Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Of Foolish Consistencies and Hobgoblins - Actual Play #1 for Cupcake Scouts 2E

As Emerson warned, "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds". Now, I think I have a medium-sized mind (at least), and I don't really like hobgoblins all that much, so I decided to take his words to heart. That said, I have given 2d6 another shot. And I like it.

For Cupcake Scouts 2E, I found that by scaling the numbers to cap at no better than +5 (usually +4), and by swapping out some of the things I had given as modifiers to be edges instead, I've kept the numbers very reasonable (to my mind). 

So, I have a draft going and the first half of the book is roughed out already. I have learned to work very, very quickly at this point. It's at about 6,000 words (18 pages) at present, and about half of that is language I cut and pasted over and then edited the heck out of, and half of it is new language based on things I've learned and problems I've solved in the last four years or so.  The previous edition was 48 pages, but the pages were pretty breezy, and there was a lot of white space. I'm getting almost twice as much information on a page at this point, so getting the whole package to 32 pages looks likely. I'd prefer 48, but I'm not sure if the game needs that much content. I want it to be light and airy, but you can always use more monsters, I suppose...

I thought I'd give you a taste of how it looks with the snapshot of the rules for character generation. This is my first play test character, and I'll have her fight some zombies and see how it goes...


Character Building Snapshot
1.       Select a troop. Looking at the options, I decide that my character is going to be a stalwart scout, so she can be good at fighting monsters.
2.       Select one tag. For my stalwart scout, I pick fighter so she gets a bonus to attack.  
3.       Gather your gear. I review the gear section. I will keep those blessed stakes at the ready!
4.       Write down your weapon damage and hits. My dagger deals 4 hits (2 base +1 from being level 1, +1 from being a stalwart scout). I have 6 hits (what every scout has at level 1).
Name your scout and think of one adjective to describe her (other than the word for her troop). I go with Chase as her name, and ‘serious’ as her adjective.


Okay, so Chase is going to try to throw down with some zombies. I guess I have to stat up a zombie...

Zombie Wanderer - Mindless Fiend 1 [Hits 4; Move 40'; claw (2)]. These mindless undead wander through tombs and graveyards. They attack twice on their action, raking with two claws.

We'll say that Chase goes to the graveyard near sundown because zombie sightings are increasing, and the Scoutmaster wants her to slay ten of these to earn her first hunter badge. She has thirty minutes before sunset to hunt down 10 zombies. Each minute, she can check skill to find a zombie. It's a BIG graveyard. Before she goes, she tries to bake some cookies. She fails her knowledge check - and gets 8. she overbakes them a little bit, but they are still edible. None of them are magical, however. 

Minute 1. She enters the graveyard and looks around. She doesn't see any zombies, and starts down the path. Minute 2 is more walking.
In minute 3 she finds her first zombie, just having emerged from its grave. She runs at it and attacks. The zombie wins initiative, and rakes with its claw. It misses. She misses. It hits with its claw for 2, and she is down to 4 hits remaining. She misses again. It wiffs in round 3, and so does she. It misses in round 4, but she hits for 3 damage, leaving it at 1. It misses again, and she hits again for 3 more, defeating it. That's one zombie down.
In minute 8 she finds her second zombie. She tries to sneak up on it (it's gnawing on a bone), but she fails. She wins initiative, and hits it for 3. It misses. She misses, and it does as well. She hits with a natural 12 for 5 damage, and destroys it. That's two zombies down.
She finds her third zombie in minute 14. It's unlikely she will slay ten tonight... She fails to sneak again, but wins initiative. She hits for 4, killing it right away.
She finds a fourth zombie in minute 16. She makes her sneak check! She hits with an 11, dealing 4 hits and killing it in one shot. Nice.
She finds a fifth zombie in minute 18. This time she fails her sneak check and loses initiative; the zombie misses, but she hits with an 11, slaying the zombie. She has 11 minutes to find and kill 5 zombies... not loving her chances here.
In minute 21 she comes across zombie six. She is able to sneak up on it and hit it for 3. It hits her for 2, and she is down to 2. Hm. May be time to hit the road...she hits it with a natural 12 for 5, and destroys it. 9 minutes and 4 zombies to go... and she is at 2 hits remaining. She is going home and try again tomorrow. It is possible (1-3 on 1d6) that she encounters another zombie on the way out (it will be 2 zombies on a 1). No zombies. She gets back to the library and reports what she has done. The Scoutmaster lets her make S'mores to celebrate, and then she does a coloring sheet to wind down before bed. 

