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Old 05-16-2021, 06:11 AM
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Default Design Discussion: Pillars of T2k Gameplay

In D&D design and theorycrafting circles, one area of intense discussion is the "Three Pillars of D&D" upon which 5th Edition's designers explicitly focused. This parallels the "core gameplay loop" concept in electronic gaming, which has also found its way into tabletop RPG design discussions. What stories is your game designed to tell? What is the intended player experience? What are characters supposed to do?

The internet holds a plethora of articles on this concept. I think Shawn Merwin's post here on adventure design does an excellent job of delving into D&D's pillars of combat, exploration, and social interaction.

Most of us here have played in a number of different systems and settings and are aware that every game engine and game world supports, either implicitly or explicitly, different modes of play. Some make this inescapably obvious. First edition 7th Sea, for example, recommends a campaign setup activity (what later theory calls "Session Zero") in which each player allocates 100 points between the game's five designed foci of action, exploration, intrigue, military, and romance. This tells the GM where the players' interests lie, both individually and collectively.

All of which is to set the stage for today's design question:

What are Twilight: 2000's pillars of gameplay?

- C.
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Old 05-16-2021, 04:25 PM
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That's a great article, thanks for sharing. I think that T2K embodies those pillars but I'll add a fourth...survival. I love and have played and run D&D, Rifts, Cyberpunk, and countless others but NONE of them have required me as either a GM or PC to consider the basics of existence/Maslow's Hierarchy of needs like T2K. When you throw that in on top of the three pillars in the article, well, that's why we are on here talking about a game that came out decades ago!
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Old 05-16-2021, 05:54 PM
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I think resource acquisition and management is a pillar of T2k gameplay. In every campaign I've participated in or observed, getting a hold of ammo, fuel, medical supplies, and food was a major preoccupation of the player party. In many cases, availability of said resources dictates where the PCs go, who they interact with, and how they do so. Scarcity of needed resources is a major theme of the T2kU.

I haven't played many other game systems, but those that I do have some familiarity with don't compel players to be nearly as preoccupied with resource allocation and management as much as T2k does.

In D&D, for example, getting new stuff is part of the fun, and it does become important to upgrade armor, weapons, and spells as the adventurers gain levels and face off against ever deadlier monsters, but it's more of a built-in reward system than a realistic, essential economic component of gameplay like it is in T2k. Aside from magic items, scarcity of resources is rarely a concern in most D&D campaigns, and there's almost always a widely used currency system so acquiring necessary supplies is often simply a matter of going into a store and purchasing it.

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Last edited by Raellus; 05-16-2021 at 06:12 PM.
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Old 05-16-2021, 07:16 PM
Adm.Lee Adm.Lee is offline
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I'll try to think of something else to add, but I have to agree that T2k's 4th pillar is that of stuff and survival.
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Old 05-16-2021, 09:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus View Post
I think resource acquisition and management is a pillar of T2k gameplay. In every campaign I've participated in or observed, getting a hold of ammo, fuel, medical supplies, and food was a major preoccupation of the player party. In many cases, availability of said resources dictates where the PCs go, who they interact with, and how they do so. Scarcity of needed resources is a major theme of the T2kU.

I haven't played many other game systems, but those that I do have some familiarity with don't compel players to be nearly as preoccupied with resource allocation and management as much as T2k does.

In D&D, for example, getting new stuff is part of the fun, and it does become important to upgrade armor, weapons, and spells as the adventurers gain levels and face off against ever deadlier monsters, but it's more of a built-in reward system than a realistic, essential economic component of gameplay like it is in T2k. Aside from magic items, scarcity of resources is rarely a concern in most D&D campaigns, and there's almost always a widely used currency system so acquiring necessary supplies is often simply a matter of going into a store and purchasing it.

-
I was going to say that LOOOOOOOOOT/Scrounging! is a pillar of some TW2K games. In my experience, a good scrounger in the party can be a godsend, *if* the Ref throws them a bone every now and then.

Perhaps the best loot I've ever gotten in a TW2K game was as a player in one of Mahatatain's RPOL game - I was playing a Bulgarian/Canadian Russian speaking ex-RCN Communicator who was looting food and medical supplies when she came across an unattended R-148 squad radio set to an enemy radio net. That was an awesome way to include a non-combat character in the game while allowing her to contribute to the mission.
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Old 05-17-2021, 05:01 AM
Silent Hunter UK Silent Hunter UK is offline
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Which game is that on RPOL?
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Old 05-17-2021, 09:38 AM
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Which game is that on RPOL?
Reply via PM re:RPOL!

Also, a few thoughts overnight on Scrounger/LOOOTer pillar - the PC's I've made for this play style have a few things in common:

1) They never have 'full packs'. If you start the game 0.1 kg away from being encumbered, you can't loot effectively. All have 5-10 kg available for acquisitions.

