Gruel Truck! – Fast Food Made By Orcs.
This year’s Orccon was the playtest debut of our first Friday Night Game – GRUEL TRUCK, which proved to be absolutely ridiculous and a heck of a lot of fun. As part of the stretch goals for the Bedlam Hall Kickstarter campaign, we really want to see it come to fruition.
The basic premise of the game is your normal D&D murderhobo player group has hung up their swords and armor and have gone into the lucrative food truck business on Middle Earth. (Seriously, just go with it.) Everyone gets to pick their role on the Gruel Truck, designated by their paper hat, and their previous adventurer role designated on the placemat in front of them. Orders come in, get filled and then tips become available from their success rate.
This weekend was the first playtest of the game system in two scenarios – the first was the straightforward narrative style (a ridiculous adventure called “The Cheese of Destiny”, starting off in the quaint little village of Brie), and the second being designated “Competitive Grunt Truck” with three teams competing with one another to gain the most tips while on the outskirts of a huge battle between the forces of men and orcs. Both scenarios were amazing, mostly because of the might role-playing efforts of Jim Sandoval (the RPG coordinator for the con and all-around superhero), Bill Roper and the Happyjacks Podcast gang and the amazing suggestions that came out of the sessions that immediately improved gameplay (some of which also came from my beautiful and cunning wife who copiously takes notes while we play these things. For those of you wondering, that’s what she’s doing in the back of the room.)
A couple of immediate changes that were made, for those of you curious to see the development process:
- The first change was de-powering the characters. I know that’s funny to say, but ultimately when we start games we want to enhance the ability to fail. It makes advancement and successful efforts that much more exciting. Not that it’s a problem to succeed, but there always needs to be effort to do so.
- Gruel Truck characters don’t have Hit Points, they have what’s called “Fatigue”. Previously, I had a required a “time-out” mechanism to regain Fatigue, but Jadine came up with the clever idea of spending Tips to regain it. In addition to that, the Counterperson now control the Tip Jar which immediately added group dynamics.
- As a sidenote to that, the Driver gets to pick the stats to the Truck itself which only seems fair – they can opt to take suggestions for the group or just do it themselves and tell them to go screw. Definitely added more oomph to their dynamics.
- The Truck stat of “Space” was immediately improved by Jim’s suggestion of Space equating to sets of dice. The less space you have, the Truck group have to start sharing dice back and forth which minimizes their overall speed. (Except for Halflings, who suffer no space penalty. Cuz they’re widdle.)
- Talking about Truck speed, use of Parking spaces allowed players to try to one-up one another through game play to get the better place in the customer order. Thinking about it as I write this, there’s another value to this that will come up in next iteration.
- Post-game, Bill and CaDave immediately improved the Cleanup position by “parking” customers on the Truck sheet. When the sheet is filled, no new customers are able to come in until the Clean-up people make them go away.
And plenty more of improvements. I really enjoy what came out of the playtesting and I’m eager to see this come to fruition. As mentioned, Gruel Truck! is one of the Stretch Goals for Bedlam Hall, but one thing to point out is that if you’re backing Bedlam Hall at the Physical Level for all Stretch Goals, you will indeed get a physical copy of Gruel Truck! including the paper hats. (The Digital level will require you to print them up yourself). This game will be available as an Add-On of course once the campaign is completed.
And as always, my eternal thanks to Mr. Eric Ausley of the Gamerstable podcast, who’s throwaway comment of “Wouldn’t it be funny to play a D&D game as a halfling running a food truck?” inspired thought on something much crazier than I think he even suspected.