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Sunday at Roy's and elsewhere

Despite rising much later than I originally intended, I successfully did laundry before heading off to Dutch & Brenda's to meet with P, RS, and therevdrnye for dinner at Roy's. Much conversation and good food was had. P thinks the onion rings at Roy's are better than those at Wampach's in Shakopee, which used to be the family gold standard; I'd like to have another shot at Wampach's before deciding. Brenda also introduced us to eggs pickled in beet juice, which are surprisingly tasty. Don't let the purple color of the former egg whites put you off. Things broke up about 2130 because everybody else had work or school in the morning; therevdrnye and I went looking for someplace to have coffee, hang out, and discuss RPGs, specifically Twilight 2000 and Traveller. This we did until 0100.

A lot of the T2K discussion revolved around the flaws in GDW's assumptions about a post-apocalyptic America, which I'm not going to go into here (there's a brief synopsis of the now-alternate history in the Wikipedia article) except to say that the authors saw America dissolving into anarchy as a result of the three-cornered civil war between the civilian and military governments on the one hand and New America on the other, aggravated by a TTAPS-inspired "nuclear winter" drought. Now, I've always assumed that if you ran a T2K campaign based on the original version's modules* with a fairly competent group of players, those players would successfully complete the modules or at least collect enough information and do enough damage to allow whichever faction they're supporting to come out on top. Players (and NPCs) will also find a way to get around the holes in the original scenario so that things don't fall completely apart, because there's no benefit to the characters -in the long term- living in a country where everything is slowly but inexorably moving toward complete entropy.

We also talked at length about the problems inherent in Traveller, specifically those associated with getting and keeping a suitable jump-2 ship with which to have adventures. It's been argued on the Traveller mailing list that the dice are loaded and it's virtually impossible for players to make a go of things without resorting to crime on an epic scale, but I would say rather that the problem lies in the fact that Traveller requires an ungodly quantity of work from a GM just to set up one sector of worlds in which his players can adventure. Also, in the "mainline" Third Imperium, it's damn hard to find a space in which a tramp freighter can compete with the megacorporations. I'm not saying (and neither is therevdrnye) that it's impossible to have a good time in this system; the character generation system can be a blast all on its own. It's just that unlike D&D, you can't just roll up a bunch of characters and go looking for trouble. Civilization, in the form of the most ungentle Third Imperium, will get in your way and make you stop causing trouble, usually in a painful and final way. And there you are.

Still, I have to say I'm really tempted to get a T2K campaign going sometime, because even with the standard modules there's some curveballs to be thrown at players to keep them on their toes. :)

*Listed on page 5.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 10th, 2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
I have to agree with T2K, fun game but sort of completely whacked when it came to any sort of honest appraisal of what the world probably would have looked like. I see more viability in The Morrow Project's ideas of things like the Kentucky Free State - and that's a huge stretch.

I'll also agree on Travller, it's great fun but the economics is really pretty messed up for a small merchant. They tried to make it work, but the costs are crazy-wrong. In my current "Imperium" game (which used to be my "Traveller-using the CP2020 engine" game) I've essentially thrown the semi-canon Traveller setting out the window out the window and moved to a "Cyberpunk 2200" idea. There's recognizable stuff, but I've also given up on the "jump drive" and moved to a mixture of different drives, plus stargates, for interstellar travel.

They also specifically don't get a ship - they have to hire them. The first adventure was the old "Werewolf Disease" adventure from JTAS, right now they're in the middle of "Chill." I'm currently planning on basically running a bunch of those old mini-adventures on the fly as needed.

Character generation is a combination of an adapted Traveller- system with the CP2020 "Lifepath" laid on top of it. It's really pretty fantastic.
Mar. 10th, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
In all fairness to the lads at GDW, they were guessing in 1983 what things were going to be like in 1997-2000, and the political timeline they used for T2K looked reasonable to me at the time. My nitpicks had more to do with the lack of cavalry in the United States (on any side) and the cheerful assumption that ethanol/methanol production was easy and portable enough to support roving gangs of Mongol-like bikers.

Traveller...I always thought the best things to come out of that were the boardgames Imperium, Fifth Frontier War, and Invasion Earth. The RPG was fun but we all agree that the economics sucked. If I did do a Traveller campaign it would have to be a Space Viking sort of campaign set in the late Rule of Man period or sometime in the interregnum before the Third Imperium comes along and imposes order.
Mar. 10th, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC)
The other problem with Traveller is that scaling on starships was far to "normally" vast - this is a universe where 100 ton and 500,000 ton ships were essentially "common" - and there was no downside other than cost to having a big ship. They were better armed and faster both tactically and strategically.
Mar. 10th, 2008 11:13 pm (UTC)
I'd still like to play a Twilight 2000 campaign sometime.

Though I certainly hope the GM does not change the Russian conscripts to have as many RPG-7s and -16s as were actually generally issued, otherwise, it might be a real short campaign for Our Heros(tm) :)

IIRC, GDW came up with something called Mercenary 2000 after their timeline proved to be kaput, which used the same general system but substituted the players being a small mercenary group in present day earth instead. I found some of the scenarios to be quite amusing.
Mar. 10th, 2008 11:40 pm (UTC)
Yeah, they did. I think I have one of the supplements around that I bought in a remainder bin for my CP2020 game.

I still remember a T2K game set on some sort of weapons facility on Gibralter - we had a hoot when we accidently dropped a vial of something incredibly nasty and then spent the next 20 minutes racing out of the facility alongside all the baddies trying to mutually kill each other so we could "get the boats."

Ahhh... The glory days of my mis-spent high school youth...

Mar. 11th, 2008 01:11 am (UTC)
Merc2000/Twilight 2000 had "improved" combat rules (which my friends down here all hated and proceeded to disregard) along with a slightly updated alt-history which had Yeltsin's counter-coup failing.

I think any GM running a T2K campaign where everyone has the full issue of gear needs to be beaten until they recover their senses. It's rather explicitly stated at several points in the briefings that the logistics system has almost completely broken down so that supply is more like the Thirty Years War or Napoleonic Era (same thing) than late 20th-century industrialized warfare. IIRC there are references to reloading ammo and black powder weapons. *shudder*

Edited at 2008-03-11 01:11 am (UTC)
Mar. 11th, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
Well, you did need a bigger crew, which meant you had more labor expense/shares bulking up your overhead. Traveller=Accountants In Space!
Mar. 11th, 2008 05:54 am (UTC)
Having been the starting commanding officer of our unit in Dutch's T2K game, I remind you that for the CO of a unit, T2K="Managers... at... Warrrrr!"

Step 1:

Make a spreadsheet which lists all characters and all of the skills that your unit needs. Note who has which skills and at what level of ability.

Step 2:

Determine how many hours of various support activities are required for your unit to function; it's all in the rules. These include equipment maintenance (electronics, vehicles, weapons, anything which has moving parts, in essence), foraging, scrounging, KP duty, watch standing, medical duty (particularly when you have wounded...) and time for sleep. Time for administrative duty would probably be realistic, but I can't recall if the system requires it.

Step 3:

Create a matrix listing all characters on one axis and 6 4-hour periods of time on the other (i.e., a spreadsheet which will be the basis of your duty roster).

Step 4:

Fill out the matrix, making sure that all of your requirements are met. You generally want the most skilled people possible to work in each task, and if possible they can use a much less skilled person as an assistant and train them in the process (which means the task will take longer, but you'll eventually have a more skilled assistant). Oh, and the system dictates a need for 8 hours of sleep per day to prevent fatigue from affecting performance.

I pity the guys who have to do this for real. They also have forms to fill out... :-).

Mar. 11th, 2008 12:31 pm (UTC)
It's not quite that bad for an actual unit commander, since he can farm out quite a bit of this work to officers and sergeants lower on the food chain. Maintenance paperwork, frex, is handled by the support platoon leader and his platoon sergeant, if not by the mechanics themselves (I did a LOT of maintenance paperwork as an armorer) and duty rosters in most flavors are a sergeant's job as well. Face it, you were running with a bunch of slackers. ;)
Mar. 12th, 2008 08:52 am (UTC)
In all fairness, it must be observed that NPCs outnumbered PCs in the unit... still haven't found a way to get out-of-game work out of NPCs. As for the other players, Great Power Comes With Great Paperwork, or something like that.

Mar. 12th, 2008 01:01 pm (UTC)
Great power certainly seems to come with great quantities of paperwork, doesn't it? Of course, as GMs, we should be used to that, right?
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )