After Go Play NW, it became clear that loadout and gear need explanation. Right now, we just have the playbooks and the move sheets. In the future, we'll have a text that accompanies and explains the game in detail. In the mean time, this should cover the alpha playtest versions of loadout and gear.
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First, Loadout. Loadout is a menu of things that your character, in fulfilling their role on the battlefield, would normally have on them or have access to. Some of these things cost gear to use when you Fight the Enemy or when you make other moves; some of them don’t cost you anything at all.
Second, gear. Gear is an abstract quantity of consumable equipment that your character has on them – it represents all the consumable equipment your character has on them. It represents the finite nature of your equipment; but, it doesn’t represent a set weight, volume, or number of things. Maybe it’s one grenade; maybe it’s a couple. When you spend gear, you establish that you have the thing that the gear represents. So, if you Fight the Enemy with your Battle Rifle and you spend 1-gear, then the gear represents the ammo you shot through your rifle. If it’s grenades, explosives, whatever – that’s gear.
Loadout, Gear - Establishing a Thing in the Fiction
How your Loadout and your gear work together – your Loadout establishes in the fiction, things that your character might have on them right now. As a player, it means you don’t have to ask if you can get your hands on this particular thing or not. If you have gear to spend, then you have the thing – unless established otherwise. So, when you spend the gear, we establish now what the thing was that took up space in your backpack, or your webbing, or your ammo pouch.
If, however, the thing is already established in the fiction, then it’s established: don’t spend the gear. Gear represents things that have not yet been established. When you consume a thing that is established in the fiction, it’s now gone. OK, so is this thing “established” or not? We know your character has a combat load, which includes ammo and grenades and other kit. The thing is “established” when you acquire, use, or interact with it – you grab the enemy’s rifle, you pop the pin from your grenade, or you feel the recoil from your gun. We don’t normally need to establish the fact ‘till then; but, sometimes we do...
The key principle is this – gear exists to create scarcity in play; but, it’s not intended as a tool for the GM to say no and it is definitely not supposed to contradict what’s really going on (or what should really be going on) in the fiction. If there’s a contradiction between what’s established in the fiction and the gear (or lack thereof) you have on hand, the fiction takes precedence.
1) The medic is out of gear; but, the medic obviously has a med kit. Roll Medic! Medic! Is a move that doesn’t require gear at the outset; but, may require gear to achieve the desired effect. If the medic needs to spend gear but can’t, it means that they don’t have enough supplies on hand to effectively treat the wound or to stabilize the patient. Remember, you can spend the patient’s gear too, if they have it. Also, Scrounge for Spoils – potential negative consequences include it takes a time or causes trouble. That could be fertile fictional ground when dealing with a dying patient. If the medic can’t stop the bleeding, maybe he has to dig through the patient’s pack or take up a collection from other soldiers. Are you Crazy – maybe the medic pulls some crazy MacGyver shit with a stick of chewing gum, a ballpoint pen, and his trusty Swiss Army knife.
2) The soldier runs out of gear in a close quarters fire fight. Around him are the bodies of several dead and wounded enemy soldiers. His squad is busy clearing out the rest of the warehouse. We’ve established that the enemy soldiers are armed and have been shooting, so our soldier picks up one of their rifles. Does it have ammo? Yes, at least one of their guns has at least a couple of shots. Is there more ammo lying around? Yeah, probably. In the fiction, the soldier just succeeded at Srounge for Spoils. So GM, give the soldier a battle rifle and 1-3 gear. That’ll get the soldier back into the fight. If the soldier wants to do a thorough search for more equipment, have the soldier make the Scrounge for Spoils move with a dice roll. We’ll see how much more there is to be found.
3) The officer runs out of gear, shooting through the rest of his carbine ammo. Then he draws his sidearm… Technically, shooting all your gear means you’re out of ammo. By spending all his gear on carbine ammo, the officer established that he carried a full load of carbine ammo at the expense of pistol ammo or grenades or other kit items. But a loaded pistol is definitely something the officer would have on him and, if we haven’t seen the officer shooting with it, it probably isn’t empty. And now you find yourself in a position where the system is in conflict with the fiction.
Since gear represents all ready expendables the character has on their person, the player should have spent the last gear for the pistol if that’s what he or she wanted their character to use when the carbine ran empty. But that would have happened on the previous move. Now the game has ground to a halt.
Ways to resolve. In the pistol scenario, the gun should be handy and ready to use right now and it ought to be loaded. Let them use it once – now they’re really out. If it is a kit item, like explosives or bandages or whatever, something that they might have to rummage through their pack for – or even an extra box of loose ammo – you can either follow the pistol example or have them roll Scrounge for Spoils to go through their own pack. Once they’ve done that, we have now established whether or not there’s anything else of use in their pack and, either way, we’ve established that their pack is now truly devoid of gear. GM, it’s better to say yes and skip the argument than is to derail the game. Maybe they get one more shot than they theoretically deserve; but, what does that really matter in the grand scheme? After all, it’s not like having 7 abstract units of stuff is impossible.
Ways to avoid. Player, a lot of this resides with you. You keep track of your own gear and you decide how you spend it. If you’ve read this far, hopefully you have a better understanding of what gear means and can avoid a situation where what you want to have and what your gear says you have are at odds.
So, you’re out of ammo… what next?
1) Bum gear off a nearby soldier. Giving gear isn’t like giving a pint of blood. Toss them a mag or a frag and mark off a gear. They gain one. Repeat as needed.
2) Resupply from the Unit Stocks, if you can. First, you have to have supply. Second, you have to be near the source of supply. You don’t have to be at HQ or at a supply dump, necessarily. If you’re out on patrol in the field, then collectively, the soldiers have the supply distributed among them. So, if you’ve got the machine gun, resupplying from the unit stocks probably means grabbing belts off of nearby soldiers. For grenades and small arms ammo, one of your unit’s staff soldiers may have just run up to your position with a rucksack full. Whether you can resupply or not or what you have to do to get it or how long you have to wait depends on the fictional circumstances. GM decides what the situation is. In general, the GM should let you resupply right now. If you’re isolated, it’s hard. If you’re on the move, it could be hit or miss. If it’s chaos, best of luck to you!
Resupply also works the other way. If you have a surplus of gear, you can convert it into unit supply. So, if your squad does a great job of pillaging, then you can bolster your unit reserves.
3) Scrounge for Spoils when the opportunity presents itself. Scrounge for Spoils is a way for your characters to help themselves by benefiting from taking their own initiative. To scrounge, you need to be someplace where the stuff you’re looking for might be, as established in the fiction. Ideally, you also have time and relative safety.
4) Logistics is the officer’s move for keeping the unit stocked. Part of a sustained operation is making sure that you continue to have what you need. The officer makes the move between sessions and when the officer makes an effort during downtime to organize and resupply. The success outcome is more supply for the unit, which can be converted into gear.
5) Petition up the Chain of Command allows you to get what you need from the higher-ups. Sometimes it’s a particular weapon, sometimes it’s supply.
Generalities vs. Specifics
When it comes to the details about the equipment that the characters have or find, be general. Let gear abstract the details. This is how you help minimize micromanaging your kit. That helps keeps play in the Regiment fluid. GM, say that they scrounge the enemy position and find some gear. Describe what it is; but, treat it as narrative color. Player, don’t create a laundry list of equipment to supplement your gear. Write down important or salient items; but, treat the rest as gear. Also, if you wind up with more than six gear, you can always convert it back to unit supply – so don’t worry about losing it.