So John Wick was at Origins (from what I can tell to socialize with friends and network a bit before things go crazy at GenCon for him) and he was gracious enough to sit down with me for about 30 minutes and talk about the new game.
For background on this, you all should know I ran a session for the Heroes of Altamira living campaign using the new system and was trading feedback on what we experienced with it for some advice and tips on a few topics.
Item one: summoning syrneth.
I know this is a very ambiguous ability as written and that turns out to be by intent. John wants you to do it in oyur own way and to probably be inconsistent with it. His exact phrasing was "the sidhe are never predictable so any rule on their behaviour would be pointless" So sometimes the hero gets what they want, sometimes they get too much help and sometimes they get too little. It should always help as they paid points for it but it should never be a guaranteed method of success.
Item two: Group Size
I asked him point blank how big a group they playtested with and he told me they tested the game with all sorts of sizes. I then revealed I had just ran three consecutive sessions of 10 players and was feeling a bit overwhelmed creating enough consequences with variety in some places. His eyes went wide, he gulped, stammered a bit and said "Ten? at the same time? We only tested up to five!" So the game is designed for small group play. Nobody ever even thought about it being used for even the standard convention table of six. If you have a larger group, you are going to see some glitches it seems. John's solution for big groups is to go LARP instead of tabletop (which we have no rules for and kind of goes against my plans when I drop the game for freeform play)
Item three: That LARP thing
They ARE working on a LARP for this. very much down the line after the promised kickstart stuff in all probability. And he will probably be bringing in some specialists to do it who know how to best incorporate live play with his vision. but at this point they don't even know if they will make it a social or a boffer play game. (I am firmly in the no swinging foam swords camp for the record)
Item four: Pressure
The first thing every group tried to do in an action sequence was to apply pressure to the brute squad to surrender. As they don't really have actions to spend, I asked John how that would work. Do they just automatically drop their swords, does the villain need to spend actions to keep them going, can you not do it (which seems weird and unfair) John admitted he had no idea because in all these playtests it apparently never came up. We discussed some options and I will do a post about that in the houserules section. Personally, I think he needs better and broader playtesters.
Item five: The Explorer's Drive Thru site.
It's coming and he is very excited to see what we put out there for the game. There will at some point be some tools to format your adventures to look like the official stuff and it should be really cool. He also was very emphatic about one thing: Ideas are free but writing them up is WORK and you deserve to be paid for that effort. So if you are doing something for that site, don't feel bad about asking a few bucks for it.
Item Six: Secret Societies
The stuff in the core is very bare bones and obviously more is coming in the sourcebook. He also confirmed at least two more societies in the Pirate book (which I assume are factions... Maybe Kheirid Din) and one in the New World for certain at this point. He conceeded my view on the Rose and Cross write up being less inspiring than past incarnations but assured me that they will be all they have been in the past and maybe a bit more. I then changed the subject to save the surprises for myself.
Item seven; world building
For those who are not aware, the Original game was jsut going to be Vodacce. John and Jen wrote it to just be one nation in the 17th century. AEG asked that it be expanded to the continent and that was what we saw in the original Player's Guide. Then the sourcebooks got handed off to different teams and everything quickly spiraled beyond John's control. a lot of what was in the original wave of sourcebooks was based on what he wanted but not all of it.
This time around, John is keeping things close. EVERYTHING goes through him, Mark Diaz Truman and Rob Justice. They are doing this to maintain a consistent game setting and to keep it from wandering into strange metaplots that do not fit the setting. They are doing it to give us the best game they can.
The rest of the conversation related to my experiences at the table that day, how my players received the game and stuff most of you don't care about.
But there is something else you all need to hear about. His reactions when talking about this game are pure from the heart. The light in his eyes, the joy in his smile, he is completely and personally invested in this game as something he really believes in. It's not just a guy pushing a product (and I talked to plenty of those guys last week) This one was a labor of love and he is truly grateful that each and every one of us is interested in his project. It is a lot like talking to a new father who is totally in love with this brand new child and just realized how damn much work is ahead of him.
And, as he usually does, he asked me to thank the rest of you for helping make this all happen. And I cannot type the sincerity he expresses with those words.
And there were probably 800 other things I would have liked to talk about that we could use clarification on but I had taken up enough of his time.