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Playtests Spring 2019

After the Christmas break I ended up with a completely new group of players (though with two other players intending to return): Robert, Sakura, Yael, Craig, and Liam. Our first session was 100% Tribe and character creation.

The Tribe

Cold Stone Tribe is situated in a place of deep dark stone where the Eaters seldom come. Located above it is the Glass Bottle Place, where the Eaters store mysterious liquids in enormous glass towers. Sometimes these liquids drip or spill, seeping into the Between. As a rite of passage, Yearlings of the Tribe must try one of these spills. Sometimes the liquid is deadly, sometimes it brings visions. Indeed, many of the tribe profess to be seers of some sort or other; true seers have been driven blind by the liquids.

The Characters

  • Behold — a Waykeeper who returned to the nest to have pups
  • Jinzu — another Waykeeper, who also returned to have pups ... but not the same pups
  • Merlot — a sickly individual in a plague mask who cares for the Yearlings
  • Atrox — a tinkerer alchemist with an unadvisable love of fire
  • Marcus — an old former Champion with a desire to resolve everything peacefully


  • Tribe design was a blast, as it always is. I've added a section to the GM rules with tips on running it
  • Character design took a long time, partly due to a shortage of Activity sheets. I need a "Quick Reference" document for them

Playtest 7-8, Winter 2018

We only managed a couple more sessions in the winter term due to scheduling conflicts, but enough to complete the first in what was a planned series of adventures.

Following on with the confrontation with the Red Dust tribe, the combined group followed the river to a place where it entered the Empty. Here they found a spider nest, and spied a number of spiders in the shadows above. Rather than confront them directly they decided to use Hector's Eater Gift (a cigarette lighter) to set light to the webs. Cue burning spiders! Some of the Hylin get singed (and bitten) but the spiders are driven off.

The rising river leads to the Empty, which I decide to represent with a persistant Penalty Dice. They find themselves in some enormous gap, with wood above, and some sort of red hard maroon stuff (lino) below. The gap leads to a huge open space. The sound is much louder here, coming from a direction that seems lighter (Hylin eyes can't see that far). They decide to follow the edge of the gap towards the light, trailing each other in a line like kits following their mother.

Suddenly, something attacks! Iro vanishes, and a moment later Parro is hit by his headless body! The Hylin run screaming (I let everyone spend a Luck to avoid 1 Afraid, in retrospect I should just have done the damage and let them use Luck to buy it off if they liked) as a huge orange paw reaches under the space and tries to catch them! This is the household cat. Poor Parro is too shocked to run, so Douglas throws himself over him to hide him from the paw. The whole group then hides till they think it is safe, before they venture on ... a mistake. No sooner have they emerged than they spot the Eater Beast, playing with Iro's head. Amazingly Victor manages to face the beast down (6 successes on 6 dice vs. 6 on 12 dice) and they escape, with the beast in close pursuit!

The group flee into the light, finding themselves in a place with thick cloth on the floor. They try to hide, but things seem grim, but then an Eater reaches down and plucks the beast away. The Hylin breathe a collective sigh of relief, and slink into cover underneath the enormous structure where the sound is coming from. Here they finally realise that the sound is coming from an Eater and — close up — conclude that it is some sort of crying!

The Hylin come up with a conclusion based on what they can see. An Eater has died, and the others Eaters are mourning. The crash they heard must have been the Eater falling dead (they are so huge). Happy with their deductions they slip off through another entrance to the Between. The Hot Rock and Red Dust groups say their goodbyes, before the players return to their nest to report their discovery to the Chief.


  • There was confusion, on both my part and the players, about what happens when a player has 0 dice to roll. The correct answer is that the player gets 1 dice, and the GM gets 1 dice for each penalty below 1 they had. i.e. if a player is on -3 dice they roll 1 dice, and the GM gets +3 dice. I added text to make that more clear.
  • Giving the Eater Beast 12 dice and allowing it to be rolled against was exciting, but not a great representation of its danger level. I added more ways of representing Eater Beasts to the GM tools.

Playtest 6, 7th November 2018

Having done some playtesting with close friends, I decided I needed to get InBetween back into the wild again, so I took it to GEAS — my local gaming society — and went in search of players. Soon I had myself a brand new group: Dimitry, Jim, Ben, and Robyn. This session was more than 50% Tribe and Character design, with only an hour and a bit for play.

The Tribe

Hot Rock Tribe is a grim place, situated between a great stone that is always warm. A maze of bricks surrounds the forge, where the Keeper of the Forge is chained permanently to his anvil with melted Bakelite. Here the Tribe's elders, almost all of them crippled in some way by fire related accidents, slave over their furnaces, seeking to re-create the heat of the Hot Rock itself.

