Sunday, July 11, 2021

Stalwart Age: Some Actual Play and Notes

Yesterday, much to my surprise (and joy) my daughter asked if she could 'try out' my game. After picking myself up off the floor, I had her roll up a random character - and it was RANDOM. But, we made it work. Her character ended up being called Harmony Hex; she has a life tap, time travel, gadgeteer, dimension shift, martial arts, charm, and air supply. It was a little difficult to tie it all together, but eventually we figured it out. She is a high school student who is into physics and engineering (hence the gadgeteer) and who has been studying martial arts, who got in the way during Oberion's last caper, when he was carrying around chaotic pixie dust variants and she was a bystander who got covered in pixie dust that gave her random fay powers. 

We went through the starter adventure (got through the first two scenarios), but I added Gila the Monster right away, and she charmed him and made him her sidekick; so she is running around with a 7' lizard dude. Okay. She decided he lives in the pool behind her house. Yep. That tracks. And then she got the pager and started to go on adventures; she decided she would use her dimension shift power to simply get rid of villains; she will fight for a round of two, but if it's not going well, she just opens a portal into another realm and boop - there goes my problem. She ended up casting the robot rat into a variation of Candy Land, and dropped Gloam the Shadow Bandit (appropriately enough) into the Shadow Lands. She had used a gadget to get into the jewelry store (neutralizing all security for 1 turn), so when a glass case holding jewelry was shattered (when Gila botched an attack), it didn't set off any alarms. We thought about her trying a stunt to use time travel to reset the glass case to before it was broken (basically replacing it in time with the one from ten minutes earlier), but she failed the INT check I required her to make to figure it out.

A few design choices were important here, and I am happy how the game design supported the adventure:

1. The locations are presented in broad strokes. That is really, really helpful. I know the CRs of an environment, and a few important details, and can make up the rest on the fly. It was (for me) the perfect balance; I knew what the CR was of foiling the security system (so I didn't have to hand wave it), but there was no 'one best way' through anything. She made her way into the rat lair by charming one of the rats and having him lead her through obstacles. Great. This reinforced the approach I plan to take going forward, which is locations with some notes and CRs, a few key events or triggers, and then let slip the dogs of war.

2. The rules for powers are open ended. She could use dimension shift to drop enemies into alternate realities, and she could use time travel to try and reset a jewelry counter (or at least think about trying it), to a previous state. The rules encourage 'try it' as the default setting, and that paid off here. I never found myself saying something to the effect of "well, your power cannot really do that..." Her powers could do what she wanted them to do, in ways I didn't anticipate, and the system fully supported it.

3. The law of unintended consequences is already kicking in. If we play again (she's 13 - there are no guarantees), I know that she is already on the radar of the Keeper of the Mystic Veil. I mean, his name tells you his job - and she is wantonly tearing through that veil willy-nilly. I think at the least she's going to get a visit from Eldritch pretty soon who's going to want to have some words with her about great power and great responsibility... and we'll see how that goes :) She decided to be neutral and not heroic at the outset, so (again) no guarantees... I also know that Gloaming the Shadow Bandit, who is now in the Shadow Lands, may not come back the same as he went in. I see an arch enemy being born... 


  1. BRILLIANT! My recent forays into Sentinels of Echo City brought me to similar conclusions about the open-endedness and versatility of powers. Thus far, I TOO feel that the balance is just right. I'm excited to try out The Stalwart Age, and trust that it strikes a similar balance. What I'm most interested in testing is the new action economy.

    AND, as the father of two girls, gaming with them is such a treat. It warms my heart to hear of you and your daughter at the game table, and your retelling of her approach to the situations you put her in makes me smile.

    Oh, and one of my players also has dimension shift, which he uses in the same way. I too am planning to go down the road of unintended consequences. :-)

    1. Great GM minds plot and scheme alike! :) Good to see you on here, Aldo! Exciting times in the Desingverse! Looking forward to Superverse as well!

  2. That is FANTASTIC! Both the fact that your daughter asked to play, and that you both clearly had fun! Also, it sounds like the play testing is proving that you hit your design mark dead on! (I still need to write up my Fire-Fly character; podcast editing at up too much time today!)