[The Wildlings] revised open playtest!

Hey SG! It's been a while!
So, remember this thread over here?

After a few years of tinkering, testing, revising, playing, breaking things, and playing some more, The Wildlings game is inching closer to an actual release...probably via Kickstarter!
Originally designed by @JohnHarper, this current incarnation has been played a few times, notably at Nemocon and recently at GoPlay NW this last weekend. I'm pretty confident that, mechanically, it should work just fine, and my only concern at this point is how well other people can play it without me sitting behind them to answer questions. Not an easy thing to do, especially since it was originally intended for introducing kids to gaming.

So, for the next two months, I'm asking for anyone who is interested to download the files below and play them, break them, critique them, tear them apart, and then send me feedback at gremlinlegions@hotmail.com. If you have particularly memorable APs you want to post, go right ahead! I want to read them! If you know other people who might be interested, but aren't on Story Games, send them a link. At the end of August, I'll be taking a look at all the feedback that's come in, and using that to evaluate what might need to change, what needs further editing, and whether there needs to be another round of playtesting.

In the meantime, let me know if there are any questions!

(a.k.a. Gremlin Legions, a.k.a. StupidGremlin)


Looks like some people have trouble downloading from Mediafire, so I'm including links to the files on my Google Drive.
Mediafire Links
Game File and Map

Google Drive Links
Game File
Game Map


  • With the kindly permission of Gremlin Mike and JH, I uploaded the previous version of the rules to G+ and played an online game with my 11-year-old daughter a couple weeks ago. She's not big into roleplaying, and I deliberately chose The Wildlings because of its simplicity and evocative spirit. Long story short: She had a great time, and recently requested that we continue the adventure, without even being asked. This is a total win. Thanks, you guys. I'll be running session 2 using the new rules.
  • Yay Wildlings! Give it a read, everybody, it's easy and straight forward, but definitely worth checking out.
  • I read it, though I have only played the previous version, with my house-rules. I like the changes to the Mark rules, and the Companions and Treasure seem fine. I'm still concerned about the character motivations / goals. The example Quest is fine; is every session supposed to be framed similarly?
  • Hey Mike, mind if this gets included on Story Games Weekly?
  • @Deliverator
    What are your concerns with motivations/goals?
    As for framing adventures, I think that should really be up to individual play styles. So far, I've personally have only been able to run one-shots. But if anything comes up in the playtesting that people feel works better than other ways, I will certainly try to codify it.

    Sure, go right ahead!
  • edited July 2014
    When I ran it, I had ~3-4 interconnected sessions with learning-challenged 11-12 year olds, and I was really struggling to keep the narrative together after they found the baby. (That's why I introduced explicit goals and tokens; your new Mark rules totally get at what I was aiming for from that though.) The new Ranks thing will help pace the challenges, but I'm looking more at how to structure a Wildlings adventure.

    I may have a chance to run it for 13-year-olds in the next few weeks! Will keep you posted!

  • A real quick comment:

    I really don't like the word "sturdily". What the heck is that, anyway?

    If you feel the need to keep it, maybe "stalwartly", or "resolutely", or something like that?
  • @Deliverator
    I'll definitely work on advice for structuring adventures, then. I'll look forward to your experiences and APs!

    Sturdily is certainly not the most used Feat. I had included it because there were a few adventures where characters were fighting against cold and hunger, and this was, at the time, the best word I could find. Since then, though, in my own playtests, it hasn't been used again...so I guess it will be on the chopping block. We'll see what other Feat suggestions people have.
  • I kept hearing about this at GoPlayNW but didn't get a chance to experience it for myself. Now I will need to rectify this and get a group together to play.
  • @stupidgremlin - would you consider enabling comments on the Google Drive file? I am much better at giving feedback as I read, than writing it in an email afterwards :P
  • @Level27Geek
    The permissions have been updated. You should be able to comment directly to the file.
  • @get2joe
    Yeah, I was hoping that maybe I could have run it twice at GoPlay, but stuff got in the way, cutting my visit short.
  • @stupidgremlin it sounds like from what I heard, that Seattle residents didn't treat you very well.
  • Just to clarify: it's not that I *can't* come up with more stuff on my own, of course. But the game's creative vision is just slightly unclear enough to me that I'm not sure which pre-existing model I should be using for adventure design.
  • Might have to hack this to play as an Elf Quest game to get my kid to play it, but I'll definitely give it a shot.
  • @Niko that shouldn't be difficult actually. Keep it loose and descriptive. My kid likes the idea of small dragons that can be tamed, so she's getting small dragons that can be tamed. But I'm not gonna even bother making up "dragon driving" rules. Everything can be handled with the existing rules.
  • @Niko
    I'd LOVE to see this hacked to play ElfQuest.

