[MADcorp] open for alpha testing

Hi everyone,
I've got an alpha draft of MADcorp ready, and I need a few outside alpha testers.

MADcorp is the game of corporate dungeoncrawling in a world gone weird. If you need to know more, then this thread and this thread should tell you what you need to know. And, of course, you can always, like, y'know, ask.

If you want to playtest it, shoot me an email (marksman45[at]gmail) and I'll return fire with the PDFs. Serious inquiries only, please!

-Marshall

Comments

  • Sent. Awaiting PDF-y goodness.
  • Is it amenable to one-shots? If so, I play test it at GPNW!
  • This evokes a christmas feeling!
  • Yes, it's very amenable to one-shots; the unit of play is one dungeoncrawl job and its aftermath, which you can do in one session. You do have to prep your dungeon beforehand, however. But it's not that hard to; what you really need is a floorplan and a prethought list of threats (the important part is, like Bangs in Sorcerer, that you've been thinking about appropriate threats, no so much that you've already got some, although that's nice too), and most everything else you can throw in on the fly.
  • E-mail sent.
  • Nitpick from the simulationist in me: clink armor should work super well against electrocution, just like sitting in a car. Electricity takes fastest route to the ground and going through metal armor is way faster than someones flesh.
  • Hm. I've debated that one back and forth. It's intuitive (if not entirely accurate) that the metal would conduct the electricity to your skin better than other clothes. Steel's relatively high resistivity also means that, at the levels of voltage we're talking about, the metal's going to get very, very hot - so should we convert the damage from Electrocution to Fire & Burns? That's relatively realistic, but I don't like the idea of doing that; that's a whole different function for armor than what I had in mind.
    (It was also my understanding that a car protects you from electrocution because it's not grounded, on account of standing on rubber tires.)
  • Sent in a message! I should be able to get in a game or two soon, I'll let you all know how it goes.
  • edited June 2010
    It's a blast to make dungeons for this game, I suspect monster might not as dangerour as they should unless you buy lots of extra wounds simply because the party is likely to travel as a group and gang up on it as soon as they see it. I guess they should strike when people are isolated.

    It'll be a while till I can get the game going since I feel the players need to be at least a litle read up on it so the system feels natural. I'm a little confused by the range mechanics for the melee weapons, why not use the Rustbelt system of longest weapon wins in a open area and shortest in a closed/clinch?

    The dungeon I'm working on is the metro of Rome, perfect for electrical hazards to push people into and mysteriously appearing trains. The stations lead to as different things as hospitals and airports and a volcano!

    Btw I see you put my elephant in there as a monster :)

    Edit for some more thoughts:
    Why not have melee and ranged ranges be separate? Even with a really long hand to hand weapon you have to be close to hit someone who has a gun. The weapon reach could be relative to others of the same class. Since melee fighters will have to run up to most opponents anyway baking the movement into the Hit roll would make sense. If you Hit someone with a contact weapon you are now at your weapons range compared to him, when he tried to hit you back and has a different weapon reach it will probably penalize him (also you can't get to choose range because then two knife fighters would try to attack each other at long range to penalize the slower guy and not getting hit in a knife fight is really hard!). As it is now (if it read it correctly) if you miss someone with a melee attack you don't change position at all?
  • That sounds like an excellent dungeon! And, yes, that is your elephant :)

    The contact and missile reach classes are different -- a short-reach sword is different from a short-reach pistol -- and I thought that would be enough distinction. As for rushing up to people and stuff, that's supposed to be implied in the rolls & reach modifiers and whatnot. Rushing at someone with a knife is bad because they've got more time to mount a defense; rushing at someone with a greatsword is good because by the time they notice, the sword's already there. Since combat isn't blow-by-blow but rather a few seconds of hacking, shooting, and running around, I thought it worked.

    And, yes, if you fail your HIT roll, you don't get to change your position. You ran up, attacked, were parried and forced back. If the other guy used active defense though, he's supposed to be able to force you to change relative to him. I might not have remembered to put that in...
  • So I've spent way too much time polishing 3-4 dungeons I'll use when I finally get home so I thought I'd share some random monsters, loot and challanges!

