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omnipus
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[ALPHA] My many notes on the Player's Manual

Wed 02 Dec 2020, 00:53

I had intended to go through basically the whole book(s) and put in my notes on Dropbox as requested, but I've tried three different browsers now on my fairly powerful PC and it is so sluggish as to be unusable. So I hope you'll find these notes useful anyway (I'm sure many of them will be redundant with what others have put already, sorry!)

I'll go probably chapter by chapter with a new comment for each.

p. 16
  • "Attribute Scores" table. I found listing both die size and die type to be confusing and unhelpful... is there a reason? It's also not standardized with the Skill table just below it.
  • "Hit and Stress Capacity" -- could be read ambiguously. I recommend rewriting it as "Your hit capacity equals half the die size of your STR attribute plus half the die size of your AGL attribute, rounded up." Likewise for stress.
p. 17
  • "How You Met" -- kinda gets the short stick here. True, no mechanical effect but this and other roleplaying elements could probably be emphasized a bit in terms of their importance with your budy, and so on?
p. 18
  • "Group gear" -- "You can only choose an item from the same row once" ... there are no rows.
  • In general, don't love the pure randomness here. A few strokes of bad luck and you could easily end up with 1 ration of food, 1 magazine for a rifle, etc making up a big chunk of your group gear!
  • I don't think it has been explained anywhere to this point what a D66 is (I know what it is, but coming from different systems I might assume it's a typo!)
  • Vehicle -- I wish this was also a table with some sort of meaningful choice, like what the non-existent "rows" above suggests. Maybe I'd rather have one horse per PC than a beat-up old truck, or a well-kept APC as compared to a damaged MBT?
p. 19
  • Encumbrance -- Not that I think this is a huge concern, but just pointing out that even a weakling could carry 24 magazines in their combat gear! (and nothing else, including a weapon... but hopefully you see my point. Someone with elite strength can carry 48 mags! I'm sure many munchkin type players will notice this too!
  • it's generally a little hard to read the difference between 1/4 and 1/2 at a quick glance at this text size/font.
p. 22-30
  • I mentioned elsewhere, but I think presenting the appearance options as "the options below" comes across pretty silly when they are rarely presented as options. Maybe just give one or two "example appearances" instead?
  • Specialties -- these are all "Recommended options," I assume this means the player is free to choose ANY specialty they want (as long as the GM lets them get away with it?)
  • I think I could live without "typical nicknames," as it just seems to clutter up a pretty important info box.
  • The info box itself is strange; it's used here to contain the most critical information, but elsewhere in the rules generally is used more like "tooltips" or additional guidance. I'd expect to see the stuff like Key attributes, skills, and CUF as a section in the main text!
  • I posted a whole thread elsewhere about how I found some of the example moral codes pretty confusing or unhelpful.
p. 31-39
  • In general I like the idea behind the lifepath system (and liked it in most GDW games), but I think this one needs a little fleshing out in order to provide more options/variety (one thing that seems to be missing is any ability to choose "flex skills" -- something not explicitly listed in whatever career you're in. Most of those old systems had that, and it gave a suitable amount of freedom to character building). Or just a broader skill list for all/most careers!
  • It is all but impossible to create young characters using this system. If you want to play "The Kid" of any kind, you have to choose the archetype!
  • NCOs can't learn Command or Persuasion, which is super strange. Maybe the skill or specialization list should be based as much on rank as it is on specialization? The Army is not sending many of its Captains to become better electricians or martial artists.
  • likewise, Linguist probably ought to be an option for Officers but especially SOF.
  • Recon seems like a really weird choice for the Education branch, especially the way the skill is written up in chapter 3.
  • The example on p. 39 mentions "trying out" for SOF and "passing" -- but those aren't in the rules!
  • In general, there seems to be just a tad much unmitigated randomness in the lifepath system. By default I would prefer to use it, since it offers a lot more potential depth and uniqueness to characters -- but as currently exists it seems players may not get much control over who those characters become. Maybe at least allowing a handful of re-rolls throughout the process, if people don't like specialties they get or have enough bad luck to suffer multiple aging effects? Or had in mind an older character, but war breaks out right away? Seems like there needs to be some in-between that allows people with a very clear idea of the character they want to make a good shot at that but with more detail than the archetypes really provide.

All right, I'll pick this up again later.
 
