Demos and curb appeal

Kuildeous
Posts: 1109
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 1:41 pm

Demos and curb appeal

Postby Kuildeous » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:22 pm

After running demos for Torg Eternity for nearly a year, I've learned just how effective the artwork is in drawing in new players. Torg has always been an exceptional game, and it continues to be such today. I've probably had nearly 2 dozen groups of new or returning players checking out the new Torg. It's always a joy to watch them ooh and ahh over the interesting characters and the nonmainstream mechanics.

Now that people are getting their physical copies, I imagine that we'll see a lot more demos out there. I was one of a small number of demo GMs who printed out my cards, but they were in black and white. I'm excited to see future players swoon over the full-color cards that are arriving at my home this week.

So the big initial draw was the 16 character archetypes. I prematurely laminated the characters about 3 versions too early, but I still use them with flaws and all today. I'll likely laminate the archetypes when I get my cargo box. When I prepare for a demo, I splay all 16 characters face down so that the first thing people see is the character illustration.

Image

Usually people are drawn to the cyberwitch, the Dragon Warrior, the Tharkold scrapper, and the Nile masked crusader. They look flashier, and the concepts tend to appeal to many players. The second tier in my experience would be the electric samurai, the Orrorshan monster hunter, and the edeinos optant. Again, very flashy. Sadly, the Tharkold resistance fighter gets the least love. She's been played once in all my demos and only because the player asked me, "Hey, who gets played the least." It's a shame because she is mechanically quite interesting, but she's not as flashy as the others.

I've been working on enhancing the curb appeal. When I get my cargo box, I'll have more things to lay out. The full-color cards and counters should be interesting, though I feel like I may still use poker chips. There's something satisfying about flinging those things about, and I have a mnemonic that while white and green are good, you don't want to be black and blue and definitely not red.

So very looking forward to having printed updated character archetypes and shiny cards.
The Boneyard – Friends and foes within Tharkold's Blasted Land

Infiniverse Exchange Word template – Infiniverse Exchange template for MS Word users

User avatar
Gargoyle
Posts: 1470
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 8:20 pm

Re: Demos and curb appeal

Postby Gargoyle » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:29 pm

Wow, great idea, I will have to do this. Planning on running the game in a store for a while and I can see how this helps attract players. They only get to play one character at a time, and so it's a big deal to sell them on the type of characters they can play.
Last edited by Gargoyle on Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"That old chestnut?"

Gargoyle

fougerec
Posts: 599
Joined: Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:27 am

Re: Demos and curb appeal

Postby fougerec » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:18 pm

Love the look of the laminated archetypes fanned out. If I were walking by I would totally stop to take a look.

I think I may do the same once my cargo box arrives. I plan to run a demo at a local con March 10th.

ZorValachan
Posts: 465
Joined: Fri Mar 03, 2017 9:02 pm

Re: Demos and curb appeal

Postby ZorValachan » Mon Feb 19, 2018 7:31 pm

I agree completely about the art. It is taking approximately 50% of my time doing my Infiniverse Exchange product, because I am doing 98% original artwork and trying to make it look as good as I can. Several pieces have been done, redone, redone again. Thought to be done, looked at again 3 weeks later and redone. Luckily there are a few characters that I immediately liked and kept, so haven't had to change them

I also like that the same characters are spread out in the book. It brings familiarity and "story" to the book as a whole and not just a bunch of disjointed pics that don't reflect on each other. Trying to emulate that with a "main" group of Storm Knights that are seen throughout the product.

My own Tharkold Escaped Thrall:
Attachments
olga.jpg
olga.jpg (30.61 KiB) Viewed 474 times
- Leamon Crafton Jr.
Infiniverse Exchange author:

The Paraverse: An entire alternate Cosmverse
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/237607/

The Knights of the Road: Archtypes designed as a Storm Knight group
http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/228365/

Kuildeous
Posts: 1109
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 1:41 pm

Re: Demos and curb appeal

Postby Kuildeous » Wed Feb 21, 2018 6:12 pm

So I was planning on giving some advice I've learned while running demos, but now that I have my cargo box, some of that advice may well change. I'll post my thoughts on each cargo box entry as they pertain to demos with stars for how likely I'll use them.

