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Question: If you were *forced* to choose between only two options for gearing up in an RPG, which would you choose?
I like it quick and dirty (less time choosing gear, but also fewer options)   -28 (62.2%)
I like shopping (complete freedom, but also tons of prep time)   -17 (37.8%)
Total Voters: 44

Author Topic: Priorities, Priorities: Gearing Up (Time vs. Freedom)  (Read 4003 times)
Crafty_Pat
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« Reply #45 on: May 07, 2012, 02:01:17 PM »

For the record, this is exactly the opposite of complete freedom within the context of this question - for the very reason you're citing (the players don't get to choose anything during play). That's the exclusive focus of this particular poll - freedom vs. speed IN PLAY and AT THE TABLE.

I see what you mean. I thought of it from my perspective (I want to have a lot of tables) but it's true that for the game itself, speed is the priority.

Nearly any problem can be solved with enough preparation. Unfortunately, most folks don't have it and games have to assume the same (as a baseline, at least).
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« Reply #46 on: May 07, 2012, 02:14:27 PM »

For the record, this is exactly the opposite of complete freedom within the context of this question - for the very reason you're citing (the players don't get to choose anything during play). That's the exclusive focus of this particular poll - freedom vs. speed IN PLAY and AT THE TABLE.

I see what you mean. I thought of it from my perspective (I want to have a lot of tables) but it's true that for the game itself, speed is the priority.

Nearly any problem can be solved with enough preparation. Unfortunately, most folks don't have it and games have to assume the same (as a baseline, at least).

I was looking at this more from a GM stand point not as a player.  The player will get whatever freedom, I as the GM, give them.   I, as the GM, however would prefer complete freedom to dictate what that is.  By either allowing the players to freely pick their gear, giving them everything in pre-made bundles with no additional picks, or somewhere in-between those two extremes.

« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 04:27:23 PM by VisualStatic » Logged

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« Reply #47 on: May 07, 2012, 04:22:38 PM »

I was looking at this more from a GM stand point not as a player.  The player will get whatever freedom, I as the GM, give them.   I, as the GM, however would prefer complete freedom to dictate what that is.  By either allowing the players to freely pick their gear, giving them everything in pre-made bundles with no additional picks, or somewhere in-between those two extremes.

Absolutely. This thread and the Facebook poll have been extremely helpful. In some cases it's verified things that Alex and I were already assuming and in others it's given us new things to think about. We're in good shape.

For those of you newly coming to these polls and the thread this week, keep the voting and comments coming! It's all great grist for the design process.

...and you can expect more of this as we dig deeper into the new edition.
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« Reply #48 on: May 07, 2012, 09:51:57 PM »

I should mention that when I opted for complete freedom, to me that doesn't necessarily mean that there are a huge number of options.  Rather it means that the player's choice isn't limited for some reason.  To use 2.0 as an example, there are statistics presented for something like 160 guns, but characters are given a number of picks from a small subset of the gear categories available.  This is a great wealth of options, but is fairly restrictive in regard to which options are actually available to the players.  That would be an example of limited freedom.

If, on the other hand, the player is allowed to choose gear from any category up to the limit of what they can afford (using whatever pricing mechanism you like), that would be the freedom option.  That would still be true even if the (for example) weapons table only has a handful of entries for generic pistol, generic revolver, generic SMG, generic rifle, generic shotgun, etc.

So, by my interpretation, quickness of play and freedom of choice are actually not mutually exclusive (2.0 gear is both limited in choice and slow to play).  But, if I have to pick one over the other, I still pick freedom, because it's still easier to speed up a slow process than it is to add options where none existed.
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« Reply #49 on: June 07, 2012, 06:07:19 PM »

One thing I did want to comment about this question is that, in my experience, most of the new players who struggle with the Gearing Up phase do so because they are new to the game and have spent no time thinking about this sort of scenario.  But, as they start to get playing the game more, they peruse these tables and the variety of gear that is in them help them get a better grasp of what they -can- do with their characters and help them create ideas for missions.

For instance, having a pesky Tradecraft or Resource pick that they don't know what to do with.  At first they will panic because so many of those options are met with "What the heck will I need this for?" or "whats that do?" and that drags down the gearing up phase because often times these picks are ambiguous or hard to use in a lot of situations. Often times, choosing those items beforehand is difficult, because things like dossiers or bags full of guns wont be needed right out of the gate, but when you're actually -on- mission, those requests come in handy.   

Meanwhile, when they get to the guns section, I have -never- at my table, heard a complaint about their being too many choices.  People take a minute to look over the guns, either pick one they like or one they recognize and move on.  From a background of games like D&D where the weapons section is rather large (albeit still simple in some regards) people don't complain too much about different types of weapons, especially if you give them pictures to go with it.  I find that when/if there is a question about a gun, I go to IMFDB (internet movie firerarms database) and show them a picture, tell them what movie it was in, and the questions are answered.

