As promised, I am jotting down my thoughts and feelings about DayTrippers after playing in a session run by the game designer, Tod foley, himself.
The character creation process is pretty simple mechanically, but not without at least one difficulty for me. The hardest part about the character creation process for me was, how did I want to spend my 100 character points (CP)? You have lots of options from stats to skills to converting into money to buy gear. Hell, you can go in debt if you want to purchase more physical resources. You find quickly that the 100 CP will never go far enough for your character concept. Therefore, you will have some hard choices to make. The character sheet is well laid out and easy to process the needed information. The character sheet itself is well laid out and easy to process the needed information.
The was one particular area of difficulty that I personally had during the character creation process. I specifically wanted to add a LifeShaping event to account for some of my skills I had already chosen. The character building process allows for LifeShaping events and it refers you to the LifeShpaing section on page 15. The LifeShaping section refers you back to the character building section and implies the associated cost is the same as in character building. Seems straight forward, right? The problem is the character building section does indicate a cost and it became a continuous loop. The good news is, I spoke to Tod and helped him to reworded the phrase to be more clear that there is no cost for LifeShaping events themselves except when you are purchasing associated skills, equipment, etc. For example, taking a new skill (which has a cost) may be a good trigger for a LifeShaping event.
GAMEPLAY & MECHANICAL ANALYSIS
Game play began with being thrust in the opening scene of a futuristic game show where our characters were forced to survive on a distant and possibly hostile planet. It was a killer (not literally) premise and we all had fun trying to survive to the finish line.
During my initial review of the core rulebook, I had commented that some players may find it slightly challenging to wrap their heads around opposed checks. Well, I am happy to report that it was easier than I though it would be. Opposed checks are simply that, the opponent with the higher margin of success wins the check.
Let’s talk more about the dice pool mechanic as this was a point of discussion at the end of the recorded exhibition game. The long and the short of it is, I like the apparent simplicity of the resolution mechanics. Though, I admit that it might present some fun challenges if I were the GM and not the player. One player had concerns that your chances of success increased with more dice in the pool. For example, I had a brains score of 4 which allowed me to roll a minimum of 4 dice when making checks that centered around brains. If I needed to beat a difficulty level of 3, each die individually had a 50% chance of success, but it didn’t mean that I was guaranteed to succeed.
The Action Resolution Table was a very interesting element in my opinion. The margin of success or the margin of failure is used to determine was narrative quality the resolution itself takes on. Where I think it really shined was when a player exceed the difficulty level by more than one and was then permitted to narrate how the scene is resolved or in other words, what it looks like to onlookers. It allows for the players to get more involved in the fiction.
Another thing that was discussed, post game, was the idea that using the XP system to buy increases in stat points, skills, fame, etc. would take far too many game sessions to earn the necessary points to be able to increase those things. The assumption was based on the XP we earned in our game which was admittedly low. Tod assured us that under different scenarios and conditions the amount of XP eared could be much greater than the paltry sum we earned.
I still feel that the emphasis on narrative fiction involvement by the players is a selling point for this game. Most traditional games encourage player involvement in the fiction, but mechanically most traditional games do not support it at this level. DayTrippers supports it from the ground up. The rules as written are light and modestly simple. This is a purposeful design concept and it allows, both the GMs and players to get more involved in the fiction instead of the rules.
In my original review, I suggested that opposed checks (part of the resolution system) could be an issue for some players; as noted above, I don’t believe this should cause to much trouble for most people. The emphasis on player narration might still cause some players to shy away from being in the spotlight, but in reality the concept is very intuitive. Most players will easily embrace it.
I also suggested, “My only other issue with the system is, by default, I am not a sci-fi gamer so some of the fiction and genre fluff is lost on me. For what’s it worth, this game is steeped in sci-fi, but I can see potential in switch gears to incorporate a slightly more sci-fantasy aspect to the fiction.” I can still the potential here to convert the theme to Sci-fantasy if one was so inclined.
The game as a whole is very approachable and seems to be very moldable in the hands of a creative game master. As much as this game embraces narrative control by both the players and GM, I still feel that the GM is going to have to do some prep work before gaming begins. Much in the way a GM prepares to run a game with a more traditional system. The GameMasters Guide will provide GMs with some of the designer’s ideas on how to prep and make the game more memorable for the players among other things. Look for my review of this book in the coming weeks.
My final thought, this is game is worthy of trying and I would recommend it for those that are interested in the Sci-Fi genre and enjoy narrative involvement by everyone. If this is you, go pick up the rulebook and have some fun!