I backed Chill 3rd Edition on Kickstarter, and found my first chance to run it three weeks ago, at IndieCon gaming convention on the south coast of England. Each game was going to be with players who had no experience of Chill.
To set the scene; when I run a game, I tend to come up with a plot first, and then find a system that'll match it and use that game's setting to fill in any blanks. I wrote two games - an action / investigation horror scenario named Mountains of BLOOD and a pure investigative horror scenario named The Haunting of Goldbrook Bridge. Having recently received my hard copy of Chill, and finding the rules remarkably easy to understand, setting intriguing, and artwork fantastic, I decided this was the game to use to make my scenarios unfold.
The first thing to note was that for a game none of the players in either group had played before, they picked up the system and setting incredibly swiftly. The % dice mechanic, gradients of success and failure (colossal, exceptional, and low), and light and dark tokens system really grabbed them. They also liked the idea of playing genuine "good guys" who weren't useless in the face of Unknown adversity.
Chill's not a game as punishing as similar % systems, such as the 40K RPGs, and Call of Cthulhu. With the possibility of colossal failure and success on double digits (rolling a 66 when attempting to score below a 60 is very bad indeed, while rolling a 44 is fantastic), the party were more interested in roll results than in a standard target number game. Atop that, the ability to flip a light token dark to increase your target number by 10 (thus turning your 60 to a 70, after rolling 66) is an excellent mechanic that really ups the ante. With players knowing that more dark tokens = more Unknown powers to be utilised by the GM, they really had to weigh up whether they'd rather fail, or succeed and give the GM more oomph to use later. In one game the players burned through their light tokens rapidly, and the scenario following showed the cost of doing so. In the second, I had an incredibly conservative group who accepted failure regularly, just to de-power my monsters. I tried every trick in the book to get a dark token from their line-up of light ones, only occasionally being able to sneak a power through. It was great fun!
I used monsters from the book for my game, and had briefly detailed the Denver SAVE HQ using the rules from the book. Both were simple to incorporate. I rarely had to refer to the book for complex mechanics, the situations in-game being resolved easily each time.
I always make an effort to run or play a game before I review it. I was able to run this game on two consecutive days having only read the book once, and the players raved about it to the point of some of them backing the Chill Companion Kickstarter that weekend. I don't know if there's higher praise. I look forward to the next time I run this game, and hopefully I'll get a chance to play it at some point!
[5 of 5 Stars!]