Really sorry to hear that Mermaid Hunters didn't get up on Kickstarter. As a system & world, Yeld looks like it has lots of potential, but it really needs an intro adventure (or even better an intro campaign) to help new players find their feet. I'm pretty experienced at RPGs but struggled to get both the story & mechanics right when we tried our first session. I couldn't get enough wonder in the story, and the combat mechanics felt a little flat.
I do find it odd that the core rules contain 9 capstone adventures (which look really well thought out) but no starter adventure.
Still keen to get my hands on Mermaid Hunters or equivalent, when you figure out how to pull it off financially.
PS: both my teenage daughter & I am enjoying Modest Medusa and the depth of story and world building you put into it. The idea of role-playing in that world is very appealing - just need something to bridge the significant gap between your talent and ours. 🙂
We had planned for Mermaid Hunters to fill that exact gap. It still will, just only as a digital product. We also plan to have some other examples on soon to show how to get started in Yeld.
Started playing Mermaid Hunters the other night, with my adult RP group. They really got into it - playing slightly stereotyped kids in a fantasy world let them be a bit more exaggerated in their role-play and they enjoyed it. We got through the first two Mermaid Hunters adventures.
Lots. Broadly speaking: Mermaid Hunters works and is fun mechanically, and the story is very Yeld. If you go into it ready to "go with the flow" (pun intended), it's a good romp. I especially appreciated that the descriptive text to the GM translates very naturally to text to read out to the players simply by transliterating into the 2nd person (they -> you). It's a real pleasure to have pre-written descriptions that are neither too terse nor require too much GM work before they can be presented to the players.
I especially appreciated the advice on pacing. At each point it's clear how much time the players are expected to spend on a scene or activity. For example, advice like "we suggest only letting each Friend explore one or two rules" might seem obvious to the module writer, but it's really helpful for the GM in managing pacing.
Suggestions for improvements:
One stylistic suggestion: it's a very Yeld thing to redefine "Fairies", but I think it could be worked into the adventure. As it is, the GM either describes "big bear thing - oh, it's called a Fairy" (which lacks any real punch) or avoids describing Baylen as a Fairy so as to create the surprise later. It would be sorta cool to build up the PCs mis-apprehension about Fairies and then surprise them with it.
- coins mechanics could do with some more examples (addressed in other post)
- rules / suggestions on how to distribute loot would be good
- dart is missing ammo limits (or explicit lack of limits)
- Mermaid Hunters loot tables are different to Yeld loot tables - not clear whether these are just for Mermaid Hunters or replace the original
- But fishing tables are fixed! 😀
- Not clear whether "torch" loot is same as club/torch, or something different. Do you need matches to light it? How long does it last?
- Monsters as ghosts rules still not clear. I assume the monster keeps their dice & abilities except is now a ghost?
- Not clear what to do if a monster (or Friend) loses all of a non-tough core dice type (especially Strong or Brave which can render them non-functional)
- Ghosts: if a Friend has lost all their Brave dice and then becomes a ghost, do they immediately enter a Ghost Coma?
- Do Friends reset all their Core Dice (and Banked Actions) after each adventure?
- Is it a free action to use a Food item before rolling?
- rulebook pg 16: "Find Ghost Monsters in the Monster Guide on page x"
- If presented as "book", really helpful to have a PDF Table of Contents. Especially since the PDF page numbers don't quite correspond to the book page numbers due to "cover" not counting as a page
- consider embracing PDF format and breaking up book into booklets. E.g. Special Dice and Items would both naturally fit as separate handouts as they need to be referred to often.
- Maybe put basic "stuff" rules (including the household items) in the rulebook?
- With 4 Friends who know how to work mechanics, the monsters tended to be a bit fragile. For example, Miss Vanessa can be rendered basically harmless with two successful "Trip" attacks, which are easy to pull off with a bit of action chain help (by adventure 2, one Friend could roll 5 dice on Trip even without the action chain!). She spent her first action to summon an Imaginary Friend, which at Tough 1 was promptly dispatched. Round two was Fire Hat, and by the end of the round she was downed.
- For starter adventure, probably better to err on the side of too fragile. Nothing felt like a complete pushover.
- Deathwish helps.
- More foes give more opportunities for Monsters to interrupt the Action Chain. A solo monster that goes first gives up a surprising amount of initiative.
- Food items seem a little expensive for what you get. A normal Sword gives +1 Strong. A Hot Sausage gives +1 Strong for a single roll. Both cost Some Coins. They do stack, which makes me think that "Food" is to be considered a "super boost" rather than an everyday boost - but neither Mermaid Hunters or the Yeld rulebook make this explicit.
- The Demi standee looks much happier and healthier than the equivalent picture in the guidebook.
- My players remarked that the wrap up scene from adventure 2 was very dark for a "kid-friendly" adventure. This fits with the Modest Medusa / Yeld theme, and I really like what you've done with it, but it may affect your target market.
- Is there a way to sum up the key mechanics and themes in a two-page PDF? Something to sum up "this is Yeld" for both the Roll-players and Role-players, without actually going into to much detail. I'd either e-mail this to everyone before starting or hand it out to players at the start of the first session - easier to process than a 30 page PDF.
