Playtest Offer

edited September 2006 in Play Advice
With all the discussions of playtesting and quality control of pre-published RPGs, I figured I ought to put my sessions where my mouth is.

I'm offering three demo-sized single sessions as playtests, and one more protacted short playtest for multiple sessions (3-4 sessions). These are open slots within my gaming schedule. The former is a regular demo slot during my local college gaming club's open gaming night, so the players will be somewhat random. The later is on Weds with a group I've gathered for short multi-session games - currently running Dogs in the Vineyards.

I will produce actual play summaries, critiques, and suggestions. There will be no ornate actual play reports. The feedback will be provided privately to the designer, who may choose to post it at her or his leisure. I tend to be uncompromising in playtesting, so be warned.

I intend to run these by December, within Penn State's fall semester. In responding indicate whether you are asking for the protracted playtest or one of the demo-sized ones. I will choose the games based first come, first serve, although I reserve the right to simply review and critique a game I don't deem playtest ready or entirely inappropriate for the venue (which is quite public), and then playtest the next on the list in it's place.

I see this as an experiment. If it works out, I hope to offer something similar in the spring. I am not asking anything for these reviews, but, as always, I take it as a personal kindness if someone playtests one of my games.

- Mendel S.

P.S. If time and interest allows, I may playtest additional games posted, but I can make no assurances.


  • edited September 2006

    I'd love to enlist you for a 2 session game of "The Committee for the Exploration of Mysteries," or maybe a demo session if you get a longer form game to playtest. Confirm and I'll send the most recent text your way.



    Edit: You can read about my own recent playtest here

    Second Edit: My game can be played in a single session, but likely a longer one of 4-5 hours. Doing two sessions of 3 hours each would be better, but I'd be happy with either approach. Thanks again for offering your time.
  • Mendel,

    I definitely think you should playtest "Committee for the Exploration of Mysteries".

  • edited September 2006
    I'd be eternally grateful if you could do a playtest of Tokyo Heroes. It's in kind of a niche genre (sentai), but so far it's been fun to play.

    I do like the idea of offering/exchanging playtesting though. If I can arrange it (probably not for a while) I might see about making a similar offer with my regular group.

    EDIT: It could be run as a one-shot, provided the GM sets stuff up (coming up the the overall concept for the hero team) ahead of time; otherwise character creation turns into a group effort that takes a few hours, even if that's mostly spent on brainstorming. My main concerns as far as testing go are more to do with how combat works, so while it could probably benefit from a longer playtest, that's not a high priority right now.
  • As other members of the LA Gamers Playtest Circle have hinted at, so long as you can sell one of us one your game, we'd rather play test new stuff than play printed stuff. So if you can find one of us, and make you're pitch, you might be able to enlist... ah, too much of a stretch.
  • If you're volunteering yourselves, Judson, I'm happy to oblige your desire to playtest. You were one of my Game Chef judges as I recall, so you know what the game's all about.
  • edited September 2006
    I would love for someone to playtest City of Masks. Small (26-page PDF) game set in the same setting as my novel-currently-under-I-hope-final-revision of the same name.

    "In Bonvidaeo, the City of Masks, the mask you wear is who you are - or so everyone tells you. Young nobles just beginning to discover your identity, as you come of age you are thrust suddenly into the scheming and maneuvering of the powerful factions within the City. You must strive to make alliances and increase your Face, the social currency which buys you power and influence and protects you from being dragged down in the faction fights. All the time, though, your forbidden face is coming clearer - conflicting with your mask…"

    Uses playing cards, and a domino-based resolution system.

    3-hour demo slot should be fine, it's simple chargen and quick resolution.
  • edited September 2006
    I'd love some external playtesting for Six Bullets for Vengeance - we've done a fair bit ourselves, but need some external perspective really.

    The pitch is: "One of you plays the hero, exacting his revenge one by one against the villains, played by all the other players. Oh, and it's played backwards."

    Drop me a line if it sounds like something you'd be interested in!

    EDIT: forgot to say, Six Bullets can be run in a single session of 1-2 hours.
  • edited September 2006
    It'd be great if you could playtest either The Dragon vs The Gun a GMless PvP clash betwwen chaos and order or Labyrinths & Lycanthropes - a cheeky super-fast dungeon bash aimed at new roleplayers.

    I'm at an impasse with both of these games, until they get playtested...


    Edit: The 3 hr demo slot would fit L&L well, DvG might benefit more from protracted play.
  • Just to remind everyone, when you request a playtest, you should specify if you require the protracted slot, or if your game works with an approximately 3 hour demo slot (of which I can accomodate at least three games). Feel free to edit your posts to make that clear.