    LOOT

    Mall
    A drug store with plenty of pills left. Too bad they're scattered all over the floor and picking them up will take an extended time. Worth: average
    A locked locker has ten hits of antibiotics: expensive (combine this with spending lots of threat on making people infected or having animals or monsters that fling poop or demonic bile so the players sweat over using their treasure or selling it)

    Clothes store
    Seems like a gold mine, lots of clothes still hanging in there! Too bad they're filled with moths so as soon as you start poking about the room is filled with a swarm of moths that makes people choke. Under a bit of collapsed roof there is a mummified clerk still holding a good set of sharp clothes: average worth.
    A casual but nice dress is there but it's still tagged (pulling it off sprays ink over it lowering the worth to cheap from average) and passing the alarm things sets off the alarm. Security robots or just alerting everyone in the dungeon of your location? Bad either way!

    Sportswear store
    The entrance is blocked by a wall of fire, either magical or from a gas leak. Jumping through it causes fire damage. The real crux is the sneakers and jogging suits you loot from the store will melt or go up in flames on the way out unless you circumvent or shut the wall down somehow.

    Food store
    The air is heavy with miasma from rotting food. It's choking! The candy is still in food shape and a heavy worth of it is worth average. A sign outside says gold bars are now half price! The remaining gold bar (top dollar!) are inside guarded by a monster.

    An escalator is operating at hyper speed! MOVE to ascend or descend safely or suffer accidental damage.

    A restaurant has some nice looking paintings. They are all worthless. Except one which is cheap. Cutting it out of the heavy frame is a mistake though since the frame is expensive!

    A fountain is surrounded by skeletons reaching for it. The water is so delicious even dead people want to drink it. Also it's spiked with an analogue of Hero so there's a risk you overdose.

    A flock of birds fly overhead and try to poop on the crew increasing the risk of infection if they have wounds.

    The liqour has had all its bottles smashed and is covered floor to cieling in liqour, a single spark will set it ablaze.

    Golden Guardian of Commerce
    A mechanical monster which is an animate statue of Hermes cast in brass. It's feet are firmly planted on a base which can move around on tiny wheels. It gives off tremendous heat and can shoot lasers from its eyes and when it thinks the fight is going badly it will cross its arms and do a countdown before blowing up in a large explosion (rolling after the biggest grouping of people).

    Threat cost 13
    Weakness: can't roll up stairs (make sure the mall has an elevator or something as well as the stair, nice tactical element, do they want to sabotage the elevator to more easily escape the GGoC?)
    Armed and dangerous (brass fists, blunt+1 shortest)
    Destructive (smash its way through walls and doors)
    Armor (brass skin, edged-1, brawl-1, blunt-1, gun-1, fire-1)
    Supermechanical strength
    Thermal imaging
    Heat
    Sudden flash of radiance (daze room)
    Cold blooded (immune to heat)
    Recharge (battery 20 max)
    Touch attack fire-1 (it's really hot!)
    Self destruct II (large explosion, 1 turn countdown)
    Ranged attack long fire (laser from eyes)
    Power attack (charge its laser eyes two rounds for a fire+2 attack)
  • Posted By: Krippler
    A fountain is surrounded by skeletons reaching for it. The water is so delicious even dead people want to drink it. Also it's spiked with an analogue of Hero so there's a risk you overdose.
    image
    Nice. Sounds like a pretty awesome dungeon, too.
  • Holy crap, that stuff sounds awesome. I can't wait to hear how it goes.
  • Marshall, what's your playtest timeline? Would a session or two in September still be of use to you?
  • Yep, that'd be fine. I'm quite relaxed about this sort of thing. See, while game X is waiting for playtests, that gives me a chance to do some design work on game Y. I'm not very businessy about any of this, so I'm fine as long as I'm getting some work done on something.
  • I would also be very interested in playtesting this game. I've been excited about it since your very first threads on the idea. But it'll be September or October before I can get around to playing it with my group. I'll shoot you an e-mail for the playtest docs. :)
  • So, I've been getting plenty of reports that made it clear that there was a certain something I that the text wasn't communicating to the players. My first step towards addressing it is this:

    MADCORP PLAYER ADVICE
    This is advice for players, but the Ref better read it too, and make sure that he doesn’t pull some shit that makes this stuff non-viable. For serious: just because you’re the Ref and all, doesn’t mean you can do whatever and still expect it to be fun.