Thanks. They're all looking forward to session 2. And quite likely more.
Thanks for your detailed account and feedback. I'm glad your group had fun. Because Mermaid Hunters is just a digital product it should be fairly easy for us to take feedback and make improvements. I'll keep all of this in mind for revisions. Hopefully I can find time for that soon! And we're still considering a physical edition of the set too.
Let me answer some of your questions directly.
- The Mermaid Hunters Loot table is meant just for the Mermaid Hunters Adventures. As players move on to the Yeld rule book we want them to use those Loot and Treasure tables, which includes a wider variety of items that we just didn't have room for in this set.
- While it doesn't say so in it's entry, the Dart works just like a Dagger. It can be thrown, but doing so means you lose it until the end of the fight.
- In Mermaid Hunters the Sputtering Torch weapon is the the torch referred to in all rules. It does not require any special action to light. Either the kids spend a moment to light it, or it just magically flares to life. The Torch lasts forever and can be reused. As a GM you can of course bend that rule and have torches go out, be a Challenge to light or simply be single use items. I think any of those solutions is just fine.
- A Ghost Monster does keep all of its current Core and Special dice at the time of it's death (when its reduced to 0 Tough dice). So if a Goblin is reduced to 0 Tough dice it can become a Ghost, and will continue the fight in Ghost form. To defeat it the Friends will have to reduce it's Brave dice to 0.
- There is no special penalty for losing all of your Core Strong, Smart or Brave dice. Or rather, losing all of your Strong dice is a penalty enough! While losing all of a certain Core die can be devastating, you'll find that some Friends and Monsters operate just fine with 0 Strong or Brave or Smart dice! The exception to this of course is that Ghost Friends and Monsters who lose all of their Brave dice immediately go into a Ghost Coma.
- Core dice do not reset at the beginning of a new Adventure. Friends will need to rest at inns or use Restore rolls or magic to regain lost Core dice. Sometimes this means a Friend will be down one or two Core dice for several adventures. Banked Actions are lost at the end of each Adventure.
- Food items can always be used before any roll as a free action. Including defense and interruption rolls.
- Balancing Monsters and encounters for Rank 0 adventures is a little tough, and gets easier at Rank 1. You're right that its safer to error on the side of caution, since sometimes new players can get bogged down with what seems like an impossible fight. We feel like Miss Vanessa is a relatively easy fight, but Trevor is pretty tough. We've also seen groups die to the Scuba Snakes! We really suggest that after the first adventure when the GM has a handle on how everything works they adjust the difficulty of each encounter to suit their party. Sometimes this means making Monsters a little tougher (adding the Deathwish special die or +1 Armor is a good solution), but sometimes this means making Monsters a little weaker. Choosing when a Monster uses its Action is also an important part of the fight. And of course, weakening the party before a fight with other encounters or Challenges is important too.
- Food items are very powerful in ways that I think aren't immediately obvious. As the Friends become heroes they'll nearly always have a weapon in hand, and in many ways the weapons become part of their stats (since weapons provide extra Core dice). There are very few ways to get even more Core dice, and Food is one of those ways. Food may seem expensive, but as the game goes on you'll find that its very common and very handy.
- Yeld can be a dark place (although your adventures certainly don't have to be). One of my favorite themes in children stories is darkness that kids face and overcome, and Yeld is very often about that.
i hope these answers were helpful. Sorry I was late with my reply! and thank you so much for your feedback. I've added "mermaid Hunters update" to me work list.
Some responses to your responses...
Ghosts: Until I revisited monster ghosts playing Mermaid Hunters, I didn't realise that a "ghost" wasn't a new monster type, but was just the original monster with no Tough dice and some other mechanics. Might want to make that clear in both the rules and MH.
Loss of core dice: My concern was the opposite. At least once the Friends "tripped" a foe down to zero Strong and Brave, at which point it is nominally alive but pretty ineffectual (a Weapon die helps, but 1 attack die vs 3 defence dice is essentially a lost cause).
There are a few "death spiral" mechanics in Yeld - PCs can use teammates to recover, but some GM guidance on "how to keep things interesting when your monster is crippled but not defeated" would be useful.
Encounter design: consider integrating some "damage sink" foes (in the MH encounters, and possibly marked as such in the rulebooks). These are foes that are not particularly dangerous or interesting, but give the DM tools for blocking access to the more significant foes. It's slightly tough to do this given Yeld mechanics - armour can be used to make a foe hard to damage but unable to take a lot of hits, but the dual role of Tough in defense and longevity can make it hard to make foes that are easy to damage but can absorb a lot.
Food: Yes, I'm starting to see food as a "super boost" item, not a default item. I don't think that comes out in the rules presentation though. If the rules said "Food can provide your Friends the boost they need to perform exceptional acts of heroism" (or words to that effect, or even a little comic) it would help guide thinking.
Also, I don't recall "Food" being featured as a power boost in MM, so you're not getting a reinforcing effect from the lore there.
Again, thanks for all the feedback. We'll definitely take that all into account for future revisions.