Sunday, March 10, 2013

Star Worm - Second Playtest

I ran Volant last night with the StarWorm resolution mechanics, and it went *much* better! The secret was keeping in mind Klaxon's advice to set the neutral position - that is the point where all dangers are bought off but no options purchased - at what the PC wanted to accomplish. This gave me a starting place for setting the stakes, so that dangers could be set lower and options higher.

For example, one of the Players might set his PC's expectations low in a fight against a dangerous beast - "I want to get a wound on the monster" - but another might set his PC's expectations higher - "I want to kill that thing". When you set the stakes for the first player character, the center is lower, so there would be more opportunity than danger, i.e. "You MIGHT get a serious Wound. You MIGHT get a light Wound. You MIGHT miss. You COULD give the monster another light Wound." Setting the stakes for the second player shifts the center upwards, i.e. "You MIGHT die. You MIGHT get a heavy Wound. You MIGHT get a serious Wound. You MIGHT get a light Wound." Notice that there are no Options, as he went for the best result as his default.

The other thing is to properly assess the risk. Perhaps the monster is very deadly - increase the dangers! Perhaps the jump is easy to make, but there are possibilities beyond mere success - decrease the danger but increase the opportunity! If it's too easy, and no real opportunity, don't bother rolling.

The players were mixed as to whether they *liked* it. The setting of stakes takes place on a meta-level, and slows down the action. This yanks some people out of immersion. They did like how it worked on a conflict resolution level though, as those are very difficult to run with most task oriented resolution mechanics. StarWorm handled them smoothly, and scaling appropriately was child's play. Several players remarked that the ideal solution would be to hybridize StarWorm with StarPool, as they both used the same dice and same TNs, using StarPool for task resolution (and keeping those deeply immersed players in immersion) while using StarWorm for conflict resolution. They all agreed it worked very well on either scale, even if they didn't particularly care for it - someone else might find it perfect. They felt the same way about StarKarma, the randomless resolution mechanic.


  1. High Valor is similar, but it focuses a bit more on "in game" choices. Do you want to open yourself to attack to get a potential killing blow? Do you fight cautiously, pinpricking a foe to death but staying marginally safer?

    Perhaps if you could tie stake setting into approaches and descriptions the players make for their PC's?

  2. Stake setting is tied to approaches, Tim. The guy who goes for a wound is playing it safe, while the guy who goes for the immediate kill is risking all. It's tied into the situation and the characters' approach to it.

  3. Right but I meant set that "stake setting" as a part of the in character elements.