Playtest notes: Amazing Heroes

Last night was probably the final playtest for Amazing Heroes before I finalise the rules. It was also the first run through of what will be ´the adventure in the back of the book´. Here are some of the things I learned.

The system works

OK, I knew this already, but it’s always good to see a system deliver with a new group of players. In other playtests I’ve pushed at the edges of the genre a bit, with street level heroes and origin stories. This game was all about costumed heroes with powers going toe to toe with high powered bad guys – and it held up just fine.

Amazing Heroes has a very simple mechanic to determine how hard bad-guys are to defeat allowing the GM to judge how long an encounter is likely to take. In the finale of the game the big bad and his henchmen put in a sustained effort against five heroes. In many systems it’s common for big-bads to go down like a sack of spuds when they run up against PCs, but here we had heroes having to draw his attention away from their injured friends, and trading blows for several rounds, and that’s exactly what the genre demands.

Some stuff could be clearer

One player opted to create their own character rather than use a pre-gen. I let them do it using the draft rules, rather than walking them through the process. The result was 90% successful. The issue highlighted can be fixed with a quick edit and a clear character sheet design.

Highlight rules that support the genre

Amazing Heroes has got rules for teamwork, but as yesterday’s players pointed out I forgot to mention them till late in the day. This didn’t stop them co-operating, combining powers, and setting each other up, but it did mean they weren’t getting a mechanical benefit for doing so.

So the teamwork rules will get a little rewrite, and probably a couple of pages to themselves in the rulebook.

Keep player options in view on the character sheet

In Amazing Heroes every hero has a contact, someone who can help them out, but who also might prove a problem later on. Perhaps they need rescuing, perhaps they try to find out things they shouldn’t. Contacts are mostly intended for campaign play, but they’re a feature of genre, and if I want players to use them they need to be recorded on the character sheet in view of the players, and not attached to their background notes.

With great power comes great responsibility

The GM in a game of Amazing Heroes has a lot of power. Way more than in most games. Particularly when it comes to younger GMs who might be running a game for the first time, this means it’s extra important to stress that the GM is a fellow player at the table, not an adversary.

Even a simple game needs a rules reference

Yes the rules are super simple, but a one page handout with everything you need to know won’t go amiss. Especially if you want players to use all the options the game gives them – like contacts and teamwork, as mentioned above.

So now it’s time to make some final edits to the rules, sharpen up the chapter on GM guidance, and finish off the background. From here I’m confident that I’ll have the whole document written by the end of the month.

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