Play Report and Analysis: The Darkology Experiment

I could post a 5+ page text wall here, or I could offer a tidy link to the extensive write-up elsewhere for those who are interested. This was a play test of the geomorph stocker project I’m working on, with a sample adventure here.

Friday October 1, we had a four and a half hour session with three players, one of which was new. Their speed in covering ground cautiously, and their success, and their stealth, all pleasantly surprised me. It was a great session.


By the end of the night, Tulip was 5th level. According to the official rules, he would be unplayable. Both his player and myself were glad that was not the case, as he is just getting a real bead on how he wants to play this entertaining character. The other two characters were second level.

An interesting reflection: do “thugs” (as one of my players put it) level faster because they gain more Awesome Points in combat, and spend them there too? Or is that a play-style issue? I think there is truth to both points of view.

Another new idea. Do characters level faster when there are fewer of them, because they must “step up” instead of relying on force of numbers to compensate without being pushed outside their capacity (and into Awesome Point territory)?

I made some adjustments on the fly. I will be adding these modifications to the printed scenario, but they are the sort of thing I feel DMs should be adding all the time as they run through Old School Hack games. If you have an idea to make it more awesome, then do it!

I originally gave gargoyles 6 wounds. For mercy, I dropped it to 4 in play. Upon reflection, I think I’ll drop it to 2; they are still scary, and that leads to more awesome moments of exploding statuary under incredible force (and you have as many as you need, as DM; plus, there are always leader types that can be tougher). Many characters will not be able to hurt them at all without rolling a hit to the face and then spending Awesome Points for damage. Fortunately, killing them is not required by the scenario. Stealth and speedy evasion also work–or leaving their area alone and coming back with guns and heavy hammers.

I made the thornbushes luminescent. That makes it cooler, and deals with the problem of the smell of fire automatically alerting the slith to the presence of characters–plus it is more awesome.

New rulings!

Battering a door with your shoulder does 1 wound to you. In a system where wounds are so easy to get back, the impact a shoulder-check represents is a wound.

Spend 2 Awesome Points to hit a fleeing foe (since Move is before Attack). Characters usually like hitting fleeing foes. DMs sometimes like hitting fleeing characters. It’s win/win.

When the DM spends 2 Awesome Points to ignore a hit or increase damage, one of those goes to the unfortunate character affected by those actions. The other goes to the bowl. (An excellent suggestion on the OSH forum that I am unable to find and link at the moment.)

Any time the DM chuckles evilly, that’s 1-4 points to the bowl. (I had some trouble keeping the bowl full; my bad guys were tough enough I didn’t fuel their special abilities or make them more vicious on a regular basis, and my players had lots of need for Awesome Points.)

Success in an encounter is up to +1 AP to the bowl per player, at DM discretion.

It is the responsibility of those fighting without armor to remind the DM to give them 2 APs. However, even if it comes up some time after the fight, if memories of not giving the 2 APs are clear, go ahead.

My clever characters did not tangle with any swarms, but there were minion fights. The “extra APs to hit more minions” rule not only helps them level faster, but it protects them because they can take out more attackers a round, and it feeds into the “let’s be awesome” ethos of the game.

So that’s enough for now. A great time was had by all!

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