Playtest & Product Update April 2019

Development of Magonomia, the roleplaying game of Renaissance wizardry, is coming together. Here’s an overview of progress:

  • The Starter Rules product has gone to layout. Release will be delayed to the second half of May. (Originally I had aimed for late March/early April)

  • Feedback from the Magonomia Beta playtest is strongly positive. We have made one moderately big rule change in response to playtester feedback, and several minor changes (as we expected).

Read on for details.

Magonomia Starter Rules

It’s normal for people to be skeptical about a new RPG Kickstarter, especially from a first-time publisher like Shewstone. We wanted to create a promotional product that would show off the quality of our work: that everything is well thought out and the game is playable and fun. In short, we wanted a product that would let people “test drive” Magonomia and get a sample of what it has to offer. We think a lot of people will get excited when they do.

The original idea was to make a 20-page “Quick Start” booklet like many other games do. We ended up making a whole book: a self-contained RPG with not just characters and spells, but all the rules you need to learn to start playing Magonomia. Although Magonomia uses the Fate(TM) Core System rules, we didn’t think it would put our best foot forward to say “Go learn Fate, then come back and play this.” Instead, we wrote a Fate tutorial customized to the Renaissance fantasy setting. That turned our free “Quick Start” product into a substantial rule book, well over 50 pages. The length may be daunting to some people, but I think many will appreciate having everything they need to play in one PDF.

The Magonomia Starter Rules is currently in layout. The text is done, edited, proofread, playtested, ready to go. The Starter Rules will be a PDF offered on for pay-what-you-like. We expect it will be available in the second half of May 2019. To receive an alert when the Starter Rules are available, you can follow this blog, follow Shewstone Publishing on Facebook or @ShewstoneLLC on Twitter, or subscribe to our Product Announcements email list.

Beta Playtest Highlights

The Beta playtest of Magonomia has been underway for just short of two months. Feedback so far has been very positive. So far, playtesters have expressed that the game is well explained, they’re excited about it, and the rules are clear. So far there is every reason to expect playtest and revision will proceed smoothly and we’ll be on track to launch our Kickstarter this summer!

I’ll share a few specific points of feedback.

  • Magonomia does a good job explaining Fate Core System. This is a big deal for me because I found Fate hard to learn and I put a lot of energy into explaining it clearly. It looks like that effort paid off!

  • The playtesters like how we’ve handled the dark side of the Elizabethan period: people burning each other at the stake and whatnot. In a nutshell, our approach is: make the game fun for everyone. Yes, this is a historical setting, but the prejudices and brutality of the period don’t belong on center stage. Keep them as a looming threat in the background.

  • Players wanted one more spell! Specifically, they wanted one more first Degree spell to choose at character creation. We set up spells to mirror the Skills in Fate Core, where characters get a “pyramid” of spells: four first Degree spells, three second Degree, two third Degree, and one fourth Degree. Now, every wizard gets General Divination, which is a super handy spell for asking the magical forces of the universe “what’s going on, I need some help please.” (More on General Divination in a future update!) At the start of the playtest, General Divination was a first-Degree spell and it was required. It took up one of the four first Degree spell slots. Feedback from the playtesters was strongly in favor of getting four first Degree spells to choose from and having General Divination be an extra “bonus” spell. So we did that! This is how we do playtesting at Shewstone Publishing: we take the feedback seriously and we put it into practice quickly.

We are also getting quite a few notes about passages of text that are unclear, or spells that aren’t quite as cool as they could be (the playtesters are helping to make spells more awesome!), and all of that is great feedback that makes the game better.

The Beta playtest is closed — we have all the playtesters we need — but have no fear! Kickstarter backers will get a copy of the “rough edit” draft of the rules and a chance to participate in a backers-only feedback process much like the Beta playtest.

We’re planning the Magonomia Kickstarter for Summer 2019. To receive an alert when it launches, you can follow this blog, follow Shewstone Publishing on Facebook or @ShewstoneLLC on Twitter, or subscribe to our Product Announcements email list.