***** Rulebook: Yep, gotta have it out on the table. Let players look through it. I didn't spring for the fancy leather-bound book because I knew my book will get beaten up. My spine is so pristine right now, but I know it'll get loose as time wears on.

**** Rising Storm: This reinforces that Ulisses is not messing around with its cover art. It's a great supplement to the rulebook. And if you want, they are short enough to use for a demo. I ran the hostel one over the weekend off my tablet.

* Day One: I think this is great for show alongside the other two books, but I personally am not thrilled about running them as demo adventures. The main reason is that I feel the appeal of Torg is the mixing of cosms, and the Day One adventures deal with characters within that cosm. You get a little mix between Core Earth and the invading cosm, but you don't get the fun of the dwarf fighting side-by-side with the cyberwitch. They can make great insight into what happens during an invasion, and it may be worth downloading the character sheets for this book. At the very least, I've been using the enemies from this book for all my demos.

***** Cards: This is a no-brainer. What's Torg without cards? They look nice, and I'll happily splay them on the table for people to admire. Much nicer than my printouts.

**** Cosm Tents: For a while, all I had was the Living Land tent and the Ukhaan tent from the demo adventure. Players appreciated those little reminders. I intend to use them a lot for my demos. I may put velcro or some other attachment on the bottom because these guys are going to get worn out and fall flat after a while.

**** Enemy Cards: I honestly didn't intend to use these, but I'm starting to change my mind. They provide a visual of what they're fighting. In my home game, these things are going to wear out their welcome as I branch out to other enemies. For the demos, this stack is perfect!

**** Possibility Tokens: I had intended to continue using my poker chips, but my poker chips don't have pictures on them. These chips do, and they stand out nicely. I'll use these Possibility chips, but I will supplement them with my white poker chips anyway since there are only 20 of them. Even if the players never play a cosm card, my bad guys need Possibilities too, and 20 will just barely cover six players (and the Realm Runner has Prodigy!). Mostly I'll use plain chips for my villains and as overages. I could literally pull out 20 of my white chips and drop these in.

** Soundtrack: Well, I'm not going to have a CD player with me. I could use my phone to play the sound files while drumming up players. And maybe I will. It wouldn't be the cheesiest thing I've done.

** Map Posters: If my table is near a wall, I may see about hanging the Day 90 map. It'd be a great reference as I explain the different realms. It does mean that the corners of my poster will get worn through due to thumb tacks or tape (most likely since many convention centers don't allow tacks). Alternatively, I could spread the map on the table, but that would obfuscate the characters. I may lay the characters on the map instead if it doesn't look too busy.

*** Cardboard Tokens: I already have poker chips for wounds, stymies, and vulnerables. I don't think I'll use the cardboard tokens for these. There's a token for each of the 16 archetypes, so if positioning becomes important, I can use these guys. I mostly run theatre of the mind with maybe some tokens to indicate relative positioning. These cardboard tokens will do the job, but I just don't know if I want to carry and organize these to every demo. I'll see how I feel.

*** GM Screen: From my small sample size, I feel like RPGs with a screen sitting out draw more attention. I did that just fine with the full-color, laminated archetypes, but having a GM screen will be even more eye-catching. I didn't think I would need it during the game, but just the other day, I looked up on the tablet what happens when you ram another car, and there it is in the GM screen. That'll show me.

***** Archetypes: As you already saw from my original post, I am absolutely going to continue using these. I wouldn't mind printing off new ones, but I'd like for them to be formatted the same way as these guys. I'm not sure that'll happen without my doing it (and I have no original artwork to contribute), but I'm sure new archetypes may come up.

