Tuesday, May 28, 2013

#gamechef2013 - RPG Review Recess #1 Cultists!

Cultists! by Michael Raston

This was my +1 Review. Michael was kind enough to let me repost it here. 

Right off the bat I'm going to tell you that I'm in love with the way you've go the d100 mechanic going. It's just a great way to use it that I've never seen before, and it just seems to work really well. I see that you've used it through the game, and that's good. You should go back to this again, and again because this is the big gem from your game.

Part of the reason why I think you should try to tie it back to the d100 is that the game itself seems to really want to be a board game that's set up as an RPG. That's totally fine, there are quite a few that have that kind of feel and it can really work. What you've got here though is kind of disjointed and discombobulated at times. This clearly feels like a first draft and it really does need a good second or third pass to organize it into a more cohesive whole.

Little things make me think that, like how you could have done the Random Deity Rolling as a table, but you didn't for some reason. The fact that you have the various rooms available in the document as you rolled them showed me that the layout and the design were part of the thought process, it just strikes me a little odd that you don't have things laid out better.

A personal dislike of mine is the fact that you start the game with rolled stats. The variation is huge, and a spat of being unlucky could make the game really not fun for that person. Wouldn't it be faster to just say "One at 10, two at 30 and one at 50?" Less calculation, less rolling, more with the cultist action? Same thing with the derived statistics. I haven't done all the math, but it seems more that this could be picked and moved on with rather than doing the calculations. 

Going back to how awesome that range thing is, tying the monsters seems to me just another good example of reusing that mechanic that runs what's going on. I love that you want to make them tough because they give you XP when they knock out a cultist. I think that would make all the players want to give the toughest monsters possible because all the time because ... why not!?

A thematic thing that came up was right at the end, when you talked about the cultist winning and destroying the world? Why would a cultist for a good god want to do that? Just something that popped out at me. Same thing with the End Game, why wouldn't good and evil cultists fight all the way through the temple?

As for the temple? How big should it be? When can people start putting stairs to the lower levels down? This goes back to a second or third pass of the rules, but I couldn't find where those were at all. I think part of this problem is also that these rules don't seem to be written for someone who hasn't played your game before, they seem to be written as notes for you. 

I think that there's a lot here that you can work with, but ultimately it really needs a lot of polish and refining to be playable by someone who isn't you. If you want to take the time and go through it a few more times yourself to try to clean it up, and reorder it to make it a little more playable, and in my opinion a little more streamlined and this sounds like a good time.

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