    Don’t Make Characters in Your Head
    Do not sit down for chargen with a pre-created character concept in your head. Just don’t fuckin’ do it, okay? Randomly generate them as per the rules. Spend hiring points for better aptitude rolls if you get a guy that seems useful but has one or two aptitude scores that kinda suck. Spend hiring points for specific classes when you need a specific class for tactical reasons (e.g. field medicine, or you just figured out a cool synergy tactic), or when you roll up a statblock that would be totally awesome for a Tank or whatever. Don’t like the guy you just generated? Don’t hire him, do another. It doesn’t take that long.

    Use More Than One Character
    Remember how I said you can control more than one character? Do it. Bring at least two on each job until you’ve got a reliable veteran. Roleplay the one you like to roleplay, and let the other just be a pawn.

    Seriously, fuckers can get dropped like that. Sometimes all it takes is one hit. You need to have a backup, so you don’t have to sit out.

    Use Armor
    Eventually, you’re gonna get hit. If you’re not wearing armor, guess what: you’ll probably die when that happens.

    Only Get Attached to the Survivors
    Let your character identification and attachment develop over time to the characters that survive multiple jobs. ‘Cause, A) face it, bitches get tossed to the side, and B) the ones that survive over multiple jobs are more likely to survive in the future due to experience perks.

    Chargen is intended to take near-zero effort for exactly this purpose: you aren’t supposed to be immediately attached to the product. You make some rolls and a handful of choices, and you’ve got a guy who’s already effective without any strategizing effort, and who’s got enough character in a stereotypical way (class, physique, clothing style) to be roleplayed in a stereotypical way. Which is all you need – if you want deep characterization, play my other game, The Rustbelt.

    It’s Not About Fighting
    You know those dungeoncrawl games that go like this?
    1. Kick down the door.
    2. Kill the things inside.
    3. Take their stuff.
    4. Repeat

    This isn’t one of ‘em. While that can happen, it’s not the default procedure. You’re going to be doing a lot more investigation of things, scouting for hostiles, improvising to take down hostiles without direct conflict, sussing out risks and only facing those that can be minimized or promise to be lucrative, and exploring.

    ‘Cause a dungeon isn’t a series of encounters. It’s a solid environment for you to move around in freely. It’s not about fighting; it’s about interaction.

    Don’t Assume Your Guy Is Built for Combat
    I’m not sure where this comes from, but some people seem to have this idea that every class is or ought to be viable for combat in some way. And I’m like, bwuh? What the fuck were you thinking, letting your Sawbones go toe-to-toe with a bear? He can use medical implements as weapons in case he absolutely has to, or in case a golden opportunity arises.

    This isn’t the game where everybody’s a fighter, except there’s one guy called “Fighter” who kills things faster. The Conflict Resolution department [neé Killers & Muscle] is for combat. Some of the other guys have skills that are useful in combat, or are good in support of a CR guy or two, or enable them to fight a little in dire straits, but they aren’t meant to be able to hold their own in a violent conflict over any meaningful timeframe. It’s not their department.

    Running and hiding are viable options, and should always be considered.

    Exploit Those Skills
    You know how in some games, when you use lateral thinking and figure out this crazy synergy between two weak spells that enables you to take down a dragon painlessly and safely without blowing your good resources, how the GM gets mad at you and doesn’t let you do it? Yeah, that’s NOT how this game goes.

    You’re supposed to find crazy, exploitative uses for your characters’ skills. You’re supposed to try to find ways to handle problems painlessly and safely. In this game, that’s called playing well.

    The skills all have some default functions and cases in their write-ups, but they’re not limited to that. I mean, the Gloomdoll can conjure strong yet elegant strands of spiderweb and lace to wrap people up, and that’s all the book says about it, but that’s not the only thing he/she/it can do with that skill. Use your imagination. Think sideways. That goes for everything.
  • I'm just dying to play this for real but it seems old school gamers are a dying breed around my parts.
  • Having that player advice written out will improve the game significantly!

    But, having played and ran a few MADCorp games, I'm thinking the "Use more than one character" rule should be built into the system itself somehow... Or rather, be built into the system itself better, because in a sense, it already is, in the negative way - if you don't make more than one character, sucker's gonna die or lay on the floor bleeding for like a gazillion turns.

    But it needs more positive support, too! Making *one* MADCorp character is easy and fun (keeping *track* of one MADCorp character is not so easy or fun). But, as has been established, the "item under player-control necessary for proper play" is not a character, but a set of characters. Which is not so easy to do (professions, aptitudes and gear for two-four guys! Times number of players!) but still fun (combos!). Keeping track of twelve characters and their CRAP at a time in a single game, though? Ugly business, as it is now.


    Oh, and Exploit Those Skills needs a whole section in the text! What do I do as Ref? When do I say yes? When do I say no? When do I say hmm let me think about it? What do I do as a player? When do I need to bring this up? Before the relevant situation, after it, what?


    I get what "Don't make characters in your head" is supposed to do, but I think it's a liiiittle bit misguided. In fact, my first reaction was "Well, then where the hell am I supposed to make them?" If I roleplay a character in depth, doesn't mean I designed him pre-play. Could be I rolled him up and found him awesome (or idiotically incompetent and a pathetically amusing meatshield) and invested in him after the fact. Still, there's the fact there was investment, and when I lose that character - even the one I planned to lose and prepared to lose - it's still going to hurt a bit. Hell, even if I just follow the advice as written, it's still going to suck as hell to lose any of my 'survivors' - which is going to happen eventually in MADCorp, no? I think you'd do better by acknowleding that instead of going all 'no-no', and allowing some sort of REVENGE missions to get even with whatever it was that "offed my guy."


    There is also a hodge-podge of squirming little things in my head that I don't quite know how to get out. Having played a few MADCorp games, I basically have two things: 1) A strong desire to play what I see the as your vision of the game; 2) An equally strong sense of frustration whenever I try to play or run the game as written.

    I don't fully know why.
  • edited November 2010
    Posted By: DWeird(keeping *track* of one MADCorp character is not so easy or fun)
    Yeah, I'm working on that :) The Trauma Track is getting revamped, for one thing. I'm gonna eliminate the "Maiming" set as a separate thing, and merge it with the Minor -> Grievous -> Severe thing. Basically, when you take a wound you'll also get an effect that corresponds with the level of the wound (and with the weapon used to do it). The maiming stuff will all be subsumed into Grievous and Severe wounds (along with some other stuff). New charts and damage tables will make this easy (hopefully).

    I'm trying to figure out a way to simplify Wear & Tear, but I haven't arrived at it yet. I'd like to simplify the food thing too. But with all of these, I want to simplify them without removing the strategic elements they provide.
    Oh, and Exploit Those Skills needs a whole section in the text! What do I do as Ref? When do I say yes? When do I say no? When do I say hmm let me think about it? What do I do as a player? When do I need to bring this up? Before the relevant situation, after it, what?
    As a placeholder until I get around to expanding it:
    Players need to work smarter, not harder. Think up stuff then run it by the Ref.
    Refs need to encourage this behavior by A.) smiling on it, and B.) making it necessary eventually.
    Ref, when a player works-smarter-not-harder and comes up with some cool exploit that makes sense at all, say yes. However, you can (and should not hesitate to if it seems appropriate according to your perspective on the in-game events) say "Yes, if you make a such-and-such check."
    I get what "Don't make characters in your head" is supposed to do, but I think it's a liiiittle bit misguided.
    The point there is not to make them up before you sit down to play. I mean, don't come to the table planning on playing this guy you made up in your head. Take what you get and run with it.
  • edited November 2010
    About the amount of work to keep track of everything, consider crossing and uncrossing boxes is an easy and fast thing to do at the table but write wether its your hand or brain that gets -1 next to a wound takes several seconds. It's hard to make boxes for each piece of equipment but leaving a little place to make checks and crosses next to it is easier. How much stuff can you fit on one paper? This is a character sheet I made (each is A5 in size) and I imagine I'll have one print of each class skill list so you can get an overview easily. Extra skills can be noted on the form. Making compact skill lists for each class would lessen the amount of papers at the table by alot.