* Character Journal Pack: So this is mostly ideal for home play, but it could be nice to show it off at a demo. The thing is that the archetypes already show you what the character sheet is like, so having some blanks is unnecessary. It might be cool if you run a charity event and players make up their own characters and can take home the character sheets. I just don't see myself using up all of these at home, and I run the archetypes at the convention. Perhaps I can keep some on hand if I get a table of return players who would like to try their hand at making characters. If the idea of sharing a perk list wasn't so hideous, I'd seriously consider this.

***** Dice: Well, yeah. I just wish I had seven d20s and 14 BD, so I can ensure that each player gets to roll some eternity shards. I keep a collection of dice handy, including d6s that have some sort of symbol on the 6. But at least I get roll the pretties.

** The Box: I don't even know what to do with this. I don't think it'll fit in my backpack. And even if I do change my method of carrying things, the box would have space for things to move around inside. Still, it's pretty sturdy and can keep my books from getting dinged (though the card box and tokens could get roughed up if they're not secured). But the box adds to curb appeal like the GM screen and the books, so there's that.
The Boneyard – Friends and foes within Tharkold's Blasted Land

Infiniverse Exchange Word template – Infiniverse Exchange template for MS Word users

Kuildeous
Posts: 1109
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 1:41 pm

Re: Demos and curb appeal

Postby Kuildeous » Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:15 pm

I've been thinking about the various demos I did, and I want to share my experience. I'm sure others can share theirs as well.

My usual way of running the demos is that I explain the world itself and let people choose from the 16 archetypes based on that. My spiel should take only about 5 minutes, but if there are questions, it can take longer. It's not easy encapsulating each realm in 5 minutes. I describe them in tech order and blatancy order: Living Land, Aysle, Orrorsh, Nile Empire, Tharkold, Cyberpapacy, and then Pan Pacifica. The players handle the character sheets while I'm talking, and I call out each one as I explain the realms.

Then I go into the scenario. I don't even explain the rules except on a need-to-know basis. I try to start off with a basic skill check, such as find or scholar. I have them roll the dice and explain the bonus chart. I look for any 10s or 20s on the table so I can excitedly tell them about explosions. Sometimes I throw in a DSR but not always. I'd rather omit a DSR than try to shoehorn a DSR that I can't make work. Of course, if I pull from the Delphi Missions book, then there may already be a DSR prepared.

I do allow for the cosm cards. They're kind of nice because I can plan on an intro, a mook fight, and a boss fight. The cosm cards can extend the gaming slot with some shenanigans. I remove the Glory cards, the Maelstrom card, and the Reality Surge card. They require more explanation of rules that aren't needed for the demo.

I had been running the Heart of Ukhaan since that was the demo adventure given to me prior to the Kickstarter. Once I received my PDFs, I ran more freeform adventures, using Day One enemies' stats in the story. I may be inclined to use some Delphi Mission one-shots, but I'd hate to spoil something for a prospective player.

All in all, I can usually wrap up 2 or 3 good fights in a 3-hour period.

Now, some pitfalls.

Somebody always tries to add the bonus from an Action card or a Vulnerable status to the die roll and not the skill total. I keep an ear out for someone making that mistake. I can correct them three times, and someone will still try it. It's a hard habit to break. I try to get them to add that bonus to their skill total before rolling.

For some reason, someone will look at the skill total and then add the skill adds. I have to explain that the right-most column is the final value and that the skill adds are for creating and updating the character.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that a player doesn't know when an attack is compared to Dodge or to Unarmed.

Some useful hints.

Though Torg has transparency, I sometimes keep numbers to my chest so I can lie to the players. If a skill check is 10-14, I may say, "You got it but just barely." If they roll 15+, I may say, "Well, the difficulty was only 10, but you got what we call a Good result. Here's what else you do."

The players are completely new, so they aren't even aware of what can happen. If they're in a good spot (like an Up), I'll suggest multi-targeting. If they're fighting the T-Rex, I'll suggest someone tricking it. If they're close to a Good or Outstanding result, I'll tell them how close they are and ask if they have any cards to play.

