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Author Topic: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?  (Read 4306 times)

Daryk

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #90 on: 23 May 2022, 03:34:52 »
Well, if they really want to play out leaving their base and traversing all those empty map boards...  ^-^

Aotrs Commander

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #91 on: 23 May 2022, 05:18:57 »
Are you (hypothetically) playing your GM-run campaign like every mission is a procedurally generated HBS-BATTLETECH mission?

Because if not (and that would strike me as a slightly odd way to run an RPG (focussed on the characters) as opposed to a series of linked campaign games (focussed on the organisation/loose context structure for battles)), I'm not seeing how any of this is different in any measurable way to any standard combat encounter in any RPG.

The PCs move around from where they last were (their base or operations, be it a ship or an actual base in BT context, presumably), played out however much is necessary, from each moment with in-character interaction or, I suspect in most groups, more like simply, after the DM gets things moving after the long debate by saying "right, you travel for x days/hours until..." to the point An Encounter, either because they reached the Designated Encounter Location (the mission area, the dungeon, the town etc) or A Random Encounter Happens.

At some of during which (after any initial spotting of encounter or being ambushed by same or any negotiating or whatnot), the DM says "roll for initative" or equivalent and the characters are deployed on the appropriately drawn map (the group having typically some sort of marching/formation order default or the DM says where they can choose to be) and then Combat Happens.

How is this different with a lance of mechs to a group of six-to-eight fantasy adventurers-plus-extras to a squadron of TIE Fighter pilots to the Dark Lord's black ops team to a group of superheros?



Moreover, if the group is not playing some sort adventure path/module (or GM who basically writes those) with basically one critical path (in which case, that's the game the GM is running, so the players are expected to make characters appropriate end) and there are thus multiple like "sidequests" that the DM has prepared (or will prepare, if a more freeform GM) - heck, sometimes there's even an actual "quest board" involved - that the PCs are going be expected to pick and choose their "contracts" from said seeded sidequest whether they happen to be piloting giant robots or not.


Colt Ward

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #93 on: 23 May 2022, 15:13:39 »
The Map Campaign, which lets PCs decide how they reach a objective or even going after secondary objectives that support the primary, is sort of the Node approach since each sector on the map you design can offer just a plain battle or a more complicated set of options.

Part of why I like the Map Campaign is that while strategically the forces maybe balanced, your decisions for deployment and support influence the battles and can result in a unbalanced scenario- your recon lance ran into a full striker company engaged in hidden movement.  The Recon lance's objective to to clear the area so they can report.  Striker Company is trying to catch all the Recon members while being observed by any survivors as little as possible.  All 4 Recons get wrecked?  It was the most basic Recon answer, explosions and columns of smoke show there were enemies at that location- type & number unknown beyond 'enough to wreck Recon.'  Take a sector with the only bridge?  Cut off tracked & wheeled from crossing in to your territories.
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RifleMech

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #94 on: 24 May 2022, 03:25:39 »
I read about others talking about campaigns here, and I have no idea how you get players to buy in to scenarios.

In a game like DnD, players can devote time to bringing overwhelming force to an encounter. Planning for that is the game, and running the encounter after that is only a small part of a larger session.

I can't imagine buying into any remotely risky scenario.


Choosing a mission
GM: "Your choices of contracts are all against forces  at 90% of BV."
Me: then I wait for another contract
GM: There is none
Me: Then I sell a mech to cover expenses until an interior cadre duty contract comes up

Dropships burning in
GM: Okay, you are coming into the raid you identified you had a 2:1 advantage against, but you receive signs that another force is on planet
Me: then I retreat. This wasn't part of the contract
GM: But it actually was, so your reputation will be hurt
Me: then I will just sell my mech and retire

On planet:
GM: You need to raid the factory
Me: [proceed to negotiate with GM a bunch of strategies to reduce the force, countering every wrinkle or excuse brought up with a new strategy to account for the factors that my player would know as a military professional]

In game...I either waste my Saturday playing a match so have a 3:1 BV advantage, or a playing a fun game I do not respect because it is unwise to fight on those terms.


How is campaign play supposed to handle it?


I'm too tired right now to read 4 pages to see if these options have been mentioned. Apologies if they have been.

The first option I see is to give them the cushy cadre assignment and then hit them with an invasion. Either, Pirates that only take slaves as prisoners, the DCMS after Kurita's "Death To Mercenaries" Order, or one of the Clans that really hates mercs. Either way, fight or die.

Player: What do you mean we're being invaded? It's cadre duty! It's supposed to be easy!