I really like the idea of mission bundles, and I especially like the idea of removing calibers and instead making things cost a number of 'gear points' so you can choose whatever you want, as long as you spend the points on it.  In an ideal world, I would have  2 sections to my gear section, and it would end up similar to how you guys approach the NPC creation.   First, you had the creation rules and ways to make the NPCs, then you had a huge long list of pre-made NPCs for GMs to just use.   That concept works marvels, because it allows you the freedom to make things amazing, or super quick. 

If you make a gear section, where you start out with the rules for gear, followed by quick mission bundles/kits/common items for a variety of situations and then had the actual gear tables themselves it would be stellar.  You could make personal gear bundles as well for different wealth levels and character classes.   (Like, a Scientist might like:  A Briefcase SMG that proteuses into a remote controlled robotic turret, a armored lab coat and a pair of sweet Thermal Vision sunglasses, while a soldier wants that .50 cal Barret or the Minigun, some body armor and a side arm and extra ammo).   The cool thing with planning for Total Freedom is that once you have it locked in, you just have to take a little more time to turn that overwhelmed reaction into something of the past by addressing the concerns and creating a place specifically designed to speed up the game.

As a wrap up, Areas of improvement/suggestions
- Gear Points instead of caliber

- Quick Bundles for people who don't want to spend time on gear (you can even add new bundles in with suppliments like you do with Specialties and Talents)

- a difference between Gear Up phase picks and Mid-Op Picks.  (I found it hard to know in advance I would need dossiers or bag full of guns, etc during gear up, and the Request mechanics always felt too complicated for me.  Having things you can call on when you need them in mission should be made easier or at least more clear.  This might help speed up gearing up as well)

-Gadgets.  Everybody loves em, but they take a lot of time to make.  This is the section that could use some examples and where the Bundle idea would excel.  When I was a new player, I went through the backlog of spycraft magazine articles to find out what sort of things you guys made with gadgets to get ideas of what I could do before I really had a grasp on the system.  These are the NPCs of the gear system.  They could use a whole slew of pre-built options, and then a reference table later for making your own.

-Weapons.  I love keeping the names.  If you want to simplify the tables, you could remove the alternative ammo calibers for the guns, and instead make a table at the beginning that has damage per caliber for different fire arms.  Thus, all 9mm guns might do a d12, but when you pick your individual gun, you choose the caliber of ammo for it, but the upgrades/quirks of the individual firearm remain the same and may alter the damage slightly depending.  The different ammo types could determine the base cost of the gun, while the individual firearms would be a boost to that cost (much like the Dwarven made weapons, etc in Fantasy Craft)
Also, better clarity on what weapons counts as Tactical/Guided/Indirect proficiencies, etc.

-Vehicles.  This section is excellent.  The gear points system will clear up any of my problems with it.  Pre-weaponized vehicles in mission bundles would be nice.

-Electronics.  These are hard to keep up with in the modern society.  I suggest you focus on the most significant ones, and make most of them common items or lumped in with gadgets.  Some of the most important spy tools come from this section, but due to their complexity and player's lack of real world knowledge of them, it can complicate the game further.  Not sure what the best approach is to this problem, aside from an attempt at simplifying some of the mechanics like signal strength and power rating, etc.

-Armor.  Needs pictures.  A lot of my players have their own ideas what individual armors may look like, but in the end, they try to shove a bullet proof vest on under their suit and say that its no big deal.   Also, clarity on stacking DRs from things like shields/helmets could use some attention.  If hit location becomes a more important part of the game this could be especially important

(Whew, ok, sorry for the long post.  Had a lot to get out)

Oh, and one last comment my table just made for me to post:  Put all the tables in the section with their expanded rules so we dont have to flip back and forth.  So all the rules for guns would be with the tables for guns
« Last Edit: June 07, 2012, 06:24:08 PM by gaghiel42 » Logged

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« Reply #50 on: July 17, 2012, 01:39:58 AM »

Freedom is nice to have but most of the people just get carried away and it can really bog down the "preparation" of any session...

bundles were a nice way of tackling that... Personally I prefer the bundle way of working
1) it saves time
2) you don't have to search endlessly
3) it seems logical... the agency has people who are experts at making sure you have all your gear... just like they have experts at handling the travel arrangements... I can't see James Bond sitting at his desk trying to figure out which plane he should take to get from London to Canberra with the least amount of stopovers...

so premade bundles, but allow some way to build your own "basic sets"

does that make any sense?

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« Reply #51 on: July 17, 2012, 08:56:35 AM »

One thing I did want to comment about this question is that, in my experience, most of the new players who struggle with the Gearing Up phase do so because they are new to the game and have spent no time thinking about this sort of scenario.  But, as they start to get playing the game more, they peruse these tables and the variety of gear that is in them help them get a better grasp of what they -can- do with their characters and help them create ideas for missions.

For instance, having a pesky Tradecraft or Resource pick that they don't know what to do with.  At first they will panic because so many of those options are met with "What the heck will I need this for?" or "whats that do?" and that drags down the gearing up phase because often times these picks are ambiguous or hard to use in a lot of situations. Often times, choosing those items beforehand is difficult, because things like dossiers or bags full of guns wont be needed right out of the gate, but when you're actually -on- mission, those requests come in handy.   

