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Old 05-01-2021, 12:32 PM
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Default Design Discussion: Barriers to New Player Entry for T2k

During the last six months of 4th Edition discussion, one of the points that has arisen occasionally is its potential (or lack thereof) to entice new players to the game line. This is one of my hopes for it because we are not a numerous fandom, nor are we growing any younger. I believe the fan base needs new blood and new thoughts for healthy discussion, ease of finding play groups, and the financial viability of future products.

Over the years, I've made several attempts to start T2k campaigns with various groups, using multiple editions. There has generally been low interest among parties who weren't already fans of the game, even from players who generally have high interest in trying new systems and settings.

By far, the greatest common factors driving disinterest among potential players is the game's military focus. Although civilian characters are technically possible, all published editions assume military protagonists. For players who lack military experience or subject matter expertise, this is often a turn-off. Some players are disinterested in playing a military-centric game due to cultural factors. Others express anxiety over being penalized for playing "incorrectly," whether with tactics or PC characterization.

A corollary to this is that most of my gaming friendships emerged from World of Darkness fandom, and thus my gaming circle is more diverse than the audience here. Several female gamers, gamers of color, and LGBTQ+ gamers have opined that T2k is not interesting because the setting lacks a place for PCs whose identities and experiences mirror their own (recall that during the era in which T2k takes place, LGBTQ+ folk were barred from U.S. military service).

(In T2k's defense for the latter issue, it has always featured female NPCs in leadership positions, including ground combat roles, and has never included mechanical penalties for female PCs. There's an interesting point here regarding outside perception vs. published canon.)

I'm curious as to what barriers other referees have encountered when attempting to recruit new groups. I'm also interested in poking at what tools can be created - whether official 4e products, changes intrinsic to a hypothetical 5e, or fan creations for previous editions - to help overcome these barriers and bring more players to the game.

- C.
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Old 05-01-2021, 01:05 PM
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There have always been players of color and the openness to players of color and females - all you have to do is look at the original T2K box and first module. The Krakow module has a black US soldier and a female US soldier on the cover after all.

And considering the games time period - both when it was written and the time period it covers- the whole issue of transgender would not have been a consideration. That’s like saying where are the transgender soldiers in a WW2 recreation.

If anything T2k is a game that has always welcomed female players and characters. I would actually say it was ground breaking in that consideration as opposed to games like D&D that had limits for female characters that never appeared in any edition of T2K.
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Old 05-01-2021, 01:09 PM
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I can’t really comment on V1 (my experience of actually playing with V1 rules is fairly limited and my experience of character creation brings back memories of calculators and excel spreadsheets) but when it comes to V2, I’ve always found one of the challenges to be the character creation system.In my experience it’s heavily biased against creating civilian characters who posses a skillset that’s useful in game terms, particularly if you have someone in your group who wants to play an eighteen year old Polish )or American in a CONUS campaign) refugee - using rules as written, they’d start with virtually no skills (this is one reason why I much prefer the 2013 mechanics - in my experience you can create a far more rounded character using Reflex rules). So the system pushes you towards playing a military character (one who changes branch every term if you really want to maximise your skills). The best way to get round that I’ve seen to get round that and level the playing field is a Points Buy system that lets people play the sort of character that they want to play without having to feel like they're running a suboptimal character.

As those who have gamed with me before are probably well aware I also find the military chain of command that exists in many T2K games to be something that can cause issues. I’ve seen games where people playing officers have thought that gives them carte blanche to tell other players what to do (to be fair, I’ve also seen games where it’s been done very well - looking at you Fahd). I tried to circumvent that in one game by implementing a ‘no officer PC’s’ policy to encourage a more inclusive structure. In another game the PC’s started as a Free Company (essentially mercs for hire). While that game had a rank structure it was relatively fluid / collegial.
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Old 05-01-2021, 01:38 PM
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also you have to keep in mind there are civilian characters who have no idea about the military and then those brought up in families with military veterans

in real life on the TDM I had a few years of ROTC training (before I got hurt playing football) but that was about it for the current generation - however the previous two generations had all served in combat and as a result we had been taught how to shoot, clean and take care of weapons. All the men and some of the women were hunters and knew things like how to move quietly thru the woods and do ambushes. We were very familiar with weapons like the 9mm and 45 caliber pistols the military carried as well as M1 Garands and Thompson SMG's and sniper rifles - because we grew up around them and had been taught to use them. Same with things like dynamite and making explosives.

Compare that to a civilian who grew up in a city, never fired a gun before the TDM and didnt have anyone who ever served in the military in their family.
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Old 05-01-2021, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainbow Six View Post
As those who have gamed with me before are probably well aware I also find the military chain of command that exists in many T2K games to be something that can cause issues. I’ve seen games where people playing officers have thought that gives them carte blanche to tell other players what to do (to be fair, I’ve also seen games where it’s been done very well - looking at you Fahd). I tried to circumvent that in one game by implementing a ‘no officer PC’s’ policy to encourage a more inclusive structure. In another game the PC’s started as a Free Company (essentially mercs for hire). While that game had a rank structure it was relatively fluid / collegial.
+1

I've seen the concept of rank cause problems in T2k campaigns before too. The whole idea of a pecking order or hierarchy in a game can be a turn-off to a lot of people. And if someone wants to play a civilian, it's usually with the understanding that they will be at the very bottom of the rank totem pole. I can't imagine it would be very fun being expected to follow orders from a PFC.

IIRC, v2.2 rules give civilian PCs very few skills, compared to military PCs. Even conscripts get a lot fewer skills. If a player doesn't want his/her PC to be useless to the party, this might dissuade them from playing a civilian. I've found that v2.2 kind of encourages players to gravitate towards the special forces templates. Hence parties of 5th ID survivors that contain a Green Beret, a couple of Rangers, a USMC Scout-Sniper or two, and at least one Navy SEAL.

I've seen rank cut both ways too. I've seen instances where the player with the highest IG rank becomes a martinet and starts bossing other players around. This hardly ever ends well. I've also seen instances where low-ranking players rarely show any initiative. Instead, they wait for someone playing a higher ranking PC to give them orders. That doesn't lend itself very well to collaborative play either. And lastly, I've seen instances where decision-making becomes a very painful exercise because players are too unwilling to pull rank. Too little hierarchy can cause problems too. Rank, IMHO, is a double-edged sword.

As for sexuality/sexual identity, I've played in probably 10 different PbP or PBeM campaigns over the last 15 years or so and I only ever encountered one gay PC (and her player had to tell me she was gay years after the fact). I have no idea how much of this is down to player preference, and how much it has to with US military prohibitions against LGBTQ service people in the 1980s and '90s. T2k seems a little on the macho side of the spectrum, so I can see how that perception might scare some interested people off.

-
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Old 05-01-2021, 05:56 PM
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The designer's notes in the addendum of v1 are very clear about that being one of the original design problems: they wanted to do a military game but needed a way to get around the problem of pulling rank. The solution was the apocalypse and the collapse at Kalisz. Arguably, this situation really only sorta solves the problem. It's playable, but really you're still going to run into many situations where rank matters. And in many cases that's still a problem when you're trying to run an RPG.
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Old 05-01-2021, 06:07 PM
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Unfortunately, I think they invalidated that design decision by making rank a mechanical function of character generation. There is an offset in 1e in that characters with high stats are ironically less likely to have high rank. In 2e, there's no down side: with promotion granting extra skills and rank determining starting funds, higher-ranking characters begin play at a higher level of capability.

- C.
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Old 05-01-2021, 06:16 PM
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That’s one reason I have always said that GM’s need to make sure that things are realistic as to what players can be - ie the chances that everyone is some kind of Special Forces is not based on the reality of the military. I have played officers and enlisted men and like both sides. And rank in the Kalisz scenario really doesn’t mean as much when you are cut off and alone. I can see it being much more of an issue in campaigns where the military is still organized - ie places like Kenya or Iran or in the UK where the British govt is still in control - then it’s more a military simulation versus a fight for survival.

In my original campaign I was a captain but all I was in command of was my tank. The group made decisions as a group and my rank only came into play in the game a couple of times when we ran into other organized US units - at least until we got back into Germany.
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Old 05-01-2021, 07:03 PM
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I find myself slightly confused as to why people playing a military-based game would be annoyed at the constraints of a rank-based hierarchical structure. If you don't like that social environment, why are you playing that game? It's like playing D&D in the Forgotten Realms setting and saying dragons and magic annoy you. Like... wut? Military rank structures aren't a "barrier to entry" to playing T2K. They're a function of the setting.
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Old 05-01-2021, 07:21 PM
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Well that's pretty clear: that dragon doesn't have formal authority to tell you what to do. And while some people might be into it, I doubt most tables of peers are all that interested in doing whatever one person says, all the time.

