First LORE Playtest

I’ve mentioned before that I’m working on a tabletop roleplaying system. LORE, or the Lightweight Omnipotent Roleplaying Engine, is designed to be versatile, quick-playing, and easy to pick up. Last Saturday, I ran my first-ever playtest of the system.

As with digital games, playtesting is the only way to really get a feel for a tabletop roleplaying system. Some systems look great on paper, but don’t do so well at the gaming table. Conspiracy X‘s revised edition (I haven’t played 2.0) is one of these. It’s a great setting, with some unique mechanics, but the basic rolling is a nightmare when you actually try it out. So even though I’d done brute-force statistical analysis of LORE‘s dice-rolling, it was only in play that I could get a real test. So how’d it turn out?

Really well. The players all picked up the mechanics quite quickly. In LORE, players roll two six-sided dice, with a cascading re-roll when the two dice come up with the same value. Roll doubles, you re-roll and add the new result. This seemed like a lot of fun in play; players had a pleasant surprise decently often, and large rolls were exciting.

I was also a bit concerned about the skill system. In most roleplaying systems that have skills, the skills have a numerical value. You might have an 18 in Science, representing that you’re a Ph.D. physicist. In LORE, however, there are no skill values. You either have the Science skill or you don’t. Extra skill is represented by specializations. Stephen Hawking would have Science, Physics, Quantum Physics, Particle Physics, Astrophysics, and so on. Each relevant skill that you have adds one to your rolls. There was a little fumbling during play, where I had to remind players just how to count up their skills, but afterward the players said that they liked the skill system. Specifically, one player said, it made it clear just where a character’s strengths were. Since that was my intent for the system, I consider it a success.

The most negative comment I got was that the system was so similar to GURPS that I might as well have used that system. I’ll chalk that up to that player’s unique system experiences, though, as I think LORE is pretty darn different. Yes, it has attributes, “advantages,” “disadvantages,” and skills, but that’s about all that’s in common. It’s likely he hasn’t played much of that category of games: TriStat dX, Conspiracy X, Hero, and Shadowrun all follow the same basic template, among a bunch of others. Out of that lot, I think LORE‘s the least similar to GURPS. Except maybe the name. The name’s pretty similar.

So the game was a success! I think I’m definitely on the right track with this system. My next step is to clean up a (very) rough draft of the sourcebooks and run a test of character creation. That’s the other unique thing about the game; I think I’ve come up with a clever and fast way of making characters that has the versatility of a point-buy without all the math. We’ll see.