Pre-PAX playtesting in return for heart attacks

Before PAX, I wanted to make sure that Home by Dark was balanced enough that the game would be fun. At that point, the game had only been played once. Sooooo... PLAYTEST WEEKEND!!!

I convinced a few friends to come and play the game in return for heart attack-inducing butter burgers! As you may have guessed...

Delicious butter burgers. Mmm...

Delicious butter burgers. Mmm...

...they said yes!

adorable dog vs aliens

The first game was about Shiloh the Magical Dog. He could travel back in time and had an intense fear of loud noises. He was being chased by alien g-men that wanted him in order to ensure that Shiloh couldn't stop their world domination plans. If they were to fail,

Shiloh vs the Aliens! Oh noes!

Shiloh vs the Aliens! Oh noes!

The game was a blast. It was the first time any of them had played a story game before. I was very curious if the game'd make sense to them. Thankfully, it went very well.

The first thing that I discovered was that everyone had their own impression of where and when they were. One person was imagining England, another was imagining the midwest. One thought we were in the 80's and another thought it was current time.

Lessons learned! Lock that location stuff down! Later that same Saturday night, another set of friends came over and a new card was created:

adorable demon vs a town or secret order (maybe both)

Pazuzu the demon. Rawr!

Pazuzu the demon. Rawr!

The Location card! The evening game decided that they would befriend Pazuzu the demon! They decided that this demon could set things on fire and had a fear of pink.

Pazuzu was being pursued by the nefarious Churchinatti (Church Illuminati, not a Church-owned version of Cincinatti). They wanted to get rid of Pazuzu the demon because -- well, he is a demon. Little did they know that Pazuzu was a small little adorable critter! Did I mention that the Churchinatti wore pink ties? Oh no! Dangerous!

Meanwhile, the hell door that Pazuzu came out was getting bigger. Soon, it'll be big enough that all of hell could cross over! That's no bueno.

And behold! It took place in Michigan during the fall of 1984. It took place in the very made up location of Ashigomi Falls. Now everyone knew where we were! That definitely helped. We all had a common general idea of where we were and that made coming up with scene ideas that much easier.

The game was fun and felt like a Hellboy/Buffy fusion. All in all: it was a blast!

Creepy girl vs L. Ron Hubbard and aliens

From Churchinatti to Scientologists. Uh oh.

From Churchinatti to Scientologists. Uh oh.

The last game of the weekend took place in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin during the fall of 1985. The group was protecting Sydney the Creepy Girl from Scientologists, who needed her to complete their plan of alien possession!

Sydney's power was "non-contact person-specific fear-based glamour." In short, Sydney will make you live your worst fear if she touches you. Because of that, her fear was physical contact.

The game itself was a blast, but one thing I noticed was that writing scenes ahead of time was too time consuming. This was the last game where people were responsible for writing scenes to choose from.

Lessons learned

That weekend was very informative. It started with a very rough system and by the end of the weekend, useless rules were tossed and vague rules were clarified! The week was spent writing the refinements. They were ready just in time for PAX West!

We'll go over the fun of PAX West in the next post...

Oh and...

If you're curious what Shiloh the Magical Dog looks like, here you go:

 

Shiloh, the Magical Time Travelling Dog

Shiloh, the Magical Time Travelling Dog

- Jason

Jason Olsan

Noir Game Studios