It gets worse, potentially: say you escape that "on your own" situation from Kalisz and fall back to Germany and... immediately run into functioning units again, with NPCs that outrank you and put you back to doing their bidding? That's also not a fantastic setup for adventure, for the most part. Or at least not the kind of free-wheeling adventure that most RPGs including T2K have generally promised.
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Old 05-01-2021, 07:39 PM
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There's a more fundamental question which I think flows from the rank issue: must character creation and game play be military-centric for the game to be T2k?

- C.
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Old 05-01-2021, 07:46 PM
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Military rank structures aren't a "barrier to entry" to playing T2K. They're a function of the setting.
I kinda agree if you play RAW. But this thread has made me think, "Has anyone ever played a totally civilian party?"

I think setting might be the wrong term, maybe suggested game-play/rules (particularly v1)? The world "setting" could allow you to theoretically play any person in the world who is still alive. You don't have published materials, but that is what creative people are for.

I was going to work on a supplemental wiki for the DC Groups stuff, where we (the forum collectively) could for lack of a better term "Make up" stuff for every US and Canadian counties and other countries districts. Truth be told when I had the idea it was for Morrow Project but a duplication of work is much easier than starting from scratch. I always thought fleshing out the areas around where board members live would have been fun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tegyrius View Post
There's a more fundamental question which I think flows from the rank issue: must character creation and game play be military-centric for the game to be T2k?

- C.
I think going with what I wrote above, you have a group consisting of all civilians in a town not directly effected by war, but needing to fight off marauders, travel far for medicine or spare parts, try to recover some lost treasure. Sounds pretty T2k to me, but you would need creativity or a support network to assist in filling the "gaps" in the rules.

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Old 05-01-2021, 08:10 PM
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Well that's pretty clear: that dragon doesn't have formal authority to tell you what to do. And while some people might be into it, I doubt most tables of peers are all that interested in doing whatever one person says, all the time.

It gets worse, potentially: say you escape that "on your own" situation from Kalisz and fall back to Germany and... immediately run into functioning units again, with NPCs that outrank you and put you back to doing their bidding? That's also not a fantastic setup for adventure, for the most part. Or at least not the kind of free-wheeling adventure that most RPGs including T2K have generally promised.
The game is also a military simulation - its not all about adventure and survival - thats why you have the RDF, Kenya, and Korean Sourcebooks - all of which are places where there are functioning chains of commands. And the Last Submarine Trilogy - which a lot of players love - is all about having to do the adventure within a chain of command once you have the submarine - then the players are playing a pure military mission - same with most of King's Ransom - until you get to go for the goodies

And D&D also has adventures where you arent just going around raiding dungeons and exploring - i.e. you get sent on a mission either because you pissed off the wrong person or to pay off a debt or any of a number of reasons where you arent the one running the show - its the King, Prince, Mage, etc.. who sent you off to complete the mission - or in this case quest
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Old 05-01-2021, 08:14 PM
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There's a more fundamental question which I think flows from the rank issue: must character creation and game play be military-centric for the game to be T2k?

- C.
answer - mainly yes - its a game about the military - its not a game primarily set up for civilian characters - which is not to say you cant be a civilian who used to be military and thus still have the skill sets you used to have - think about the fun guys in Grenada the characters run into who used to US military who still have their skills - just a little bit too old to still be running around like they used to - still not the people I would want to run into in a dark alley
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Old 05-01-2021, 08:49 PM
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Well that's pretty clear: that dragon doesn't have formal authority to tell you what to do. And while some people might be into it, I doubt most tables of peers are all that interested in doing whatever one person says, all the time.

It gets worse, potentially: say you escape that "on your own" situation from Kalisz and fall back to Germany and... immediately run into functioning units again, with NPCs that outrank you and put you back to doing their bidding? That's also not a fantastic setup for adventure, for the most part. Or at least not the kind of free-wheeling adventure that most RPGs including T2K have generally promised.
When the dragon can burn your PC to a crisp or swallow whiole, that's all the formal authority it needs...

