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Author Topic: Personal Development vs Material Gain  (Read 1767 times)

Akalabeth

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Personal Development vs Material Gain
« on: 12 March 2011, 22:22:19 »
One thing I don't understand in ATOW is the idea that things like Rank and Vehicle are pulled from the same resource pool that determines the character. Quite frankly, it's weird and makes no sense to me whatsoever. I may just not be very accustomed to normal RPGs but that's what it is.

For example, if a player wants to start with a heavy mech they have to pay what 500 additional TP or so to get vehicle (6). Then they get a heavy mech that they can lose in one battle. Meanwhile, they have 500 less TP to spend on skills and attributes. So effectively anyone who pays for a higher rank or a bigger mech is going to be weaker, dumber, less skilled, less pretty, more of a push over than someone who just pays to be a low-ranking light mech pilot?

Does anyone else find this baffling?

dieffenbachj

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Re: Personal Development vs Material Gain
« Reply #1 on: 12 March 2011, 22:51:21 »
I find it baffling mostly due to the fact that, for example, you could get ownership of even a light 'Mech or vehicle, sell it, and make more than you ever could with the Wealth trait. Or that the difficulty in increasing 'Mech size to Heavy from, say, Medium (shoot pilot / defeat 'Mech and repair it) is much quicker and probably easier than gaining XP in order to get better attributes.

However, I think there is another consideration to keep in mind: not everybody's a 'Mech pilot. What I mean by that is in a game with an infantryman, a medic, a civilian, and a 'MechWarrior, your challenges are probably going to consist largely of individual enemies or perhaps a lone military base--not an entire army. In which case, Vehicle becomes an INCREDIBLE trait to take, because it's simply worth so much more than any amount of weapon training or stealth training or wealth or all of the above combined. Being a 'Mech pilot (or even a tank pilot) on the personal scale is just a wonderful thing to have because any problem you can solve with a gun ( which IMHO is most problems ;) ) the 'Mech pilot can solve better.

What I've taken to doing is, in games where he PCs are part of a larger force, or where we're going to be very frequently switching to tactical-scale (as in, a Lance of soldiers fighting other Lances of 'Mechs or whatever), the Vehicle trait is free, or at least they get bonus XP toward it. My game right now is with a company-sized mercenary group built off the Field Manual Mercenaries rules. Rather than follow the RPG rules for vehicle ownership, I simply let them spend their Tech and Mass points on THEMSELVES in addition to the other 'Mech pilots in their group. Worked out rather well.

But yeah. I really do think it depends on the circumstances, and whether you're sticking to just AToW or AToW+Total War or what.

BirdofPrey

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Re: Personal Development vs Material Gain
« Reply #2 on: 13 March 2011, 02:05:12 »
For me, it's very much situational.  If rank has actual meaning in your game, then the XP is worth it because your character has more authority (though it's likely this only extends to the NPCs) over others, and can get others to do your bidding.  It's the same with things like administration and title.  If PCs aren't going to be allowed power over anyone then a rank trait is little more than an XP sink.

I don't see vehicle being any different than the other ownership traits (wealth, property). You trade in XP for another asset.  XP is useless without the stuff it lets you use.  I assume it is also there to keep you from powergaming by saying your character has the biggest and bestest.   How it is Ultimately treated is very much up to the GM.  For some games the GM might just assign units to everyone, in another you might be allowed to pick any unit without having to pay XP for it.  As noted above, combat units are pretty damn powerful on the personal scale.

One thing these traits are useful for, though, are as an XP sink.  If you want to allow characters of all different ages and have aging rules in effect, you need to do something to prevent the older characters from becoming too powerful. 

Cannon_Fodder

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Re: Personal Development vs Material Gain
« Reply #3 on: 13 March 2011, 02:29:51 »
In our game its only where you start. Rank and Vehicle can be earned through role-playing. People just out to roll-play will tend to keep the basically the same 'Mech they started with.

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Akalabeth

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Re: Personal Development vs Material Gain
« Reply #4 on: 13 March 2011, 03:17:01 »
Well our group is a lot more table-top orientated, so as a GM I think I'm going to mitigate the requirements for either rank or vehicle and instead have those granted to the players as the campaign progresses. Was just wondering what everyone else's thoughts were, I don't typically do any sort of roleplaying games so this sort of thing may be more common in other RPGs like d20 and the like (not that you can get a big mech in d20, but the idea of paying points for "stuff")

imperator

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Re: Personal Development vs Material Gain
« Reply #5 on: 13 March 2011, 20:38:40 »
You have to look at it this way, If somebody paid the points for it them it'd the GM's job to make it worthwhile.  If I paid for the rank of Captain,  plus the Rank of Baron, and owns his own heavy mech, then I want to be able to get into my mech and kick ass, have my butler prepare my meals or dine at the best places, stay at the best hotels and be able to have my Mech company throw down fire and brimstone whenever I want, within reason.  But if the GM says that my mech is down for repair, I have no household staff because I'm in a combat zone and my company likes the private better because he has more Cha and leadership skill, then the GM is doing me a disservice.
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Daemonknight228

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Re: Personal Development vs Material Gain
« Reply #6 on: 13 March 2011, 23:22:27 »
Or, you're in a combat zone, you just got done with a sortie(and thus need your mech repaired), and it's very likly your Sgt is better liked than you are.

If your goal in an RPG is to start as 'the best', whats the point of playing? Isn't the point of playing a char to develop the person? If you want to have someone enter a game at their peak, then your doing most of the character's life in his entry story.

The other side of the coin, is that say you have everything you just described. You are going to have enemies who are just as powerful as you, so it stands to reason you're going to be faced with hostile forces equally powerful to yourself. Or perhaps less frontally power, and instead they sabotage your mech, blow up your house, and incite a mutiny in your troops.

As a GM, i never give my players their start as powerful chars, because the point of playing an RPG is advancement. Where are you advancing to from the position of Baron? How big a personal force of mechs do you really need to have fun?

The GM is not doing you a disservice by throwing adversity in the game. Thats the whole point. It wouldn't be any fun to just whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted, with nothing flying back at you, and no issues to overcome that can't be solved by a PPC.
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Nargrakhan

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Re: Personal Development vs Material Gain
« Reply #7 on: 14 March 2011, 11:54:07 »
I think you're misinterpreting what imperator is saying, and taking what he's saying too literally. He's not intending (I think) to make a character "perfect" - he's making the kind of character you expect to find in BattleTech (and just throwing some sarcasm with it). Those are the characteristics immortalized by the classical novels we all know and love. A character who spends points to get level 5's in Ranks, Titles, and Mech (what the typical heroes in the BTech novels are arguably setup) is likely to end up with stats running 3's and 4's if they're not doing serious min-maxing. Taking away that character’s ‘Mech and social status is like making another a player’s grandmaster martial artist a paraplegic... or a crack shot sniper a permanently blind man. Can they be role-played? Sure. Could it be fun? Maybe. Is it what a player signed up for? Probably not.  Unless the GM has a REALLY kick ass campaign in store, there's gonna be rage quit.

Now I’m not saying a player should be on cruise control. As you pointed out, surmounting challenges and gaining experience (of both kinds) is exactly that RPG’ing is about. I've managed multiple campaigns where pilots are without their mechs for sessions at a time… but I’m not so cruel as to make it last the ENTIRE campaign. Let’s be straight here: that mech is the character’s bread and butter. It’s what defines them. Superman without his Kryptonian powers makes a great story arc once in awhile, but it gets stale real fast if he’s kept that way for years on end. Great Superman stories aren’t the ones without his powers: they’re the ones where he’s forced to working within challenging confines, even with his great abilities (like in Doomsday or Public Enemies for example). Other character without the mech, enjoy stats in the 5’s and 6’s with the skills and cool personal combat to match (since the MechWarrior most likely spent his pocket money on that neurohelmet). That's their bread and butter.

***EDIT***
Or in BTech terms: Victor Davion has lost his prized mech and royal title many times over, but then he always manages to restore his status quo (new mech and new social position) after finding a way to overcome the latest deadly challenge. Feel free to take away a character’s goodies: but be sure to remember they should have a chance to get them back (or get better). On a tangent though… IMHO having gear stolen is like the most cliché and boring campaign focal point in an RPG. I’d expect expert GM’s to have long outgrown that kind of behavior, unless the characters seriously deserved it happening to them. My experience as a GM tends to argue that you don’t have to take anything away from a character: players will create such opportunities on their own, without the need of any Kobayashi Maru nonsense. Mine are more receptive and understanding to, "I lost it because I made a bad decision," than they are to, "I lost it because the GM said so." Sometimes you have to explain it to them of course... but after heads cool and you prove the campaign is still fun without the lost toys, then everyone is happy. Point of an RPG is to have fun: not get stressed over what you lost and can never get back.
« Last Edit: 14 March 2011, 12:03:21 by Nargrakhan »

