Sunday, 21 October 2018

2G2BT: Gauntlet Con/v0.14

After a couple of playtest sessions at Gauntlet Con 2018, which is still in its last few hours, here's v0.14 of 2G2BT.

2G2BT v0.14.pdf
Apart from minor text clarifications, here's what changed since v0.12:

First of all, armor was way too powerful. That's been trimmed down across the board—everything that was once 2-armor is now 1-armor; everything 1-armor was translated into an extra external damage box or two.

I added a briefing move. I'm still toying with how concrete I want the battlefield to be, but for now this is a placeholder move that lets the company tactician define some of the elements of the battlefield.

Assault and covering fire have a small change, fire is exchanged before the stat roll. I find it anticlimactic to roll damage after we know who has won or lost; I think it's better when this is apparent after the smoke clears.

Also, the weapon fire modifiers were clarified, as I think they were a little confusing before.

Taking cover has an additional 10+ benefit, you get to return fire at -AOF.

The critical repair move is clarified: it's for getting rid of critical repair effects, not clearing critical damage boxes.

Spot their colors now works on familiar faces, not just insignias. This is the small, initial stab at me trying to bring more NPC interaction into the spotlight.

The Lieutenant's xp move now fires when subordinates take critical damage, not just when they're disabled. Also, the shortcut move requires shortcuts be iffy, not daring. (I want them to be risky, not done with panache.)

The Commander's xp move only applies to squaddies, not just anyone.

There was an important change to company advancement: the company now advances on every mission, not just when they achieve milestones. I'm not totally sure about this; some of these are good enough they feel like they should just be cash spends.

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The con feedback (from Daniel, David, Horst and Leandro) was really useful. In short:
  • I've had a growing insecurity about the 'two rolls' nature of assault and covering fire, but the gang said they enjoyed that part. I used to like it too, so I'm chalking this up to over-familiarity.
  • For players unfamiliar with the genre, even the one-page playbooks are a lot to take in. Lots of boxes to tick off. (I remember feeling this way looking at Blades character sheets.)
  • Horst asked for a stress mechanic, which made me chuckle. Removing 'stress' from The Regiment was probably a mis-step; there's a lot of potential for socially focused downtime moves that interact with it.
  • Daniel suggested more moves to add SNAFU. Also, restricting SNAFU burn to "small-scale" moves may not be necessary. Why not open this up and (while I'm at it) add playbook-specific  moves to add SNAFU?
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What's really missing? Human interaction. What I'm finding in playtests is that while the combat moves are in the refining stage, the human element is completely missing.

The source inspiration for the game is The Regiment, in which you have vulnerable humans taking deadly weapons fire. When the party is swaddled in high tech mecha, it's much harder to have an organic exchange of emotion in the middle of a mission—you can't lean on your buddy and have a smoke, for example. (This might be less true with longer missions that aren't in/shoot/out, but I haven't run any of those yet.)

Dungeon World-style flags are a great way to get some interaction in a one-shot, I think that would help push the focus back onto the characters and their interactions. I'm tempted to add either that or some drives (or at least make sure that every character has a solid xp move that drives interaction with other PCs).

As I mentioned with the change to spot their colors, I really want to make NPC interaction a much more significant focus. I feel like "life on base" should not be relegated to a few brief downtime moves, it's too much like browsing a shopping list.

There's a lot of interesting potential there, especially as the mission context accumulates. I like having a Darnan liaison NPC, and in the second playtest this weekend I urged a PC to recognize them.

That's all for now!