The original Kalisz scenario using 5th ID requires a GM that enforces a party that is "realistic" in makeup - armor, infantry, field artillery, or cavalry units, and division or battalion support (engineers, cooks, MPs, Intel, etc.) No green berets, no seals, etc. If there are rangers, they're tabbed not scrolled and they are part of one of the 5ID units. Civilians could be locals. Govt agents could be CIA, DIA, locals, etc. Other nationalities would be German, British, etc. or Pact forces deserters. There *might* be 2MarDiv liaisons, but they'd likely be part of German 3rd Army or US IX Corps. All of the noncombatant support soldiers are gonna be in, FREX, the HHC of the applicablee battalion or division, not in one of the actual rifle companies...

It also requires work on the part of the GM to properly outfit the party. Which requires the GM to look at an ORBAT and TOE info.

The challenge is finding players who are willing to work within the bound of the rules and campaign. It is akin to a D&D game where one of the players wants to pick a class or race that isn't part of the campaign or wants a backstory that doesn't fit.

As to falling back to organized units - that becomes the goal rather than the adventure. In the core v1 campaign, you can spend months real-time adventuring in the areas surrounding Kalisz without the GM ever advancing the campaign into getting close to seeing another organized NATO unit.
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Old 05-01-2021, 08:56 PM
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When the dragon can burn your PC to a crisp or swallow whiole, that's all the formal authority it needs...

The original Kalisz scenario using 5th ID requires a GM that enforces a party that is "realistic" in makeup - armor, infantry, field artillery, or cavalry units, and division or battalion support (engineers, cooks, MPs, Intel, etc.) No green berets, no seals, etc. If there are rangers, they're tabbed not scrolled and they are part of one of the 5ID units. Civilians could be locals. Govt agents could be CIA, DIA, locals, etc. Other nationalities would be German, British, etc. or Pact forces deserters. There *might* be 2MarDiv liaisons, but they'd likely be part of German 3rd Army or US IX Corps. All of the noncombatant support soldiers are gonna be in, FREX, the HHC of the applicablee battalion or division, not in one of the actual rifle companies...

It also requires work on the part of the GM to properly outfit the party. Which requires the GM to look at an ORBAT and TOE info.

The challenge is finding players who are willing to work within the bound of the rules and campaign. It is akin to a D&D game where one of the players wants to pick a class or race that isn't part of the campaign or wants a backstory that doesn't fit.

As to falling back to organized units - that becomes the goal rather than the adventure. In the core v1 campaign, you can spend months real-time adventuring in the areas surrounding Kalisz without the GM ever advancing the campaign into getting close to seeing another organized NATO unit.
Remember at the time it was released they didnt even have special forces yet, or at least ones that were detailed out - they were introduced with the RDF Sourcebook. People forget that because its been a long time since the game was originally introduced.

Now you can build special forces characters on day one. Given the original scenario especially as it builds into Krakow I could see a character being a Green Beret that either had got separated from the unit going after Reset or a survivor of the ambush - or was from a unit that was supposed to meet up with them and got steamrollered by the Soviet attack just like the 5th did.
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Old 05-01-2021, 10:18 PM
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When the dragon can burn your PC to a crisp or swallow whiole, that's all the formal authority it needs...

The original Kalisz scenario using 5th ID requires a GM that enforces a party that is "realistic" in makeup - armor, infantry, field artillery, or cavalry units, and division or battalion support (engineers, cooks, MPs, Intel, etc.) No green berets, no seals, etc. If there are rangers, they're tabbed not scrolled and they are part of one of the 5ID units. Civilians could be locals. Govt agents could be CIA, DIA, locals, etc. Other nationalities would be German, British, etc. or Pact forces deserters. There *might* be 2MarDiv liaisons, but they'd likely be part of German 3rd Army or US IX Corps. All of the noncombatant support soldiers are gonna be in, FREX, the HHC of the applicablee battalion or division, not in one of the actual rifle companies...

It also requires work on the part of the GM to properly outfit the party. Which requires the GM to look at an ORBAT and TOE info.

The challenge is finding players who are willing to work within the bound of the rules and campaign. It is akin to a D&D game where one of the players wants to pick a class or race that isn't part of the campaign or wants a backstory that doesn't fit.

As to falling back to organized units - that becomes the goal rather than the adventure. In the core v1 campaign, you can spend months real-time adventuring in the areas surrounding Kalisz without the GM ever advancing the campaign into getting close to seeing another organized NATO unit.
Sure, you CAN. You can also beeline it west and with a bit of luck have achieved your goal within days. I'd argue that if your goal is to fall back to organized units and you spend months adventuring around Kalisz then you're either not very good at adventuring or you're not very good at setting goals. :P

Or, more likely, you're enjoying the game and willing to break immersion a bit to keep it going rather than the break the game to keep immersion. In that sense, all the stuff you posted as "requirements" really aren't... they're wishlist items that some players may want or even demand, but they are not fundamental to general enjoyment of the game or setting.
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Old 05-01-2021, 10:28 PM
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I'm sure someone somewhere has tried to play a Red Dawn-style scenario using a T2k system. I think that should at least be an option. I know I would have been all over that as a kid.

In that type of campaign (where most if not all PCs are young civies), the char-gen rules in v's 1-2.2, as I understand them, would have generated PCs that aren't much stronger than novice OPFOR NPCs, so it probably wouldn't end up being a very long or successful campaign. That, IMHO, is a bit of a design flaw.

I haven't looked closely at the v4 rules but, IIRC, I've heard that they can produce less wimpy civilian characters than previous editions. Hopefully someone who's tried the v4 rules out, or at least looked at them a little more closely, can confirm (or deny).

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Old 05-02-2021, 12:37 AM
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I think its the background bit that prevents a totally civilian career from working. One of the gaps and something I obliquely touched on here in this thread about the other entities that would have to decide on MilGov or CivGov. Is that you could have a federal agent who never enters the military and is stuck in the US or maybe overseas with what is left of US government representation.

However, in most of the background material that is presented in the core rule books. By 1997 in the US at least the Selective Service has been brought back from the dead. Remember in 1984 when the rules were written the Selective Service Act was restarted by Jimmy Carter in 1979 in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. So that meant everyone who was 18-26 in 1979 had to register or lose any federal benefits. So the authors assumed it would have been maintained, instead of let to atrophy like it has in real life. So that when WW3 starts, the draft would have been reinstated as the war starts.
Since I have only done character creation under V2.0 rules, I can't say if V1.0 is different. Always assumed the "War Term/War Starts" roll is the draft roll for civilians. We had a few folks develop civilian careers, I think the best I remember was a 3 term doctor who then had the war start and the lost the roll for that last term for whether the war started.

I always felt it was unfair that the career ends for folks drafted from civilian careers would stop any promotions so they are basically very junior officers or very junior enlisted folks when the war starts. So we had house ruled that you create a civilian and the war starts, you had promotions rolls you have equivalent to how many terms you had on the record sheet before the war starts. However, fail a promotion that is where you stopped at; it was an attempt to balance out things for some of our players that pointed out things like battlefield promotions or even folks "buying" their way in because of previous life experiences the military gave promotions to a certain level.

I would also note that per the character creation rules, you don't have to stay full time military and could pretend your character is a National Guard or Reservist who drills actively. So you could do a term or two in the military and then switch to a civilian career only to see yourself activated due to the war starting. Which again the rules are strict about, but can be house ruled to say that once you selected say armor in your first term. When the war starts you can't magically jump to become a pilot; unless you did all the pre-reqs. So you would have to do your war term in armor with the promotions.

As to the rank, we never played that much amongst the group with rank; only when the GM's called for it in dealing with NPCs. Otherwise, the only real reason for rank is what you had as "spending" cash prior to the start of the game to buy equipment. Since it was 5k multiplied by number of terms for an enlisted guy and 10k with the same multiplier for an officer.

As to the tactics question as a PC. Really? I used to be in the military and was given some basic weapons handling skills and some basic self-defense skills as well as how to handle myself while on patrol on a flight line with the military. Yet, I didn't do it that often in real life and our training was something akin to about every 2-3 years to learn how to shoot and how to use some basic forms of cover and concealment while defending the flight line. So there is no real need to know combat tactics in a game like T2k. Reverse the question in a game like Shadowrun, do you really need to know tactics of how to be a hacker to understand what you are doing jacking in to the net in that game? What about tactics of being a Paladin in some fantasy game like DCC or DnD? Most of this is going to be good story telling and a beneficial GM to say what could work and might not work, let alone hand wave away maybe a bad roll by the PC or even the GM to allow the game to run well.

As to the diversity of the game. That is going to be complicated discussion and can really go sideways fast. There has been a discussion, IMHO, with in the TTRPG communities on a whole about how diversity can or can not work well; for at least the last decade. Everything from how DnD and other fantasy works could do better about allowing various races like Orcs and Elves and such live without straight animosity. Even some op-eds or long form essays in various magazines about how fantasy tropes of racial biases were born from colonialism. Similarly, trying to get more women involved or even allowing LGBTQ+ communities to exist without being a Mary Sue or not an overt stereotype in the campaign has been difficult. There is nothing, in the rules that says you can't be a woman or that you can't be LGBTQ+. That should be completely up to what the GM and the Players want to play or how to play it.


As to my problems recruiting players to game T2k or its derivative Merc2k on the table. Just been how old the rules are and how crunchy some of the rules are in doing things like trying to figure out combat, movement, and some other important things like scrounging or distilling. I have tried to scale in those rules as we going to get further into the campaign on over to just saying that even though the rules are old there are still active players in AD&D campaigns still using AD&D rules that were published only a few years before even T2k was published.

Finally, I think it is just that where I am living right now the two most popular games systems are DnD and Pathfinder, with Shadowrun or Mutants and Masterminds a very close third or fourth (depending on the polling). Anything else is forgotten about or poo'd on by folks. Heck I have tried to get a GURPS game going set in near modern era of mercenaries and do something like "The expendables" like campaign. Only to see no bites because it isn't the cool thing on the shelf that you can see at any FLGS or at Barnes and Noble.
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Old 05-02-2021, 02:54 AM
unipus unipus is offline
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I haven't looked closely at the v4 rules but, IIRC, I've heard that they can produce less wimpy civilian characters than previous editions. Hopefully someone who's tried the v4 rules out, or at least looked at them a little more closely, can confirm (or deny).
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I haven't run any civilians through the slightly revised beta version but the alpha version still had this issue to some degree. On one hand, you always get the same number of skills per term as a military character. On the other hand, those skills were not often/always the most useful ones you're going to want in the setting... unfortunately even with only 12 skills there are still about 4 standout, must-have skills that seem just much more useful all the time. In the alpha a bunch of civvy careers did have access to the Recon skill, for whatever reason, which was nice for them but seemed pretty silly. Now that is gone and instead you get a few more general choices that anyone can take at any time (Driving, Stamina, and one other I'm forgetting).

When war breaks out you can either be drafted (in which case you receive access to 2 levels of military skills of some sort or another), or remain in your civilian career (with some justification). Technically I believe the rules as written said you HAD to enlist unless you met a few exceptions but I tossed that out right away for anyone who could come up with a good reason. If you DO stay in your civilian career, the starting gear you have access to is almost universally much, much worse.

Finally, military (and now with the beta, agents) are the only ones that get access to Coolness Under Fire increases. Which can be a pretty substantial advantage that I find kinda hard to justify gating exclusively behind mil careers.

So, it's definitely possible to do, and have a decent character result. But it's still almost certain to be an objectively worse character in some ways. I don't personally think that matters a whole ton, but if you play with munchkins then expect a different reaction probably.
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Old 05-02-2021, 03:57 AM
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I don’t think any individual campaign has to be military centric. You can run a ‘Jericho’ type campaign focusing on a town’s efforts to survive pretty much as Kato outlined and legitimately call it T2K in my opinion but trying to gen up a civilian character using rules as written is likely going to restrict your options. Ditto on the Red Dawn style campaign - if you want to play a 17 year old High School student using V2 RAW you’d start with background skills only, so four skills with two points in each one. So if you want to run one of those campaigns you’d need to homebrew some character generation rules. Or maybe use the 2013 mechanics. (As an aside, looking at the V2 core rulebook again this morning to check I was remembering the rules for 17 year olds correctly, I note it specifically states on page 19)

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Nothing in these rules prevents a character from entering the game at age 17, although we cannot imagine why any player would want to do so.
I think another factor that tends to make the game more military centric is what the players are looking to get out of it. I only play by post now and in my experience in a lot of games there’s a significant percentage of players who only contribute when a gunfight starts. Anything not combat related and they’re largely absent. So I think there’s an element of knowing your group and what they’re comfortable with.
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Old 05-02-2021, 05:15 AM
The Zappster The Zappster is offline
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On the subject of rank and lack of military know how. My group had only one player who had any military experience. When in a structured environment were rank was an issue and a decision has to be made (for any gane, not just Twiligh/Merc) The PLAYERS would all throw in their 2 pence worth and come up with the plan, this is also the time the GM could advise on tactics (assuming they know any, but if your running a military themed game you probably have an interest. Let's face it, we all end up running the game we most want to play) then armed with an plan this would be the order from the ranking CHARACTER. This way everyone gets a say in the game. However iirc, it's written in the books that rank in T2K is no longer what your character achieved in the peace time military. The leaders recognise that the military is now small teams of survivors who will follow the person they have the most respect for.
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Old 05-02-2021, 05:27 AM
3catcircus 3catcircus is offline
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Remember at the time it was released they didnt even have special forces yet, or at least ones that were detailed out - they were introduced with the RDF Sourcebook. People forget that because its been a long time since the game was originally introduced.

