Insomniacs Playtest: Flight Crew Charlie

I got a group of coworkers together to playtest the many and varied changes to Insomniacs since the last time. It’s been a while since I’d tinkered with the game, and we only had our lunch hour but I thought it went well. Mostly well.

Mostly Well

Cutting the actions/skills/traits down to Survive and Discover on a single track worked better than trying to adjudicate 3 or 5 pairs of traits by far. Treating everything like either Blades in the Dark’s action roll or its gather information roll actually ran smoothly, and when one of the expanded moves was called for (they needed to Exceed some Specs to jury-rig an airlock) it was an easy adjustment since they’d seen the basic moves in action already.

Brace For Impact

I felt we had a rocky start. I thought it’d be easier to jump into the game and do character creation through play, prompted by questions from the ship’s AI. It worked okay but it was a lot to track and juggle and it wasn’t as immersive as I’d hoped, since we had to switch between writing on character sheets, being creative with names and stuff, learning and listening about the ship and the situation, and thinking mechanically about what to pick. Next time I would skip being clever and just do a round of traditional character building/setting intro, then jump into the shipboard crisis and proceed with play. If it was randomized and you took choice out of it, it might work okay to do it through play but it’s too much mental load as is.


My last two playtests, I played up this supposed “hard choice” resulting from heat buildup and what to do in order to buy time to repair the coolant on the ship. This time I kept that in my back pocket as a potential complication but prioritized just the basic mechanics and we played through a spacewalk, contended with some malfunctions and unforeseen problems, and repaired the coolant. It played out more like a tutorial and to be honest I think that’s all that might be needed in a starting situation.

The other way to do it is ratchet up the desperation and throw multiple crises at them at once, which is also appealing but coming off the more difficult start and with limited time, the way we did it felt right for our group.

Think About The Future

I think we’re all game for a continuation and proper away mission, so hopefully I’ll get some feedback on more expanded moves but honestly I feel pretty good about where those are. I even ported the Make Contact move to a D&D 5e game I ran a few weeks months ago.

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