it’s early form of course.