Now you can build special forces characters on day one. Given the original scenario especially as it builds into Krakow I could see a character being a Green Beret that either had got separated from the unit going after Reset or a survivor of the ambush - or was from a unit that was supposed to meet up with them and got steamrollered by the Soviet attack just like the 5th did.
At the time of V1's release, the real world was highly concerned with a nuclear NATO-PACT exchange involving heavy divisions slugging it out in the Fulda Gap. Lots of armor, mechanized infantry, and aviation. Those heavy divisions have a lot of overhead - doctors, lawyers, water technicians, mechanics, audio-visual techs.

A quick look at the ORBATs for the time show the 5th ID with 5 armor and 5 mechanized infantry battalions, a cavalry troop, an air cav regiment, an attack aviation battalion, two aviation regiments, divisional artillery, a combat engineer battalion, an air defence battalion, a divisional support unit, Military Intel battalion, and a company each of MPs and chemical troops.

There is plenty of opportunity there for someone to, say, play a local cop who is now in an MP company or Doc Smith who is in the DISCOM medical support battalion. Although doc smith might outrank Sgt Jones, Sgt Jones is the only combat troop left in the ragtag band, Sgt Jones calls the shots when dealing with tactics. Or Mrs. Kielbasa who was the former mayor's wife and a reservist in the former Polish army who defected calls the shots when interacting with the locals.

I just don't see a need to worry about rank, nor do I see a need to allow players to want to play green berets unless they're going to come up with a plausible reason. If you're playing a MERC campaign, or setting the campaign in Germany where you'd have 5th SFG, that's a different story.
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Old 05-02-2021, 05:43 AM
3catcircus 3catcircus is offline
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Sure, you CAN. You can also beeline it west and with a bit of luck have achieved your goal within days. I'd argue that if your goal is to fall back to organized units and you spend months adventuring around Kalisz then you're either not very good at adventuring or you're not very good at setting goals. :P

Or, more likely, you're enjoying the game and willing to break immersion a bit to keep it going rather than the break the game to keep immersion. In that sense, all the stuff you posted as "requirements" really aren't... they're wishlist items that some players may want or even demand, but they are not fundamental to general enjoyment of the game or setting.
Requirements in the sense that Twilight:2000 requires work on the part of the GM to actively manage it because most players don't have direct knowledge of how the US military actually does things - their only exposure may be through WW2 movies and such. *Now* it's more likely that they have greater knowledge sources but less actual experience. Compare this to, say, D&D, where no one has ever fought in a medieval army...
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Old 05-02-2021, 05:49 AM
3catcircus 3catcircus is offline
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On the subject of rank and lack of military know how. My group had only one player who had any military experience. When in a structured environment were rank was an issue and a decision has to be made (for any gane, not just Twiligh/Merc) The PLAYERS would all throw in their 2 pence worth and come up with the plan, this is also the time the GM could advise on tactics (assuming they know any, but if your running a military themed game you probably have an interest. Let's face it, we all end up running the game we most want to play) then armed with an plan this would be the order from the ranking CHARACTER. This way everyone gets a say in the game. However iirc, it's written in the books that rank in T2K is no longer what your character achieved in the peace time military. The leaders recognise that the military is now small teams of survivors who will follow the person they have the most respect for.
The other thing to consider: in real life, outside of specialized units, the officers think they're in charge. The senior NCOs are actually in charge. The E-4 Mafia, however, is who gets things done...
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Old 05-03-2021, 01:13 AM
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Requirements in the sense that Twilight:2000 requires work on the part of the GM to actively manage it because most players don't have direct knowledge of how the US military actually does things - their only exposure may be through WW2 movies and such. *Now* it's more likely that they have greater knowledge sources but less actual experience. Compare this to, say, D&D, where no one has ever fought in a medieval army...
Yeah but on the other hand there are a LOT of people who know D&D VERY well. Probably as well or more so than hardly anyone knows the US Army. People with years (or decades) of game knowledge and sourcebook knowledge. So short of having "lived" it they definitely have more than a passing understanding of the world and how it works, and a functional/mechanical understanding far beyond that.

