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.