Friday, January 11, 2019

Lone Wolf Fists: Playtest, part 2

We had some player churn between sessions, which I feel worked out in our favor. The leaving player was a veteran of the system and the new player, although a regular of mine, was totally new to it. That gave me some insight on how people approach the game for the first time, what questions they have, and which bits are intuitive or awkward to internalize. It also pushed the balance of the party from people comfortable with the system to people new to it, so our pacing needed to get slowed to accommodate questions.

This was fine by me; another busy week meant that I still hadn’t prepared much for the sessions (I was working on the Dharma and Gupt Kala rules, which are still largely on notebook paper). So we started where the last one left off, plus just a bit more: they were in the tunnels, a little further ahead, and they came across the new party member (a Golden Lion himself) battling a giant squid monster. Roll Initiative.

I got to try out the monster rules a bit here. I’ll summarize them in bullet-point format: greatest of all formats.
  • They have Ferocity rather than Effort. It works kind of the same, but they can’t use Heart, Spirit, or Intellect actions at all.
  • Their Rank Cap is based on their size/frame, rather than just being set to 6.
  • They have 0-cost Techniques, kind of, that take the form of extra limbs/maws/tentacles/whatever. These have their own health and can be destroyed.
So they’ve got some DNA in common with how tanks and such work; they’re more like groups of a given competence level than one big beast, which theoretically gives them a nuanced power curve instead of being too linear.

Man did it get smoked though; literally. Although the balance of the party took a long-term strategic approach to the battle, the Scorpion hit the water where it was hiding with so much nuclear fire that it was steamed alive, then exploded. A relatively satisfying two rounds nonetheless, so I’m counting it as a win for design.

Pictured: Victory

The war had already begun when the party arrived at the manhole ladder leading to the Sunset King’s palace. They blended the power-up option for Real-Time Scenes with their tactical approach to entering the fray in an Action Scene, so they got to begin the combat at full power: fine by me, it gave me an excuse to try out the Orthogonal Content rules and see which elements of the army showed up to murder them (since powering up sends out a very detectable shockwave of magical energy).

Gee, I wonder how they knew I was here?

I got lucky and rolled tank and two platoons of warriors, so it blasted the manhole from the courtyard and the players had to toss some bones to survive the tunnel’s collapse. They came up swinging though, the Scorpion again at the forefront of the offense.

She emerged into the Sunset King’s palace and set the terrain on fire as I was describing it because her player is a bit of a psycho. Gave me a chance to test out the hazard/disaster rules though. I also got to test out the vehicle combat rules as she pounced on the tank, took out it’s gunner, and set the inside on fire before pulling the boom lever and blowing up another chunk of the scenery.


Her party-mates leapt up into a maelstrom of fire and ruin and drove off the survivors into a courtyard, where their reinforcements were finishing off the last of the palace guard. The big boss was tardy to the party, but I set her up really well; I described her battle-roar and a huge pillar of magical fire lancing up behind the courtyard wall to telegraph her arrival.

The players were sufficiently intimidated to concoct an amazing asspull of a plan: Scorpion was going to ready an action to blast the courtyard as soon as Fire God leapt on it, then Lion wedged his sword on the trigger, reloaded the barrel, and used his blade-summoning technique to move the sword in such a way as to pull the trigger again, which hit the still-hot and warped barrel and exploded the tank on top of her.

It was rad, but since both a bursting tank shell and exploding tank were at least in part fire-based elemental attacks, Fire God totally no-sold them with her biggest sets boosted by, appropriately, Fire God’s Hunger. Not only did it totally tank the explosions, but it converted their energy to Prana, making the moves effectively free.

... Sure, we can take her

Not ones to be intimidated by an invincible fire queen of death, the party charged in guns and magical swords blazing: they all poured their full offensive might into dropping her in a single gigantic attack, and under their withering hail of blows she dropped to one knee, blinded and pummeled and thoroughly drained of Prana… But not dead (christ it’s hard to punch through a degree-3 character!)

Next round had another strong opening bid from the Scorpion, who proceeded to overcome the wounded and drained Fire God’s defenses by utterly committing to her final all-out offensive of the night. The furious offense ended with Scorpion driving her concrete melon-hammer/ripped-up signpost through Fire God’s skull.

It was a bit bloodier, but basically this

We called it there: I rewarded the players with some hefty Kharma handouts from vanquishing Fire God and the squid monster from earlier, and they’d been hitting their Dharma triggers pretty consistently throughout the sessions. A grateful Sunset King offered to become their mentor, and Scorpion found a manual teaching the Fire God’s Hunger Technique on Fire God’s corpse (naturally, it was fireproof). Our Five-Star Spirit realized that he’d have to do some questing to find any of his clan’s lost techniques, which filled my brain with all kinds of great ideas for prep.

This session ruled. It’s made me realize a few things though:
  1. I need to make it clear what actions can happen in what scenes, and which actions/circumstances change the scenes. Some of this is clarifying, and some is designing. Needs to happen though.
  2. You can predict a lot about a fight from the effort/prana/techniques that go into it. Good note for further design and GM tips.
  3. Higher-cost Techniques require a ton of set-up, and I’m dubious about their current payoff. I need bigger-scale fights with more Degree-having foes to make sure.

Finally, I’m going to need to prep a map and content for the players to stomp through for next session. Not sure where I’m gonna find the time for that, but at least theoretically it should be relatively quick and clean to do in the system (I worked hard enough on setting the content rules up to do that exact thing, at any rate!)

Catch you next time true believers!


  1. I want to see Fire God's character sheet and techniques.

  2. Yeah alright.

    She's a Degree-3 member of the Radioactive Scorpions, Strong Hero (Effort 8, Focus 2, Chakra 2 Open/ 2 Slumbering, Health 7, Aura 15)
    She has Mastery of Endurance and Agility. She fought unarmed (although if I'd known what a beating she was going to take, I would have given her a defensive weapon).
    Novice: Fire's Friend Attitude, Burning Piston Strike, Fire Discipline Motion
    Expert: Fire God's Hunger, Afterburner Fist
    Master: Comet and Volcano Attack

    I didn't bother with Dharma, but probably Rising Sun, Royal Dragon or Ruthless Tiger