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Tiny Gunslingers - playtest review.

Yesterday night I did a one-shot using the free scenario The Gatling Decision, played with Tiny Gunslingers

Below you can see the images for the character sheets for the three players.

Caveats: I specified from the start that this would be a one-shot so nobody (including me) should put in too much effort: we had a free night from my main campaign (one of the players was missing for two weeks) and I just wanted to throw together something.

I own 3 other TinyD6 titles, but I wanted something with zero "unrealistic" elements to see how the system works in more mundane circumstances.

The adventure is a bit "railroaded" but I think it was very well suited for my own needs. I don't want to give any spoilers, let's just say that we managed to complete 2/3rds of it and it featured both a brawl and an extended shooting battle.

Nobody at the table had ever used TinyD6 before that, and this was apparent from some of the choices in designing the characters (Tiny Gunslinger has separate mechanics for playing duels, which are modeled by using a sort of blackjack card game... some of the traits/advantages work only in duels, though, and considering you only have 3 of these at the start you better be sure that there will be duels or you risk to waste precious character traits for something that will be useless the rest of the time). Finally, I can manage tactical fights but I really shine in devising investigative scenarios and providing interesting NPCs to interact with. Neither of those was really applicable there.

Having said all this, I do not think I liked TinyD6 very much (and I suspect all the players would agree). The system is very streamlined, so it plays fast. I tend to prefer lighter systems nowadays, so I am fine with that, actually.

What I am not fine with though, is:

  1. PCs (and NPCs) feel very interchangeable: you have 3 traits, 1 broad proficiency in weapon classes, and 1 weapon specialization. (In our case nobody had any skill in brawling/melee/unarmed combat and therefore... see 2. below).

  2. TinyD6 started as a super-simplified *D&D clone. So everyone has a variable level of HPs (PCs start with six). Weapons do all the same amount of damage (see also 3., though). In the Saloon brawl scene even if I gave only 2HP to all NPCs we still had to go through a lot of indecisive rounds due to the high number of failures in scoring a hit.

  3. I tried to prepare for this so I read a few threads about TinyD6: lots of people advocate an easy and fast way to make damage variable while still preserving "game balance". In the rules any kind of weapon always does 1 point of damage, this house rule guarantees that if you actually score, at least 70% of the time you get 1 point of damage, 2 points in no more than 20% of the cases, and 3 points on a particularly lucky case (~3%). When we actually started using guns, this made combat much more decisive instead of having to grind it out for hours.

  4. I am always starved for time so I could have prepared myself a bit better, probably... but I doubt it would have made a big difference (considering that I did not expect to deviate from the written adventure). I did invest a couple of bucks to get nicer train deck plans: 1880's Railroad Train Car Map Set (the game was played online, I always try to get nice maps for these).

Conclusions

I am really not happy with the system (take also in account that even if TinyGunslinger was sold as a "complete game" you better get a copy of TinyDungeons in any case or you have to invent lots of stuff, like stats for bears, horses and... average humans, too).

I am sure that after this playtest everything would work better (my players would know how to better design their characters, I would get more accustomed to the mechanics, and could start adding my own personal touches...) but I wasn't particularly impressed either by the system "per se" or by how it was used to model "old west" stories.

The adventure is nice, though, so if you want something light (and mostly combat-oriented) to kickstart an Old West campaign I suggest you check it out.

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