    ...I'd also get a kick if someone managed to hack it to play Wizards.
  • I figured I might as well check in and see if anyone had a chance to play around with The Wildlings playtest, whether running it as-is, or hacking it into something else. Since...well...it's been over a month...
  • edited August 2014
    Hey, I playtested your game! Everyone enjoyed it quite a bit. I ran it with a few experienced roleplayers in their late 20s or older, plus one 18-year-old. I have run a couple older versions of the game as well. Here's some of our feedback:
    Regarding question 2: "Sturdily" is a little awkward, although I did use it as a Risk to cross a freezing cold river. In some cases it's similar to Fiercely (like the synonyms you provide, "powerfully" and "mightily"). Maybe more useful as something like Ruggedly, Hardily, or Steadfastly?
    3: Players earning marks - actually the first real challenge was getting across this cold river, and three players in a row went for a mark trying to help each other cross or pull someone out of the river, and each failed! It was something to see. After that, the players were a little more hesitant, but did seem to go for marks when they had an opportunity.
    4: I did introduce a companion, an independent miner they met up with who knew about trolls living in the mountains. (They suspected trolls had taken Rylka.) Actually they didn't call on him much, but I think the rules for his help worked well.
    5: We didn't get through the whole adventure and I didn't use all the Ranks I had available, so I can't speak to them. I think they were a decent tool for pacing individual encounters though. I found it hard to really challenge the players by description alone, as mechanically they could deal with anything quite easily. However I think I personally need to get better at using the tags and bringing the challenge, and striking at them with multiple Risks. I also think I failed to really discuss each action with the players and talk about goals and consequences ahead of time. It seems to me there's some vagueness about describing things before the roll or after the roll (which seems intentional since you pick one feat before and additional feats after). I guess I could use even more guidance as the Guide. Like "no really, don't even touch the dice until you lay down a clear goal and several Risks!" Contrast this to Apocalypse World style or other traditional games where they roll immediately when they declare an action.
    7: We had a lot of ideas for alternate settings! We're in southern Arizona, so a desert setting was the first thing to come to mind, with spirits like Coyote, Mountain Lion, and Javelina. Another thought was using Greek-style Gods in place of Spirits. Other ideas I jotted down: Undead/Ravenloft, Sci-fi, John Carter planets for Spirits, Gladiator or Battle Royale setting.
    For additional content, you could have more adventure ideas like the village Seer needs a particular creature's magical feather. A bigger or specific map (though personally I like the blanks). Someone suggested examples of characters and conflicts.

    In general: There are enough mechanics to keep the game surprising, but they are few enough that they don't get cumbersome. One player questioned the purpose of Feats. They don't restrict what you can do and don't help you describe what is happening. (Maybe I should have required more Feats as Risks in addition to fiction?) And it seems it's not hard to work in any given Feat to a description of what you want to do. Perhaps there could be some incentive to use a variety of Feats, like if you use each of them over the course of the adventure.

    Maybe there should be some use for Bonds as well. Gaining Marks or giving +1 to teamwork?

    One player wanted more emphasis on magic/the supernatural. There was a bit of discussion about this, and I figure it's left implicit in the text so each group can decide how much obvious supernatural stuff they want in their game. One suggestion was people with strong Owl spirit could have better eyesight, and similar boons for other spirits, but I figure when you start using more Marks you can describe it like that if you want.

    Overall it was a fun session, with very interesting characters and setting. The challenges and combat were overcome quite descriptively, even if it wasn't very difficult (again, probably my fault). Personally I'd love to play the game as a player and try to use the system more. Thanks for working to finish it!
  • @AaronF
    Thanks for the feedback! Some of what you mention mirrors some of the other responses I've received. And some of the alternate settings you suggest catch my eye...though it means I might need to bone up on my desert animals (what is a Javelina?) and John Carter reading.

    As for the Feats, the important part of choosing them is in describing how the Wildling does something, so that the Guide knows how to respond to the action itself. Just because a Wildling succeeds, it doesn't mean they have full narrative authority to describe the success however they want - the Feats are a fictional limiting factor in how they weave their story. If they sneak across a rope bridge Secretly, obviously the Guide wouldn't be able to say that some bandits heard the creaking of the wood planks, but maybe because they didn't do it Carefully, the swaying bridge causes someone to lose an important item, or loosens the ropes making it treacherous for their return trip. They are a way of helping the players drive which direction the story goes, trying to make sure that whatever does happen next, because of how they performed their actions, they'd be better able to confront it...at least fictionally. And yeah, putting those Risks in there is what makes it challenging for them, since each Risk can use up valuable Feats, and is potentially something bad that could happen to them.

    I'm really excited to put together the revisions! (now just to make the time...)
  • Just read through it and is looking very good. Would be nice to have more adverbs on the character sheet; perhaps 4-5 per animal spirit?
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