The next tests
I now had an adjusted game, and it was time to run through things again. Once again, this was just going to be a simple run-through with a minimal set of content, just to verify that the basics of the game had promise. My minimal set was just a single adventurer and five monsters, which was going to be a minimal delve in the game, as I envisioned it.
For this test, things played much differently than the first time. For the first test, game play was really static and player attacks were kind of futile. I was unable to really make much progress at all. After adjusting the player power up and monster power down, things went much better. Too much better, in fact. This time around, my additions to the treasure table were too aggressive, and my character ended up much too powerful before the end of the delve. By the time I hit the last monster, the Titan, it was trivial to bring him down.
I was happy with the balance in the first fight or two, but the loot was too strong. I added an adjustment that limited the amount of gear the player could use and adjusted a few values down, and things worked pretty well. Some more runs through and more fiddling with values, and this set of content was basically working. I had the validation I wanted that the game worked on a fundamental level.
The next step, though, was somewhat daunting. I now needed a lot more content for the game. The original plan called for 12 each of classes and skill sets, along with 12 treasure tables and 60 monsters. I also was going to try and create a dozen quests to round things out, but I was going to leave the campaign structure until later. Briefly, my idea for quests was to string multiple delves together, connected by town inter-phases and capped by a special final encounter after the appropriate number of delves. But that could wait to later.
Even leaving the quests out for now, that still left a lot of content to create. Counting the name, characters and skills had a dozen items to create. Treasure tables have seven, again counting the names. Finally, the monsters all had six items. That meant that I now had 732 items to come up with for the full game. Well, 671, since I had already created a few cards. Honestly, I kind of quailed at the thought and put the game down for a bit. An approach was needed to deal with this.
What I finally ended up doing was creating the names for everything. I have the names for all the things that I hope to create all sitting, ready to be filled out. That gave me thematic hooks to get started. Filling in the names of abilities next gave me ideas for how to attach dice manipulations to everything. Starting that way gave me enough to get five characters and classes to play with, enough to get started on a broader test. I needed about twenty monsters or so and then I could start running some broader tests. Would the combinations of different sorts of cards work, or would the balance be too much of a problem? Could I differentiate characters and monsters sufficiently to be interesting and provide different challenges for the players? Would the game still be fun as I kept playing it?