Sunday, November 14, 2021

What To Do When You're (Still) On Your Own... On the Absence of Iconic T2k Characters in T2k:FL

T2k Free League "Soldiers in the Rain"

So the long-awaited "Ammo Box" arrived last week and I've been slowly working my way through it, digesting the contents, and trying to work out how to approach this somewhat 4th edition... it's looking very different mechanically, more streamlined is my first impression, so much so I might redo the "20 Quick Rule Rules Questions..." as a way of getting to grips with things. Overall it looks promising - I'm trying to judge it without being coloured by the strong personalities on the forums, but I'm reserving judgment until I've had a good look at the components and worked out how it all fits together for me. 

But one component I'd hoped for is missing - pre-generated characters. And yes I know people have mixed feelings about them, but for the prior edition and starting point of T2k v2.2, I think they have a place and I've outlined my reasoning in the original blog article.

There's a sort of "half-way" attempt in the form of Archetypes, and I can see why they have done this and it has merit but these aren't what I would consider "Starter Kit" level friendly or immediately usable as sidekick style characters to round out a small starting party, unfortunately. 

So let's start with a few comments and ideas.

Hey, these Archetypes look Familiar...

So I'm working my way through Chapter 2: Player Characters and after a tantalising mention of Archetypes vs Life Path character creation then the basics of what is what, it hits me on page 20, a summary of the Archetype method followed by the first of the various Archetypes, the Civilian.

Not bad. Upfront we have a non-military character option (admittedly they are in alphabetical order). Sets the scene that this is not just military and encourages a more mixed party, expanding play style options.

But rather than being an actual pre-generated character, it's really only a template to follow. 

Oh hang on, there's a small paragraph on page 19 that I almost missed that uses the Archetype rules to make a Grunt (2nd option, page 23) that is the example "Private Ronson" filled in as a character sheet on page 21. OK, so we have a pre-genrated basic soldier, probably the easiest example and not very imaginative but I guess that shows how quick the system is and I think that's fair.

Hmmm. OK. 

<flicks through the Player's Manual to see if he's missing something>

Nope, that's it. Only the one pre-generated character and one that could basically be simulated by just using a basic NPC with combat stats and equipment. I'm feeling a bit disappointed it wasn't one of the less obvious options and seems like a wasted opportunity - of course, I am somewhat biased because of how I would prefer to run a campaign. But for a beginning group, especially of only a few players, it would seem good to have a few worked through examples that can be used "out of the box". 

Or is that "Out of the Crate"?

Back to the other templates... I mean Archetypes, of which there are another eight - another new civilian concept, "the Kid",  which is a welcome addition to the previously heavily weighted military origin options in earlier editions:

  • The Civilian 
  • The Grunt
  • The Gunner
  • The Kid
  • The Mechanic
  • The Medic
  • The Officer
  • The Operator
  • The Spook  

Apart from the two civilians and the Spook (basically a spy template unsurprisingly), I feel struck by how close they are to the pregen characters I developed a few years ago now, although I gave them different names: the Wheelman (Mechanic), the Heavy (Gunner), the Doctor (Medic), the Major (Officer) and the Scout (Operator). The Engineer character I created (based on a test character I use to try out new systems) would seem initially to be a variant of the Mechanic archetype as that's where the Combat Engineer specialty is suggested (a bit clunky) but I think the Grunt or Heavy probably fits better for the specific character concept I had in mind.

I'm *not* claiming I invented these roles or archetypes - they're pretty standard and easy to derive from the prior editions or any of the various post-apocalyptic/military media representations but it's amusing to see how close they are to my list or the similar classes in Operation White Box that I actually based my core pregens on. I think their inclusion gives a bit of structure to how players might think about building a group. They're not quite "classes" like in other systems but there is the comment that players should probably pick different archetypes to provide the variety needed in the group.

For each Archetype, there are some suggested variations and options other than the recommended favoured Attribute (pick a Specialty from a list of three, roleplaying choices (cosmetic, moral code,  goal, relationships, how you met the group), and basic weapon differences) but the resulting output still looks like it's going to be pretty bland.

A Missed Opportunity?

Don't get me wrong, I like the archetypes as a concept - they would seem particularly useful for introducing players that may only be familiar with a very class-based, core d20 rollover mechanic game.  

But they aren't worked examples or pregens and I think that would have been useful.

I just think these could have easily taken it a bit further - give us an example character for each of the Archetypes with a few variation suggestions and a bit of a backstory to make them usable as sidekicks and starting supporting cast with minimal GM effort - as mentioned in my original pregen post, this is what we did for the Grogs supplement for Ars Magica 5th edition and subsequent books,  and I think it was a good nod towards providing a resource usable easily by GMs.

I don't always like a lot of "fluff" and character fiction in games - there was a particular RPG publisher and lines where this was taken to the extreme to be sure - but I did like the original "iconic" characters scattered through the worked examples of the first two and a bit editions.

The Challenge

So I think what my "Ammo Box" needs first off is some pre-gen characters, readily able to be personalised, so a group can hit the ground running, particularly if there are only a few players and the majority are coming from other non Year Zero systems.

Rather than just complain about it, I'm going to do something about it and generate some, either converting my existing pregens and maybe some others to the Free League mechanics (using the guidelines I've just found in the back of the Referee's Manual, pages 106-107) and/or designing them using the Life Path (or Archetype) method. 

As I did originally, I think I'll start with Monk...



1 comment:

  1. So Tegyrius has just published a 4E version of his character generator: