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Referee's Lounge Discussion of how to (and not to) Referee Traveller and Cepheus Engine games. No edition warring allowed.

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  #11  
Old April 18th, 2018, 05:20 AM
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Tactics level five would indicate brilliance in conducting unconventional warfare and thinking out of the box.

It might just work.
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  #12  
Old August 11th, 2018, 07:39 PM
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Wow. Do the majority of respondents really think that a guy playing a game needs to be a combat veteran or study tactics to role-play a space marine? I get to role-play the generals in my campaign, guess I should retire my dice, huh? Silly me, I thought we were playing space opera pretend. Oh, I should probably sell my copies of Bunnies and Burrows and Vampire the Masquerade, too. C ya.
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Old August 11th, 2018, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enoki View Post
So, how would you deal with a player, or even players, that have characters that are radically different from the player's own experience and background? I thought about this when another thread here brought up tactics.

Say you have a player that's supposed to be a highly skilled military veteran yet wants to do things that are clearly... putting it bluntly, militarily stupid... and will likely get the party killed or seriously in deep doo doo. To me this is playing the character contrary to their nature and background.

How do you deal with a situation like this?
Same way I do with players bringing too much knowledge to the table - I rely upon the rolls for success. If their tactics roll was really good, I give them advice throughout. If it's bad, I lie to the tactical genius and say little to the tactically inept.

There's a reason I like MT's "Tactics Pool" - it helps keep the balance, AND gives the tactical player a reason to take the skill.
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  #14  
Old August 11th, 2018, 08:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Baron View Post
Wow. Do the majority of respondents really think that a guy playing a game needs to be a combat veteran or study tactics to role-play a space marine? I get to role-play the generals in my canpaign, guess I should retire my dice, huh? Silly me, I thought we were playing space opera pretend. Oh, I should probably sell my copies of Bunnies and Burrows and Vampire the Masquerade, too. C ya.
Not a good way to put it.

I agree, it's frustrating to see the type of response, but biting sarcasm in print often simply comes across as trolling.
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  #15  
Old August 15th, 2018, 08:33 PM
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While I may not agree with the earlier poster's phrasing, I agree fully with his sentiment. RPGs are not (and should not be, IMO) a low-level simulation game.

Most things in Traveller are pretty high level (abstract) simulations. Abruptly, when it goes into combat, this suddenly changes. I feel it's the place where a lot of these RPGs (including Traveller) show they were developed from wargamers or written by wargamers. What was a reasonably abstract exercise in wish-fulfillment becomes a tactical mid- or low-level simulation, with the range grid coming out (or even a hex grid and miniatures) and many Refs expecting detailed answers on squad deployment, spotting assets, and where the support weapons are being deployed. Range and movement maximums come into play and injury modifiers and similar stuff ... this level of detail doesn't exist for other skills in Traveller, though it's hilarious to imagine it happening:

"Okay, here's the diagram of 777's cockpit, the these lights are showing red and this one says NO VOR, what do you do and in what steps? You have 30 seconds to answer."

Just because the Ref is a certified 777 pilot doesn't make it okay to do things like this to their players.

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Originally Posted by Enoki View Post
So, how would you deal with a player, or even players, that have characters that are radically different from the player's own experience and background?
I feel you have to abstract it in that case. It's okay to let skill rolls handle it in this case. As a GM I feel you have to be generous, not strict, in your interpretation of a what a character knows. Traveller is a skills light system, especially the earlier editions, but no RPG, even GURPS with its overlong lists of skills can actually ever cover all the nuanced skills that characters would (or should) have. One of the drawbacks of Traveller's die-roll skills assignment is that you can have characters who curiously lack skills you'd think are required for a role but they never got them because of the rolls during chargen ("Your marine was a SEH winner 5 term gunnery sergeant who led a squad and he never got Tactics?" "Die rolls."). Some skills just don't exist in Traveller.

At the extreme end of high-level abstraction, there's little interaction and everything is handled by die-rolls. At the other extreme, low-level (or low abstraction) nobody can play a character that is not them and it stops being a game about a future alternate universe and becomes some odd exercise in 21st century people cosplaying living in a future where all the technologies and situations are those of the 21st century. Where you and your group falls is likely somewhere in the middle. Every gaming group has a level that they're comfortable it, but it's not a static thing; the group's comfort level with things like this can change between sessions.

There's a "trap game" mentality which is a danger I think all GMs can fall into if we're not careful - where Traveller changes from a high-level simulation to a low-level simulation abruptly when it's something the GM knows something about:

Player: "I go hunting for a bear."

GM: "Well as a matter of fact, I lived in the hill country in West Virginia most of my years until I went to college and have done some bear hunting ... describe to me how you do this."

Yet, this same GM is perfectly content just rolling dice when the Engineer wants to repair the Jump Drive and doesn't expect this level of detail because it's something that the GM doesn't know anything about.

This is wrong and we as GMs have to avoid doing it I feel. We have no idea how jump drive work, so anything involving it are abstract skills but just because something has a real world analogue (especially combat), Traveller should not become a vengeful penalty game where it is akin to the players walking around an unmarked minefield and only the GM knows where the mines are. One wrong answer and boom. (Until you have that player who spent 4 years in Africa clearing mines as part of an NGO and the GM gets their come-uppance of "well actually ...")

