Humanity: Playtest No. 2

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A couple of weeks ago I got to playtest the updated version of Humanity with a couple of friends in Leicester.

For our scenario we selected:

  • Cybernetics in a post nuclear apocalypse

The setting events, locations, threats and opposition were:

  • There is a rumour that there is a crashed space satellite in the Nevada Desert.
  • The nuclear fuel cells have all gone.
  • The preacher will stop at nothing in order to find the satellite.
  • Wild cybernetic monkeys live in the desert.

As a group we are trying to find the fuel cells, if we fail to do this the force shields protecting the city will drop.

Our characters were:

  • Chuck Ellis, whose goal was to understand the world. His power was the ability to hyper analyse, through being connected directly to the net. The power wanted to disconnect completely from the physical world.
  • Rho, whose goal was freedom from financial responsibility. His power was the ability to fly. The power desired to hunt living prey.
  • The Bull, whose goal was to get some money. His power was smashy metal fists. The power desired to destroy everything turning it into its simplest form.

Our story in brief:

  • Meeting with management who had decided to send us out of the safety of the city to relocate the fallen satellite, more specifically the fuel cells with in.
  • A brief encounter with suspicious security guards on the way out.
  • A trip to abandoned  outpost where we were ambushed by a sniper.
  • Capturing the sniper and interrogating him, finding out about another base.
  • A daring escape from the snipers team.
  • A trek through a wooded area filled with cybernetic monkeys that continued to throw things at us.
  • The creation of a device that would imitate certain monkey pheromones to control the monkeys.
  • Scouting a base, and finding three guards that seemed more preoccupied with racing their segways than patrolling the base. The base had a massive gun (probably shot down the satellite).
  • Storming the base, finding out about the ceremony in the dessert, and leaving the remaining guards to fight with a bunch of cybernetic monkeys.
  • Infiltrate the ceremony set-up where a giant cybernetic messiah is being built. Trick the people into believing we follow their cause and get control of the giant cybernetic messiah.
  • Destroy the Preacher, and head home with the fuel cells, in the giant cybernetic messiah.
  • Surprise the security guard that was giving us lip in the beginning of the game.

The game took around 3-4 hours to play.

Thoughts from the game:

The method for choosing the setting of the game seemed to work well. We managed to tie all the different events, locations, threats and oppositions up neatly. There is not much that needs doing to this section.

In character creation there was a little confusion about the difference between the goal of the character and the goal of the power. Also I think the character creation could be stripped back even further. Instead of having two items in most sentences that need to be completed only one is really necessary. So instead of “Most people would describe me as blank, but I consider myself to be blank.” it could just be one or the other aspects of that.

Additionally I do not think having the background of the power to be necessary on the character sheet. This is tied to the setting, perhaps this should be moved there instead, this helps link the characters together further.

In terms of play. I think the game went on a little too long. We were trying to play a one shot session, but without a structure in place or one persons guidance there was too much stuff in the middle. A solution might be to put a structure into the way the scenes work in order to make them form an arc, this however risks taking control from the players.

Being able to pass on the GM slot to someone who had an idea was really useful. This happened when I had run dry on ideas, but one of the other players had some ideas on how to continue.

However, playing a character with two opposing goals as well as being a GM and a character got kind of confusing. There is too much to consider. Something really needs to change here, either it needs to be a GM lead game or the way the scenes work need reconsidering.

At times the difficulty for doing certain tasks just seemed to easy, I don’t think we really played with the multiple checks for difficult challenges properly. Another option might be a vito to stop players doing things which are just plane silly.

Not enough humanity was lost. Our humanity scores were barely scratched, this seriously needs re-addressing especially for a one-shot scenario. Ideally the characters should change relatively drastically.

Towards the end of the session the game got very silly, still fun to play. I think I was tired after what was a relatively long roleplay session for me.

There’s lots to consider and I definitely need to go back to the drawing board and make some further improvements. I still feel like there is something there, but it is going to take more digging than I first thought.

Previous posts about humanity.

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