Abulia
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Many Concerns

Sun 02 May 2021, 19:30

After spending a few weeks with the versions of the game and running a few sessions, I am oscillating between excitement and gravely concerned.

It feels like the Beta is being rushed, probably for a GenCon release or a printing/assembly window. I get it, but everything I am seeing in this latest round is flashing warning lights to me. I’m only familiar with the Aliens RPG from Free League, but here are some of the issues I’ve run into with T2K:
  • Lack of resolution in the core mechanic: I get the 2-dice core mechanic can’t change, but the only 4 steps of Attributes and Skills creates a situation where “experienced” characters in “normal” test situations succeed 61% of the time. A “veteran” 75% of the time, and “elites” just over 8 out of 10 times. Now if there’s any level of difficulty in the task (-1), those values drop by a good ~5%. With only 4 steps in attributes and skills, the system really lacks granularity.



    The reworking of the penalty to Push a roll seems to be tacit admission by the designers that to have a decent chance to succeed at a roll, you’ll need to roll twice, which in my experience you’re going to be doing A LOT. (This is another issue below.)



    Aside from adding a narrative currency (see also from Alien RPG) to give the players some more agency (buy a success), there’s no easy fix here; it’s the core mechanic.
  • Skill Diversity: Not much to say here as everyone has mentioned this previously. Only 12 skills and some of them are head-scratchers, like the meta Tech skill. What is most surprising is that previous editions of T2K were absolutely swimming in skills but now the pendulum has swung heavily in the other direction. The specialties are good, however, getting them is quite problematic (see below).
  • Lack of clarity: Perhaps my largest concern is the lack of clarity and writing of the rules. Rules are described in many cases in one section, requiring a lot of flipping back-and-forth. For example, the definitions of time scales are on pg 19 in chargen but never repeated in the Combat or Travel chapters. On this very forum twice people have started threads on how ammo dice work and combat and in those threads you read how people *think* the combat system works…in an RPG predominately defined by fire combat. That’s a big issue. In the Lifepath chargen and you’re an officer you can choose either column for your “career bonus.” What’s that? Probably speciality. Do you pick before or after you roll? An NPC is shot at by a PC on overwatch and fails the CUF roll. Do they now make another CUF roll because their turn now starts, or did the overwatch shot already interrupt them mid-turn and the NPC has to wait until their *next* turn?

    

Love the layout but the organization of the rulebook is pretty poor in sections and needlessly curt.
  • Exceptions abound: Coupled with #3 above, are the number of rules “quirks” that are 1-offs for certain situations, requiring you to track them all. For example, dropping to cover is a free action but has to be done on your turn…unless someone throws a grenade into your hex, in which case you get to do it immediately. Dropping prone requires no skill roll…unless there’s a grenade, in which case you have to make a Mobility check. Why? Just unify these rules and be consistent. Doing a quick shot gives you a -1 penalty to your roll…unless you’re using something other than a pistol, carbine, or SMG in which case its -2. (There’s a similar modifier for close combat firing.) One-handed firing gets pretty comical.

    Basically it's frustrating as it feels they're trying to marry a simulationist-style combat system with a highly abstracted Attribute/Skill system that doesn't support the level of granularity required.
  • A lot of empty rolls: Touching on the above, as the Referee my experience in running T2K so far has been a lot of rolls at the table. Every roll has a time overhead. So the players have to build their pool, make their roll, look for successes, choose to Push, pickup and reroll, calculate damage, etc. A number of times 5 or so dice are being rolled twice for “a miss.” On the Referee side it feels like I am constantly rolling for CUF, because you roll if you’re hit or if there is a 6 on the ammo dice on a miss, you cause suppression. So resolving a single initiative action of shooting involved 3 to 6 rolls of 2-4 dice each (on average). In an encounter with 6+ participants that overhead adds up very quickly. Then, when you couple in the number of 1-off rules scattered throughout the book, it becomes quite sluggish. Things like *having to roll Ranged Combat to reload your weapon* do NOT help at all!
  • Lifepath Chargen & XP: Archetypes strength aside (they need a boost), the random chargen is fun but has issues. There needs to be a 3rd option which is akin to point buy, to offset situations where a player is just unlucky or a group (due to social contract) wants a level of parity. Some specialities are flat-out not available in chargen, which is puzzling in its own right. Post-chargen experience is quite…plain and if you want to pick up a new speciality your only option is to find someone to teach it to you. So aside from Referee fiat there are some specialities that characters can NEVER find/learn. The XP section looks like it was never playtested. (A Persuasion roll? WHY?)

    

There is no mechanism to raise Attributes but there is a way for them to be lowered through play. In a game with only 4 levels of Attribute ratings. :/

Can these be fixed/addressed? Yes, but not by the May 1st-imposed deadline. It feels as if the Beta exists to catch typos, not polish up the system. It’s quite rough in actual play.
 
andresk
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Re: Many Concerns

Sun 02 May 2021, 20:43

On the first point there is the bit about
DON’T ROLL TOO OFTEN
It’s hard to succeed in Twilight : 2000. If you don’t stack the odds in your favor, there is a great risk of failure.
With that in mind, you should never roll dice unless necessary. Save the dice for dramatic situations or tough
challenges. In any other situation, the Referee should simply allow you to perform whatever action you wish.
and
Normally, the Referee doesn’t assess how difficult an action is. You only roll dice in challenging situations – period.
So it would make sense that the odds are how they are. Seeing how many rolls are involved in combat one could argue the rules seem to clash with themselves, but I figure it's just that way to present combat as a high risk and deadly situation.

The skills I'm a bit torn on, however this way does remove (near) useless skills that may only be relevant once in a playthrough and as someone pointed out the skills should be presented as a combination of skill level and background. So a mechanic and a chemist might both have max tech skill, but each can only apply it to relevant tasks.

The exceptions I don't mind that much, but coming back to the "lack of clarity" they really should be brought together in say full page flowcharts/infographs with all of the relevant pieces of information presented together. Spent so much time going back and forth in the PDF looking for those one or two extra pieces of information and then backtracking to where I left off. I imagine this would be even more tedious with a paperback.

However I do think all of these are valid points and concerns, with the "lack of clarity" point being the one that's been on my mind as well, the others could be argued are subjective. I wouldn't mind a delay if that means the finished product is presented in a clearer way.
 
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omnipus
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Re: Many Concerns

Mon 03 May 2021, 09:53

I haven't found much significant lack of clarity. A few more (carefully proofread!) examples would be nice to solidify the points but there are only a few rules I have found to be ambiguous or truly confusing. In each case, if there's not a good argument for one way versus another I've just picked the way that seems correct to me. Your CUF example is a good one that came up in my game tonight. I didn't want to halt the game to track down a ruling that may or may not actually exist, so I put on my thinking/decision hat: the effect of suppression is that you lose either an action or a whole turn. It wouldn't make sense for that to be delayed, or happen anytime but your next turn, and it doesn't make sense to arbitrarily punish a character for their random position in the turn order. Therefore the answer is they check to recover from suppression whenever their turn comes up next. If that's this round, cool. If it's next round, no difference. Having done it this way it's pretty hard to see how it could be done any other way; but it really mostly doesn't matter, so long as once you make a ruling you keep it consistent. I'm sure I've forgotten the odd rule here and there, but if I can get it 90% right and not slow down the pace of play, that's always the better move to me.

The bigger problem to me is definitely the organization aspect. Having read the whole book now several times, and run many sessions of the game, I still routinely just cannot find some random thing I'm looking for. Today that was the social persuasion mechanics -- because they're buried in between two different parts of the combat section? That's weird. This sort of thing happens more often than I'd like. Like you said, a good deal of it could be resolved if certain details were just repeated in multiple places.

As for granularity in skills, I think you have the something wrong. There's 8 (well, 7) degrees of range (plus multiple successes, plus modifiers) and that has generally shown me a pretty reliable range of outcomes. Without modifiers, the range of getting one success is from about 16% to close to almost 90% I believe? And of course there are many situations where more than one success is very desirable. Pushing allows you to overcome a lot -- but always at a risk. And sometimes that risk means the option is not available at all. A lot of dice can get rolled, though, especially in combat. You're certainly right there. Once you + players get used to the mental step of which dice translate to which values, it comes pretty quickly. Of course, I use a VTT, so a lot of that is done for me by the magic of computers. But in practice it doesn't take much time to memorize that D12 minus 3 = D6, for instance.

