Saturday, July 31, 2010

MicroZ First Beta

A lot of this probably won't make complete sense as I've been a slacker about posting my MicroZ stuff online.

First off, MicroZ is a condensed d20 system, inspired by Microlite. The biggest difference is that I do away with the class/level system, making it skill based and using feats to define what would be class abilities. I keep some of the best aspects of the 4th Edition of the World's Most Popular RPG (4E for short) in the mechanics, namely having defenses instead of saves.

In Microlite and MicroZ, the Vancian system of magic is replaced with point fueled spell casting. In Microlite hit points are used, in MicroZ there is a separate pool of points called Focus. One of the big reasons for this was the healing loop... if someone can heal more hp than they spend to cast the healing spell, they can go on indefinitely.

Last night was my first beta test of the system and a scenario I want to run at GenCon in 2011. The group was composed of one of my alpha test players, several experienced gamers, and two players who had never played an RPG.

The good part was that the newbies were able to play the most complicated characters, both spell casters, fairly easily. The character sheets were easy to follow and the session didn't bog down for mechanics.

Overall the story of the scenario was well received. In a nutshell an undead mayor decided he was going to take a new wife, a farmer's daughter from the adjacent kingdom. It was the players' task to track her down and save her from the her wedding day.

The biggest flaw in the scenario was that the fights were too easy. The characters never felt like they were really in any danger and still had plenty of resources left at the end of the final fight.

The biggest system issue is that spell-casters need to be nerfed. They were able to blaze away with spells and didn't come close to running out of Focus. Right now I'm mulling on whether to reduce the amount of Focus characters get or raise the cost of casting. As usual interesting ideas flit through my mind that I discard to keep from complicating and bogging down the system.

The rogue feat was pretty under-powered. In the session, it gave the character +3 damage when flanking, on crits, and on surprise attacks. It never came into play, and compared to lightning bolts and searing rays, and extra +3 seemed pretty puny.

I was also concerned about the fighter feat, which adds the character's Strength bonus to the DR (damage reduction) of armor was over-powered, but the "tank" never got hit. Still, I need to revisit it, as most of the monsters would have needed a critical hit to hurt the tank.

All in all, I got a lot of good notes. I'm glad I'm doing this a year in advance rather than a week.

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