too good to be true

2g2bt-titleThe first game in progress I’d like to highlight is Michael Prescott’s intriguing Too Good To Be True. It’s a Powered by the Apocalypse game but very interestingly it centers its focus on the battlefield: it’s a kind of narrative wargame! I wish I’d thought of that. You can grab the 0.14 beta of it if you want to give it a read or, better, a spin. Judging by the blog posts I’d guess that it’s progressed since that document having collided with a bunch of actual play through The Gauntlet.

Players are members of a mercenary company that has a randomly generated history (my favourite kind of history, obviously) and hopefully some built-in problems to solve.

Players get both a character and a mecha playbook to start with — so you are both the person and the machine — and each has very distinct features and functions. Mecha, for example, have armament, armour, and auxiliary equipment categories that carry over to the battlefield rules. Mercenaries have a lighter set of stats since the set of moves are essentially common to all. But they are distinctive, having a list of “specials” that they can choose from as they advance.

I find the idea of taking PbtA to the wargame environment downright delicious.

This material is certainly in a playable state and I think that’s what Michael needs now: play to test both the material and the text. If you dig the idea of tromping around a battlefield in a giant machine, I’m going to ask you to grab this and read it and, if you can, take it to your table. Even if you just read it, report back here–the author has said that there is some concern that it’s too terse. Is it? What needs padding out? Let’s make sure Michael gets some visibility and maybe even some concrete input to work on.

Ground rules for commentary:

  • be positive. That doesn’t mean don’t be critical, but if you have criticism be specific and don’t be hypothetical: if you think it doesn’t play, play it and prove (or disprove) your hypothesis.
  • be generous. Assume the author is at least as intelligent as you. Give them the benefit of every doubt.
  • discuss as though you will be criticised. Let’s make an environment where people want to discuss.
  • be concrete. Again. Talk about actual things not hypotheticals. Hypotheticals can often be better phrased as a question. Ask a question if you’re wondering! Comment if you read and don’t understand or played and had trouble.
  • praise where warranted. A post saying THIS IS AWESOME is just fine. Welcomed even.

8 thoughts on “too good to be true

  1. I read this a while back and loved it. I really want to find a mecha game that works a bit like Night Witches with phased play – this seems to come closest.

    It does get a little crunchy for me (being based off The Regiment pretty much requires crunch), but I think I may have read 0.12 or something

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think it’s fair to say that this and Night Witches are almost opposites. NW is all about dealing with the fallout from combat missions, and the complexities of life on the base. This simplifies the base down quite a bit and concentrates on the combat itself.

    I’m not sure the balance is completely right; I /do/ think the whole bit about randomly generated history only really makes sense in the context of the characters having some relationships on the go. But an emphasis on the combat (or at least /the mission/) is definitely a goal of mine.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m referring to the balance between roleplaying while ‘on base’, securing contracts, dealing with recalcitrant army regulars, vs. being on a mission.

        Regiment is all about the combat, and swishes downtime away with a single move. Personally, I think the Catch-22 vibe I’m going for needs a bit more base than that.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah yeah; the base time is going to be the lion’s share of RP and setup for the battle so I think I’d want it to be heavy. What’s the time balance right now between the two? If the mission engages the mechanism more then it might eat a lot more real-time even if it’s not covering a lot more fiction-time and I’d want to manage the ratio of real time.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. The ratio of fictional time is probably MOSTLY base time rather than mission time. The balance of gameplay.. I think I would like to be 50/50 or so. Right now the game makes the base feel like a bookkeeping opportunity that doesn’t have/leave room for much RP, but I think that’s a missed opportunity currently.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I think as long as there are both sides, I’d be happy. I know this game is gritty and all, but Netflix’s Voltron is my touchstone for what I’m looking for.


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