When beginning a brand new effort for a completely new rules system and setting, there’s always a bit of terror. Is it good enough? What will people think? Will folks have fun? Will anybody show up?
Well, several weeks ago I started something completely terrifying for yours truly. A pubic playtest at my FLGS Petrie’s Family Games for Aliens & Asteroids. Open call. No clue who would show, if anybody. And no idea what to expect. Cameron, the owner, was fantastic as always and has been supporting Moebius Adventures for some time now with copies of Mazes & Perils and some of our adventures on the shelf.
Sure, we’d done a lot of playtesting privately. I ran several sessions with friends of mine and quite a few with my youngest daughter, who really enjoyed going head to head against me in tactical sessions. Alan even ran a session of his own with the first set of playtest rules I cobbled together.
But opening it up to strangers? As an introvert, that was a bit terrifying. As a “closet game designer,” it was even more terrifying. I put that in quotes because way back in the early days of Moebius Adventures in the 1990s– I was not the crunch guy. I was the fluff guy. Sean was the crunch guy.
The first time I attempted any sort of design after Sean passed away was 2007 when I worked on the Moebius Adventures Core Rules book. I’m still proud of that book, but it was definitely of 90s design. It was an interesting mix of old school design elements that looked a lot like a classless D&D. We had a ton of fun with it during development, but doing a public playtest in 2007 showed all the flaws. The feedback was great, but I was shell shocked designing alone. I had no clue what to do next, so I did nothing.
Let’s fast forward to the last few years when I was back to writing for RPGs again. I’ve even been running adventures for Mazes & Perils (sometimes in M&P, other times in D&D 5e) for a couple of groups. I even ran a Christmas-themed adventure at Petrie’s last December where we had a handful of people combat a perpetual winter (Mazes & Perils Holiday Special 2016). It even involved a snowball fight and we had a lot of fun. However, when working on the revised version of The Snake’s Heart, we tried a public playtest at Petrie’s and nobody showed up. Was it the subject matter? Timing?
So I was not sure what to expect for this short series of playtests of a new game. But I was happy to give it another shot.
Aliens & Asteroids is a big leap from Mazes & Perils, with a brand new system (Inverse20) and a new setting in a genre I’ve not written for in a very long time — science fiction! It was fun, fast, and had a lot of potential — or so we hoped. I’d been working on it with Alan for a while and we were confident enough that we have been working towards a potential Kickstarter in October 2017. Confident enough I’d been paying for custom art for it for a few months. Confident enough I was ready to put myself back out there for more public playtesting.
For me, it was a big step. I arrived a bit early on August 24th and set up at the table Cameron had set aside for me. And I waited. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long — I had one player show up!
Next time we’ll cover that first session. And we’ve had several sessions since then. Crazy!