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omnipus
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Re: [ALPHA] My many notes on the Player's Manual

Wed 02 Dec 2020, 00:54

Back for Chapter 3.

p. 42
  • "Roll The Dice" -- gets a little ahead of itself. Since you won't always be grabbing two dice, might be less confusing to just say first thing that sometimes you'll only have 1 base die as a result, rather than tacking that on later.
p. 43
  • "Don't Roll Too Often" -- I get the intent behind this tip but find the wording "unless it is absolutely necessary" more confusing than helpful. Instead I would think something like "You shouldn't be rolling the dice for routine situations" and maybe a one sentence example.
p. 46-47
  • "Heavy Weapons" -- there seem to be some ambiguities with machineguns. I cannot find it now but I swear elsewhere in the rules it says use Ranged Combat for machineguns (which frankly makes more sense to me, except maybe for HMGs that must be crew-assembled.
  • it's not clear from reading the skill list where thrown weapons come in. Personally, I would think Mobility. This becomes even more unclear later.
p. 47-49
  • NBC -- this seems to be one of the very rare specialties that offers something more like a "feat" -- personally I would love to see more like this! Feats are fun! I used Sniper as an example elsewhere; Sniper would for instance give you the ability to reroll ammo dice to get a better result, or to unlock some sort of "one bullet only" attack.
  • Paratrooper -- kind of an unfortunate specialty. No real comment other than I would be a little bummed if my character rolled this one!
  • Rider -- not 100% clear that it applies only to horseback/animals.
  • Pitcher -- here is where thrown weapons gets more confusing again. This says it's Ranged Combat. And yet somewhere else in the rules (can't find where exactly) it says grenades use Heavy Weapons!
  • Historian -- I commented on this elsewhere. I know the skills list is very, very neat and trim, but it just seems too weird to me to use Recon for academic stuff like this.
  • Intelligence & Investigator -- again, feats! I like this.
  • Cook -- a sorta-feat!
  • Scientist -- another feat. Although, it's not really clear unless you recall this exact specialization description that players without it can't do likewise. By default I probably would have let anyone roll Tech for things like this, negating the whole specialty.
And that's Chapter 3!
Last edited by omnipus on Wed 02 Dec 2020, 22:23, edited 1 time in total.
 
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omnipus
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Re: [ALPHA] My many notes on the Player's Manual

Wed 02 Dec 2020, 00:54

All right, back to this for Chapter 4. This'll be a long one...

p. 52
  • Drawing Initiative -- it would be nice if there was some character-based way of influencing the initiative draw, at least a little bit. CUF as a factor? In Coriolis certain "fast weapons" gave you an initiative bonus. I didn't love how it was done exactly but it was something that made a difference (and also gave an advantage to an actual knife versus say a .50 cal in a literal knife-fight -- right now there's essentially no reason you would ever choose an SMG over a FAL in any scenario, for instance...)
p. 53
  • Hidden Initiative -- it's not entirely clear why I would want to use this. An example maybe? Only thing I can think of is if the players are acting OOC and making complex combo plans before every turn, etc... in which case I guess this is a tool for shutting that down. Anything else?
  • "Free actions" -- no real note here other than I'd like to see the usage of CUF in the text standardized! Sometimes it's capitalized, sometimes (like here) not. Sometimes abbreviated to CUF! Makes it hard to scan for quickly and I've missed it more than once.
p. 54
  • Slow actions--
  • Should a previously-dropped backpack be a prerequisite for getting something out of a backpack? That or another character's backpack. It's pretty damn tough to pull something out of a pack you are wearing, most of the time!
  • Persuade here makes reference to Manipulation as a skill, which I believe was changed to Persuasion everywhere

    Fast actions--
  • Run is unclear to me. Here it lists "no enemy in same hex" as prerequisite. Elsewhere it says that if there's an enemy in the same hex I must first pass a Mobility check to exit. Taking those two statements together, does that mean that I must roll Mobility to exit a hex containing enemy, but can't then roll to move further than two hexes? Or some other interpretation. (I know the actual answer is that there is a special "Retreat" movement action that must be done rather than normal movement, but this is NOT easy to reference as currently laid out.)

    Furthermore, maybe I'll accept it as a necessary simplification, but it's a bit silly that I can run potentially 60 meters in a single fast action! Maybe an optional advanced rule that rolling for extra move makes it a slow action?
p. 56
  • Elevation -- "moving from lower to higher ground reduces movement speed (page xx)"... I can't find the actual reference to this anywhere! Seems like it would have been covered on page 55, but wasn't.
  • Barbed Wire -- it's pretty easy to cross barbed wire without hurting yourself. It's not easy to do it quickly, however. A suggestion that maybe any attempt to cross barbed wire without damage requires both actions, or something like that? The automatic crit from concertina wire is also pretty silly given some of the crit results you can get... I think this makes a case for a few things regarding the crit tables, which might also address some weapon-specific issues: 1) maybe the crit tables should be 2d6 based, so all outcomes are not equally likely? 2) maybe modifiers should be applied to these rolls (so that concertina wire can not amputate your leg, and a .50 cal is more likely to drop a fool outright).
  • Doorways -- hol' up. Am I to understand that moving through an open doorway requires a mobility roll? Isn't this the very definition of violating "only roll when it's strictly necessary?" There should probably also be some more extensive rules for breaching doors, as that is guaranteed to be something players want to do!
  • Smoke -- the smoke rules also seem a little incomplete. By KISS rules, fine... but this seems likely to lead to some pretty silly smoke behavior, doesn't account for wind, and disregards that there is also (probably very rare at this point, but still) anti-thermal vision smoke.
p. 57 - 58
  • Weather & darkness -- it would make a lot more sense to me to have this table consist of factors rather than hard distances. For instance, what if it is both a cloudy night AND dense fog? I can tell you based on personal experience, even under NODs more advanced than those in this world, that your max visibility is about 3 hexes, your max visibility to spot a man and tell him from a tree is less than that, and if you want to identify what sort of man that is, it's probably a single hex or less. The stack behind me without gen 3 NODs could see about 5m, at all. However, there's no way from the way the table is presented to come to a reliable number.
  • The anecdote above brings up a super interesting point about a key aspect of patrolling: actually identifying the enemy doesn't really seem to get a mention anywhere in the rules. I intend to inflict it heavily on my players, get them into all sorts of high-stress blue-on-blue scenarios potentially... but it would be nice if it at least got a callout block somewhere! Spotting someone moving through the woods may be easy out to a pretty long distance, depending. Actually deciphering who they are is much, much harder and the source of a lot of drama and tough decisions!
  • "Light sources" -- "Discharging a firearm will cause you to lose any cover provided by darkness"... this is the only mention I've found anywhere of darkness providing "cover," and I think it's a word being carelessly used in relation to the rules. Elsewhere, "cover" provides armor. I doubt that is the intent here.
  • "Night vision" -- again, I get the intent to KISS, but night vision offers huge advantages, and its own problems. Thermals may let you spot someone out to forever even on the darkest night... but they may not help you ID that person. And they can be of limited help if there are other heat sources nearby, like fire, recently dead bodies, etc. Night vision in general makes it incredibly difficult to aim a rifle! (and IR lasers are not really a thing pre-2000) I don't know exactly how to cover this sort of thing but again, some mention might be useful to guide GMs and players who might otherwise expect magic without consequence?
  • "Searchlights" -- it might be nice to also include "weapon lights", active IR searchlights found on many vehicles, dedicated rifle optics, etc. More importantly, the example graphic is nice, but it shows a spotlight shining right through trees and giant boulders, which we have just been told completely block visibility!
  • Line of Sight - this mentions "dense smoke." I don't think we've seen any distinction between dense and thin smoke?
  • Foot Movement -- another thing I have now realized: you can of course take two fast actions and run twice in a turn. With very high Agility/Mobility, you can plausibly cover 120 meters. With 6 successes rather than 8, you can still run 100 meters. Both of these are faster than the world record, and Usain Bolt doesn't wear combat gear on open field! Not a huge deal, I accept that turns are not exactly 10 seconds long, but it did make me laugh.
  • Crawling -- a slow movement. This means there is NO way to ever crawl and shoot in the same turn. It also means you can crawl 20 meters easily. You can also run up to 60 meters, then crawl 20 more. All of these seem like sort of silly outcomes to me. Can I recommend that crawling remain a fast action, but with 1-hex movement only?
  • Ah, here is the reference to the elevation movement cost! I'd also recommend that the whole section on movement be put together (have this movement section immediately after or before the terrain section) because having it split by visibility right now is confusing.
  • Ambush -- these rules seem pretty good. I will note that there is no effect of an ambush really beyond the first turn, ever, which doesn't feel quite right. But I haven't actually played it out. Maybe once stress is taken into account it works as expected. I will also note that the equipment list later gives a +1 bonus for wearing camouflage (meaning the default is wearing whatever civilian clothes). In my experience, this also seems wrong -- it would be pretty damn easy most of the time to spot someone laying down trying to hide if they were wearing blue jeans and a shirt from the Gap. Like I said, haven't played it for balance but it seems to me that the system should maybe assume camo and penalize if you don't have it.
  • Ambush, vehicles -- this is very very ambiguous. "You can never ambush someone in a moving vehicle." After reading it in whole, I am pretty sure what this is trying to say is "You can't ambush someone FROM a moving vehicle" since it goes on to mention that you can use a stationary vehicle. (I would also think there would be a potentially significant penalty for doing this, unless you have vehicle nets, etc! I am very likely to spot your M113 from 20 meters away, even if you've taken 10 minutes to cover it with twigs... to say nothing of your white Toyota truck.)