This is actually one of the reasons I don't really play D&D, but I digress.
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Old 05-03-2021, 09:02 AM
3catcircus 3catcircus is offline
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Yeah but on the other hand there are a LOT of people who know D&D VERY well. Probably as well or more so than hardly anyone knows the US Army. People with years (or decades) of game knowledge and sourcebook knowledge. So short of having "lived" it they definitely have more than a passing understanding of the world and how it works, and a functional/mechanical understanding far beyond that.

This is actually one of the reasons I don't really play D&D, but I digress.
I think the difference is that in a fantasy RPG, everyone is readily willing to suspend disbelief the same way. In a game with "realistic" conditions, the suspension of disbelief is tempered by each person's experiences. I was playing in a TW:2K game years ago with high school friends. Fast forward after we graduate when one of my friends was fresh out of Army boot camp and MP school . Those M16A2s in the v1 rules? No good - because he actually trained with M16A2s and insisted we create rules for them that reflected an accurate rate of fire. The v1 rules show a ROF of 4, and each "shot" is actually 3 bullets, while the M16A2 only fires single shot or 3-round burst. Up until then, we didn't know - all we saw was M16 and basing it understanding off of Vietnam-era information with the full auto M16A1...
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Old 05-03-2021, 09:31 AM
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I think the difference is that in a fantasy RPG, everyone is readily willing to suspend disbelief the same way. In a game with "realistic" conditions, the suspension of disbelief is tempered by each person's experiences.
That's a really good point. I think this also applies to knowledge. For example, as a 12-year-old, the v1 history seemed entirely plausible to me. I didn't question it at all. Later, after I studied history in college, I started to notice some holes. IMHO, that's why a reality-based game needs more realism in its setting and rules to allow players to more readily suspend disbelief.

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Old 05-03-2021, 10:18 AM
3catcircus 3catcircus is offline
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That's a really good point. I think this also applies to knowledge. For example, as a 12-year-old, the v1 history seemed entirely plausible to me. I didn't question it at all. Later, after I studied history in college, I started to notice some holes. IMHO, that's why a reality-based game needs more realism in its setting and rules to allow players to more readily suspend disbelief.

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Yep. Factual errors are easy to rectify. Speculative alternative future history is fun to imagine, but difficult to maintain once that history has actually occurred. And that's a choice people have to make - play in a never-was past campaign, or a what-if future campaign... The 1631 book series does this very well because enough time has passed that one can take poetic license with the history. Much more difficult when people are still around who remember it differently because they actually experienced it (kinda like today's youth espousing the virtues of socialism to elderly people who escaped from it... &#129300
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Old 05-03-2021, 12:04 PM
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Even harder since we're living in the age of disinformation now, and people have come to wildly different conclusions regarding the very same events. Hard to have common ground on some topics of plausibility. For instance, it seems an issue some folks had about the V4 background was that it portrayed a somewhat incompetent US President/leadership/response. Some people apparently consider that implausible. In the interest of not starting a political discussion, I'll say no more.

But basically, history wouldn't be very interesting if it wasn't full of unprecedented events. Things that happened that seemed impossible that, in retrospect, become completely normal. That Suez canal thread was just posted. Probably most people before last year would have thought it would be pretty silly to say that a single ship would accidentally block the Suez canal for weeks, causing a global response, economic shift, and supply chain problems. And yet.

Lots of things that happen within military planning, day-to-day operations and workplace etiquette, and internal politics similarly boggle the mind... unless you've seen them firsthand. A lot of this stuff is cultural and really really hard to sell in any other way. So I agree with you there that the GM's hand in providing that detail and flavor is a big factor in running an enjoyable game, but it mostly depends on everyone's expectations. And I still think that's the same in most games. You either do the work to present a realistic, believable world, or you don't. Whether that's research or clean-sheet invention. I can certainly see the difference in games I've run or played in where I've been able to invest the time and effort to do that versus other ones where I tried to wing it, or didn't really understand the setting.
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