Playtesting card-based version of Tox at Big Bad Con

I had a great weekend playtesting the new, card-based version of Tox at the Big Bad Con. I playtested two scenarios: an afterlife for fantasy adventurers and a dystopian, sci-fi company full of weird science and interdepartmental intrigue.

Tox received lots of good feedback:

  • People really enjoyed being able to mix and match abilities, instead of being limited by which abilities could go together. On the flipside, first-time players would benefit greatly from scaffolding character creation in a way that paints a clearer picture of what you’re building and how it will play in the game.
  • People liked that the system is modular: it’s made of small pieces that you can combine for extremely custom builds. This allows for a lot of different ways to strategically use your dice rolls. However, because there isn’t one simple roll for all of your skills, people wanted a clearer, simpler tutorial for how to spend your dice.
  • The system of triggering a character’s custom side-effect or weakness at the host’s discretion worked for many players, but some players prefer having an explicit, in-game mechanic. This might be a good spot to fork the ruleset, allowing an optional rule for players who prefer a game-mechanic trigger over a narrative trigger (or vice versa).

Also got a number of interesting ideas, particularly for the after-life setting:

  • Option to build characters during play. You arrive at the afterlife, having forgotten your prior life, and you can pick up stats as you remember one piece at a time.
  • Create a mechanic of group-unfinished business: an advantage or protection from harm that encourages (but does not force) characters to work together.
  • Create a series of options for personal unfinished business to help players find their purpose much quicker.
  • Allow players to each contribute some aspect of the afterlife: what is the location like, who’s there, what are the rules, etc.
  • Let players choose from some basic axioms that each introduce a mechanic to the game world. For example, choosing whether the afterlife is a constructed bit of shared perception (and leaving the group causes insanity and departure from shared perception) or whether the afterlife is a test created by inscrutable beings (involving introducing a code of conduct with each passed test that must be adhered to, or you will be tested again).

Many thanks to the organizers of the con and enthusiastic players!


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