The next day,  she tries to bake something and is successful! She makes a treat. I'm going to just rule that it's a peanut-butter cookie that heals her 3 points. She tucks that away in case she needs it. She returns to the graveyard, pries open the gate, and slips inside near nightfall. Zombies are starting to roam...

In minute 1, she sets off down a different path from yesterday. She wanders for three minutes.
In minute 4, she finds a zombie roaming, and manages to hide and jump it as it passes. She hits it for 3 damage. It misses. She hits for another 3, and destroys it. She has destroyed 7 zombies.
She wanders around until minute 12, looking for more zombies and failing to find them. She must have taken care of the problem more than she realized! She sneaks up on this one, too, which is trying to help another zombie out of its grave. The other zombie still needs 4 rounds to get free, and actions area t +1 edge against it until that time has passed. She moves up from behind a tombstone and jumps out,  but misses. Zombie 8 misses, and zombie 9 starts digging harder to get out. She whiffs, and zombie 8 smacks her with a claw. She is at 4 hits. Zombie 9 keeps diggin'. Lots of misses and digging in round 3. Same in round 4 - and now she is fighting two zombies. In round 5, everyone misses. In round 6, zombie 8 hits for 2, and she is at 2 hits. She uses a task in round 7 to scarf her cookie, and is at 5 hits when she swings again, hitting and killing zombie 8. Zombie 9 hits for 3, and she is down to 2 again. Good thing she ate that cookie! I need to swap out her dice - she misses again. Ugh. So does the zombie. I swap dice, but she still misses, and so does the zombie. She rolls a natural 2 (despite the +1 edge), meaning that I hit the 1 in 216 chance of rolling three 1s. That's impressive in the worst possible way. The zombie also misses. Both miss again. And again. And she FINALLY (in round 14!) hits it for 3 damage. she finishes it in round 15, with 2 hits remaining.

She is going to push her luck. It's a bad idea, but I'm going to do it anyway. She only needs one zombie! She finds that tenth zombie in minute 16 (it was three minutes, but the previous encounter went two minutes)... She is able to sneak up on it, and hits it for 4! Yes. She looks around quick and makes for the exit... which she gets to just fine, pulling the gate shut and throwing the bar across it before heading back to the library. She arrives to find that the Scoutmaster has just baked some fresh muffins, has a juice box ready for her, and has already sewn her first badge, beginner zombie hunter, to her new sash. She beams with pride. 

There's a lot of whiffing, which I knew would happen when the zombie has a 27% chance of hitting and she has a 42% chance of hitting. Still, it wasn't bad, and things go fast.    
In this game, zombies are the meat-and-potatoes monster. I think that zombies are just all over the place, and the most common threat you face. Since the game has no things like armor class and the like, a zombie can still hit a higher-level character 27% of the time, and can deal 2-4 points of damage... so a room full of zombies is always going to present some challenge. You never grow out of monsters being a threat, which is a good thing. 
I'm very interested to play test at higher levels (3-4). I think that those characters will cut through zombies and similar foes quickly, but I don't know how quickly or what that exactly looks like. I can find out soon enough.
I love how badges are the economy of character advancement rather than experience points. Eventually, it doesn't matter how many zombies you kill; once you have your expert zombie hunter badge, you gain nothing from killing more of them. They are just mooks in the way of the things you want. I'm fine with that. Earning badges becomes the motivating factor to seek out new enemies; both for the level advancement, and for the little 'attaboy' of knowing you've killed so many monsters. I think that it would be cool to have a coloring page for your character that has all of the badges you could earn, along with tallies for getting them - and then you get to color them when you earn them! That would be so cool as a character sheet. I'm totally and completely doing that!
I also think that there should be things you have to unlock to advance. For example, 1E had rules for grody monsters (which zombies would be, but I didn't include that in the play test here...). Maybe you have to 'get over' getting grossed out by undead creatures before you can earn level 2. Sure, you've earned all of your badges, but you still turn green and say "uhrumgurd, it's sooo gross" when you see a zombie, so you're not ready to become a true scout yet. Sorry, champ. 


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