The Playtest is dead, long live the Playtest.

So the playtest hasn't worked out the way I had hoped, and it's largely my own fault. If anyone actually playtested the documents I put out, I haven't gotten any reports. 

There are a couple of reasons for this that come down to my own mistakes. 

  1. The first document was a bit hard for people to understand. I perhaps didn't write it effectively. This is the version of the game I ran for my players in the crash test, and it was closer to modelling the Kabbalistic concepts than the next one was. It at least intrigued people, and there was a lot of discussion about this version. 
  2. In an effort to make the game more accessible, I dumbed it down. This took a lot of time (too long), as it was like taking a car apart and building a motorcycle from the parts. I didn't communicate well during this time, as I kept thinking it was "just a few more days" until it would be ready. 

In version 2, I changed things that I wasn't really happy changing in the interest of making the game more easily communicated, like changing the mechanical resolution-based Powers like "Counter" (each of which could serve as a core mechanic for a game), into what amounted to combat stances, like "Challenge". The perceived benefit of this on my part was that these stances became ways to model Burdens or liabilities; for example, when you have a Challenge as a factor, you have a handicap, as opposed to the Challenge Move, which amounts to an attack.

Version 2 was easily understood but didn't result in any real discussion. On another site, however, someone in the playtest thanked me for distilling the game, so it was read. This was heartening, but lack of further feedback or playtest reports soured me even more on this version. This is my own fault, of course- I'm not blaming anyone. It's my job to fire the readers and players up, and I didn't do that. 

Having my document be read and understood are good things, but without people playing or even caring about the game, it will never gain an audience. This is actually fine with me, but only if I myself am happy with the game.  In the months since version 2, there has been no activity on the Slack group, to the point that I'd have to start a new playtest if I wanted to have one. The response has been a big "Meh", including from myself. 

So, I'm developing the next version based on the original playtest version. Some Keys have changed as my understanding of the system and Kabbalah has advanced, but the core principles will be similar- the intro to the game will have multiple resolution systems in it, for use in various types of situations. Any of these will be useful as a core resolution system in a Tribute Spin that you make, and all of them might have uses in a raw version of the game, depending on the circumstances in play. In practice, it's not as overwhelming as it sounds. Things like armor or other ablative meters are generalized to the point that they can serve as a way to resolve a conflict, just as they are in other games; the difference in Tribute is that you can make this kind of thing into a core resolution mechanic, rather than a situational one, if you like.  

I'll try to do better to make the next version comprehensible, taking lessons I've learned from version 2. I'm exploring ways to simplify the toolkit aspects of the system as well, and avoiding overemphasis on the game's Kabbalistic roots that may lead to information overload. I'll put almost all of that stuff in an appendix, or separate document for the interested. If it makes sense when I have the revised rules written, I might make the whole game one document divided into sections for Aleph, Mem, and Tav. Whatever makes sense, and no promises as to the system's final form. 

I'm doing a private playtest, and plan to do a soft launch, or "open playtest" with my latest version. You'll be seeing that soon, on a geological scale, at least- it will most certainly be the next thing I do to update this site. I will likely adjust the Tribute Pitch page accordingly beforehand to be ready for putting the PDFs up for download.

I can give no firm deadline on this, but will go wide with promotion when I'm happy with it. I'm hoping for some time early in the New Year.  Historically, deadlines and Tribute development haven't been friends. Nearly 14 years fo work attests to that. 

Please remember, though, that Yetzriah Games is not a company, so expectations of promptness and "customer service" don't really apply. It's my personal site with potential for more at a later date. Thanks for understanding, and hopefully, good things will come out of this arrangement between those of you reading, and me. This comes with a caveat, however; the more feedback from people wanting the game I see, the more likely I am to put a fire under myself, while the converse is also true. Otherwise, it will happen on my own time. 

If you're still interested in Tribute, check in once in a while. I will be doing private playtesting, as mentioned, and if you want to see the current documents when they're ready, use the site's contact form and I'll get in touch. Thanks for reading. 

-R. Scott Kennan

The Tribute Playtest has begun

I've begun the playtest of Tribute Aleph, the first part of Tribute Source. Tribute Source is an Effects-based RPG design toolkit and series of related games. 

If you're interested, you can read more about it, and sign up for the playtest on this page.

If you've never been part of a playtest, be warned. The rules are not in their final form, and as of now, only the toolkit aspects of Tribute Aleph are ready for use. Like other toolkit engines like Fudge, you'll need to make some decisions to make it work. 

Thanks for reading. 

Tribute survives its Crash Test.

