Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Reflections: Escape The Undermaze

I said at the end of my last post, an AP of my little game Escape The Undermaze, that I was still reflecting and thinking things through, and I still am to some extent. I set out to make a "Minimum Viable Product" version of Into The Odd, complete rules, setting ideas, encounters and locations, plus the motivation for the adventure but all as small as possible. It fits on a single side of A5 (I created a simple "cover" as well) and clocks in at just over 500 words.

Reflections on running it:
  • It was fun to take inspiration from encounters the party hadn't met yet (and might never meet), and weave them in to the fiction. So, for example, the big bad is an undead scientist who "wants to perform a living autopsy." When the party found a dead body, I was inspired to have this person be a victim of the creature, even though they might not encounter her: the corpse was found with innards on the outside, but surgically removed and neatly arranged.
  • Despite my "complete rules" provocation above, I ended up writing "This game is incomplete, but functional" in the game text, and I stand by that. During play I used luck rolls, changed descriptions of locations and details of encounters simply because they felt appropriate to the unfolding story.
  • For the longest time I've had a mini-manifesto idea in my head about resourceful use of items; the thought came one day when looking at the item list in Lamentations of the Flame Princess at all of the non-encumbering items and thinking, "This is like a dungeoneering problem solving tool-kit!" Which is not an original thought, but never mind. For Escape The Undermaze I made 75% of the equipment non-weapon-y, everything from chalk to rope, beer to bread. It was great to see people using a broken bottle and a stick as an improvised spear, using a flute to calm an animal and soap to create a slippery surface.
  • I organised the game and setting information in a certain way, and think it's fit for purpose, but also think that if when I do a second edition I'll make the page as an image rather than try typesetting in Open Office. There are seven key pieces of GM rules that are set out, and I'm sure they could be both better worded and better laid out.
  • It was a lot of fun to run!
I want to run it again actually. I could possibly be tempted to try and run it over Hangouts in the near future... It's currently only available in print as a bonus to Issue 2 of A Random Encounter, but I'm wondering about making it more widely available in pdf. If you've seen it - as a print purchaser or contributor - what do you think? Is it neat enough to sell as-is in pdf?

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