Actual Play – Duneville (1/8/2011)

Watchtower: Sean Nittner
Leads: Tracy Pinklton, Travis Lindquist, Chris Vincenti, and Steven Dunn
System: Smallville, hacked to Dune.

This was my play test game for the upcoming Endgame Minicon. I find it a little strange that I prep more for the one day minicons than I sometimes do for the big con events. I think it is because I know the people that will be there and that will be in the game, and I really want to make sure it’s good for them. Also, because the games are in the open (rather than in a room) I have a bit more opportunity to show off for minicon games.

So, too little surprise, I took the time to playtest my mini-con game and I’m glad I did. It was my first time either running or playing in the Smallville system and I was glad to give it a test drive.

Usually I don’t reveal “plot” in a play test but the plot of this game can be summed up in three words: Jamis wins. Go! If that doesn’t mean anything to you then perhaps your not a hard core Dune fan. But worry not, all will be explained before the game starts.

What rocked

  • The importance was focused on the player interactions with each other.
  • Value and Relationship statements were helpful guides to playing the character.
  • Being able to choose why you were doing something and for who was very powerful.
  • Challenging values and relationships was awesome.
  • The props worked well. Spice pills, my Duke Leto uniform and the character sheets were all quite nice.
  • Each situation really came alive; they all moved the Leads towards either conflict or resolution with each other.
  • The one upping each other conflict system was killer.
  • Stress in the game worked great, it really allowed the characters to go all out and keep hammering each other hard and harder.
  • Using spice (read: plot points) to create useful details and relationships was awesome.
  • The Leads all started off in a position of power, able to do awesome things.
  • All the challenges Travis (someone very familiar with Dune) wanted to see were there (Sardauker, Harokonnens, Sandworms, etc)
  • The introduction to the game summed up the world of Dune well, as well as offering an explanation for my alternative history setting.
  • Assets were flexible and fun, they really gave the characters directions and tools.

What could have improved

  • Need to find my dice! And possibly get some more of them.
  • To give Gurney a place in the story, have the game open with him. He was the only character that had a hard time being integrated into the story.
  • I need to make cheat sheets for the game system including: how to earn and spend spice (plot points), assets and triggers (note that using an asset and using a trigger are separate), and stress.
  • I need to make an intro to Dune and to the characters (making this and keeping it short may prove very difficult)
  • I had too many reveals and some of them were forced. The list needs to be paired down into the essential and the optional list.
  • Dune tangents. We could have spent four hours just talking about Dune . Must kill the tangents. Maybe I’ll threaten to take their water!
  • The Triggers and special effects were impossible to read on the character sheets. I will redo them in the format of: Condition – Pro – Con
  • Gurney is losing some glory and power for love.
  • We need a who is who sheet, and what is what. A glossary with things like Thumpers, Bene Gesserit, Leto, etc.
  • I will have to be careful with the player that plays Jamis. He need to be willing to push hard without being an ass.
  • Stilgar’s justice statement is changing to “I obey the spirit of the law”. He needs to shake things up.

After the game, I’m going to do a full write up of character sheets, relationship maps, conflicts, wedges, and reveals.