Beta Test (A Howlmark Update)

Howlmark, Holiday Adventure

I’ve been having a lot of fun planning out the first Howlmark adventure. I downloaded a few maps, made a custom dungeon crawl, set up scenes, created PC’s and NPC’s, and got to write journal entries 1. Even better, working on Howlmark encouraged me to flesh out the backstory for the continent on which the story takes place. I may even use Aeon Timeline to give this world even more color. I have enjoyed everything about this process 2. But all through it there was one thing which kept bothering me.

I’d never run a game before 3. Even more daunting, I’d not read the rules from a DM’s perspective since 2nd Edition, over thirty years ago. To alleviate my concern I decided to beta test the main dungeon crawl. This test had four main goals.

First, I wanted to see if my MacBook could handle running Foundry VTT when I had multiple people connected to it. If my MacBook melted down that would be fun for no one.

Second, I wanted to use the software in a game play environment so I’d better be able to anticipate glitches or bugs with the setup and teach players how to use the interface.

Third, I wanted to test the crawl’s difficulty. If I inflicted a total party kill right at the opening of the session that would probably turn off most of my new players and I didn’t want that to happen. I didn’t want the crawl to be a cake walk, but there needed to be some challenge.

Fourth, I wanted to see if had the ability to run the game in a way that people actually had fun. After all, that’s the point of playing.

I am happy to say all the goals were met. My MacBook ran Foundry with three external connections just fine, and I don’t anticipate adding three extra players will put much more strain on the system. The beta testers helped me better understand the Foundry interface, and even reminded me that I needed to brush up on how spell effects are handled 4. I learned that I needed to tweak a couple of encounters, especially for newer players, and I was even able to tweak some monsters on the fly to better balance the game. And the players had fun! I was able to guide them through the crawl and get them immersed in the environment.

I am beyond excited that this worked out, and can’t wait to take the party on full adventure!

  1. Yup, I’m a nerd. 
  2. Again. Nerd. 
  3. For the uninitiated, the game runner is a “Dungeon Master,” or DM for short. Though I’m not a short as the DM from the 80’s cartoon. 
  4. Who knew I’d have to learn how to move a disco ball?