It's also the responsibility of players: I tell my players it is well within their rights if I start expecting them to describe some action in detail (eg; I start going down the penalty game route) they can flat out tell me, "It's my character who's an expert at this, not me. You tell me." In addition, I usually tell my players if it's an application of a skill they know nothing about, it's okay for them to keep their actions relatively vague and make me fill in the blanks in the narrative.

I think the idea of a "forecasting" or "estimation" check is fine. If you as the GM (remember, I feel GMs should be generous rather than strict with this) feel the player is about to do something questionable that their character would know better than doing, it's fine to tell the player (before the action is undertaken) the risks involved in their proposed action and let them reconsider - I usually lay out of them what their likely paths are, what the hazards/level of risk is for each path. Then I let them choose which action they take based on the risks/rewards. This is for combat. But it is applicable to other skills as well, fortunately, most gamers typically don't expect this level of detail with a lot of other tasks, but it's still okay have a Mechanic (or Doctor) for instance, make a roll before the actual action: "You have a pretty good idea of what the problem is, but you lack the skills to fix it / you'll need some items you don't have to fix it / you can't really heal this person but you can stabilize them for an hour or two during which they'll need to be transported somewhere with proper medical facilities"

This idea of "not making players roleplay skills they don't have but their characters do" has made me change how I view encumberance/load on a character as well; a character experienced in mountaineering is going to have certain things on his or her person (and not have a bunch of things) compared to someone who has no idea about what mountaineering requires and is just choosing things from an "equipment list" of they imagine they might need. Again, I feel its unfair to ding players for not having the right items when their characters would know.
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  #16  
Old August 16th, 2018, 12:13 AM
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Originally Posted by timerover51 View Post
If having to deal with this after the character has been rolled up and started, then just let him/her hang themselves, and the rest of the group deal with the issue. Lightening bolts from Above are not a part of Traveller, unfortunately.

Don't know that you have to go out on a limb here- plenty of historical instances of officers, admirals and generals that should have 'known better' giving suboptimal or fatal commands.
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Old August 16th, 2018, 03:44 AM
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Don't know that you have to go out on a limb here- plenty of historical instances of officers, admirals and generals that should have 'known better' giving suboptimal or fatal commands.
Yeah, really good point. Though if they were going to be simulated in TX, they may just have high levels of bureaucracy and rank and social ratings and maybe a technical branch while having low tactics skill levels.

I don't see any problem with players not having skill in what their character can do. In my last group the guy whose character was the engineer was a payroll systems clerk in real life, so not a lot of commonality there. What was more important was how he asked questions, and talked about the EFFECT he was trying to achieve. There was no way he could adequately describe fusion plant systems management, but he was pretty clear about what he did and did not want to have happen with it.

Role playing. It's pretty simple really.
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Old August 16th, 2018, 04:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enoki View Post
So, how would you deal with a player, or even players, that have characters that are radically different from the player's own experience and background? I thought about this when another thread here brought up tactics.

Say you have a player that's supposed to be a highly skilled military veteran yet wants to do things that are clearly... putting it bluntly, militarily stupid... and will likely get the party killed or seriously in deep doo doo. To me this is playing the character contrary to their nature and background.

How do you deal with a situation like this?

Previous posters have made some good comments and Epicenter broke it down well.

I'm going to add this.

There's the lack of experience issue, which Epicenter analyzed very clearly, and then there the no-common-sense/not-bothering-to-think-it-through issue.

Players won't know how to repair Traveller equipment, or understand what activity in zero-g is like. That calls for an abstracted roll, because the character would know, or be familiar enough to give it a try.

Then, there's times when they want to do things that they wouldn't do if they thought it out a little bit, like going into a dangerous area and demanding that a powerful person do what they want, when they're blatantly outnumbered and outgunned. This can be a sign that the players are tired, or they're bored and they want something to happen, but from what you described, I think they're just not thinking through it.

So, I recommend talking them though it a little bit.

"Ok, so that's your plan. Here's a sketch on the battlemap/piece of scratch paper. There's a good chance they'll see you in that spot. Do you want to change the plan up before we continue?" Or, "Your character would know the rebels probably can make mines and boobytraps, and the locals will tell them when mercs are coming. How do you want to account for that in your plan?"

Then there's a back and forth discussion for a bit, until a better plan is in place. Hopefully, the players will remember what was discussed and incorporate the ideas in their future planning.

If they don't care, then they can take the consequences.
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Old August 16th, 2018, 06:27 AM
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I find the idea of a player needing to know stuff for their character to be able to do it to be silly and not very logical.

How many players can summon a servant of Cthulhu? How many players can build a jump drive?

We play rpgs to do stuff we can not do in the real world...

The character has capabilities that all we can do is say we are using, describing them to the best of our ability.
"I use the ritual of summoning, check the sigils are marked correctly and begin slowly chanting the invocations"
"I'll use the spares and see if the shipboard maker can rebuild the parts of the jump drive that have failed and then double check the re-installation procedure and then re-assemble the jump drive"

"I'll order my troops to clear the ship room by room as per their training" or "I will clear the ship room by room as per my training"

All of the above would do for me if they came out of the mouths of players who had characters with the relevant skills.
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Old August 16th, 2018, 11:52 PM
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Isn't summoning Cthulhu and building jump drives the same task?
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