Session One

Early one spring morning, just before dawn, the Hylins of Hot Rock are awoken by a series of terrible noises: an enormous booming, a crash that shakes the level, and then a terrible wailing. It is like nothing they have ever heard, and the Seer — Eurydice — is convinced that it spells doom.

Soon three of the tribe's more intact members, fire-obsessed scrounger Hector (Dimitry), babyish Whiskers (Jim), and outcast tinkerer Victor (Robyn) are summoned to a meeting with the ancient Champion Achilles. They find themselves accompanied by Douglas One-Eye (Ben), a mad wayfinder who left the tribe years ago, and recently returned, muttering about "the blackness"! Those familiar with Douglas are unsurprised to discover that Eurydice avoids the meeting, she can't stand Douglas, and Achilles doesn't like him all that much more.

Achilles asks them to find an answer to the "mysterious noise", and grudgingly allows Douglas to go with them. While Hector visits some other scroungers to trade for food, and Victor fetches his bag of scraps, Douglas talks Achilles into lending him a trap from the Hunter's Lodge. Whiskers, always the baby, begs some supplies from his family. In the process his little sister Ears tells him she thinks the strange noise came from the direction of Three Rivers, a morning's travel from the nest. These scenes gave everyone a chance to try a test, opposed or unopposed, and spend some successes.

Once equipped, the party head to Three Rivers, where three rivers, one hot, two cold, meet. As they approach they spy two unfamiliar Hylin under the place where the rivers meet! Only Douglas has ever seen a mouse from another tribe before, so he goes ahead to have a look (making a Scouting test at difficulty 3) and overhears a conversation between Iro (a scared mouse) and his friend. He decides to drop down and try to talk to them, but Iro is terrified! (I model this as a 1 dice Hindrance — stranger, a 3 dice Monster — Iro, and a 3 dice obstacle - scared of strangers). He tries to get them to calm down, but utterly messes up. He tries to push Iro's spear away and gets stabbed in the chest instead! At this point a third stranger, a girl with a bow, appears on top of the river and orders them to surrender

The others run in, hoping to calm things down. Hector aids Whiskers, and they manage to talk the newcomer — Kiri — into putting down her bow, by spending a metric tonne of luck (8 in total). This test is the first to really pull out the stops on dice rolled, Douglas only has one Luck and has been getting by on fumes. In the subsequent talk they realise that the three strangers from the Red Dust Tribe, are here for the same reason as them, and agree to investigate together.

Playtests 3-5, Summer 2018

Following the Conpulsion re-writes I gave out the rules to some external groups for a series of playtests (12+), and spent a while co-ordinating the results, taking feedback, and adjusting rules. Later in the summer I got some of my friends (Victoria, Roderick, Justin, and Tiggs) together to do a series of playtests on the updated rules.

The Tribe

This new game is set in the world of one of the InBetween short stories I've written — The Pigeon Patrol. The three tribes live in the roof of a Victorian railway station, and are at war with the Rat Queen and her various Princes. Only the brave flightmice of the Pigeon Patrol (who ride on the back of pigeons) are able to hold back the tide.


We played a series of games revolving around three flightmice and their riggers (who are responsible for the saddles, weapons, and pigeon care, as well as being the 'tail gunners' in battle). The first session saw three seasoned riders testing two new recruits for suitability. This came out rather oddly due to a mistake on my part, since the PCs were basically taking tests to create target numbers for the NPCs to roll against. It worked, but it wasn't that exciting.

Later, the nest was attacked by one of the rat Princes, eager to take captives, and to prove himself a worthy mate for the Queen. This was a high-lethality sort of session, where I pushed the encounter rules to the limit, resulting in PC injuries across the board, but no deaths. In the end the players managed to rescue the prisoners and drive off the Prince, though not before breaking ranks (and orders) to leave the front-line undefended.


These sessions highlighted a number of issues which I'd also heard about in feedback from external playtesters, but needed to really see in play first hand before I could properly engage with them.

  • The rules for carrying Things were wrong. I'd improved how Stuff worked after the April playtest, but hadn't extended that to Things. In the end I changed the logic for carrying Things entirely, so that it doesn't have anything to do with physical simulation — you can use 7 things, and that's it.
  • The damage rules were too punitive when damage was piled on, and could create a painful "death spiral" where penalty dice reduced your rolls so badly that you were better taking no action. I changed the Damage rules entirely after this, and they are now much less punitive.
  • The rules for conflict definitely favour sides with multiple opponents. Sides with a single Monster need some damage absorption to function well. I've added GM advice on this.
  • There were still some confusions in character Gen. I re-ordered things to hopefully help.