    http://i52.tinypic.com/33xxb38.jpg
    http://i54.tinypic.com/foljew.jpg
  • Yeah, the new Trauma Track is gonna have all the wound effects right on it. As for what you can fit on one page, I have no intention of "character sheets" in this being one-pagers. You'll have a page for your aptitudes, traits, physique, etc., and one for CRAP, and one for experience, and the Trauma Track. I figure that each class is also gonna need its own -- for instance, the Helter Skelter is going to need check boxes for his firepower, and the Maddog for his drugs, and the Gloomdoll will need a checkbox that says, "Is your hair and makeup okay?", and so on. I find no problem with numerous sheets, as long as they can be distinguished at a glance and they're all easy to use. (For instance, I have to figure out a CRAP sheet that makes Burdens and Wear & Tear easy.)
  • Random suggestion:

    There should be a section for the Ref titled "Give out +1s when..."

    On that list, whatever else it contains, there should be: "When the players are introducing a brand new insane plan, give them +1s to all the rolls."

    Aside from being a straightforward "Do new things, players!" incentive, it takes some edge off experimenting with various strategies - there's a chance the players would just find one strategy that works and grind it... Grinding ain't the aim of the game, right? Give them a one-shot bonus, though, and they try new things, see how they fail, and build up an arsenal of various strategies while improvising all the while.
  • To be honest I think the players should be allowed to grind a certain strategy if it's sound. I mean, who knows what the best way to dungeoneer is? If one strat dominates to the point of it being boring just introduce obstacles it can circumvent. Also stuff usually has a bunch of built in backsides. Does your strat depend on an open flame? Just have a bunch of snowmen freeze everything up. Does it depend on being methodical and slow? Introduce dungeons with a semi hard time limit with the distant threat of it crumbling and if not burying the dungeoneers all the treasure.
  • ...I'm not disallowing players to grind a strategy here exactly, am I? I'm suggesting that experimenting with different approaches should be easier.

    A carrot and a stick are not mutually exclusive.
  • edited November 2010
    Grinding isn't supposed to happen in any meaningful amount -- if the players have a working strategy, it's the Ref's job to present new challenges that require new strategies. Like this:
    Posted By: KripplerDoes your strat depend on an open flame? Just have a bunch of snowmen freeze everything up. Does it depend on being methodical and slow? Introduce dungeons with a semi hard time limit with the distant threat of it crumbling and if not burying the dungeoneers all the treasure.
    See, for me, once I figure out how to beat something, it's boring to have to do it over and over again. But constantly having to figure out new strategies, that's fun and rewarding.

    For that reason, I'm leery of saying "Give +1s when the players try a new and crazy plan." Whatever Gamist games have that's the equivalent of a Fruitful Void, that's MADcorp's right there.

    On the other hand, the thing that Jesse wrote in the roleplaying rewards thread about Sorcerer's bonus dice -- the way he takes them as a literal, finite, non-repeatable checklist -- seems really good to me. Like:

    [ ] Did the players engage in humorous or otherwise amusing banter in the process of cooking up their action plan?
    [ ] Does this plan utilize the circumstances in an unexpected or especially clever way?
    [ ] Are you personally impressed by the players' ingenuity?

    ...and so on, and then say, "For each box you just checked, give +1." Or, probably, for every two boxes, 'cause +1 is a lot.

    EDITED TO ADD:
    The grinding thing is, by the way, the major spot where MADcorp differs from Old School dungeon play. Having to say, "I tap the floor with a ten foot pole to check for pit traps" in every damn corridor really grates. I mean, come on! We've figured out that we can avoid pit traps in this way! Either stop it with the pit traps, or assume that we checked with the damn pole. Or have a gnome steal it so we have to figure out another way to check for pit traps. Something. Yeesh.
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