E. Icaza

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Re: Personal Development vs Material Gain
« Reply #8 on: 14 March 2011, 13:21:27 »
***EDIT***
Or in BTech terms: Victor Davion has lost his prized mech and royal title many times over, but then he always manages to restore his status quo (new mech and new social position) after finding a way to overcome the latest deadly challenge. Feel free to take away a character’s goodies: but be sure to remember they should have a chance to get them back (or get better). On a tangent though… IMHO having gear stolen is like the most cliché and boring campaign focal point in an RPG. I’d expect expert GM’s to have long outgrown that kind of behavior, unless the characters seriously deserved it happening to them. My experience as a GM tends to argue that you don’t have to take anything away from a character: players will create such opportunities on their own, without the need of any Kobayashi Maru nonsense. Mine are more receptive and understanding to, "I lost it because I made a bad decision," than they are to, "I lost it because the GM said so." Sometimes you have to explain it to them of course... but after heads cool and you prove the campaign is still fun without the lost toys, then everyone is happy. Point of an RPG is to have fun: not get stressed over what you lost and can never get back.

Agreed.  The "All your stuff was stolen" trope is even more hated than "You all wake up in prison" trope in my experience.  There are few faster ways to turn a normally mild-mannered player into a raving lunatic than to take away his stuff for what they perceive as arbitrary reasons.  Granted, I've used both of the above tropes in a Conan RPG, but I made it very clear that those sort of things happened to Conan himself on a fairly frequent basis, so I wasn't treating the players any differently.  Despite the warning, I still had two players trying to beat the system by burying their stuff in hopes of coming back to it later.

Hey, one of my Conan games even started off with the characters giving their back story in character as to why they had ended up in chains in front of a local magistrate!
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monbvol

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Re: Personal Development vs Material Gain
« Reply #9 on: 14 March 2011, 23:25:20 »
A lot of value of certain traits does come from the GM.  Myself I tend to go with if you have Vehicle X you will always somehow wind up with a new appropriate vehicle if your starting one gets destroyed.

Which reminds me I have something to add to my House Rules thread that I intend to use from here on out anytime I run AToW.

Nargrakhan

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Re: Personal Development vs Material Gain
« Reply #10 on: 15 March 2011, 10:32:36 »
To just add my own two cents again...  :)

I think it's becoming too common, for 'Mechs to be replaced so easily. I mean yes... BattleTech is a table top game and all that, but in the context of the background fluff, the preservation and restoration of 'Mechs is an artform in the universe. Technicians and mechanics are well versed in saving the most destroyed machinery and making functional again. Of course there was a "rebirth" in building new stuff during the post-3050 and Second Star League period, but that's been knocked back quite a bit thanks to the Jihad.

Part of the charm in BTech is that a character can easily be expected to keep his 'Mech for the entire duration of his life... heck, his grandfather and grandchildren are expected to use it as well. Yes, 'Mechs are seriously crippled, but there's no need to just throw it away. It can be rebuilt and/or improved... a lot fluff indicates that nothing short of total nuclear vaporization or full-on orbital bombardment from high powered artillery can destroy a 'Mech to the point it can't be rebuilt or salvaged back together again. They're that well built.

So long story short: in my campaigns, characters tend to keep their 'Mechs from start to end. It takes some serious role-playing or tremendous luck to get a second 'Mech. My characters are more used to seeing a warehouse full of spare parts, than they are a warehouse full of new 'Mechs, in their ultimate fantasies. I mean numerically, let's just suppose there's 600 regiments worth of 'Mechs in the Inner Sphere (I just pulled that number out my butt by the way): that's 64,800 'Mechs. They're not all that common when looked at that context. It's about as comparable as how many armored tanks are in the US Army (something like 8000-ish). Common enough to be seen on a battlefield, but not common enough to be in every battle. And like modern US tanks, a lot are salvaged after a battle, even after suffering heavy damage (because they're not exactly easy or cheap to replace on the fly).
« Last Edit: 15 March 2011, 10:34:24 by Nargrakhan »