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How to Go About Playtesting a New Manuscript?

Hi,

I'm wrapping up a new d20 system based on the 3.5 Open Game License. It is a no magic system that has deep customization based on martial classes. Not unlike Iron Heroes in flavor, but I try to do a much better job of making things fun and simple.

I want to do a massive playtest by putting out a free Alpha version PDF. Thing is the logistics of this get me. So, two heads are better than one, I wonder what ideas I could solicit from the community on how to go about playtesting my system?
 

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Jd Smith1

Adventurer
You need a better description than 'a 3.5 clone similar to Iron Heroes'. What makes this system unique? Is there a setting included? What makes that setting unique? If a setting is not included, why? Why should players ignore 3.5 and Iron Heroes (and 5e and all the others) and invest time in a new system and setting? How many adventures are ready, or is this thing going to be a GM timesink right out of the gate? What are your credits as a game designer? And so forth.

You need a sales pitch, in other words. Something to distinguish you from the countless other OGL systems that crop up every year.
 

Thank you for the heads up. I am a newbie in terms of published work for game design and development. I originally started as someone who homebrewed a lot, and I decided to do a better job than 3.5 back in the day. I play-tested a ton of ideas with a bunch of old friends over a year, since we hadn't found Pathfinder yet, but couldn't stand 3.5's shortcomings.

Looking over my old work, recently, I realized how close I was to a finished manuscript. I may be new to published game development, but I am a published author in the field of national security. I have a number of technical nonfiction works under my belt, and none of them are self-published.

The system I am working on is meant to be a magic-less take on d20, because, to be honest, I think D&D magic and monsters turns off a lot of parents. I know it certainly would me and many I know. My idea is to create a more historical roleplaying experience for teenagers on up. Something parents would be fine with their teens, college students, and new career types getting immersed in. The classes fulfill military roles throughout history before the advent of firearms, from scouts to skirmishers to spies to heavy cavalry.

I don't have a setting, because I'm banking on real world history. I also see how tied this game will be to real world warfare, so that gives additional ideas. I want people to role-play throughout segments of history and create realistic and immersive worlds to explore. I study history a lot so that will be something I can help GMs with in my materials. I will need to so to help GMs.

The system itself has 13 classes, again based off of roles in militaries. Everyone chooses two classes instead of one at 1st level, and you get to dabble in other classes over time, to bring in some of their abilities. To allow this, all classes have a list of class feats they can choose from. There are some prerequisites to allow for feat trees. There are no generic feats outside of classes. I found this gave characters more direction, since originally all class feats were balanced against each other assuming you got to grab any you wanted.

Combat is frantic and fast paced. No rolling to save, instead Reflex Saves, Fort Saves, and Will Saves work like AC with certain attacks needing to defeat Saves and AC. The game has four ability scores: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and Mind. This keeps things basic without magic.

The game takes a little getting used to if new to it, but play-testing with friends found you can go real fast after one session of trying things out.

It works off of combat actions. You have two standard actions each round instead of a move and standard action. You gain additional standard actions as you level per round, but you are limited to three actions towards movement in any given round. You then get to add in combat maneuvers. You get a number of combat maneuvers equal to your number of standard actions per round, and combat maneuvers can enhance your next melee attack, next ranged attacks, next movement action, or add to defense until your next turn. You can put multiple combat maneuvers on a single attack action. This is on top of the effects of feats. To make things straightforward magic items are gone, replaced with a few types of masterwork bonuses to weapons and armor. The characters are complicated enough, I didn't want to compound that with a book of magic items to memorize.

Although, one thing I now realize is the need to help GMs with understanding how to role-play real world history and warfare. I will have to wait off on getting the Alpha to market until I make things better for the GMs.
 

Jd Smith1

Adventurer
OK, now you've got me interested. When I read your first post, my initial reaction was 'another cubicle monkey who has got a homebrew he thinks is special'. Second post leaves me thinking 'I could make that work, I'd throw in some sort of social attribute...'

Your credentials are respectable, and your ideas are good.

If I were you, I'd throw a few bucks at the cover art, too.

I can't say that I would play-test it, but I would certainly read it with interest.
 


You can always distribute via DriveThruRPG. First, where are your fans going to congregate? Are you going to run a website/blog or Patreon, or Discord, or Twitter or FaceBook as your central point of information and contact? You need someplace people can go to give you feedback and to find out what's new and to point their friends to (Hey, go check this out!).

Then its the marketing you have to do. Social media is popular, but you also need to get people to see the game. Run it at online cons, stream regular play sessions. And then have your free alpha rules others can go to and start doing the same with.
 

Thank you, I will need to assess my options on where people can congregate and how to market. Those are huge decisions that shouldn't be taken lightly.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
You could hit up all the major forums. People's ears tend to perk up when they see the word 'free'. Do you have a starter scenario baked into the rules, or to be offered with them? You'll probably get a lot more nibbles if people don't have to design the first scenario themselves. At that point you can also design the scenario to show off various aspects of the rules. I suspect you'll more useful feedback that way too.
 

You could hit up all the major forums. People's ears tend to perk up when they see the word 'free'. Do you have a starter scenario baked into the rules, or to be offered with them? You'll probably get a lot more nibbles if people don't have to design the first scenario themselves. At that point you can also design the scenario to show off various aspects of the rules. I suspect you'll more useful feedback that way too.
Great ideas. I'll need to write a starter scenario to bake into the Alpha. I will introduce gameplay and skills and how to build characters and monsters. I am building a monster generator that I designed years ago, that seems to have found a use for GMs. Thank you.
 


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