My largest issue is I've never had a group that wanted to play Spycraft as the main game, but rather having it in a rotation of several games. Because of that, the opportunity for deep, obsessive immersion in the rules just didn't come around except for the people really into the book, which meant every time we played they were little more than beginners, which means every time we played we had to go through most of the same gearing-up pain.

It got to the point that I'd never run a Spycraft game unless I had a premade 1-page handout of *suggested* gear (and even then, time to pick was painful) or picked the gear for them myself ahead of time. Paralysis by analysis is a major problem -- often at best, I'm looking at a 5 hour window to play, and if the first 90 minutes is spent on the gearing up, the game becomes significantly less fun for me to run.

My preference is that a table full of beginners, who haven't read the book in detail if at all, should be able to complete gearing up within 30 minutes (and presumably that number would go down a bit with experience).
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« Reply #52 on: July 17, 2012, 09:34:50 AM »

It got to the point that I'd never run a Spycraft game unless I had a premade 1-page handout of *suggested* gear (and even then, time to pick was painful) or picked the gear for them myself ahead of time. Paralysis by analysis is a major problem -- often at best, I'm looking at a 5 hour window to play, and if the first 90 minutes is spent on the gearing up, the game becomes significantly less fun for me to run.
I will suggest a bit of GM fiat:  Give them gear noting which item goes along with each characters gear choice.  IF a player become sufficiently attached to learn more about the gear system, have them help you with some of the gear prep.
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« Reply #53 on: July 17, 2012, 10:00:48 AM »

It got to the point that I'd never run a Spycraft game unless I had a premade 1-page handout of *suggested* gear (and even then, time to pick was painful) or picked the gear for them myself ahead of time. Paralysis by analysis is a major problem -- often at best, I'm looking at a 5 hour window to play, and if the first 90 minutes is spent on the gearing up, the game becomes significantly less fun for me to run.
I will suggest a bit of GM fiat:  Give them gear noting which item goes along with each characters gear choice.  IF a player become sufficiently attached to learn more about the gear system, have them help you with some of the gear prep.

That's one of the things I tried (essentially what my 1-page handouts were) -- my point is, Gearing Up is tedious and time-consuming, and even if the GM does a good chunk of the work ahead of time, that doesn't mean it's less tedious and time-consuming, it just means that the GM is shielding the players from the bulk of it and doing more of the work himself. As my time available to play and to prepare continues to get eaten into by the day-to-day, I'm less and less inclined to play games that require the GM to do a large chunk of the players' jobs just to get the game off the ground.
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« Reply #54 on: July 17, 2012, 10:22:57 AM »

I'm pretty confident we can get the gearing up learning curve and play time requirement down. It will require various compromises, but we can make it happen.
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« Reply #55 on: January 06, 2013, 05:01:37 PM »

Not merely to be contrary, but I gotta say: my team and I Hated the Stargate bundles system.
The best, most common example: we almost always had someone take the (I think it was) Siege Bundle -2 floodlights, three gallons of gas (can't remember if there was a generator in the pack), and 400 rounds.
Not for the lights or the petrol, you can guess, but because hard-coded in was that by SG-1 rules (a stupid but oddly real-world-plausible decision) deploying with more then weapon capacity (or more than 1 spare mag, I forget) was verboten.
So every mission someone bellied up, ate the pick to get the Siege Bundle, and the rest of the team rejoiced.

Every effin' Bundle amounted to that same 1 piece of "oo, useful" and 2-3 pieces of Dump It In The Wild Somewhere gear. Like it was always "Three Dirty Left Socks and 4 Stinger Missile Rounds -no Launcher."

The basic RPG Rule is you never, never give new players complex decisions.
Never let them play The Wizard.
Never let them start with any kind of unusual, extra complex Combat Style (mounted for example).
Never let them get bogged down in gear -here's a competent pre-generated PC, you make your own when you know the rules.
This is an effort = reward hobby. That's not going to change.
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« Reply #56 on: January 07, 2013, 02:24:35 AM »

I'd argue that that problem is in no means a failing of the bundles system, but rather of the pre-generated bundles themselves.  It's also why the game had a limited ability to get individual kit - to make up for the wholes.

At a purely conceptual level, I'm whole heartedly behind it - get the bulk of what you need with a quick, simple "[YOUR ROLE] Bundle" and add in a few doo-dads that you want with individual gear picks.  Quick and easy.  Not sit down for an hour with a list of 4000 items and pick each one individually (only to not have any W picks in your class and then make the soldier redo his gear because you have no gun).

It doesn't even have to be specific, a basic "Combatant Bundle" can be as simple as Rifle (Pick from list), Mags for Rifle, Armour (pick from list), Sidearm (list), Grenades (List).  Easy, quick, flexible.  Better then "I have a 2xW, 1xS and Charisma 12."  Which incidently doesn't necessarily even let you get the above anyway, since you can't use the Charisma for weapons without being Freelance.  So you could be stuck getting something you don't need, and down a Sidearm/Grenades because the Faceman has no W picks and needs a rifle too.
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