The playtest session was a blast last Saturday. Everyone seems to be playing it as a comedy game, which is certainly a valid approach. When ninjas (from the Kawasaki Ninja Clan) leapt out and attacked the party (a test of the combat system that actually went rather well) I mentioned that they were wielding katanas (because katanas are just better). One of my players is something of a Japan-ophile and asked why they didn't have ninja-tos. Another player jumped in and said "Of course they have ninja-toes. They each have 10 of them."
The magic rules took another battering this week. Not in play, though. One of my more creative players prepared a list of "broken spells" over the week, and presented it to me. There were a few things that struck me about his list.
The first was how clever he was. A spell entitled "Last Chapter" that allows the caster to teleport the party directly to the Emerald City. "Download Walkthrough" gives the caster the knowledge they need to defeat a particular opponent instantly. And then there's a spell with actual precedent from the stories: "Ass to Bass" which turns the victim into a fish.
The second thing that struck me is that all of these effects were too easy to cast under the rules as written. "Last Chapter" by itself would make any Oz story far less exciting and could be cast with eerie ease by our resident sorcerer.
This is the part where I start singing the praises of Burning Wheel. Leafing through the Magic Burner, I discovered an alternate magic system that was very much what I was looking for. Simple, flexible, and ideal for small scale effects, but would have to be stretched to pull of really big things.
No, I'm not converting the whole thing over to Burning Wheel. I'm just making modifications to my own system while cribbing heavily from Art Magic. This should become part of the playtest kit that will be hitting my playtesters at the end of the month. Assuming, of course, that it passes peer review with my own group.