So we had another playtest of Freebooters this week.

So we had another playtest of Freebooters this week.

So we had another playtest of Freebooters this week. Mathieu Mazzoni ran a short dungeon for 3rd level characters, and we have a few observations. Warning: braindump ahead.

Overall feeling

It’s nice to have a few more hit points and an extra move: my fighter felt more capable, but far from invincible. The magic-user did a few impressive things with his spells, and everyone felt like they contributed to the delve. It really felt like low level B/X.

On durations

Mathieu felt the duration tags weren’t really intuitive, and he kept giving estimates of how long a spell or a torch would last (in minutes). Reading the rule again myself afterwards, I think I could handle it as a Judge with a bit of practice. Thinking about duration as a resource takes some getting used to. Maybe this could be stressed in the book.

About the Cast Spell move

On a miss, choosing -1 ongoing for the duration of the spell’s effect shouldn’t be available when the spell is instantaneous. It’s probably obvious, but we had to stop and talk about it a couple of times during the game. This may warrant a mention somewhere.

In the Spellbook move

Maybe it’s just me (I played a magic-user in our first game), but listing the aspects and their costs like is a bit confusing when you’re in the middle of a battle. Layout permitting, I would suggest a table like the one I made here:

A fleeing move?

There was a moment in the game when Tom Z’s  dwarf used Not Guts, No Glory to dive at a giant spider-god emerging from a bottomless pit. The monster was clearly too powerful for us and the only reason we survived is our nice Judge. Mat decided the spider didn’t like that stingy axe. It retreated and let us live.

After the fact, Tom remarked that maybe the game needed a move to retreat or flee. Having it front of your eyes would be a good way to remind players that Freebooters shouldn’t fight to the death. Here’s a thing I drafted. We will test drive next time.

When you lead the retreat burn 1 Charisma and roll +CHA. On a 10+, choose 3 from the list below; on a 7-9, choose 2; on a 6-, burn 1 Charisma and  choose 1.

– You don’t leave anyone behind

– No one is injured in the process

– You don’t lose anything precious

– The monsters give up the chase

That said, I’m really enjoying freebooting on the frontier. This game is the dream child of old school survival and DW that I always wanted.

4 thoughts on “So we had another playtest of Freebooters this week.”

  1. Thank you, Eric! I’m at the beach right now, but when I get home I’ll see what I can do with the layout. Definitely like the idea of a fleeing move, and I think there’s room on that page to add something like that. M-U spell page is pretty tight, but I’ll see if I can try to make that info more clear somehow.

  2. Yeah, I wrote the report before doing the actual table, and I didn’t realise how wide it would be. I suppose if it doesn’t fit in the playbook you can always stick it at the end of the main book 🙂

  3. Okay, I cant make an M-U table fit without squeezing stuff too hard, so I might have to draft an alternate playbook down the line.

    I like your retreat move a lot, but it feels like it might be a hard sell to a more general audience, because it puts the fate of other characters in the hands of whomever leads the retreat. It also obviates the need to play out the action of the retreat—which I can see being a plus in some cases, and a minus in cases where playing out the retreat in more detail might be more rewarding.

    What about this:


    When you urge your comrades to follow your example and run for their lives, burn 1 Charisma and roll +CHA: on a 10+, each person who runs (including you) takes +1 ongoing as long as they’re fleeing from the threat; on a 7-9, your allies take +1 forward to whatever they do next.

    It’s not as interesting, obviously, but I think it has the advantage of being more generally applicable. The key thing is that it allows for people to individually choose whether or not to run, and on a 7-9 they get +1 forward to whatever they do next, not just fleeing (which I think of as everyone getting a sudden burst of adrenaline/fear because someone vocalized the need to run).

  4. Yeah, I thought that would happen with the M-U table. Thanks for trying though!

    I tend to like moves that propel the fiction forward (or backward in this case 😉 but I can understand how a player would feel uncomfortable if someone else made their character retreat against their will. You could simply change the fictional trigger to something like “when the group agrees to run away following your lead”.

    That said, your version certainly works, and as you say it lets the detail of the retreat in the hands of the Judge. I like the subtlety that comes with the 7-9 result. Yeah, actually, I’m convinced: your move is more generally useful. I might recycle this one for DW.

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