2) Most have lockpicks and relevant skill (Intrusion, etc.), or at the very least, shotgun & bolt cutters, in order to access loooooooot!

3) Gear always includes a siphon tube, sometimes an empty 5 liter jerry can strapped to their pack.

4) There will be a secondary skill emphasis - for example, in 2.2 scrounging appears on the medic subsequent term list, so sometimes they are medics (though med packs are heavy - so likely to be an alt/secondary medic). Sometimes drivers/mechanics as well. Mostly though, I'll go full party rogue and have them take two or more criminal terms.

Some Ref's really like generating lists of found/acquired items, putting in lots of flavor into what you might find. Those are the Refs you want to use this type of character with. For some, they aren't into it, so it's not a good PC for those games. It's best to have that discussion early, before you drop a ton of points into a skill group (scrounging/intrusion) that may or may not used.
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Old 05-17-2021, 10:33 AM
Adm.Lee Adm.Lee is offline
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Thanks for the tips, Spartan! In a just-starting Discord/Roll20 game, I rolled up a nurse, and discovered that Scrounging is on that available-skill list, too, so now she's got 3 there!
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Old 05-18-2021, 09:57 PM
swaghauler swaghauler is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spartan-117 View Post
Reply via PM re:RPOL!

Also, a few thoughts overnight on Scrounger/LOOOTer pillar - the PC's I've made for this play style have a few things in common:

1) They never have 'full packs'. If you start the game 0.1 kg away from being encumbered, you can't loot effectively. All have 5-10 kg available for acquisitions.

2) Most have lockpicks and relevant skill (Intrusion, etc.), or at the very least, shotgun & bolt cutters, in order to access loooooooot!

3) Gear always includes a siphon tube, sometimes an empty 5 liter jerry can strapped to their pack.

4) There will be a secondary skill emphasis - for example, in 2.2 scrounging appears on the medic subsequent term list, so sometimes they are medics (though med packs are heavy - so likely to be an alt/secondary medic). Sometimes drivers/mechanics as well. Mostly though, I'll go full party rogue and have them take two or more criminal terms.

Some Ref's really like generating lists of found/acquired items, putting in lots of flavor into what you might find. Those are the Refs you want to use this type of character with. For some, they aren't into it, so it's not a good PC for those games. It's best to have that discussion early, before you drop a ton of points into a skill group (scrounging/intrusion) that may or may not used.
I always try to have one social conflict, one technical challenge ( build a bridge, rescue a broken-down truck, fix something for the locals), and one hide and seek or puzzle encounter per adventure. I usually include one low-level fight (a bar fight or wildlife encounter), and one big fight per session. Sometimes the big fight becomes a "running battle" as the PCs head for shelter as the bad guys pursue. My PCs love the scrounging and repair task because i have two machinists and an EMT who LOVE figuring out how to get something done with only the resources at hand. My players (who are also my friends) LOVE "escape room" attractions too.
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Old 05-19-2021, 05:32 PM
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Going through the careers, the potential scroungers are:
Criminal
Manager
Registered Nurse
Prison
Aviation Arm - Enlisted (Aircraft Mechanic)
Medical Corps - Enlisted (Medic)
Medical Corps - Officer (Nurse)
Support Arm - Enlisted
Support Arm - Officer
Navy - Enlisted Seaman

While all of them have their benefits and drawbacks, I like the driver/mechanic/JOAT potential of the Enlisted Support Arm. Their first term gives Drive: Wheeled and Mechanic skills and the Subsequent Term Skills list includes Electronics, Gunsmith, Instruction, Machinist, and Scrounging. They'll be mediocre combatants at best since all they get is the basic training package, but they can potentially learn to fix anything, teach others to fix anything, and serve as the group's driver and a second-tier combatant.


For bonus fun, also have a nurse (either civilian or military) and a state/local law enforcement or special forces character. Unless I missed something, nurses are the only career with medical skills and Instruction, while local law enforcement and special forces are the only ones with combat skills and Instruction on their Subsequent Term Skills list.
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Old 05-27-2021, 02:43 PM
Mahatatain Mahatatain is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spartan-117 View Post
Perhaps the best loot I've ever gotten in a TW2K game was as a player in one of Mahatatain's RPOL game - I was playing a Bulgarian/Canadian Russian speaking ex-RCN Communicator who was looting food and medical supplies when she came across an unattended R-148 squad radio set to an enemy radio net. That was an awesome way to include a non-combat character in the game while allowing her to contribute to the mission.
To be fair you didn't just come across it "unattended". Your team shot dead the guard who had it with him.......
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Old 05-28-2021, 03:52 AM
Silent Hunter UK Silent Hunter UK is offline
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The rest of the team made it unattended.
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