Gryphons & Gramarye Report from the Trenches: What Works and What Fails

Gyphons & Gramarye playtest coverWe’ve been running Gryphons & Gramarye long enough now that I can see what is working and what isn’t — at least from what My players are telling me.

Classes: All of the classes have now been used in play by at least one player. Here’s how they are shaking out:

Fighter: Everyone loves the G&G Fighter class. It is very powerful in combat and looks like it will stay powerful even at higher levels.

Hunter: While some like the idea of this class (using knowledge to defeat monsters without magic but not in standup combat), no one likes the way the class works in practice. Expanding the old clerical “turn power” to other monsters provided the Hunter finds their weakness in lore and sets up the equivalent to the holy relic to use against them just is not working in practice. As one player said, “It feels far too gamey.”

Scout: This is another class that people seem to really like. Combining a competent combatant with outdoors skills and some “thief” abilities seems to be a very good mix that avoids the problems of the weak “thief” class from most old school games. It also produces a character who is more generally useful.

Magician: There is mixed reaction on this class. In general people like the idea of combining illusion magic with minor combat abilities okay. Including clerical magic isn’t as well liked — perhaps because, as noted below, players really seem to want some type of clerical class. My impression is not that this is a problem with the magician’s spell mix, but that there is a problem with the lack of a cleric class of some type and players are seeing the magician as some type of “poor substitute” for the cleric.

Wizard: No problems with this class — not surprising as it is nothing more than a minor variation on the standard magic-user.

Cult Rules: These are almost universally disliked (one player likes them). Some players dislike the whole idea of “holy powers” as an add-on to any class. Other players like basic “religious cults” idea but do not like the idea that being involved in one slows down advancement in one’s class. The general consensus seems to be that these abilities should be given to a cleric class — perhaps something like the one I wrote up in my blog early this year (see Fantastic Adventures: Early Cleric Draft).

Summary: First, it looks like I need to either replace the Hunter class or at least think of a better method of handling it mechanically. Second, my idea of using RQ-like cults that anyone could join to replace clerics isn’t very popular in actual play. As much as I like the idea, it isn’t really viable if players don’t like it. I’m not sure what to do on this point.

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2 Responses

  1. JB says:

    Hmm, that's too bad…the gist I got from our last post on G&G was that people enjoyed the cult rules so much you were considering expanding them to wizards.

    Have you seen this recent post from Trey:

    Perhaps something akin to Option #1 mixed with your cult rules might be interesting?

    From what you've written about the magician, perhaps it isn't distinct enough as its own class.

  2. Randall says:

    The local players liked it at first (except for the guy who suggested doing magic the same way who still likes it), but once the XP penalties from the treasure costs showed up, people like it a lot less. The Waco group quickly saw that issue and decided it was "too different". I've been coming up with new rules for 40+ years and know that many of them are going to fail the "Player Test."

    Every cleric starting a new cult of a new deity would be a really interesting idea for a game designed around a specific setting, but not a very good idea for a game intended to be used with a large variety of settings like those I create.