GM: Of course it is. That's why they chose this planet. It's an easy target.

The second option is to let them believe it's an easy campaign and then throw in surprises. After all aren't military personnel trained to expect surprises since no plan survives contact with the enemy. Plus how much intel is 100% accurate and up to date? 

Player: Where'd all these extra mechs from? There's only supposed to be a company of Mechs. There's more than a battalion of Mechs there!!

GM: That intel was 3 months old. A second company was added a month ago. Also, the intel only covered the militia defending the planet. That third company are security mechs belonging to the factory. The fourth company are mechs that were in a hanger waiting for delivery. They've been commandeered by factory personnel to defend the factory.

The third option is to let them be merc commanders of a large merc unit who've been tasked to capture something. Not all of them are going in the first wave. A second wave is possible providing their dropships and jumpships aren't captured or destroyed. They have X amount of time to plan for the attack. That will allow them to plan all they like. Then you can surprise them when they attack or launch an assault on them first. If they can get intel on the enemy, the enemy can get intel on them.

bobthecoward

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #95 on: 24 May 2022, 07:42:54 »

Player: Where'd all these extra mechs from? There's only supposed to be a company of Mechs. There's more than a battalion of Mechs there!!

GM: That intel was 3 months old. A second company was added a month ago. Also, the intel only covered the militia defending the planet. That third company are security mechs belonging to the factory. The fourth company are mechs that were in a hanger waiting for delivery. They've been commandeered by factory personnel to defend the factory.



I think the misunderstanding here is the time horizon. The intelligence is the sensor and satellite data players would have as they pilot their mechs. The moment the GM takes all the feedback from the players on what they are doing and the first turn on the map  Represents a significant amount of time with significant variables and data that would affect the scenario.

Colt Ward

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #96 on: 24 May 2022, 09:48:26 »
The intelligence is the sensor and satellite data players would have as they pilot their mechs. The moment the GM takes all the feedback from the players on what they are doing and the first turn on the map  Represents a significant amount of time with significant variables and data that would affect the scenario.

Fog of war, no one ever has a complete and accurate picture of what is happening on the battlefield unless there is a severe tech imbalance- IE a WWII formation might not know what a GWoT unit's observation drone is flying above them, but they know if it is not theirs it needs to be shot down.  A US Civil War formation?  They would stare up at it and MIGHT make the mental leap to it being like a observation balloon.  A Napoleonic era formation?  Probably not understand what capabilities are in the sky.

Even on the map . . FREX, I know some folks have talked about just saying what general chassis is on the battlefield . . . and until it opens fire, an opposing player does not know what variant/configuration it represents.

"Your point man spots a Timber Wolf . . . it looks like a pretty standard configuration- two symmetrical arm weapon pods and missile pods off the torso.  It could be a Prime, C, E, or even a D (or now others from the RecGuide I am not going to rattle off) since the silhouettes of those configurations are similar looking.  What you DO know is that Timber Wolf is not a A."

Until that Timber Wolf fires and your computer gets a look at what it fires, you are not going to know what it is- which has been a fluff reason for a active probe btw!  The merc campaign I was a part of until Covid ran into Blakists a couple of times . . . We were told some of the mechs were linked in a C3i net but it was not until they started firing that we could determine which fire support design was linked, if we had a probe we might have been able to figure out which was the spotter.
Colt Ward

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bobthecoward

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #97 on: 24 May 2022, 09:58:07 »
Fog of war, no one ever has a complete and accurate picture of what is happening on the battlefield unless there is a severe tech imbalance-

The same issue still applies. We still have three problems (I just have to substitute fog of war for intelligence)

1)  Between the last player decision point and the GM setting up turn 1, The fog of war would be evolving and commanders would make decisions the players do not get to make

2) Player rejects that the available intelligence under the fog of war described by the GM is sufficient (and it is probably insufficient)

3) Under the fog of war presented by the GM, the player correctly points out there character would make better decisions than either the player or the GM

Brym

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #98 on: 24 May 2022, 10:31:12 »
I haven't read the whole thread, but my impression from the first and last pages is that this is an out-of-game problem.  Fundamentally, if a player insists on only playing missions with a 3:1 advantage, they don't want to engage with the campaign, and you should find a different player.

bobthecoward

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #99 on: 24 May 2022, 11:05:47 »
I haven't read the whole thread, but my impression from the first and last pages is that this is an out-of-game problem.  Fundamentally, if a player insists on only playing missions with a 3:1 advantage, they don't want to engage with the campaign, and you should find a different player.
But the players are not roleplaying someone trying to have fun.....but win fights. And you bring the force intended to win fights.

Colt Ward

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #100 on: 24 May 2022, 11:10:33 »
The same issue still applies. We still have three problems (I just have to substitute fog of war for intelligence)

1)  Between the last player decision point and the GM setting up turn 1, The fog of war would be evolving and commanders would make decisions the players do not get to make

2) Player rejects that the available intelligence under the fog of war described by the GM is sufficient (and it is probably insufficient)

3) Under the fog of war presented by the GM, the player correctly points out there character would make better decisions than either the player or the GM

You missed the point.

No one EVER knows the complete situation, either at a single set point in time or through a chain of events.  If your players are expecting to then they have a highly unrealistic expectation.  You can plan out your contingencies all you want, but 'the enemy gets a vote too.'  Further, even if your employer/higher command HAS perfect intelligence-
#1) PCs are not going to be told everything, they are going to get need to know only
#2) PCs will be given 'sanitized' information that will intentionally have vague points to obscure the origin (Coventry situation) to protect a source
#3) PCs will be subject to the 'telephone' game, where verbal or even written reports get diluted/confused the more hands they pass through
#4) PCs can be intentionally given the wrong information to elicit a desired response from the enemy for the greater strategic picture

Consider some of the time travel fiction where they discuss someone bringing back a detailed history book back to that era.  They then insert themselves into the flow of history to make changes they want, or to gather power . . . from the point of their 'perfect' picture forward, they face a steadily building set of changes because they involved themselves in the history until they reach a point their 'knowledge' is useless because the alterations.  This ignores that the history is written from their modern biases and lacks complete knowledge of every single actor's motivations or internal decision calculus.

I would further note that your #3 is spurious . . . you can call your character a military genius all you wish, but if you cannot achieve that IC it is just a empty title.  Plenty of 'military geniuses' have fallen for ruses or bad intel, their genius lies in how they respond to it and pull off something their side could consider a victory . . . and owes not a little to good PR *coughCustercough*.

Finally there is a saying the PCs should take to heart- 'Perfect is the enemy of good.'  This along with the 6 Ps (Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance) are taught as part of military decision making.  Simply that if you wait to make the perfect decision based on gathering the perfect amount of information you will ignore a good decision that can be made in a much more timely manner, which is a important criteria in combat.  Either you take more losses/casualties that will invalidate the ability to use/execute your 'perfect' decision when the time comes, or the opportunity is lost due to a commander waiting for more information.
Colt Ward

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smdvogrin

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #101 on: 24 May 2022, 11:15:06 »
The same issue still applies. We still have three problems (I just have to substitute fog of war for intelligence)

1)  Between the last player decision point and the GM setting up turn 1, The fog of war would be evolving and commanders would make decisions the players do not get to make

2) Player rejects that the available intelligence under the fog of war described by the GM is sufficient (and it is probably insufficient)

3) Under the fog of war presented by the GM, the player correctly points out there character would make better decisions than either the player or the GM

"But I wouldn't do it that way" is a pretty bog-standard GM problem from any roleplaying system.  Generally, there's a couple ways to handle it:
1. The GM gives the complaining player anything they want.  The campaign swiftly dies from lack of challenge.
2. The GM requires the players to go into minute detail to the point where it takes them 3 gaming sessions to walk down a hallway between rooms.  The campaign swiftly dies due to boredom.
3. The players accept that the GM is putting together the scenario based on their previous decisions without having to ask what flavor of breakfast they're having.  The campaign continues.
4. The players continue to whine and the GM quits out of disgust.  The campaign dies.

Personally, I choose 3.  If the players truly cannot understand that "this is where I choose to 'turn the camera on' based on what you've chosen previously", then let the campaign die.  Sometimes no gaming is better than bad gaming.

Brym

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #102 on: 24 May 2022, 11:19:30 »
But the players are not roleplaying someone trying to have fun.....but win fights. And you bring the force intended to win fights.

Again, it's the players' choice of what kind of character they want to roleplay.  They can roleplay someone who wants the honor and glory and reputation of someone who is willing to fight in spite of tough odds (which can be handsomely rewarded in future contracts).  They can roleplay someone who has few other skills or resources, and so needs to take the contracts that come.  Saying "I choose to go home and retire" is not an option.  If they want to roleplay a cowardly merc who refuses to engage unless provided with overwhelming odds, who would want to hire them?