I ran the first full game of Tribute (Powers) ever, tonight. Tribute Powers is a specific Tribute Spin (version) of Tribute, one that only uses 10 Powers and the Experience Key rather than the full set of 33 Keys (modular rules bundles).  If you're interested, follow the link I posted for more information on Tribute. 

The players were Gregory and Sarah Connolly, and my son, Ethan Kennan. I've been working on the game for much of his life, so it was especially nice to run it for him. 

They were playing forces of nature/reality near the beginning of the universe. Greg was playing Faith, who is literally the concept of Faith, statted up, Sarah was Blaze, a hot-headed brava with a patience problem, and Ethan was playing Bandit; the iconic Trickster. 

Ethan's character Bandit was the first character ever to use the Tribute Mechanics for Limitless; an Effect that gives a state of being where all of the game's limits are removed, and you can essentially go nova; a spotlight moment. He used his to convince a tribe of people who were worshipping an evil goddess that the monsters that were attacking them worked for her. He did so by tearing a tattoo of her spider web sigil off of a monster, then enlarging it so the whole village could see it. This after creating a bit of a Rube Goldberg device to wake the village up and grab their attention. 

The idea for the adventure was that there were three factions:

  • The Weave, which was arguing about how to create the universe (even while much of it was already being created), 
  • The Void, which saw no point in creation, and tried to sabotage the whole thing. 
  • ...and The Cleave, who decided between them. It was because of their decision to side with the Void on an issue that Death came to exist. 

Blaze and Bandit were Weave faction, and Faith was Cleave Faction. The bad guys were all Void. 

The setup was this: they had formed a party, sent by the Weave and the Cleave to investigate a raging Void monster called "The Hunger", that was about to destroy a solar system that had a great destiny. Think Silver Surfer for the scale of this encounter. Cosmic Fantasy. 

stellar Nursery


A few issues; I used what I intended to be my boss fight as my first encounter, because of technical issues that delayed the game. We were playing over Skype and Fantasy Grounds

*I* also failed to use my own rules well, and the boss was one-shotted. It can happen. Blaze pumped a lot of Fuel into her attack, and I didn't have the monster Counter her attack, the way it should. Normally, you have a chance to reduce the impact of any incoming effects, and there are a few ways to do it. Since you only have a maximum of 10 health boxes, it's the smart way to fight. I didn't fight smart, and the monster was killed right away. I think I tried to use the wrong Power to avoid the damage. 

I did give Blaze some Tribute (for her Bank- to use later) for the one shot. 

I improvised a second adventure, with some cooperation from the players. This time they had to help a fledgling society that needed a code of Ethics. I figured I'd try some social mechanics, etc. I inserted an evil being calling herself a goddess to fill the role that the first "boss" monster was supposed to fill (An annexation problem), and the characters spied a bit, and found out her plan. She wanted them to give their souls to her, so she could use them for Fuel. That's a game term, but the idea should be straightforward.  They made their own Plan, and began to implement it. They tricked some of her minions into attacking a village, but swooped in before they could kill anyone. 

Bandit whipped up his Rube Goldberg device to wake the village, and get their attention Focused on him (an in-game Effect). 

Faith, invisibly, tripped up the bad guys, and kept them from attacking villagers (but not the PCs or property)- it was one Effect. 

Blaze blasted the big one with Fire, but it Countered, and was reduced to just under 1/2 health. 

The Monsters first attacked Blaze, and then Bandit. Blaze created a fire shield, and Bandit dodged. Neither was hurt. 

Bandit then pulled his tattoo-ripping stunt. The villagers truly understood that the monsters worked for their "goddess". 

The Monsters were taken out during this round.

We ended the session. The session was three hours, but the actual play time was about two hours, and a lot of it was explanations, and the characters making their Plan; said plan involves the Trickster writing the code of Ethics that these people will follow (since he's the best at making things). I can't wait to hear what it's like. 

We play next week to try to finish the adventure. We should get more done.  

I also found that I need some clarification on two things;

  1. What the mechanical differences between Annexing (taking) things , and Forging (incorporating and using them to justify your actions- i.e. MacGyvering) things are. They are different, but my explanation in the rules needs work. 
  2. What to do if you still have the Limitless Effect on you, but the Scene ends. I'm going to let you take Experience points equal to the number of Turns you would have been Limitless

I know some of this will mean virtually nothing to some of you, with the game terms for a game you haven't seen yet, but the point is, I ran a crash test, and the game didn't crash. It's ready for me to finish writing up the final playtest rules, which are about 90% done.  That means that sometime this week, I should open the playtest to a wider audience. We will be using Slack for that, and I'll post a link on the Tribute page when it's time. 

Thanks for reading.