    Social Conflict
    • This is placed very strangely, not at all where I would go looking for it (probably Chapter 3)? I realize you can do it as a slow action during combat, but maybe just a callback reference within the combat section for that?
    • Shouldn't some sort of morale be a factor?
    • The example given. Hmm. I see the need to present it, but man, this flat-out sucks. It strikes me as the rules mandating extremely dick-GM behavior, and if I was Kasia's player I would be annoyed. You've given an example where the player unquestionably succeeds at her goal -- and her reward is she gets exactly the outcome she said she wanted to avoid. Ouch. But, ok... convincing someone not to fight you is a very, very likely occurrence in the game, so it does need a rule, and one that drives action forward is not bad, necessarily. This example just makes it very clear that the rule needs work. At the very least, they should be forced to attack at some sort of significant disadvantage? As if they've walked themselves into an ambush, perhaps?
    Gonna call it at that, this post is already super super long. Hope to get to the rest soon!
Last edited by omnipus on Fri 11 Dec 2020, 22:24, edited 1 time in total.
 
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Re: [ALPHA] My many notes on the Player's Manual

Wed 02 Dec 2020, 00:55

reserved
 
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Re: [ALPHA] My many notes on the Player's Manual

Wed 02 Dec 2020, 00:55

reserved
 
Thomas D
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Re: [ALPHA] My many notes on the Player's Manual

Wed 02 Dec 2020, 13:25

Hi Christian (and Tomas and the rest of the team)! It's Thomas, from The Last Cyclade's English edition here! Like omnipus, I'm having difficulty adding comments to the pdf with Dropbox's interface and this seems to be a good thread to add some comments about the layout for the Player's Manual, plus some proofreading things that jumped out at me.

Throughout the book. The default hyphenation settings in InDesign are simply awful. You want to set Words with at Least to 8 letters, and set both After First and Before Last to 4 letters. You'll see a marked improvement throughout the book. It's particularly bad on pages like 06, where I think you've got Balance Ragged Lines checked on for that paragraph style. There isn't any logical reason to break "history" in the paragraph beginning "Some say it doesn't..." There is plenty of space available to put the whole word.

Balance Ragged Lines also breaks the paragraphs beginning "It was no surprise..." and "It doesn't matter anymore..." oddly.

Page 06. Second paragraph uses an em-dash between Division and now, but that typeface doesn't have an em-dash. Copy/paste the dash from the third paragraph.

Page 07. To avoid widows and orphans like in the second paragraph in the second column where "story" is alone on a line, in the paragraph style for your body copy, under GREP Styles, apply style no break to (?<=\w)\s(?=\w+[[:punct:]]*\r) and create a character style called "no break" which only has No Break checked in the Basic Character Formats section. This applies that style to the space before the last word in a paragraph, which will keep the last two words in a paragraph together on a line.

Page 15. Inconsistent spacing between rule above and header text for Military Rank, when compared to pages 14 and 16-17.

Page 20. Just an example of the hyphenation in the sidebar here. (I'm not going to call out all of these.) If you look down the right side of the text columns, you'll notice a lot of hyphenation happening. Some words are breaking fine while others are breaking in odd places. In general, if a long word is breaking after two letters, it's probably not hyphenated correctly. "archetype" is hyphenated nicely in the second paragraph (and step 14) after "arche-", but everywhere else it's broken after "ar-", which just would look cleaner if the word was entirely on the next line. "under" in 9 shouldn't be broken at all. Correcting the Balance Ragged Lines issue will fix things like "morale" on step 10 -- there is plenty of room on this line for that word. In step 18, breaking "described" after "de-" is something that software would do, but nobody else.

Page 20. Specific issues: The missing em-dash is in step 5. Step 15 begins with "1Decide" instead of "Decide".

Page 21/Character Sheet. The skill is listed as "Melee" but it's "Close Combat" elsewhere in the character creation chapter.

