One way to play ... is it our fault?

Hi all,

It’s been ages since I have had the time to write in.

I just had a thought that I am interested to get viewpoints on.

I just received my copy of Twilight 2000 by Free League Games.

I own every previous version, but I feel I have only just truly understood the setting.

In the past (and I have not played it in decades), Twilight 2000 was considered by me to be a modern military genre RPG. Some of you may be thinking, well no joke Mongrel, you play soldiers in a World War 3 world … what else can it be?

As I read deeper into the game mechanics, it dawned on me that this game was not different from D&D 5e because of the genre, the usual way we categorise RPGs, but because of the game type.

For the sake of argument, let us look at RPGs through the lens of board games.

Board games are not categorised by genre, but by play types.

You have press your luck games, resource management, deck building, deduction, party games, competitive, cooperative… etc. etc.

While they are all board games, players change their play style, expectations, and approach to the game based on its mechanics and type … not its genre.

Yet we don’t do that with RPGs. (The collective we)

We see RPGs in terms of fantasy, scifi, modern, supers, horror, etc., and while the mechanics and themes may differ under each genre, most players tend to approach every RPG they play with their character being “special”, important, and extraordinary in some way.

This then led me to wondering if thinking of RPGs in terms of genres is actually causing many of the playstyle issues I hear discussed on this podcast, and even the concept of “the right way” to play an RPG?

If you play Twilight 2000 with the same style as D&D 5e for example, which definitely promotes PCs as extraordinary entities,… you’re in for a bad time and you will play “poorly”. Why? Because Twilight 2000 is not a game about ever increasing ability and power, nor feats of superhuman or supernatural ability. It’s not an action game of moving from one combat encounter to another. There is no min-maxing, no perfect class/feat/equipment combinations, and no instant healing or resting to recharge abilities.

Twilight 2000 is a game of resource management, scavaging, caution, survival against the odds, and morality vs necessity.

Encumbrance highlights this fact. Mostly ignored by the majority of D&D 5e play groups, encumbrance is a vital component of Twighlight 2000. It is part of the game experience and theme. Ignore the rule here, and it effects the game adversely.

What the characters choose to keep, and in what ratio, is an integral component that adds to the tension, which is a vital part of the play experience.

Sure you need enough ammo and weapons to survive opposition, but without knowing where or when your next meal may come from, do you leave behind a box of ammo for tins of beans? What about drinking water, tools, first aid, fuel, sleeping gear, etc.

Ok, so your team finally decides what they need, now the game is about protecting what you have, avoiding superior forces, finding more resources, finding safe passage, finding shelter, and so on.

This is a living on the edge mechanic / playstyle that is vastly different than what 5e delivers, or even other game titles that share the post apocalyptic genre category with T2K.

AD&D vs D&D 5e is different enough mechanically that even though it’s still high fantasy, a 5e playstyle will likely derail an AD&D game.

Unfortunately though, time and again, I see players approach all RPGs with a D&D5e mindset … and end up having, or creating, a poor game experience because of it.

Would it not be better if we categorised RPGs (even adventures within RPGs) by theme and type vs genre like board games do?

Wouldn’t this give a clearer indication of playstyle required, mindset, and expectation of interaction type?

Could this go some way to clearly layout what is expected from players so as to not end up with playstyle issues at the table?

I leave that thought for you to debate.

7 Likes

I’ve never put it in that light (board game styles) but I think you’re right. This is a great thought exercise.

3 Likes

I adapt to the game.
It would be neat to see what people would put each RPG into which category. I can see arguments forming there. I think it depends on how the game is played. I’ve played intense resource management D&D games.

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