    - Mendel
  • edited September 2006
    From the looks of things I can fit all but one of Joe's games in the open slots I have. Joe, did you have a preference, or an idea for how protracted a good playtest of DvG would be? If it wouldn't be too long, I can try to work it in now, or next semester. I'm looking over the ones publically available. If you haven't linked to it, you can send me a playtest document at mxs485 (preposition) psu (punctuation) edu. Once I get a chance to look them over, I'll start scheduling the playtests.

    - Mendel S.

    P.S. As far as reciprocal playtesting offers, I need to write-up the redesign of Coming of Age but when that's ready it should work well for both single session and protracted playtesting. But if you have the time and interest more immediately, I have almost 20 games on my site, most of which could use more testing.

    (Edited for link formatting.)
  • Hmmm, so this offering is now closed?

    If not, tell us.

    And in regards to your games, if you have about 20, you should tell people which ones you want to get looked at first.

    A nice offer, and good luck to everyone! :)
  • Guy,

    Assuming all the games posted so far are suitable - can be run in a very public venue and are ready for playtest (and they all seem to fit, so far) then the definite part of the offer is closed. On the other hand, if time allows I will do a capsule vetting (rather likely) and a playtest (less likely) of games that are posted. In the very least, if something doesn't work out with one of the games already posted, then another definite slot will open up. Likewise if another slot opens in my schedule it will give me more playtest time to schedule (and since I run or play about 5 times a week, it's certainly possible.)

    As far as order of playtest preference for the games on my site:

    Top priority:

    Coming of Age - I'm still refining from the last playtest, but it will be online soon.

    Savagery - A game of social and emotional combat, and trying to change your life, for the better or the worse.

    Pure Shoujo - a GM-less game for soap operatics and the shoujo anime genre. Character Sheet (required to play)

    Drift - a science fiction game about travel, adventure, and how people change. I'm hoping to have a new version ready soon.

    More Experimental:

    True Names - a unique live action game based on the principles of sympathy and names.

    In the Box - a game of playing poetry, a sestina to be precise.

    Transmutation - This game presents a fantastic world with an alternate physics, based on a very strange form of alchemy.

    Deja Vu - a nostalgic game of remembering old favorites and return them to glory.

    Past Life - a game of Victorian horror and discovery, with character creation during play.

    Mythic Strains - a simple game which emulates the comic book genre.

    More Traditional:

    Magic Academy - a game of school days and magical lessons, inspired by Harry Potter and Diane Duane's So You Want to Be a Wizard series.

    Firefly d20 - a d20 game for playing in the setting of the TV series Firefly. Should be played with the character sheet, which includes an OGL extension to the game on the second page.

    Highly Dimensional - a cyberpunk game of developing awareness beyond the human experience.

    Chains of Command - a humorous game of rank and file demons.

    Mimcry - a game of forms, deception, and shapestealers seeking perfection.

    Simple or Silly:

    Christmas Ninjas - a silly little game about playing Christmas Ninjas.

    Slashfest - a GM-less game designed to emulate the slasher film genre.

    Obscurity - a game where you play a song stuck in people's heads and try to change the world.

    I also have the Full Course of Love and Death, but I need go through and revise them. So much to do, so little time.

    - Mendel S.
  • edited October 2006
    I realize that you have a full slate, but if an opening does arise, I would appreciate considering MOD Forces (Monster Rules) for the one-shot or the multi-game opportunity.

    MOD Forces is a bit of RPG/Minis game blur. You create your own characters and can play head to head, in a group or wiht a GM. The games can be a one-shot battle or a multi-game scenario. The rules are universal and can be applied to any situation and genre. You can find out more info and download the latest rules beta at

    Thanks for your consideration.

  • If you find the time, then Cranium Rats could benefit from a long term playtest. About 3-4 sessions, each 2 hours long(the first devoted mostly to setup and one "round") would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers :)
  • Progress update:

    I held an open demo of Tokyo Heroes last weekend. Due to Halloween parties I only had one player show. I'm looking to give this one a later slot, possibly as a 2 session playtest. I'll be playing Committee for the Exploration of Mysteries tomorrow with my regular Wed. group. Currently evaluating City of Masks, unfortunately I'm finding the mechanics somewhat unclear. I'll be making an outline chart for them to mitigate this effect, if possible.