In combat, I am transparent, so players know what DN to shoot for. Once they realize how sexy Good and Outstanding hits are, they are more likely to aim for those numbers. Sometimes, a player will play a card before knowing the result or even rolling the die, so I have to tell them to hold back because they don't want to waste a card.

End on a positive note. The Storm Knight did the thing. I'm not opposed to killing off a Storm Knight, but I want them to succeed. I only had to resort to Death and Dying once, and it was thwarted by the Nile card that brings a character back.

And finally, hornswoggle the rules if you're uncertain. Don't delay too much if don't know the exact rule. Hey, they likely don't either. They can find out after they buy the book and can't find you ever again. Were they having fun? Then gloss over that uncertain rule and keep it consistent.
The Boneyard – Friends and foes within Tharkold's Blasted Land

Infiniverse Exchange Word template – Infiniverse Exchange template for MS Word users

Kuildeous
Posts: 1109
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 1:41 pm

Re: Demos and curb appeal

Postby Kuildeous » Sun Apr 29, 2018 4:30 pm

For my bi-weekly demos at the local pub, I have created some teasers for the 16 archetypes that players may choose from. I thought I'd share them here for anyone who would like to use them. I can add a maximum of three attachments to a message, so this will span three posts.

This batch is pretty straightforward. I have the two characters from each realm on their own sheets.

small-france.png
small-france.png (893.22 KiB) Viewed 358 times


small-england.png
small-england.png (908.93 KiB) Viewed 358 times


small-egypt.png
small-egypt.png (910.91 KiB) Viewed 358 times


The downside is that you can't see the inventor's zap gun on this. To maintain consistency, I only used the character portrait off the front of the character sheet.
The Boneyard – Friends and foes within Tharkold's Blasted Land

Infiniverse Exchange Word template – Infiniverse Exchange template for MS Word users

Kuildeous
Posts: 1109
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 1:41 pm

Re: Demos and curb appeal

Postby Kuildeous » Sun Apr 29, 2018 4:32 pm

Continuing the trend of each image having two from the same realm--for the most part. Please note that the Tharkold archetypes have a new version at the top of page 2.

small-russia.png
small-russia.png (907.74 KiB) Viewed 358 times


small-japan.png
small-japan.png (886.02 KiB) Viewed 358 times


small-india.png
small-india.png (906.92 KiB) Viewed 358 times


There was only one Orrorsh character, but pairing him up with the Relic Raider made perfect thematic sense, even though she's a Core Earther.
Last edited by Kuildeous on Mon Apr 30, 2018 8:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The Boneyard – Friends and foes within Tharkold's Blasted Land

Infiniverse Exchange Word template – Infiniverse Exchange template for MS Word users

Kuildeous
Posts: 1109
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 1:41 pm

Re: Demos and curb appeal

Postby Kuildeous » Sun Apr 29, 2018 4:35 pm

This I could've done differently. When I first made these, I had placed the Unstoppable Cop and the Primitive Hunter together just to show two different sides of the invasion: Some people transformed to meet the reality while others retained their original reality. I didn't have plans to do this for all 16.

small-usa.png
small-usa.png (894.93 KiB) Viewed 358 times


small-outsiders.png
small-outsiders.png (919.37 KiB) Viewed 358 times


I probably will reconsider the order of these and place the Core Earthers together and the Living Land together. There really isn't much in common with the Realm Runner and the Edeinos unless you look at the stories related to Aiden.
The Boneyard – Friends and foes within Tharkold's Blasted Land

Infiniverse Exchange Word template – Infiniverse Exchange template for MS Word users

User avatar
Gargoyle
Posts: 1470
Joined: Mon Nov 14, 2016 8:20 pm

Re: Demos and curb appeal

Postby Gargoyle » Mon Apr 30, 2018 5:26 am

I dunno, the contrast is nice. It sort of makes sense to show how different the characters can be from each other, it's part of the appeal of the game.
"That old chestnut?"

Gargoyle


Return to “Tangents and Miscellany (TORG)”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests