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Author Topic: Battletech Veteran, AToW Newb  (Read 1730 times)

Southern Coyote

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Battletech Veteran, AToW Newb
« on: 21 May 2013, 11:06:18 »
Hi folks,

Been a while since I've been on the forums with any amount of regularity.  But with discovering that I somehow had a PDF of AToW and wanting to get into RPing again, my passion for Btech has been reignited.

Now, I'm sharing with friends.  I'm starting a campaign and I'm bringing a bunch of new players, most of whom have little to no Battletech experience. 

So I've got a few questions:

1.) Is it possible for people who don't know anything about Battletech to enjoy this RPG?

2.) Is it difficult to run AToW campaign with players who have no experience with Battletech?

3.) How does AToW rank in complexity for both planning campaigns and building characters compared to other popular RPGs?  Reading through the rules once, it doesn't seem that bad.  The life modules seemed a bit wordy, but not overly complex. 

Thanks in advance,
SC
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Coldwyn

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Re: Battletech Veteran, AToW Newb
« Reply #1 on: 21 May 2013, 13:05:25 »
1) It can actually be more enjoyable if you start out not knowing BT at all.
2) Absolutelly. The pure RPG part of AToW is stand alone and doesn´t have too much to do with the regular BT rules.
3) It depends what other systems we´re talking about. It´s a solid system but not very streamlined. I mostly play older systems/retros like Traveller, oD&D or Stars without Number, compared to that, AToW is brutally unwieldy. Compared to newer, more rules-heavy systems like Pathfinder, Shadowrun4, it´s still a bit unwieldy but en par compared to the complexity.

Starting AtoW with a new group, there´re some things that should be discussed in an open round before the game starts. This helps avoid trouble later:
- Explain setting-specific stuff, like the feudal system, without forcing players to create conflicting characters
- Explain the Meta-Gaming elements a character might possess
- Agree on handling some elements, like how the vehicle and equipped trait will work out at your table.
- Agree on the type of campaign it´s gonna be. Forex all merc, all mechwarrior, or one house, all specops, and so on. Deal with the problem of mixed character types before it comes up.
it´s not necessarily that i´m immoral of character, i just don´t take great stock in the morality of others, that´s all

Maelwys

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Re: Battletech Veteran, AToW Newb
« Reply #2 on: 21 May 2013, 13:14:33 »
1.) Is it possible for people who don't know anything about Battletech to enjoy this RPG?

Its going to depend on the players/GM I think. They'll probably enjoy it more if they had previous Battletech experience, but that's any an all RPGs in my opinion.

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2.) Is it difficult to run AToW campaign with players who have no experience with Battletech?

Not any more than any other RPG in my opinion.

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3.) How does AToW rank in complexity for both planning campaigns and building characters compared to other popular RPGs?  Reading through the rules once, it doesn't seem that bad.  The life modules seemed a bit wordy, but not overly complex.

I don't find chargen that complex.  Maybe a little time consuming at first, but not really complex (others may differ in opinion).

Southern Coyote

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Re: Battletech Veteran, AToW Newb
« Reply #3 on: 21 May 2013, 13:34:09 »
Thanks for the info.

As someone who enjoys Battletech fluff and has a ton of it, I'm pretty comfortable explaining the setting for them in detail. 

As far as the rules go, I might feel a little more comfortable if I was reading them from a print book.  But for some reason, I guess I never feel like I absorb any information I read on a computer screen unless I read it several times. 
Dogged pursuit of your goal is an admirable trait in anyone.

Coldwyn

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Re: Battletech Veteran, AToW Newb
« Reply #4 on: 21 May 2013, 13:47:17 »
There´s a reason I disagree with Maelwys on point 1.
BT needs a high amount of suspension of disbelieve to get into, there´re so many issues where you simply say "why not nuke ´em from orbit" and some such. If you start out small and local, without any connection to the outside or established BT history/canon, you can quite simply circumvent that.

Take the Jihad, for example. Start out as ex-prisoners on Kittery, with only the stuff they have and let them go against the WoB. They don´t need another enemy, other targets or other tools besides what they have.
If, on the other hand, they players know BT, the rules, the options, they often will fall back to meta-gaming.

As far as the rules go, I might feel a little more comfortable if I was reading them from a print book.  But for some reason, I guess I never feel like I absorb any information I read on a computer screen unless I read it several times. 

It helps to create a document or use free mind-mapping software where you write down the references to pages you need most.
it´s not necessarily that i´m immoral of character, i just don´t take great stock in the morality of others, that´s all

Maelwys

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Re: Battletech Veteran, AToW Newb
« Reply #5 on: 21 May 2013, 14:05:07 »
Of course, if you've got previous experience with BT, you might already know to kick that suspension of disbelief into high gear :)

Like most things, it will depend on the group and players.

ntin

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Re: Battletech Veteran, AToW Newb
« Reply #6 on: 21 May 2013, 14:18:21 »
My group has a mix if BattleTech players and just RPG players. We haven’t had any problems but we are taking it slow to start out with. Adding a rule set every few session such as vehicles, infantry or, artillery.

As the GM my prep work has little more work than say Pathfinder or a d20 system. Making sure units exist in the era is a lot of checking. Battle Value is not as precise as a Challenge Rating system and I kind of smudge the numbers to make sure a session has a challenge but is not a killing field.

Coldwyn

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Re: Battletech Veteran, AToW Newb
« Reply #7 on: 21 May 2013, 15:07:39 »
As the GM my prep work has little more work than say Pathfinder or a d20 system. Making sure units exist in the era is a lot of checking. Battle Value is not as precise as a Challenge Rating system and I kind of smudge the numbers to make sure a session has a challenge but is not a killing field.

Bluntly asked. Why?

Just pointing something out: Using BT, a victory can be more costly than a defeat. Pyrric as it goes. If you try to keep it balanced, like you´re used from d20, then you forget that d20 doesn´t really deal with material losses/destroyed equipment. Therefore, keep it random, allow the possibility for defeat from the get-go.
it´s not necessarily that i´m immoral of character, i just don´t take great stock in the morality of others, that´s all

ntin

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Re: Battletech Veteran, AToW Newb
« Reply #8 on: 21 May 2013, 15:39:16 »
That is the interesting thing about using BattleTech an infantry squad throw a series of lucky rolls can drop an Atlas in one attack. A level 1 Fighter has no chance against an Ancient Red Dragon. Last time we played the “boss” Assault ‘Mech was head shotted being almost pristine condition turning a difficult near impossible mission into an average difficulty. We also had an enemy Harasser’s SRM make 3 head hits and the Player had to push on very injured until they could get proper medical treatment.

I don’t mean make every fight “fair” there are times you get ambushed by a battalion and you have to run. I have found it difficult because of how each ‘Mech has very different weapons, speed, and armor, as well as the random nature of the game to just use BV and say the player’s lance of x can defeat the enemy’s two lances of y, with a chance of pulling off a victory.

Tai Dai Cultist

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Re: Battletech Veteran, AToW Newb
« Reply #9 on: 21 May 2013, 16:04:27 »
My biggest complaint with ATOW is actually a manageable one.. but the GM has to be forewarned and prepared.

Unlike many RPGs, ATOW is not 'plug-and-play'.   Whereas in D&D for example, one might bring his favorite Fighter PC to a table and there's a high probability that the character would be appropriate.  Issues like level and equipment would have to be gauged by the GM to ensure they're in line with what else is at the table, but there's always room for that archetype.

This is NOT true with ATOW.  Not even a little.  In order to play in an ATOW campaign (or even a one-off adventure)  you can't just bring some random PC and expect to contribute.  The player must be on the same page as the GM as to what the campaign is going to be about, and that puts a burden on the GM to communicate what sorts of archetypes are going to be appropriate for the game. 

It goes beyond broad archetypes.  Someone who wants to play a wheeling&dealing corporate exec can still tailor his PC to be a MechWarrior in a MechWarrior-only campaign, for example.  The GM must be aware of little things in the rules that require calibration campaign-by-campaign.  The Rank Trait is a notable example.   


All that said, it's not a bad system.  So long as the GM isn't a novice, the players can be and have an enjoyable time.

Southern Coyote

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Re: Battletech Veteran, AToW Newb
« Reply #10 on: 21 May 2013, 16:12:42 »
Well I've GMed on a number of systems.  But this will be my first foray into a scifi setting.  And I'm pretty comfortable with the Battletech setting as a whole and communicated to my players what kind of campaign we'll be going on and what kind of characters we'll need.  So far, I've got someone who is dedicated to the tech position, another for a soldier/saboteur, and a third for a mechwarrior.  I've got 4 more who are still deciding. 
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Maelwys

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Re: Battletech Veteran, AToW Newb
« Reply #11 on: 21 May 2013, 17:05:26 »
The armor situation in ATOW is interesting. There was a big discussion about it a while back, you might want to look (I believe its still on the first page).

Also, do realize that as written, the game can be very very very lethal.

Coldwyn

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Re: Battletech Veteran, AToW Newb
« Reply #12 on: 21 May 2013, 17:08:54 »
Well I've GMed on a number of systems.  But this will be my first foray into a scifi setting.  And I'm pretty comfortable with the Battletech setting as a whole and communicated to my players what kind of campaign we'll be going on and what kind of characters we'll need.  So far, I've got someone who is dedicated to the tech position, another for a soldier/saboteur, and a third for a mechwarrior.  I've got 4 more who are still deciding.

Very interesting. I´ve had a similiar char setup and ran into spotlight problems from the start.
The reason behind this was the time and abstraction the specialities used up. Fact is, like with other systems, abstract thingies are reduced to a roll while concrete thingies are played out, meaning that all challenges a tech/scientist/medic face can be done quick, while the "physical" guys rely on combat action and rules, which takes [insert swear word of choice] time.
True, that´s a problem with more than one rpg system out there and resolving it takes time and work.

SciFi itself poses an additional problem. If you want to circumvent the spoligth issue, you need players who can make up pseudo technical details on the fly to keep a non-combat scene interesting.

I hope I´m not downplaying your previous experience as a GM, but in that case, I´d recommend telling your guys and gals to play mechwarriors first, secondary options second, to have one base to work from.

The armor situation in ATOW is interesting. There was a big discussion about it a while back, you might want to look (I believe its still on the first page).

Also, do realize that as written, the game can be very very very lethal.

Yes, there´s something to that. If you´re not in a Vee, or at least BA, you´re pretty much dead meat.
it´s not necessarily that i´m immoral of character, i just don´t take great stock in the morality of others, that´s all

monbvol

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Re: Battletech Veteran, AToW Newb
« Reply #13 on: 21 May 2013, 20:11:28 »

1.) Is it possible for people who don't know anything about Battletech to enjoy this RPG?

2.) Is it difficult to run AToW campaign with players who have no experience with Battletech?

3.) How does AToW rank in complexity for both planning campaigns and building characters compared to other popular RPGs?  Reading through the rules once, it doesn't seem that bad.  The life modules seemed a bit wordy, but not overly complex. 

1: As others have said, I believe it is.

2: No.

3: Campaign planning isn't much different for AToW than other systems.  Character creation can be overwhelming but like others have said I wouldn't call it complex.

Very interesting. I´ve had a similiar char setup and ran into spotlight problems from the start.
The reason behind this was the time and abstraction the specialities used up. Fact is, like with other systems, abstract thingies are reduced to a roll while concrete thingies are played out, meaning that all challenges a tech/scientist/medic face can be done quick, while the "physical" guys rely on combat action and rules, which takes [insert swear word of choice] time.
True, that´s a problem with more than one rpg system out there and resolving it takes time and work.

SciFi itself poses an additional problem. If you want to circumvent the spoligth issue, you need players who can make up pseudo technical details on the fly to keep a non-combat scene interesting.

I hope I´m not downplaying your previous experience as a GM, but in that case, I´d recommend telling your guys and gals to play mechwarriors first, secondary options second, to have one base to work from.

I'd second the recommendation to have a cohesive group type.  I wouldn't go so far as to demand all mechwarriors.  Tankers/vtol drivers could work in the same group with little trouble.  It does get boring if you have a PC who can't directly participate in such fights even if they are rare.

Scientists and Technicians do bother me as PC archetypes.  I know a lot of it comes from the fact I have trouble with accepting that anything that can be resolved in a realistic firefight time frame actually requiring the actual Technician skills and I hate RPing what I can't help but think of as mundane day jobs.  Hackers I can see as useful in the realistic firefight time frame.

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Yes, there´s something to that. If you´re not in a Vee, or at least BA, you´re pretty much dead meat.

*nod*

If you do go for a more spy/black operations type campaign don't be afraid to give the enemies the crappier guns just so the PCs might actually survive a firefight even with the more survivable combat rule variations in place.

E. Icaza

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Re: Battletech Veteran, AToW Newb
« Reply #14 on: 22 May 2013, 03:31:34 »
1.  Yes.  One of my first play tests with it had two people who'd never played Battletech before and they enjoyed themselves.  I generated their characters for them and ended up with a CapCon actress, a St. Ives school teacher, Canopian combat medic and a FWL cowboy trying to fight off a pirate boarding party.

2.  Nope.  See above.  The cowboy character came about because the player's only real familiarity with sci-fi was from Firefly and I tried to explain things in those terms.  He'd only ever played D&D before playing AToW.

3.  I would put it at a 6.5 of 10 for complexity of chargen, with Savage Worlds rating about a 3, D&D 4E at about a 4.5 and Pathfinder coming in at 6.  It can be fairly complex and cumbersome, but it's no Palladium/Rifts (8) or old-school Traveller (10).  Planning campaigns is pretty easy or extremely hard depending on your knowledge of the CBT universe and your flexibility IMO.  For a campaign that I started in DA/AoD, I ended up throwing out almost everything that I had built plot-wise or adapting it.  I had thought my players were going to go for the Mechwarrior/Combat angle and instead they decided they wanted to play politics. 
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Orion

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Re: Battletech Veteran, AToW Newb
« Reply #15 on: 23 May 2013, 14:03:55 »
I would say that mostly depends on the what you plan for the campaign.  If all characters are mech pilots and it is heavy on the mech combat, they might get a lot more out of it if they understand the setting.  If the plan is mostly infantry raids or politics, it is less of a concern.  I wouldn't think that familiarity with the tabletop game would help at all, and in some cases could actually hurt the game, because of different expectations.
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