January 2020, Question 7

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  1. What would make this setting conducive to roleplaying? What would work against it? Would you be interested in Roleplaying submariners?

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    edited February 5

    Will be interesting to read other responses to this - my initial impulse is that you'd have to role-play the vessel as a whole rather than an individual crew. But maybe not?

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    It's of particular interest to me, as I designed a submarine RPG once upon a time.

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    Yes, quite interested, but not sure how I’d go about it or if I’d be any good at running such a thing. Playing? Hell yes.

    I haven’t played much in the way of military games. I did play a PBA game called Ross Rifles about being a Canadian Soldier in WW1, but I really didn’t think it had long term play potential, and even in that one-shot started to find it a bit repetitive. Plus I found the system too regimented, which surely sounds counterintuitive. The problem is that Powered By the Apocalypse games feature set ‘moves’ of things you can do, and I was really straining against those. Good warfare stories always seem to hinge on clever thinking and doing the unexpected. I felt really constrained by the choice of moves. But that wouldn’t be a problem in a more traditional skill-based rpg.
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    That makes perfect sense, @Apocryphal!

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    Military games are difficult for me, because of the focus on the mission success, and the chain of command. Recently I played a Star Trek game (where I was the ship captain) and ran a game of The Watch. In the Star Trek game, I tried (not always successfully) to delegate objectives to the other PCs, leaving to their judgement how to achieve them: that was my attempt to keep the game fun for those players. In The Watch, the missions weren't the focus of the game: the focus was on the inter-mission interludes, where the PCs dealt with the fallout of the missions and the changing relationships between PCs.

    I could imagine using The Watch's structure for a submarine game. For each mission, the PCs each have a different role to play, almost independently; there could be different phases, such as Approach, Attack, Exfiltrate, and perhaps several objectives in a mission. Most of the play would be about the time between. For the Bucket game, perhaps there could be a Trust or Camaraderie mechanic, to show how the crew gels?

    Another good point was that the captain spent a lot of time consulting his officers about what to do and how to do it, and acted on their suggestions. During the action, the chain of command was rigid. Outside that, it was much more collegiate.

    But it was all officer-centric. I don't know how easily you could do a game with PCs being a mix of officers and enlisted.

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    @NeilNjae said:
    But it was all officer-centric. I don't know how easily you could do a game with PCs being a mix of officers and enlisted.

    Though less so (I think) than other branches of the military at that time. One striking episode is when Lt Grainger, the new navigator, has got rid of Mr partridge because "he was a warrant officer, non-commissioned. I didn't think he had any business in officer country", and the Skipper then makes it clear that he won't tolerate that particular discrimination.

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    My Submarine game is officer centric, unlike my other military games, which have troupe style play. Thing is, the crew are respected, and are consulted, but all non-emergency decisions are by officers.

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    I wonder if Beat to Quarters could be adapted to submarines. I'll have to chat to Neil Gow about that when I see him (yes, all British game designers know each-other).

    I think it's something I'd be more interested in playing than running, but there's definitely potential

    One weird thought though - a feel of submarine combat is what I want from spaceship combat, and I'll have to think about it.

    And one really good thing about submarine combat as described from an RPG point of view is that everyone on the bridge had an important and distinct job to do in combat, all of which are vital.
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    It would probably be far better than anything I could do! Neil is an excellent designer!

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    Well, it would be different. Yours more trad, Neil's more storygamish. Room for both. And you could play tag team on forums as I recall from a while back.
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    Ha! Yes! We have a good rapport.

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