I think people elsewhere in the thread have given you good in-game options to resolve this -- e.g., have cadre duty interrupted by an unexpected invasion.  Yes, the players could always turn tail and hide in the mountains until the invasion is over, but then who is going to hire them for a future contract?  At some point, your players have to choose to either role play someone whose rep matters to them, or you don't have a campaign.

bobthecoward

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #103 on: 24 May 2022, 11:22:08 »
You missed the point.

No one EVER knows the complete situation,

You completely missed the point. You think this is about the player claiming they should know more than they do.

IT IS NOT ABOUT THAT

It is about this: Under the limited information that would be available to the character, the GM has to make decisions on the characters' behalf between the last decision made by the player and turn 1.

There are so many points of objections that the player can reasonably make.

The situation I describe is not the player objecting to the lack of information. Again, THAT IS NOT THE ISSUE.

The player is (probably correctly) objecting to the GMs description and characterization of the current state of intelligence at that moment.
« Last Edit: 24 May 2022, 11:32:16 by bobthecoward »

bobthecoward

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #104 on: 24 May 2022, 11:25:34 »

I think people elsewhere in the thread have given you good in-game options to resolve this -- e.g., have cadre duty interrupted by an unexpected invasion. 

I think I may have to make a separate thread because this does not address the issue I'm asking about at all and it is clearly because I have failed to communicate it.

bobthecoward

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #105 on: 24 May 2022, 11:41:21 »
Let me take another shot

The players are in their mechs going to the battle. The information that would be available to the players if that was real is X1. The GM would describe the information available to the player as X2, which is some level of detail less than X1 and probably deviates from X1.

The players make a plan and the GM sets up the map. The plan was made at time A. The map fight starts at time B. During that gap, new information would have been made to the player in reality, Y1. They do not get to change the plan based on Y1.

The players seem to have a reasonable claim that the total warfare match is based on X2, and it would be very different if it was based on X1,Y1.

How do you get players to buy into a world where the games will be based on X2?
« Last Edit: 24 May 2022, 11:43:03 by bobthecoward »

pokefan548

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #106 on: 24 May 2022, 11:52:50 »
Let me take another shot

The players are in their mechs going to the battle. The information that would be available to the players if that was real is X1. The GM would describe the information available to the player as X2, which is some level of detail less than X1 and probably deviates from X1.

The players make a plan and the GM sets up the map. The plan was made at time A. The map fight starts at time B. During that gap, new information would have been made to the player in reality, Y1. They do not get to change the plan based on Y1.

The players seem to have a reasonable claim that the total warfare match is based on X2, and it would be very different if it was based on X1,Y1.

How do you get players to buy into a world where the games will be based on X2?
Give them a fair chance to learn X1 (or at least enough of X1 that most of the deviations are just minor details) before committing to a plan based around X2, X3, X4, or however little info they have. Give them the chance to send scouting parties, gather HUMINT and ELINT, and reward them for resisting the urge to murderhobo every command post they encounter by leaving crucial documents inside intact buildings. If the players go out of their way to get lots of intelligence before going into the fight, then there shouldn't be many if any surprises, big or small. If, however, they fail to gather enough intel, it's all on them when they encounter some unknown factor or aren't given any warning about the layout of the enemy's static defenses. At that point, they may choose to withdraw and/or delay their attack, but their enemies will make use of that and the company's reputation is riding on the line.
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bobthecoward

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #107 on: 24 May 2022, 11:57:24 »
Give them a fair chance to learn X1 (or at least enough of X1

They can't learn X1. X1 would be what an actual mechwarrior in an actual mech receiving data would know. X2 represents the limits of the GMs capability in trying to relate X1.
« Last Edit: 24 May 2022, 11:59:14 by bobthecoward »

Colt Ward

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #108 on: 24 May 2022, 11:59:18 »
You completely missed the point. You think this is about the player claiming they should know more than they do.

IT IS NOT ABOUT THAT

It is about this: Under the limited information that would be available to the character, the GM has to make decisions on the characters' behalf between the last decision made by the player and turn 1.

There are so many points of objections that the player can reasonably make.

The situation I describe is not the player objecting to the lack of information. Again, THAT IS NOT THE ISSUE.

The player is (probably correctly) objecting to the GMs characterization of the current state of intelligence at that moment.

It does not matter- Players or GM on player's behalf, neither side of a gun has a complete understanding of what is going on.  Combat compounds this because OODA loops- while you want your side to be the one acting and forcing the other side to re-act, at some point even if you are forcing the other side to re-act you still have to respond to their re-actions to what you did.  Combat is fluid and circumstances change from moment to moment

And IMO, unless a group of PCs has established a set of SOPs or doctrines then by their lack of attention to the details they get others acting on them . . . and IMO cannot complain about what happens.  No single person can always be on duty either and thus decisions devolve to back up officers.  A example SOP . . . unit's rules is that all vehicles are backed into parking slots for rapid egress.  Liaison officer or even a local dignitary shows up . . . and does not park in that manner, they just pull directly in.  They would cause a problem in any rapid action to move the vehicles out b/c now the unit's drivers have someone trying to back up into a 3 point turn which is delaying all the vehicles & personnel they are blocking.

Let me take another shot

The players are in their mechs going to the battle. The information that would be available to the players if that was real is X1. The GM would describe the information available to the player as X2, which is some level of detail less than X1 and probably deviates from X1.

The players make a plan and the GM sets up the map. The plan was made at time A. The map fight starts at time B. During that gap, new information would have been made to the player in reality, Y1. They do not get to change the plan based on Y1.

The players seem to have a reasonable claim that the total warfare match is based on X2, and it would be very different if it was based on X1,Y1.

How do you get players to buy into a world where the games will be based on X2?

No one ever has complete information.  Please find me any battle where everything went exactly as either side planned.  Any changes between what is expected and what is found are entirely realistic, there are so many variables going into action that you cannot account for all of them, instead you mitigate what you can and plan to adapt to the circumstances as you find them.  What you describe is entirely realistic- the GM gives a intel packet of X2 that is generalized and/or missing some points of the actual situation of X1.  Why is it realistic?  Because the enemy gets a vote too!  Misdirection, hiding forces, false reports, the enemy will do anything they can to mislead about the situation.

Part of the problem is the GM has allowed the PCs to labor under the misconception they have perfect information before ever getting on the battlefield.



It goes back to this-
Finally there is a saying the PCs should take to heart- 'Perfect is the enemy of good.'  This along with the 6 Ps (Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance) are taught as part of military decision making.  Simply that if you wait to make the perfect decision based on gathering the perfect amount of information you will ignore a good decision that can be made in a much more timely manner, which is a important criteria in combat.  Either you take more losses/casualties that will invalidate the ability to use/execute your 'perfect' decision when the time comes, or the opportunity is lost due to a commander waiting for more information.
Colt Ward

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bobthecoward

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #109 on: 24 May 2022, 12:01:28 »
It does not matter- Players or GM on player's behalf, neither side of a gun has a complete understanding of what is going on.  Combat compounds this because OODA loops- while you want your side to be the one acting and forcing the other side to re-act, at some point even if you are forcing the other side to re-act you still have to respond to their re-actions to what you did.  Combat is fluid and circumstances change from moment to moment

And IMO, unless a group of PCs has established a set of SOPs or doctrines then by their lack of attention to the details they get others acting on them . . . and IMO cannot complain about what happens.  No single person can always be on duty either and thus decisions devolve to back up officers.  A example SOP . . . unit's rules is that all vehicles are backed into parking slots for rapid egress.  Liaison officer or even a local dignitary shows up . . . and does not park in that manner, they just pull directly in.  They would cause a problem in any rapid action to move the vehicles out b/c now the unit's drivers have someone trying to back up into a 3 point turn which is delaying all the vehicles & personnel they are blocking.

No one ever has complete information.  Please find me any battle where everything went exactly as either side planned.  Any changes between what is expected and what is found are entirely realistic, there are so many variables going into action that you cannot account for all of them, instead you mitigate what you can and plan to adapt to the circumstances as you find them.  What you describe is entirely realistic- the GM gives a intel packet of X2 that is generalized and/or missing some points of the actual situation of X1.  Why is it realistic?  Because the enemy gets a vote too!  Misdirection, hiding forces, false reports, the enemy will do anything they can to mislead about the situation.

Part of the problem is the GM has allowed the PCs to labor under the misconception they have perfect information before ever getting on the battlefield.



It goes back to this-
Finally there is a saying the PCs should take to heart- 'Perfect is the enemy of good.'  This along with the 6 Ps (Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance) are taught as part of military decision making.  Simply that if you wait to make the perfect decision based on gathering the perfect amount of information you will ignore a good decision that can be made in a much more timely manner, which is a important criteria in combat.  Either you take more losses/casualties that will invalidate the ability to use/execute your 'perfect' decision when the time comes, or the opportunity is lost due to a commander waiting for more information.



ETA: please reread what X1 and X2 are again. They are NOT

"GM gives a intel packet of X2 that is generalized and/or missing some points of the actual situation of X1."

X1 is the actual Intel packet (not the actual situation). This is what the leader would receive if the person was actually there.

X2 is the description of the Intel packet by the GM. for a myriad of reasons, the output of the GM will never match what would be the actual, in universe intelligence that would be handed out
« Last Edit: 24 May 2022, 12:07:17 by bobthecoward »

Syzyx

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #110 on: 24 May 2022, 12:06:46 »
In the interest of pursuing the game, some surrender of agency must be had. But it need not always be on the players side.

Consider instead letting the player make the critical scenario decisions. The player provides the objective. The GM provides the known opfor (which may or may not be accurate) and the available locations for the needed action. The player decides what's going to go down. The player decides what of her forces are going to be at what position at what point. The player decides what resistance she's willing to commit to facing. At that point the player has made all of the available decisions and anything that comes up unexpectedly is the result of aged/faulty intelligence (GM fiat). In this format the GM is responsible for broad strokes of preparation but the player is responsible for the crafting of the specific scenario.

As an example let us consider a raid contract: The mercs need to hit a critical supply depot and recover X amount of tapioca pudding. As a secondary objective they can also attack the local tapioca factories to further disrupt operations in the future.

Setup-
GM's part: The contract objectives (steal tapioca pudding, destroy tapioca production), contract opposition (known opfor and actual opfor)
Player's part: Decide whether to take the contract. If yes, then Yay! There's a game/campaign. If no, then Boo! player loses.

For the rest of this example we assume the player wants to play the game and takes the contract.

Initial Game: Landing Zone-
GM's part: Determine potential landing sites and opfor (again differentiating between known and actual) at each one. In general three sites should be provided, 1 near the primary objective, 1 near the secondary objective, and 1 in the hinterlands to obfuscate the player's target. GM should advise other landing sites have been ruled out due to lack of intel or unacceptably high threat from locals or terrain.
Player's part: Decide which landing zone to hit and with what forces to secure planethead and be able to unload further forces.

We're going to say the player decides to take the hinterlands landing site since it has the lowest opposition and offers some confusion as to the raid's objective, even though it is so far out. Game is played with player's landing force vs. the defenders fast enough to get to the LZ to contest them.

Second Game: Probing Attack-
GM's part: Let the player know that the defenders have sent a probing force toward their landing zone. Determine opfor (known and actual).
Player's part: Decide how to handle the situation. Run like scared rabbits back to the droppers and move to a different LZ? Mass their forces and roll out to maul the incoming scouts? Wait for the scouts to reach them and pulverize them under the dropship's guns? Send out a hunter/killer force to intercept the scouts while the main force moves to the primary objective? Send out the hunter/killers while two forces move on primary and secondary objectives? Ignore the scouts and roll on to the objectives? There are a ton of options here.

We're going to say the player decides on a screening action while the bulk of the force moves on to the primary objective and a small reserve protects the droppers. The screening force, if it lives, will return to augment the reserves at the droppers. Game is played between the hunter/killers and the enemy probing force.

Third Game: Capture Tapioca! Tapioca is Life!-

GM's part: Determine supply depot map and defenders.
Player's part: Determine what direction to launch the attack from and with what forces.

This one is pretty straight forward. Two forces clash. The player has decided how much to throw in based on the knowledge available. The GM can stick with that amount, can add the survivors of the probing force, can tell the player that reinforcements from the tapioca factory have been spotted on the way, can even reduce the defending forces as the tapioca factory is a higher priority for defense than the depot. A lot of options and each one further informs the player about what to expect in future battles.

Fourth Game: Counterattack-

GM's part: Let the player know that the enemy is sending a big push against her droppers. Determine attacking forces
Player's part: Determine reactions maps, defending forces

This one can be a great deal of fun. If the player decides to pull up stakes and boost for orbit, that will put the force attacking the depot in a spot. On the other hand, fighting it out could be really problematic. But in either event it gives the GM some agency in the game as well, showing that the defenders are also a dynamic force that modifies its behaviour based upon the unfolding situation on the ground.

Fifth Game and onward: ????-

So the future of this campaign at this point really relies on the outcome of games three and four but the pattern is established. One game is the player deciding whatever they are going to do and the second game is the enemy's reaction to said action.

If the player doesn't like the available options and declines the available contract(s) then we return to the above resolutions for IC/OOC issues. Personally I have been running my games in this fashion, BattleTech and otherwise, for decades now and I've run into very few players who are willing to walk back from a situation they've decided upon.
But as a matter of fact I was quite busy getting potty-trained at the time and had no time for interstellar politics.- ykonoclast

Colt Ward

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #111 on: 24 May 2022, 12:13:32 »
Yes, that is what you are saying.  The GM notes & set up is X1, you gave them a slightly different or more generic set of information in X2.  They are complaining they planned/set up for the more generic information.  They take the plan, Y1, based on X2 and adapt just like every single military formation in a action has since one caveman picked up a stick and poke another.  And no, history is filled with examples where intel updates do not reach units before the actions kick off- like the Battle of New Orleans, neither side knew the war was over when they fought that action.

They have no real grounds to complain about the realism of the situation because no one ever knows everything.

NOW, if you are saying the GM changed the rules in play- like they built a plan expecting to use ECCM rules to keep their C3 nets operating only to get to the table and find out that optional rule was not going to be in use while it had every scenario before?  Yeah, THAT is a issue . . . unless the rule was not laid out before hand.  FREX, my group accepted using Flamers deal damage & heat as a optional rule in use a couple months back.  To show up at the table with a flamer heavy force and be told we were not using it would cause some pre-game scrambling.

But if that was what you meant, you have been unclear for some time.
Colt Ward

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bobthecoward

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #112 on: 24 May 2022, 12:19:58 »
Yes, that is what you are saying.  The GM notes & set up is X1, you gave them a slightly different or more generic set of information in X2. 

The GM notes and setup are closer to X2. X1 represents the intelligence that would actually exist for the characters if the universe and characters actually existed.

X2 represents the human limits of a hobbyist GM crafting the games in achieving what would be real.

Rougarou Rhapsody

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #113 on: 24 May 2022, 12:29:22 »
The GM notes and setup are closer to X2. X1 represents the intelligence that would actually exist for the characters if the universe and characters actually existed.

X2 represents the human limits of a hobbyist GM crafting the games in achieving what would be real.

It sounds like what you are actually talking about is player expectations and negotiation of the social contract to play in a cooperative effort to make a game happen, rather then actual in-game aspects. Just that in-game aspects are an important part of the social contract in your opinion.

 It also sounds like you are putting 100% of the burden for the player's fun on the GM, which is fundamentally not how social contracts work or how any kind of RPG-like situation works.

The difference between X1 and X2 is players asking questions and player initiative to fill in what they perceive as blanks or details lacking.
« Last Edit: 24 May 2022, 12:40:45 by Rougarou Rhapsody »
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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #114 on: 24 May 2022, 12:42:24 »
I find this getting less and less clear as you move away from actual battletech examples and into hypotheticals involving fantasy RPGs or abstract variables. 

bobthecoward

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #115 on: 24 May 2022, 12:43:17 »
I find this getting less and less clear as you move away from actual battletech examples and into hypotheticals involving fantasy RPGs or abstract variables.

This is a discussion of abstract variables and hypotheticals. I should have made that more clear.
« Last Edit: 24 May 2022, 12:44:48 by bobthecoward »

rogueranger1993

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #116 on: 24 May 2022, 13:02:11 »
So, I can see that this has devolved a bit, at least IMHO... but I'll try to take a shot at it.

From what I've been led to understand from a glance through the conversations, bob, it seems that you're dealing with one or more players who are not exactly 'buying in' to the setting - i.e. they are taking things very seriously and demanding realistic descriptions and reasons for why things happen the way they do, and they're questioning why they should involve themselves in a situation that is either unfavorable or near-equally matched. Then, if this is correct, I assume you're trying to get advice on how to help the player relax a little bit and instead focus less on being pedantic about those details and to focus more on the enjoyment of a setting where they have to face challenges rather than simply curb-stomp the opposition every time. Could you confirm if this is the case, please?

I remember several years ago when I had to deal with a player who was very detail oriented, and had a very hard time of 'suspending his disbelief' in any setting, even high-fantasy ones, unless you could give him a very, VERY reasonable explanation for how it happened - and not just a good explanation, but one that he thought was a good explanation. I'll admit, his attitude did lead to more than one argument at the gaming table, and I was often very frustrated when dealing with him. Still remember him fondly, but he could be terribly annoying to deal with nonetheless. It seems like you might be dealing with a similar case here, so hopefully I can help a little bit.

