Wednesday, August 31, 2011

X-plorers: Recap and Reaction

I played X-Plorers yesterday via google+ yesterday. Despite even two of the players down print copies of the rules, none of us had played the game before.

As I expected it was a lot of fun, but in some need to major tweaking. The adventure I set up was pretty simple: the party was on a transport between worlds taken hostage by drug-smuggling pirates. I had some nearby planets for them to explore as well, but we never got that far.

It's three in the morning right now, so I'm just going to give a basic run down of things I noticed from the game:

- Weapons deal a hell of a lot of damage compared to character hit points. A 3rd level character has only a 50% chance to survive the damage of a single lazer blast. No character, PC or NPC survived a single shot. Now, I don't shy away form character death, but this is too much even for me. I felt like I had to pull some strings to make sure the character had a fighting chance, like giving the party surprise in just about every combat (although, I should give most of the credit to the players' cunning plans). Having a character die in the first ten minutes of the game was pretty exciting though, I have to say. Poor Anthony (also a player in my Vats of Mazarin game) doesn't have great luck with his character's surviving, even with the critical hit table.

- The scout feels more like a infiltrator/criminal than a scout. No survival skills, but lost of sneaking around pocketing credit cards. It's almost as if the class if trying too hard to cover two archtypes and failing at both.

- 1st level characters don't have very good odds with their skills. Poor Will (also a Vats of Mazarin player) failed five piloting rolls during a space combat with two fighters. Not a single success.

- Pilots and, especially, Navigators doesn't really don't feel like they affect the outcome of space combat much. Gunners blow things up; Navigators can heal the ship. Pilots and Navigators can only grant +1 bonuses to the ships defenses or other characters' rolls. I guess the Pilot gets to move the ships around the board and can try to escape entirely. The Navigator, while useful, just doesn't seem like a very fun position to fill. I had a pretty in-depth discussion after the game with Mark, who seemed to share my sentiments. However, we both agreed that both the narrative and teamwork the system creates is excellent. All the guns are pointing in the right direction, but there's still a little tweaking that needs to be done, I reckon.

- The miscellaneous Agility/Intelligence/Physique/Presence saving throws worked out great! One of my favorite things about the game. Simple, but very clever. I especially likes Anthony trying to convince a crowed of cowering civilians to save his ass from an old fashioned shoot out with a rifleman. He failed (although they joined in and battered the pirate around a little bit after Sargent Stiles, Anthony's character, took him down).

That isn't to say X-Plorers doesn't get a lot of things right. Overall, I thought it would pretty fun. This is pretty much a list of things for me to fix up and tweak.


  1. Yeah, the ship combat system could use some work. But it's more inclusive than some games I've been in! There actually was something for everyone to do -- you don't always see that.

    My bad die rolls were my own bad luck.

    And regarding the lethality of lasers, remember that the laser pistol does from 1d6 to 3d6 depending on how much energy you use -- and I had it turned up to 3 the whole time. But with only 20 Energy Units per clip, I was burning through the clip pretty fast.

    Good game, though. Very rules-light (almost rules-nonexistent) and infinitely customizable. Can't wait to see what you do with it!

  2. Hmmm, it hasn't been so leathal in my games, but it might be the relative lack of lasers in my games. The crit chart has saved more then a few PCs, however.

    As for the Navigator Phase, I totally agree that the roll is a little dull. In my games I combined the initiative step with the Navigator and added an option to boost the roll +2 (strategize.) It hasn't totally revived the roll, but at least the navigator has some decision in single strip combat.

    The Pilot roll is prestigious in my games however, so I haven't seen that complaint.

  3. Will, I didn't mind your lazer, but even a pistol/rifle was going to take any one of you guys down most of the time.

    I like adding the initiative option (strategize), BlUskrEEm, to the navigator. I pilot I think would be more interesting if we actually had little physical trips to move around. It's less tactile in the digital environment.

  4. Of course, we were just first level.

    At higher levels, we'll have better gear (higher ACs) and better hit points (more dice). So it'll eventually even up.

    It may even get to the "unkillable" stage, if anyone survives that long.

    Still a fun game, though. Thanks again!

  5. True. Honestly, I'm not so worried about the damage thing; it's mostly ship combat that I would like to rework. There's go so much potential, but it just seems to fall a bit flat.

  6. I haven't had a chance to play X-P yet but thanks for sharing your experience - it'll be interesting to compare down the road.

  7. Don't get me wrong, the game was a lot of fun. I'm just not a very tactful writer at 3AM.

  8. Not at all, and your post wasn't tactless. I've already struggled a bit with the somewhat dystopian default setting - the mechanics I just haven't really had a chance to try out yet.

  9. I kinda did my own thing with the setting. I only had an or hours to think up the adventure while cooking dinner. So I can't really comment much on it.