Star Wars Wednesday - May the 4th Be...Playtesting with a Toddler

Well, there's no ignoring May 4th this year for me since it falls on Wednesday. I'm a fan of puns, but not this one particularly for whatever reason. I'm sure there will be plenty of entertaining Star Wars stuff throughout the day, though, so that should be fun.

So for a bit of fun posted a day or so beforehand is this Homemade Star Wars RPG for a Toddler by Will James showed up on GeekDad. It's adapted from DMing for Your Toddler by Cory Doctorow over at Gygax Magazine. It's lightweight and looks entertaining. I especially like the idea of using Galactic Heroes figures as the minis - so appropriate on many levels.

The article is also pretty good example of what playtesting a game or adventure essentially looks like, both from a minis and RPG standpoint. It's seemingly inevitable that something that looks good when you're thinking about how it works from one point of view fails in play when other factors show up. From a game mechanics standpoint, something as basic as distance in the game is easy to misjudge until you run through it a few times. Too close to start, and there's no room to prepare or maneuver enough, too far and it takes too long to get the action moving. All of this depends on the game you're trying to run, of course, and either scenario can still work if it meets the players' expectations and meshes with some other mechanic or strategy that makes it fun.

Taking too long to get started or get to the fun stuff is easy to do in an RPG as well. Starting with too much backstory is easy to do. Having a lotof story is fine, but figuring out how to get the info out to the players in a fun and useful pace is challenging. A lot of times, you find out in the playtest that some of the info isn't all that important to the action - or at least not needed all at once. Meshing the players' characters into a predetermined starting scene is one of the challenges I deal with on adventures. For my own convention games, I usually have the luxury of creating the characters and parceling out some of the info in their backgrounds. With published adventures that's not usually an option.

Another aspect of playtesting shown in the article is changing things on the fly. It can be pretty apparent when something isn't working the way you want and there's usually no point in carrying on with a broken rule or something that just isn't fun. That is, unless you know that the rule in question may change as the game is played as it interacts with other rules. When I was creating Star Wars Miniatures scenarios, this basically happened every time I tested them out. Usually, it was because I was creating new scenario specific rules to replicate an effect or otherwise put some unusual control in the game, and those rules didn't always interact well at first. I sometimes used them to help balance something unusual in the scenario. The only way to know for sure was to try it out and see if one side had too much of an advantage - that is, if one side won all the time, or even most of the time.

Speaking younger players, Mario Escamilla (@korpil) nthe blog Star Wars Veracruz interviewed Mike Kogge, author of the Star Wars The Force Awakens junior novelization this week.  Check it out for a discussion of Star Wars books for younger readers as well as a few RPG comments as well. It turns out Mike created a couple of recognizable EU locations way back in the Star Wars Adventure Journal. You just never know who created what sometimes in the Star Wars universe.