Adjustments after the initial test
After the first test, I had quite a list of things that I needed to fix. The first thing that I decided to tackle was the relative blandness of the character. While there were some interesting things about the Fighting Man, the stats along couldn't really differentiate him sufficiently. The attack dice, defense dice, body, and dice count statistics would have to be within relatively narrow ranges in order to be reasonable. Those statistics would certainly provide for different experiences for different character archetypes, but on their own, they were going to be somewhat dry.
I needed to find a way to put more flavor into the characters. The intent was to include twelve different character classes in the game, and I wanted all of them to feel significantly different when playing. One easy way to include flavor would be to actually name the six abilities on the character. That may sound kind of silly, that keeping the same abilities but providing them with a name might make a difference. But it turns out to matter a lot! For a game like this, getting the players to buy into the illusion makes a big difference. Giving names to each of the abilities immediately made them a lot more interesting without touching how any of them works. It worked on me, and I designed them.
The second step was more significant. I decided that each character and skill set should have a unique special ability. That ability, which would always be on, meant that on every turn you got to exercise something on your character, even if you didn't spend a die. Ensuring that you got to do something exclusive and thematic with your character every turn would support the immersion of the player into their role. It does provide an additional piece of data to create for every class, but it would easily be worth it.
The second flaw from the first test was fairly simple. I increased the number of attack dice for my character to get some more variety and action and fewer missed swings. At the same time, I adjusted the health of all the monsters down in order to bring them closer to being in balance. That took care of three of the four items on my list from the first test.
Finally, the issue of the treasure table. I had realized from the first test that everything couldn't be one-shot items, like potions and scrolls. I added some weapons and armor to the table, to provide for things that would help on a continuous basis. That would provide that essential illusion of progress to the player. Keeping in mind the problem of a bland character, I also named all the treasure items, just to provide more flavor.
Those were the changes from the first test: more thematic characters from naming all abilities and having a unique ability per class, more reasonable monsters by adjusting health down, more in-dungeon progress through always-on magic items, and more fun for the player by increasing their attack dice. Putting it all together would allow me to run a second test and see how things worked now, which I'll write up next time.