26 February 2019 mawbreakers playtesting session_report rpg game_design
Recently, I’ve had this itch to play a game where I play a platoon of WW2-era soldiers who fight the paranormal, kill Nazis, look for Dracula, and generally send things back to hell. Equal parts Hellboy, Wolfenstein, Castle Colditz, and Overlord. Over the weekend, I tinkered with Stay Frosty (which is a great game about playing the colonial marines from Aliens on bug hunts, essentially) and put together the first draft of what I’m currently calling: Mawbreakers. We had our first playtest last night.
Stay Frosty itself is a hack of the The Black Hack, which in turn makes it pretty easy to hack itself. In Mawbreakers you can take your pick of playing:
I did a quick write up of the equipment conversions below and then basically got to playing.
From there I converted the weapons to their US WW2 equivalents.
|Weapon Type||Damage||Range||Ammo Die||Special|
|M2-A1 Flamethrower||2d6||Close||d6||Blast, Terror|
|Mk 2 Grenade||3d6||Close||d4||AP-1, Blast|
|M9 Bazooka||5d6||Long||1||AP-4, HW|
|M37 Demolition Kit†||5d6||-||1||AP-5, Blat, HW|
|M1903 Springfield*||2d10||Long||d8||AP-2, Large|
* If issued one of these weapons it replaces the M1A1 Carbine.
† Has a timer that can be set to explode in up to 10 rounds.
And did the same with the vehicles.
|M3 Half Track APC||40||4||Average||.50 cal M2 Browning MG, or Ronson Flamethrower||HA, Pass-8|
|Jeep||20||3||Fast||.50 cal M2 Browning MG||ATV, Pass-3|
|M24 Chaffee L. Tank||50||6||Average||75mm Gun M6, .50 cal M2 Browning MG||HA|
|M26 Pershing H. Tank||75||10||Slow||90mm Gun M3, .50 cal M2 Browning MG||Anti-P, ATV, HA|
|Ronson Flamethrower||2d8||Close||d10||Blast, Terror|
|.50 cal M2 Browning MG||3d6||Long||d12||AP-2, Suppress|
|75mm Gun M6||4d6||Long||d12||AP-4, Blast, HW|
|90mm Gun M3||6d6||Long||d12||AP-6, Blast, HW|
I had basically zero prep for this, but my players were amped up after not seeing each other for a few weeks and I pitched this game as a combat-centric run-and-gun style game, which they were into. Their mission was to parachute into Romania, meet up with their contact, Marie Lautrec in the village’s church. Lautrec would supply them with a map of the interior of Castle Ravenbohn, a ruined castle overlooking the small village. From their, the squad’s goal would be to eliminate the Nazis stationed there and find out why Himmler is so interested in such a tiny castle so far behind the front.
The squad parachutes into the dark woods surrounding the village, but is split up during the drop. Septembrus, Arthur, and Jackson (Alpha Team) all land off the drop point and decide to head into the village on their own. White and Nelson (Bravo) spend a turn waiting for the rest of their team before moving out.
The village is dark, cold, and ruined from shelling. All the shutters are closed and the streets are deserted. There’s only one light on, a small candle in the church window at the center of town. Alpha team slowly heads towards the church, attempting to take cover near an upended tank which blocks off both sides of the street. Septembrus notices a glint from the bell tower, however, and Sgt. Jackson yells at everyone to take cover as a sniper fires on their position.
Combat is pretty quick, Bravo team shows up on the other side of town, and Pvt. Arthur takes a shot but is able to take out the sniper with his return volley. The teams regroup, and Nelson patches Arthur up before they assault the bell tower. At the tope they find the dying german sniper, who Nelson fixes up for interrogation. Septembrus casts Word of God on the sniper, which is basically charm, and he and Arthur (the only German-speaker of the bunch) interrogate their prisoner.
The sniper is afraid of the church below, and says that there’s a great evil there. He doesn’t want to go inside. Welp, too bad.
The march the guy down, and then force him into the desecrated church. Inside, they find Lautrec, naked and disemboweled, at the center of a pentagram and a bunch of other occult symbols. There’s a white circle of some kind spread around her. The squad searches the church for the map, but only comes up with Lautrec’s messenger bag and nothing else. Nelson agrees to do a cavity search of Lautrec, in case the map was hidden on her person, but accidentally breaks the salt circle around the pentagram and unleashes a giant red demon.
But not for long, Septembrus and Arthur step forward with their shotguns and blast the thing, dropping it as soon as its summoned. I guess that’s that.
Nelson finishes her search and finds the below map in Lautrec’s mouth. And we ended the session there.
A lot of great feedback from the group tonight. The big one was that I ran the game too much like Mothership, instead of say, Doom. My players were terrified to do stuff, to use ammo, etc. I played the Demon at the end wrong (he should’ve been harder to hit because of his 5HD) but even still, the sniper in town should’ve sent in waves of soldiers, the demon should’ve summoned with a platoon of undead Nazis. That kind of thing. We’ve agreed to way up the scores of badguys in the next session, but everyone was interesting in playing it again. We’ve talked more about giving everyone “something” kinda paranormal to tie them to this BPRD-esque unit, as well as moving to more combat incentivizing bonuses. We’re talking about kill streaks, XP for kills, etc. I think our goal is for this to be a sort of friday-night-firefight (to borrow from Cyberpunk), where you can play with your beer and pretzels friends and not worry too much about survival horror, etc. Overall a good time, but we think we can do better (I mean two enemies? Come on.)
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