I think you may have to talk with this player/players outside of the game, and work with them to try and see if you can get them to suspend their disbelief a bit more then usual, and to stop being so pedantic about things in order to ensure that both you and the players can have a fun time together. It also seems like they might be trying to 'win' at the game, rather than treating it like a fun way tell a story together, so you may have to talk to them about their competitiveness as well.

Additionally, I think that there may be a few things you can do to encourage a more fun experience in-game. First, you say that the players often claim that they would make better decisions then your NPCs do - maybe they're right, maybe they're wrong. However, those NPCs are not under the players control, and you should tell them that - every commander who serves in a military force has made mistakes or done something dumb at one point or another, it's human nature. Plus, commanders doing dumb or odd things is pretty much par for the course in BattleTech. Let them know that. Secondly, how much time passes in-world between X1 and Y1? That always has an effect on what changes in intel happen. Intel of any kind takes time to be collected, and then that data has to processed, collated, confirmed, turned into usable format, and finally disseminated to the troops. So, command might have learned something, but do they have enough time to give it to the players? It's entirely possible that by the time the new intel is ready, the battle has already started. Or, perhaps the situation has changed and the players do know about it, but they're still being ordered to carry out the mission - allow them to change their plans somewhat. They still need to complete the mission objective, but let them change their direction of approach, or allow them to call in some reinforcements or air support during the match. You can rule that the support is only available on turn X due to travel time between base and battlefield as well, forcing the players to fight a relatively even match for a period of time.

Additionally, in the BT-Verse, things like intel and knowledge of enemy movements tend to happen more slwoly than they do in the modern day. You may need to remind your players that BattleTech is a futre of the 1980s, and as such, most of the basic setting uses military tech and convention of that time period. That means that communications, intelligence services, etc. all move much slower than they do today, so you could reason that intelligence about enemy movement to reinforce the PC's target goes undetected or unreported until they actually arrive within sensor range. Things like that.

Hope that helped - if not, feel free to ask questions for more specific answers if you feel the need to, and I'll try my best to help if I can.


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2. The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.
3. Always remember that your weapon was built by the lowest bidder.
                                   - excepts from Murphy's Laws of Combat

Rougarou Rhapsody

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #117 on: 24 May 2022, 13:04:57 »
Let me take another shot

The players are in their mechs going to the battle. The information that would be available to the players if that was real is X1. The GM would describe the information available to the player as X2, which is some level of detail less than X1 and probably deviates from X1.

The players make a plan and the GM sets up the map. The plan was made at time A. The map fight starts at time B. During that gap, new information would have been made to the player in reality, Y1. They do not get to change the plan based on Y1.

The players seem to have a reasonable claim that the total warfare match is based on X2, and it would be very different if it was based on X1,Y1.

How do you get players to buy into a world where the games will be based on X2?

What immersion/investment necessary details do you believe the players are entitled to that exist in X1/Y1 that was not given in X2?
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rogueranger1993

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #118 on: 24 May 2022, 13:09:29 »
Also, you mentioned things like satellite data, that gives me another idea. You could rule that there are no satellites in position to be helpful at the time just before the battle, they can't be everywhere. Also, what kind of satellites do they have access to? mapping and photo satellites aren't terribly helpful in an immediate sense, since they won't really show the location or route of enemy forces in time to make a difference in the upcoming fight. Radio satellites could be used to help hack enemy comms, and GPS satellites could be used to track their GPS signals if they have them - but that takes time the players may not have.


1. Incoming fire has the right of way.
2. The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.
3. Always remember that your weapon was built by the lowest bidder.
                                   - excepts from Murphy's Laws of Combat

bobthecoward

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Re: how do you get player but in to a mercenary campaign?
« Reply #119 on: 24 May 2022, 14:15:02 »
What immersion/investment necessary details do you believe the players are entitled to that exist in X1/Y1 that was not given in X2?

That is the question. I think the answer to that is to start with how traditional RPGs handle this problem. I see several ways.

1) systems that allow players to try and get closer to the missing information in a structured way (perception checks, intelligence checks) and these also bring structure to the GMs approach. It gives the players a way to feel they exercised actions

2) Reducing the time between players taking their last decision and rolling initiative

3) Less information that affects outcome (a few trolls versus a a battalion)

and here are the two I think are most critical

4) Smaller encounter length reduces the salience of getting it wrong (you get one battletech fight on Saturday, but get 4 dnd encounters in the same length of time).

5) More robust encounter design systems lessens the impact of minor change


ETA: one more point. Traditional RPG fights are very lopsided and are fun under those lopsided conditions.
« Last Edit: 24 May 2022, 14:21:39 by bobthecoward »

 

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