Page 23 The Zippo line in Appearance should have a colon instead of a semi-colon.

Page 25. The Kid's "How you met the group" extends too far to the right, going into the margin. Also there are two spaces before the line "You had security ripped from you like an IV..."

Page 29 You can keep "How you met the group" on one line by adjusting the text wrap settings on the Operator's image.

Sidebars for archetypes Do a line break after "Rank: Roll D6." to keep each entry on a separate line. These are effectively numbered lists -- seeing the Officer's break after each numbered result ("1-2:" at the end of one line with "Lieutentant. 3-4:" on the next) feels wrong.

Page 30. Under Your Big Dream, Operation: Reset has a colon. Elsewhere in the book (p 06, p 153) Operation Reset has no colon.

Page 33. There isn't any need for checkmarks in these lists. Could you combine the "starting gear" table with the "military careers" table on 32, moving the copy and graphic for the United States to 32 and putting the full table onto 33?

Page 42 "Roleplaying is a conversation" -- the all small caps treatment for the beginning of the chapter diminishes the importance of this line. I would suggest all caps, bold for this. (Although it probably is all caps, but set to a smaller point size. I suggest making that larger for readability purposes and to convey the importance of the message. ("The World Of" on page 52 also has a problem with clashing with the book title character style in this line. It's too close to the book title character style.) The way "Equipment is a key" is formatted on page 88 looks to be the correct style.

Pages 47-48 Could you adjust the sidebar on this page to potentially allow all of the Heavy Weapons Specialites to appear on page 47? Maybe widen the sidebar and shrink it vertically?

Page 111. The leading in the footnotes here (and I'm assuming as a standard because it's the same on 110's table) is odd that between paragraphs the leading is thin but the leading in the five asterisk footnote between lines is wide. (Although on 111, this may be because of the target icon.

Because there are so many footnotes and it's easy to miscount, I suggest rewriting the footnotes to help indicate what the footnote is referencing, like starting the second footnote with "This 6-weight mortar can be broken into..." and the third footnote with "The 10-weight mortars can be broken into...".

Page 118 The BTR Series APC's final paragraph lands too close to the table.

Page 143 Missing Rule Above for City Travel header.

Page 157-159 The tracking and kerning on most of these paragraphs is really tight.
Last edited by Thomas D on Wed 02 Dec 2020, 20:03, edited 1 time in total.
 
Evildrsmith
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Re: [ALPHA] My many notes on the Player's Manual

Wed 02 Dec 2020, 13:44

Just to add my voice to the note on the process of making comments.
Noting what is, as I understand it, the expressed preference to post comments on the dropbox files, I tried to on Monday evening. It took a very long time to post a very few comments - it seemed very slow to respond. Judging by the number of 'page 1: okay' type comments, I suspect quite a few of us have had these issues.
I thought it might be multiple users trying to make comments, but only one new comment from someone else appeared while I was trying to get mine posted, so I'm not so sure.
 
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Vader
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Re: [ALPHA] My many notes on the Player's Manual

Wed 02 Dec 2020, 13:56

Would it be possible to copy the files to several dropboxes?

Okay, Fria Ligan would then need to collate all comments at the end, but if there were e.g. five copies to work on — if one is too sluggish, try the next, then the next, until you find one that works for you — then it might make the process smoother for the backers to get their comments into the files.
[i]Before[/i] clicking that response button — [i]are you sure you actually [b]read[/b] it?[/i]

...[i]and[/i] checked if something more was posted on the subject [b]after[/b] it? ;)
 
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pansarskott
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Re: [ALPHA] My many notes on the Player's Manual

Wed 02 Dec 2020, 14:07

I haven't used the comment feature in Dropbox before, but noticed it's uses a lot of GPU (graphics card). Ironically, unless you have a computer that's good at playing computer games it'll be hard to comment on this tabletop game.

I don't know if multiple files would solve the problem, or if something can be done with the file itself when preparing the pdf

I managed to put some comments there, but am hesitant to try it again.
 
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Vader
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Re: [ALPHA] My many notes on the Player's Manual

Wed 02 Dec 2020, 14:12

In that case, divide the book into separate files by chapters.

That should cut down both the amount of information the computer needs to juggle and the number of people commenting on the specific file at any given time.
[i]Before[/i] clicking that response button — [i]are you sure you actually [b]read[/b] it?[/i]

...[i]and[/i] checked if something more was posted on the subject [b]after[/b] it? ;)
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