As for the one-off rules... well, yes. Most of them relate to combat. Ultimately the game uses a turn-based, tactical combat system in a modern/realistic setting. There's no way around having lots of specialty rules there unless you want to start sacrificing realism. (It also means, alas, that it's going to be a little slow to resolve sometimes. I haven't found much way around this, other than shortcut tables I've made for NPC reactions and wounds and so on.) The rules you mentioned are all important in select situations; this also makes them pretty easy to ignore a lot of the time. (For instance, my characters haven't had a vehicle in a while. I've completely forgotten all of the fuel-distilling rules and that's fine, because I don't need to know them now!) The SMG exception is a good example also: it is there because without it, there was no advantage or reason to ever carry such a weapon. It invalidated an entire weapon class and made characters that used them have little to contribute. Easy to see how that is bad. If the cost of correcting that somewhat is to add 1 extra modifier in two places, that seems pretty fair to me. It's not even a special rule, it's just a different value that you use when applying a rule that all weapons have! (A better example would be the heavy weapons rules, which are kind of all over the place in terms of what skill do you use and when and so on... but again in practice this comes up rarely enough that you really only have to vaguely understand it until it's needed).
 
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Tomas
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Re: Many Concerns

Tue 04 May 2021, 14:50

I won't go into everything here, but just a few points:
An NPC is shot at by a PC on overwatch and fails the CUF roll. Do they now make another CUF roll because their turn now starts, or did the overwatch shot already interrupt them mid-turn and the NPC has to wait until their *next* turn?
The overwatch fire precedes the NPC's action. If the NPC is suppressed by the overwatch fire, they get to roll CUF for the recovery immediately (but they will at least lose their fast action). Also, rolling for suppression recovery is optional for NPCs (that's being clarified now).
A lot of empty rolls: Touching on the above, as the Referee my experience in running T2K so far has been a lot of rolls at the table. Every roll has a time overhead. So the players have to build their pool, make their roll, look for successes, choose to Push, pickup and reroll, calculate damage, etc. A number of times 5 or so dice are being rolled twice for “a miss.”
You only roll your pool once to succeed, and then again if you push. Both rolls can have important implications, even when failing. The roll tells you both if you hit and how much damage you inflict. Not really seeing how these rolls are "empty".
On the Referee side it feels like I am constantly rolling for CUF, because you roll if you’re hit or if there is a 6 on the ammo dice on a miss, you cause suppression. So resolving a single initiative action of shooting involved 3 to 6 rolls of 2-4 dice each (on average). In an encounter with 6+ participants that overhead adds up very quickly.
This is where the simplified rules for NPC rules come in. :) We don't recommend rolling CUF for each NPC, especially not in a larger fight. Just let NPCs be auto-suppressed.
Things like *having to roll Ranged Combat to reload your weapon* do NOT help at all!
This should also not be done for NPCs, only PCs. This is being clarified.
Having read the whole book now several times, and run many sessions of the game, I still routinely just cannot find some random thing I'm looking for. Today that was the social persuasion mechanics -- because they're buried in between two different parts of the combat section? That's weird. This sort of thing happens more often than I'd like. Like you said, a good deal of it could be resolved if certain details were just repeated in multiple places.
This is always tricky, since the opinions of where a particular rule should be located can vary a lot. :) But we have tried to include all key rules (such as social conflict) in both the ToC and the index. Repeating the same rule in several places is something we try to avoid, as it bloats the game and it's a bit of a slippery slope (which rules should be repeated? Where? How many times?)
Fria Ligan
 
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omnipus
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Re: Many Concerns

Wed 05 May 2021, 00:04

Yeah, I need to just resort to using the index more often. I'm also not saying to repeat verbatim entire rules sections, but some significant callout or formatting (with the reference to "full rules on p.XX") would sure help a lot. There are a lot of excellent references to where to find rules, now that the page numbers are all in, but those reference callouts themselves are often very hard to locate! So I've ended up doing a lot of "I know it was somewhere at the beginning of this chapter... hmm... wasn't it?" Just a few more very distinctly formatted tables, for crucial stuff, and a bit more white space to break up sections would help enormously I think.
 