    - Mendel S.
  • Sorry about that, Mendel, anything specific that I could help clear up?
  • Eee, I had another look at it, it's a lot less cooked than I remembered. Sorry. I'll try to sort it into some kind of order.
  • edited December 2006
    OK, after a certain amount of tidying up, the revised file is up for City of Masks.

    EDIT on 6 December 2006: I've done some more revision, specifically to the resolution mechanic. Same file location.
  • Several updates:

    I've completed at least some playtesting of Six Bullets, CEM, and City of Masks. I'll be running Tokyo Heroes (revised) this coming Weds. and likely the following one, which should give that a decent playtest run as well. I have not yet had a chance to type up the playtest reporting, but I plan to do so over the next week.

    In addition, I have Coming of Age ready for external playtest. It's only four pages, so feel free to take a look. By setting the pace = 1-2, you can play it as a single session.

    - Mendel S.
  • Mendel,

    Thanks again for taking the time to playtest for us. I'll take a look at Coming of Age and try to get a playtest set up for you.


  • Looking forward to hearing how Six Bullets went!
  • Ditto for City of Masks - thanks much. When you do get to your writeup, please specify if you used the 6 December file, or the earlier version of the resolution mechanic (which I strongly suspect was broken).

    (Possibly so is the 6 Dec one, of course.)
  • Mike,

    I'm in the midst of submitting financial reports for one of my other hobbies, typing up the playtests is the next major task on my list. I did playtest using the Dec. 6th rules, I figured that would be of the greatest use.

    - Mendel S.
  • Great, thanks again.
  • I've sent/posted the playtest reports for Fall. I emailed Andrew, Ewen, and Eric, and I've posted a whisper to Mike as his email didn't appear to work.

    I'm opening another playtest call for Spring semester here. Joe and Guy, you're getting playtests. Joe I need you to pick one of the games you posted, I can really only do one playtest per designer, per semester. And Matthew, I'm reserving you a spot, but the link you posted doesn't work, so it's tentative.

    Beyond that I am looking for one to two more playtest-ready RPGs to put into the rotation. Refer to the initial post for details. Some of these will be late-night demoes, which tend to be about 2 hours in length, at best, and with people with little or no RPG experience. All playtests are in dry public places, so be aware that may limit our ability to play some games.

    I'll be adding other games, assuming they check-out, in first-come, first-serve order.

    - Mendel S.
  • Hey Mendel,

    Just did an overhaul to some of the core mechanics of Crime and Punishment, and should have them documented, at least roughly by next weekish. Time-wise it fits your bill.

    Let me know, Thanks!

  • Mo,

    That sounds good, I look forward to seeing the new version.

    - Mendel S.
  • Just a heads up to anyone who was interested in playtesting Coming of Age. The newest playtest document (pdf) is up. The rules haven't changed at all through the past three playtests, but I've added extensive examples of play. The document is presently only 6 pages, the last two being the two sheets - one for character and one for group antagonists.

    The game has a pacing value, so a pace of 1 should fit a standard one-shot demo slot, 3 for a 2-3 session short game, and 5 or more for longer term play. I'm especially interested in playtest sessions of pace 3 or 5, but a pace 1 playtest is also appreciated.


    - Mendel S.
  • Hi Mendel,
    I'm not in the market for an external playtest yet, but I wanted to extend my hearty thanks for the offer. This will be of immense benefit to the folks here.
    I hope to put up my game for a later running, if all works out well.
    I've got a monthly group I run that I might be able to convince to playtest Coming of Age. I'll see what I can do.
    Thanks again,
  • I will be offering two more playtest slots for this summer. These will be 1-2 sessions in length, and will be provided to the first two playtest worthy games people post after this comment. This is fewer slots than before, becase the summer semester is smaller, sparser, and I'm also doing the playtest for Game Chef's Most Theoryful winner.

    I will be aiming for feedback responses to be sent out by August. Otherwise read the first post here for other aspects of these playtests.

    I look forward to seeing what this next crop will look like,

    - Mendel S.
  • Mendel,

    Would you be interested in doing a playtest of "In Frankenstein's Wake"? It's a one shot, no-prep, GMless RPG/board game hybrid. The premise is that each player is a protege of the missing Victor Frankenstein, and all are competing to be the first to complete their own experiment to create life. You can read more about it here. I can provide you a revised draft by early July. Thanks.

  • Mendel,

    I think I completed my Social Skills RPG enough to do some playtest. Although it has no resource examples, the rules tell you how to make them. You can find it here. (And here is a printer friendly version.) I hope, you'll find it playtestable.

Sign In or Register to comment.