Abulia
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Re: Many Concerns

Wed 05 May 2021, 01:25

You only roll your pool once to succeed, and then again if you push. Both rolls can have important implications, even when failing. The roll tells you both if you hit and how much damage you inflict. Not really seeing how these rolls are "empty".
Yes, I am aware. My point is with 4 players shooting at multiple NPCs you're making multiple rolls as the the Referee. "Check for CUF/Suppression" I say out loud so many times a game I'm getting ready to just make it an auto-repeating mp3.

Also, do NPCs have a unit/command bonus when making a CUF? Their stat blocks only reference a CUF rating; what are you supposed to marry it to? And just to be pedantic, what page is this on?
This is where the simplified rules for NPC rules come in. :) We don't recommend rolling CUF for each NPC, especially not in a larger fight. Just let NPCs be auto-suppressed.
I don't. See above.
This should also not be done for NPCs, only PCs. This is being clarified.
Actually, I don't roll reload for NPCs. I was referring to the number of PC rolls. Let's pause for a second: what's being gained by having PCs make a Ranged Combat roll in the midst of combat to reload their gun? It isn't a "fun" roll and it doesn't really add anything to the game, although failing the roll and losing a slow action might be "fun" for some tables, because you're about to get blasted. Why not just make reloading a weapon a fast action?

Right there you just removed 3-5 rolls of 2 dice each from the average combat. That's time better saved for things like...playing the game.

This game seems like it's trying for simulationist and whiffing in a few parts.
This is always tricky, since the opinions of where a particular rule should be located can vary a lot. :) But we have tried to include all key rules (such as social conflict) in both the ToC and the index. Repeating the same rule in several places is something we try to avoid, as it bloats the game and it's a bit of a slippery slope (which rules should be repeated? Where? How many times?)
It's not about repeating entire rule blocks, it about helpful reminders within the text that have context within that said text. You can then send the reader back to the relevant section for the full rules.

So, for example, let's say in the Referee guide you actually spend some time to talk about how to make and adjudicate NPCs (shocked this is not a thing) and you specify "during combat, when an NPC makes a coolness under file roll take their CUF rating and the highest Command rating within that friendly NPC-group. An NPC alone--or without a Command skill--rolls only their CUF rating when making a coolness under fine check." <insert further color and exposition as needed>

Back to the Player's Manual, under "Suppression and NPCs," page 67: "Make a CUF roll with the NPCs CUF rating and their highest friendly Command skill within line-of-sight, if any (Referee's Guide, page XX).

And to reiterate my original point: I like the game and I'm happy to see it. I just really hope you take your time with it because the Beta is not ready for prime time.
 
leonpoi
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Re: Many Concerns

Wed 05 May 2021, 03:13

This seems like an interesting debate. For what it’s worth (nothing!) my thoughts are:
- rules being spread out - not ideal, but might be easier once a physical copy is in my hands. I agree that because there are a lot of bitsy rules that this makes hunting for the exception hard
- reloading in combat with a skill roll ; I kind of like it and I can see it leading to some tense situations. I can also see it being annoying for some groups for sure. What I can’t recall is whether reloading retains the old mag or if it’s assumed dropped in a re-load; especially if withdrawing and if magazines and not bullets are scarce then this could be an interesting problem also
- Granulatity I totally agree; 4 skill levels are not really enough in my opinion. I feel that you kind of want at least 5 - but we are not going to change this. I also think the penalty / bonus step die system kind of makes life/calculations a little harder than what it needed to be and perhaps a different core mechanic may have been better BUT this won’t change and perhaps I’ll be pleasantly surprised. I do like step die pool systems but I find this one to be a bit of a clunky one. I think my main issue with this is I don’t know how I would house rule it to change it; Maybe introduce a d16 (which I happen to have).
- same for CUF
- the whole A,B,C,D = 12,10,8,6 thing - kind of drives me crazy but I assume it would become second nature
- the 12 skills - I wish there were 16 - but I get that this is very much a personal preference. I suspect that since many of us may be v1.0/2.2 players that the sudden jump from dozens of skills that increment slowly as you gain practical experience to a dozen that jump up in only a few discrete XP blocks might be a little jarring. If this proves to be a real issue then I can just split a few skills up and change life paths slightly. Perhaps the XP skill advance rules could be tweaked slightly (e.g. to be similar to CUF where you are rolling for a 1, but who knows) but you are now slightly progressed at the skill but not a full die higher (which could allow you to ignore a die penalty per game session or something like that) - or a modified version of this depending on how much of a problem PCs advancing too quickly over the 4 skill levels really is
 
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omnipus
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Re: Many Concerns

Wed 05 May 2021, 06:02

I think the section on speeding up NPC play could use some rewriting and re-formatting, but, that aside, why would you otherwise assume that NPCs use different rules? The CUF rules exist, and if you want to apply them to your NPCs, then it's quite easy to do so using the rules as written. There's nothing ambiguous about it. I've done it this way in some fights, I've done it quite simplistically in others if there were a bunch of NPCs (roll d6, 5+ and he's ok), and I've done it the super-fast way in the book. Frankly I think my players preferred the tension of rolling dice for it some way or another as it felt less like GM fiat.

Same thing with rolls to quick reload. This happens maybe 3-4 times per fight. It's negligible. If you add up all the times it happens, and all the CUF rolls that you could have arbitrarily waved away, does it add up to a few minutes per session that could have been spent elsewhere? Sure. Does combat take too long? Yes, especially when you're not yet proficient with the system. I cannot think of a single turn-based, map-based, tactical combat RPG this is not true of, however, so let's compare apples to apples. But I think that's just part and parcel of the tone and theme of the game. If you wanted to run it as a non-tactical, narrative game, that definitely might be cool -- but it would be very different.

Now, of course, I have plenty of experience with tabletop tactical miniatures games, and board games of all types, and RPGs of most kinds. So maybe I have practical background in this stuff, enough to realize that little of it is really super different from other stuff out there already... therefore pretty easy to pick up. It took about two sessions for myself and most everyone else to get fully acclimated to the game's dice math, probably the hardest single aspect of any of it, and since then it's been no factor.

As for skills, I haven't seen any real problem with skill growth going out of control. We've done 9 sessions now and the most anyone has done is bump a skill from D to C. In any case, the system remains highly deadly, so I'm not real worried about ending up with a bunch of characters with A ratings across the board. Time and fate will pick them all off before that happens, most definitely. My complaint with the limited skills is simply that some of them (Recon and Tech, maybe Survival) are just too good and cover too much ground. You end up calling for those rolls constantly and it just feels unbalanced. Meanwhile Stamina is just standing over there under the basket hoping someone tosses him the ball.
 
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Tomas
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Re: Many Concerns

Wed 05 May 2021, 08:36

Ok, so just a few more points here.
This is where the simplified rules for NPC rules come in. :) We don't recommend rolling CUF for each NPC, especially not in a larger fight. Just let NPCs be auto-suppressed.
I don't. See above.
Well, if you choose to disregard an option specifically designed to alleviate the issue you're pointing to, I really don't know how to help you. :)
Actually, I don't roll reload for NPCs. I was referring to the number of PC rolls. Let's pause for a second: what's being gained by having PCs make a Ranged Combat roll in the midst of combat to reload their gun? It isn't a "fun" roll and it doesn't really add anything to the game, although failing the roll and losing a slow action might be "fun" for some tables, because you're about to get blasted. Why not just make reloading a weapon a fast action?
What's "fun" isn't an objective fact. The idea behind the reload roll is to give players, at a risk, the chance to reload and fire a quickshot in the same round. We feel that can give rise to some tense and fun situations. If you don't feel that way, just disregard this option. It won't break the game.
Fria Ligan
 
shankfisher
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Re: Many Concerns

Thu 06 May 2021, 16:16

Basically it's frustrating as it feels they're trying to marry a simulationist-style combat system with a highly abstracted Attribute/Skill system that doesn't support the level of granularity required.[/list]
I was afraid this was going to be the case, and it clearly is. I'm bitterly disappointed. Twilight 2000 was a game with verisimilitude and focused on staying alive in a realistic setting. Now it's a cinematic back of the envelope game. Wnatever.

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